While your reasoning is sound, there's one factor that I believe you neglected to add -- pre or post-scientific, God still knew that which governed
nature, and He would know if a rabbit was really chewing a cud or not.
There are two interpretations I've heard on these rabbits. The first I've heard from several orthodox Jews who believe there is a now extinct rodent
that lived in the middle east that did
, in fact, chew its cud. However, this belief is not based on any evidence that I've seen presented
besides the fact that it's in scripture.
The other explanation, the one I lean towards, is much simpler and far better documented. When we talk of animals chewing their cud, we think of cows
and some other animals who
into their own mouths and continue to chew their old food. Rabbits do not have multiple stomachs, and do not
regurgitate their food. They do, however, eat some of their poo (I am sooo glad I'm not a rabbit). When they go to the bathroom, they excrete two
different kinds of feces. One type is composed entirely of waste, while the other kind is partly digested food. If you've owned a pet rabbit, you
know that some of their poop is hard while other little pellets are soft.
Rabbits eat the soft ones, giving their digestive tracts a second go at digesting the foot they eat. Because they live mostly on roughage, as cows do,
their stomachs can't process all of the coarse fibers in the vegetation when it first passes through.
Essentially, rabbits chew their cud without vomiting it out. The Hebrew word used is not
specific to actually regurgitating the food, but
rather is a phrase of general movement. It is the Hebrew participle "'alah" that is used. This word is also used in many other verses in the Old
Testament. Josh 24:17, 11 Samuel 7:10, Nahum 3:3, Isaiah 8:7, and several others. 'Alah has been interpreted in Leviticus to mean "bring up", but
the use in all of these other verses implies a movement through, not just bringing up. Therefore, it would stand to reason that, in Hebrew terms, a
chew its cud, as the predigested food moves through the rabbit.