LEV 11:1-6



[LEV 11:1-6]:

(v. 1) "The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,

(v. 2) 'Say to the Israelites: '''Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat:

(v. 3) You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud.

(v. 4) There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you.

(v. 5) The coney, [that is the hyrax or rock badger] though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you.

(v. 6) The arnebeth, [Heb: arnebeth = an unidentified animal which is rendered hare or rabbit, perhaps incorrectly] though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you.

Greg hartman states:



"You maintain that the Bible is inerrent; but I can point out some errors. The Bible mentions the digestive system of leporids, and it is wrong [in what it states]. These references do show some evidence of errors within the work."


"If you think the Bible says rabbits have four stomachs .... sorry; it's just not that simple.

...Despite your claim that Lev. 11:6 describes the digestive system of rabbits, it doesn't. It says only that they "chew the cud" -- and they do. Check out the following:

Leviticus 11:5 refers to the SAPAN (or HYRAX SYRIACUS) as an unclean animal (e.g., unfit for sacrifice or human consumption) because "though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof" (NASB). Clean animals had to do both to be eligible for food. The question at issue is the chewing of the cud. Did (or does) the SAPAN (translated "coney" in KJV and "rock badger" in NASB) really "chew the cud" (Heb. MA 'ALEH GERAH, lit., "raising up what has been swallowed")?

Similarly in Leviticus 11:6 the same statement is made about the 'ARNEBET ("rabbit," "hare"). Does the hare ruminate? The answer to both statements must be in the negative so far as the actual digestive process is concerned. True ruminants normally have four stomachs, and that which has been worked over in these stomachs is regurgitated into the mouth when it is ready to be chewed again. In this technical sense neither the hyrax nor the hare can be called ruminants, but they do give the appearance of chewing their cud in the same way ruminants do. So convincing is this appearance that even Linnaeus at first classed them as ruminants, even though the four-stomach apparatus was lacking. But we need to remember that this list of forbidden animals was intended to be a practical guide for the ordinary Israelite as he was out in the wilds looking for food. He might well conclude from the sideways movement of the jaws that these animals ruminated like the larger cattle; and since they fed on the same kind of grass and herbs, they might well be eligible for human consumption. Thus it was necessary to point out that they did not have hooves at all and therefore could not meet the requirements for clean food. G.S. Cansdale gives this interesting information concerning the habits of the 'ARNEBET:

"Hares, like rabbits, are known to practice 'refection': at certain times of day, when the rabbit or hare is resting, it passes droppings of different texture, which it at once eats. Thus it appears to be chewing without taking fresh greens into its mouth. On its first passage through the gut, indigestible vegetable matter is acted on by bacteria and can be better assimilated the second time through. This is the exact same principle ruminants use in chewing the cud" ("Hare," in Tenney, ZONDERVAN PICTORIAL ENCYCLOPEDIA, 3:33)."

(From The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, by Dr. Gleason Archer).

So the bottom line is this: rabbits don't have four stomachs, but as you see above, they can and do defecate partially digested grass, which they then eat again. This process of "refection," even though rabbits don't have four stomachs, is in every other respect the exact same thing ruminants do -- that is, chew their food more than once -- and since the verse in question only specifies "chewing the cud" and not the actual physiology of the digestive system, I'm afraid you HAVEN'T found a Bible mistake here after all.

[Jonathan Sarfati, First published in: Creation Ex Nihilo 20(4):56, September–November 1998]


"In modern English, animals that ‘chew the cud’ are called ruminants. They hardly chew their food when first eaten, but swallow it into a special stomach where the food is partially digested. Then it is regurgitated, chewed again, and swallowed into a different stomach. Animals which do this include cows, sheep and goats, and they all have four stomachs. Coneys and rabbits are not ruminants in this modern sense.

However the Hebrew phrase for ‘chew the cud’ simply means ‘raising up what has been swallowed’. Coneys and rabbits go through such similar motions to ruminants that Linnaeus, the father of modern classification (and a creationist), at first classified them as ruminants. Also, rabbits and hares practise refection, which is essentially the same principle as rumination, and does indeed ‘raise up what has been swallowed’. The food goes right through the rabbit and is passed out as a special type of dropping. These are re-eaten, and can now nourish the rabbit as they have already been partly digested.

It is not an error of Scripture that ‘chewing the cud’ now has a more restrictive meaning than it did in Moses’ day. Indeed, rabbits and hares do ‘chew the cud’ in an even more specific sense. Once again, the Bible is right and the sceptics are wrong.

God, through Moses, was giving instructions that any Israelite could follow. It is inconceivable that someone familiar with Middle-Eastern animal life would make an easily corrected mistake about rabbits, and also inconceivable that the Israelites would have accepted a book as Scripture if it were contrary to observation, which it is not."


Lev. 11:6 does not say rabbits are ruminants; it only says that they chew the cud -- and they do, via refection rather than regurgitation....