(עכבָּר, akbar', according to Bochart, Hieroz. 1:1017, a compound of the Chald. עֲכִל, to devour, and בִּר, afield, from its ravages; but according to Gesenius, Thes. Heb. page 508, from the Arab. for swift digger; Gr. μῦς), by which especially the field-mouse (Mishna, Moed Katon, 1:4) — a species, on account of its voracity and rapid increase, very injurious to crops (Aristotle, Anim. 6:37; Strabo, 3:165; AElian, Anim. 6:41; Pliny, 10:85; comp. Russell, Aleppo, 2:59) — appears to be designated in 1Sa 6:4 sq. SEE HEMORRHOID. It was an unclean animal (Le 11:29), in which passage, however, all the species of the genus mus are doubtless included (Bochart, Hieroz. 2:429 sq.). But in Isa 66:7, a different creature seems to be denoted, apparently some esculent species of glis. or dormouse (see Varro, R.R. 2:15); or perhaps the leaping variety of mouse, mus jaculus, or jerboa, which is designated in Arabic by a name corresponding to the Heb. akbar, although this animal has often been identified with the Heb. shaphan, or "coney." SEE MOLE.
It is likely that the Hebrews extended the acceptation of the word akbar in the same manner as was the familiar custom of the Greeks, and still more of the Romans, who included within their term mus insectivore of the genus sorex, that is "shrews;" carnivora, among which was the Mustela erminea, "stoat" or "ermine," their Mnusponticus; and in the systematic order Rodentia, the mnusidce contain Myoxus flis, or fat dormouse; Dipus jaculus, or Egyptian jerboa; Mus, rats and mice properly so called, constituting several modern genera; and cricetus, or hamster, which includes the marmot or Roman Mus Alpinus. In the above texts, those in I Samuel 6 apparently refer to the shorttailed field-mouse, which is still the most destructive animal to the harvests of Syria (see William of Tyre, Gesta Dei, page 823), and is most likely the species noticed in antiquity and during the crusades; for, had they been jerboas in shape and resembled miniature kangaroos, we would expect William of Tyre to have mentioned the peculiar form of the destroyers, which was then unknown to Western Europe; whereas, they being of species or appearance common to the Latin nations, no particulars were required. But in Leviticus and Isaiah, where the mouse is declared an unclean animal, the species most accessible and likely to invite the appetite of nations who, like the Arabs, were apt to covet all kinds of animals, even when expressly forbidden, were no doubt the hamster and the dormouse; and both are still eaten in common with the jerboa by the Bedouins, who are but too often driven to extremity by actual want of food. The common field-vole, often called the short-tailed field-mouse, is the campagnol of the French, and the Arvicola agrestis of modern zoologists. It is about the size of the house-mouse, to which it bears a general resemblance, but is easily distinguished by its larger head, its short ears and tail, its stouter form, and its reddish color, no less than by its habits (Fairbairn). "Of all the smaller rodentia which are injurious, both in the fields and in the woods, there is not," says Prof. Bell (Hist. Brit. Quad. page 325), "one which produces such extensive destruction as this little animal, when its increase, as is sometimes the case, becomes multitudinous." The ancient writers frequently speak of the great ravages committed by mice. Herodotus (2:141) ascribes the loss of Sennacherib's army to mice, which in the night-time gnawed through the bow-strings and shield-straps. See generally Bochart, Hieroz. 2:448 sq.