Cockatrice properly a fabulous serpent supposed to be hatched from a cock's egg, is the rather fanciful translation in our version of צֶפִע (tsepha, hissing, Isa 14:29) and צַפעֹנַי (tsIphoni', Isa 11:8; Isa 59:5; Jer 8:17). The latter word also occurs in Pr 23:32, where it is translated "adder." Aquila and the Vulg. understand the basilisk, a fabulous serpent of antiquity, identified by many moderns with the basilicus regulus, a small and exceedingly venomous viper of Africa. By others, however, the cerastes, or "horned viper" (coluber cerastes of Linn., coluber cornutus of Hasselquist), has been more definitely fixed upon as the animal intended, a very poisonous serpent of Egypt and Palestine, about a foot long, brown on the back and sides, with a white belly, about as thick as the finger, and having two knob-like projections upon the head (comp. Pliny, 11:45), which were anciently compared to horns (AElian, Anim. 1, 57; Pliny, 8:35; comp. Herod. 2:74). It buries itself in the sand, from which it is scarcely distinguishable in color, with the horns projecting out like feelers, whence it suddenly darts forth and seizes its prey (Diod. Sic. 3. 50). — (See Bochart, Hieroz. 3. 205 sq.; Hasselquist, Trav. p. 365 sq.; Belon, in Paulus's Samml. 1, 206; 2:258; Bruce, Trav. 7, pl. 40; Wilkinson, 2d ser. 2:245 sq.; Prosp. Alp. Rer. Egypt. 4, 4, p. 210, pl. 5, 6.) Others, again, refer this last to the "adder," i.e. viper (q.v.), of Ge 49:17. SEE SERPENT.

Bible concordance for COCKATRICE.

Definition of cockatrice

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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