(פֶּתֶן, pe'then, so called probably from extending itself, De 32:33; Job 20:14,16; Isa 11:8; "adder"; Ps 57:4; Ps 91:13; ἄσπις, Ro 3:3), a venomous kind of serpent, perhaps correctly designated by this rendering, since the Chald., Syr., and Arabic equivalents appear to denote some member of the Coluber family (see Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 1140). Bochart (Hieroz. iii, 156, ed. Lips.) incorrectly refers to the Syr. name for dragon (comp. his treatise De aspide surda ad Psalm 58:5, ibid. p. 161 sq.). Kitto (Pict. Bible, at Job 20:14) compares the bceten of the Arabs, called by the Cyprians kufi (κωφή, deaj; comp. Psalm lviii, 4). This reptile, which more exactly corresponds in name to the Heb., is thus described by Forskal (Descr. Anin. p. 15): " Spotted all over with black and white; a foot long, and about twice as thick as one's thumb; oviparous; the bite instantly fatal, causing the body to swell." SEE ADDER. The "asp" is often mentioned by ancient authors (see Smith's Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Aspis), but in such vague terms (except that they agree in its extreme venom, whence it was selected by Cleopatra as the surest and speediest means of her suicide) that little can be positively determined respecting it, if indeed several species of serpent are not thus designated. From the description of Pliny, however (Hist. Nat. 8:35), naturalists have generally fixed upon the el-Haje (or Nasher, described by Forskal, Anim. p. 14) of the Arabs (Vipera Haje of Daudin) as representing the ancient asp. It is from three to five feet in length, of a dark green color, marked obliquely with bands of brown, and closely allied to the celebrated cobra-de-cal pello of India in its power of swelling the neck when irritated, and of rising on its tail in striking its prey (see Penny Cyclopcedia, s.v.). It is often figured as a sacred symbol on the Egyptian monuments under the name Kneph (Rawlinson's Herodotus, ii, 105). SEE SERPENT.

Bible concordance for ASP.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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