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regarding rabbits who chew the cud

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posted on Mar, 21 2006 @ 09:29 AM
Some critics of the Bible like to point out a seeming error in it regarding animals which chew the cud. They argue that rabbits don't chew cud at all and therefore the relevant Scripture verses that suggest they do are inaccurate.

God certainly isn't unaware that Bible scoffers are more inclined to ignore the whole message and intent of the Bible altogether, choosing instead to nit-pick and semantic worship the grammar of His Word as if it were fodder for some bizarre Ebert and Roeper atheistic review!

The Bible is not attempting to appeal to any scientific community. Where do some people get the idea that it is or that it aught to be? Even so, scientific rigour is not required to merely open one's eyes in observation.

A verse in question is as follows:

Deuteronomy 14:7 Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.

'Chewing the cud' is an expression that has been commonly understood and used for centuries to describe an outwardly observed behaviour in certain animals as they fed. It was in use long before any deeper knowledge of the kinds of inner biological processes involved were discovered and certainly long before the scientific method of inquiry was established.

Deuteronomy is a pre-scientific document directing commands to simple people living a nomadic pastoral lifestyle, not Harvard bio-physiologists working in the Biology Division of the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna!

Every rabbit I've ever seen has the outward appearance of chewing the cud at some time or another, and that universally verifiable observation in itself should be enough to qualify its usage and application in a document which clearly makes no attempt here to do anything other than give an easily followed set of instructions to its intended readership.

The debate as to whether rabbits do in fact chew the cud still rages on, even in a purely academic setting which has no interest or agenda in religious apologetics.

To demand that a literary phrase such as 'chew the cud' keep up with all future re-examinations of their meaning is to deny any originality, personality, history or etymology to a written expression at all.

It is an abuse of the science of textual criticism which was intended to be equally and fairly applied to all documents everywhere, not just religious documents in one point of time.

It is as bad as the argument of where Cain got his wife. If you are going to split Bible hares, at least use common sense.


posted on Mar, 21 2006 @ 12:39 PM
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 rabbit does chew its cud, as the predigested food moves through the rabbit.

posted on Mar, 21 2006 @ 03:49 PM
Thank you for that explanation. The more I learn, the less I know!

By the way, I should have posted in the Rant forum. I was just letting off steam!

But if it wasn't for God we wouldn't even have atheists, so its not a total loss.



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