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Old 02-18-2001, 12:33 PM   #1
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Post Biblical Biology?

There is an interesting excursion into taxonomy in Leviticus 11, but it has some curious carelessness in it. OK animals are distinguished by their chewing cud and by their having split hooves, but there is the familiar boo-boo of rabbits supposedly chewing cud.

There is a long list of no-no birds, which is remarkably curious and unmotivated; at the end of that list is the bat. But a bat looks much more like a mouse than a typical bird.

And grasshoppers, we are told, have 4 legs, which seems like an extrapolation from bigger beasts.

Looking elsewhere, the "whale" or "big fish" in the Book of Jonah has been much argued over, but IMO, "sea monster" might be a better translation, because this beast is not described in any real detail. Even so, it would be difficult to survive for 3 days in the belly of such a beast without scuba equipment and a *big* air tank.

Toward the end of the Book of Job, God challenges Job about Behemoth and Leviathan; Behemoth seems to be a hippopotamus (a big beast that grazes), while Leviathan seems to be some sea monster.
Old 02-18-2001, 01:19 PM   #2
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The "bat is a bird" "error" doesn't hold much water and I never use it. The word translated bird, is in fact owph which comes from the verb uwph which means "to fly," So "owph" should be translated "flying creature" as opposed to bird.

The chewing the cud (Lev. 11:6) issue is a more serious problem for fundamentalist Christians. The passage literally says "va'et harnebeth kiy me'al gerah...(and the hare because bringing up the cud)." The word translated chew is idiomatically translated "chew," but it actually means "to bring up" or "to cause to ascend." The word translated "cud" is gerah and it comes from the root "gerar" (to drag). Nouns based on this root such as garown (throat) and megerah (saw) seem to be named for the "dragging" action or sound that is done.

In other words, "cud" has a connotation of "dragging" and so, Lev. 11:6 is probably relating "bringing up the cud" as we know of it. Some harmonizers have tried to say that "bringing up the cud" can refer to an action known as refection (something rabbits do). It involves the rabbit defecating what are known as caecotrophes (not fully digested food), and reingesting them. But the implications and root of gerah, I think, prevents that interpretation.

Also, yes, in Genesis 1:21 it does say that God created the "great sea monsters" (tanniyn). It is, in essence what we see on maps from the Rennaisance: sea serpents. As a matter of fact, Moses' staff turns into a tanniyn (serpent). But the ones described in Gen. 1:21 are great serpents--i.e. sea monsters.

What swallowed Jonah, however is not a sea monster (Jo 1:17). It is a dag gadol (great fish) and dag means "fish" in the literal sense.

[This message has been edited by Le pede (edited February 18, 2001).]

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