(שָׁפָן, shaphan'; Sept. χοιρογρύλλιος), an animal joined in Le 11:5, and De 14:7, with the hare, and described as chewing the cud; in Ps 104:18, it is spoken of as an inhabitant of the mountains and rocks, and in Pr 30:26, it is represented as a feeble, but gregarious and cunning animal. These descriptions some think agree best with the different species of the jerboa, the Mus jaculus of Linnaeus. It is on the authority of Rabbinical writers that the word has by our translators been rendered "coney," or rabbit, which cannot be sustained, as the rabbit is not an Asiatic animal, and does not seek a rocky habitation, which is the leading characteristic by which the shaphan is distinguished. "The animal is, in truth, as Bruce justly indicated, the same as the Ashkoko of Abyssinia, or Daman of Syria, the Wabber of the Arabs, and in scientific zoology is one of the small genus Hyrax, distinguished by the specific name of Syrian (Syriacus). This animal has been described by travelers as a ruminant, but this is an error. The number, shape, and structure of the teeth are totally different (as is true also of the hare); nor is the jawbone articulated so as to admit freely of a similar action; finally, the internal structure, as well as the whole osteology, represents that of a rhinoceros in miniature, and has no appearance of the complicated fourfold stomachs of ruminants; therefore the hyrax is neither a rodent like hares and rabbits, nor a ruminant, but is anomalous, and most nearly allied to the great pachyderms of systematic zoology. It may be that the peculiar structure of their anterior teeth is convenient for stripping off the seeds of grasses and tritica, and that these, in part retained in the mouth, cause a practice of working the jaws, which, to common observers, may appear to be chewing the cud. In hares and rats a similar appearance is produced by a particular friction of the incisors or nippers, which, growing with great rapidity, would soon extend beyond a serviceable length if they were not kept to their proper size by constant gnawing, and by working the cutting edges against each other. This action, observed in the motion of the lips of most rodents when in a state of rest, caused the belief of rumination in the hare, though, like the hyrax, all rodentia are equally unprovided with the several stomachs, and want the muscular apparatus necessary to force the food back into the mouth for remastication at pleasure, which constitute the leading peculiarities of the anatomical structure of the ruminantia. But they may possess, in common with pachydermata, like the horse and hog, the peculiar articulation and form of jaws which give them the power of grinding their food, and laminated teeth fitted for the purpose. Externally the hyrax is somewhat of the size, form, and brownish color of a rabbit, and it has short, round cars, sufficiently like for inexact observers to mistake the one for the other. The hyrax is of clumsier structure than the rabbit, without tail, having long bristly hairs scattered through the general fur; the feet are naked below, and all the nails are flat and rounded, save those on each inner toe of the hind feet, which are long and awl-shaped; therefore the species cannot dig, and is by nature intended to reside, not, like rabbits, in burrows, but in the clefts of rocks. This character is correctly applied to the shaphan by David." The total length of the animal as it sits is about one foot. It presents at first sight the idea of a rat rather than any other creature. The color is gray, mixed with reddish-brown, and the belly white. They do not appear to have any cry, nor do they stand upright in walking, but seem to steal along as if in fear, advancing a few steps at a time, and then pausing. "Their timid, gregarious habits, and the tenderness of their paws, make them truly 'the wise and feeble folk' of Solomon, for the genus lives in colonies in the crevices of stony places in Syria, Palestine, Arabia, Eastern Egypt, Abyssinia, and even at the Cape of Good Hope, where one or two additional species exist. In every locality they are quiet, gentle creatures, loving to bask in the sun, never stirring far from; their retreats, moving with caution, and shrinking from the shadow of a passing bird, for they are often the prey of eagles and hawks; their habits are strictly diurnal, and they feed on vegetables and seeds." The flesh of the shaphan was forbidden the Hebrews, and it appears that the Mohammedans and Christians of the East at the present day abstain from the flesh of the daman. (See further particulars in the Penny Cyclopedia, s.v. Hyrax; also Bochart, Hieroz. 2:421 sq.; Rosenmüller, Alterth. IV, 2:213 sq.; Shaw, Trav. p. 301; Sonnini. 1:98; Bruce, 7:241; Hasselquist, p. 277 sq. Wilson, Bible Lands, 2:28; Laborde, Voyages, p. 47; Robinson, Researches, new edit. 3, 387; Thomson, Land and Book, 1:460; Oedmann, Sarml. 4:48; Lucas, Allerneuste R. p. 300; Oken, NaturGesch. VII, 2:889; Ehrenberg, Symbol. phys. i, fig. 2; Ludolf, Lex. Anmhar. p. 58; Hist. Ethiop. lib. i, c. 10, § 75; Peyron, Lex. p. 314; Gesenius, Thes. Heb. p. 1467; Vloten. Spec. p. 46; Schubert, Reis. 3, 110; Gesen. ad Burckhardt, p. 1076; Forskal, Descript. anim. p. v; Fresnel, in the Asiatic Journal, June, 1838, p. 514; Isenberg, Lex. Amhar. p. 122; Kitto, Phys. History of Palest. p. 376; Laborde, Syria, p. 114.) SEE ZOOLOGY.

Bible concordance for CONEY.

Definition of coney

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.