is the rendering, in the A. V., of תּנשֶׁמֶת, tinshemeth, in two of the three passages where this word occurs, namely, Le 11:18; De 14:16, where it stands in the list of unclean birds (Sept. πορφυρίων, ἴβις; Vulg., copyingly, potphyrio, ibis; Samaritan the same). Bochart (Hieroz. 2, 290) explains it noctua (owl), and derives the name from שָׁמִם, shacidm, "to astonish," because other birds are startled at the apparition of the owl. Gesenius suggests the pelican, from נָשׁ, "to breathe, to puff," with reference to the inflation of its pouch. Whatever may have been the bird intended by Moses, these conjectures cannot be admitted as satisfactory, the owl and pelican being both distinctly expressed elsewhere in the catalogue. Giggeius wavered between these two; and Dr. Mason Harris, seemingly not better informed, and confounding the American 'red species with the white one of Africa, guessed that porphyrion must "mean the flamingo. Parkhurst deriving the word from נשם, nashdm, "to breathe," was inclined to render tinshemeth by "goose;" but as this bird is not by the present Jews deemed unclean, it may be confidently assumed that no mistake in this matter can have occurred during any period, and consequently that the goose cannot have been marked unclean by the law and afterwards admitted among the clean birds with its name transferred to another species. The Hebrew Dictionary by Selig. Newman, it is true, renders tinsheineth "swan;" but the Polyglots show the great uncertainty there is in several of the names of both the chapters in question. The swan, for which some recent scholars contend, asserting that it was held sacred in Egypt, does not occur, so far as has been ascertained, in any Egyptian ancient picture, and is not a bird which, in migrating to the south, even during the coldest seasons, appears to proceed farther than France or Spain, though, no doubt, individuals may be blown onward in hard gales to the African shore. Only two instances of swans have been noticed so far to the south as the sea between Candia and Rhodes: one where a traveler mentions his passing through a flock reposing on the sea daring the night; the other recorded by Hasselquist, who saw one on the coast of Egypt. But it may be conjectured that they mistook pelicans for swans, particularly as the last mentioned are fresh-water birds, and do not readily take to the true salt sea. Mr. Strickland, indeed, says of the mute swan (Cygnus olo), that it visits Smyrna Bay in winter; and Mr. Yarrell, on the authority of Mr. Bennett, tells us that the hooper (C. ferus) sometimes goes as far south as Egypt and Barbary. He adds that "they visit Corfu and Sicily in very severe winters; and Mr. Drummond saw a few on the lakes of Biserta, and one in the Lalke of Tunis at the end of April, 1845." But these are very rare instances. Nor, if it had been known to the Israelites, is, it easy to understand why the swan should have been classed among the unclean birds. The renderings of the Sept., porphyrio and ibis, are either of them more probable. Neither of these birds occurs elsewhere in the catalogue. The porphyrion, or purple gallinule, cannot have been unknown to the translators, as it was, no doubt, common in the Alexandrian temples, and was then, as it is now, seen both in Egypt and Palestine. Πορφυρίων, porphyrio antiquorunsm, Bp., the purple water-hen, is mentioned by Aristotle (thist. Anim. 8:8), Aristophanes (Av. 707), Pliny (Hist. Nat.
10,63); and is more fully described by Athenaeus (Deipn. 9:388). The circumstance of the same Heb. name being given to the chameleon (see below) may have arisen from both having the faculty of changing colors, or being iridescent; the first, when angry, becoming green, blue, and purple- colors which likewise play constantly on the glossy parts of the second's plumage. The porphyrion is superior in bulk to the common water-hen, or gallinule; has a hard crimson shield on the forehead, and flesh-colored legs; the head, neck, and sides are of a beautiful turquoise blue, the upper and back parts of a dark but brilliant indigo. It is allied to the corn-crake, and is the largest and most beautiful of the family Rallidae, being larger than the domestic fowl. From the extraordinary length of its toes, it is enabled, lightly treading on the flat leaves of water-plants, to support itself without immersion, and apparently to run on the surface of the water. It frequents marshes and the sedge by the banks of rivers in all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, and is abundant in Lower Egypt. Athenaeus has correctly noted its singular habit of grasping its food with its very long toes and thus conveying it to its mouth. It is distinguished from all the other species of Rallidae by its short, powerful mandibles, with which it crushes its prey, consisting often of reptiles and young birds. It will frequently seize a young duck with its long feet, and at once crunch the head of its victim with its beak. It is an omnivorous feeder, and, from the miscellaneous character of its food, might reasonably find a place in the catalogue of unclean bird. Its flesh is rank, coarse, and very dark-colored. It was anciently kept tame in the precincts of pagan temples, and therefore, perhaps, was marked unclean, as most, if not all, the sacred animals of the heathens were. When, in the decline of idolatry, the dog, peacock, ibis, the purple bird in question, and other domesticated ornaments of the temples had disappeared, Gesner's researches show how early and long the writers of the Middle Ages and of the Revival of Literature were perplexed to find again the porphyrion of the ancients, although modern naturalists have not the shadosw of a doubt upon the subject, the species being, moreover, depicted upon Egyptian monuments. The Porphyrio hyacinthinus is the species most common in Europe, although there are several others in Asia and Africa; Porphyrio erythropus, abundant on the southeast coast of Africa, appears to be that which the pagan priests most cherished.
The same Heb. word tinshemeth (תַּנשַׁמֶת; Sept. ἀσπάλαξ v.r. σπάλαξ; Vulg. talpa) in Le 11:30, being found among the unclean "creeping things that creep upon the earth," evidently no longer stands for the name of a bird, and is rendered "mole" by the A. V., adopting the interpretation of the Sept., Vulg., Onkelos, and some of the Jewish doctors. Bochart has, however, shown that the Heb. choled (חֹלֶד), the Arabic khuld or khild, denotes the "mole," and has argued with much force in behalf of the "chameleon" being the tinshemeth. The Syriac version and some Arabic MSS. understand "'a centipede" by the original word, the Targum of Jonathan a "salamander;" some Arabic versions read sammaldbras, which Golius renders "a kind of lizard." In Le 11:30, the "chameleon" is given by the A. V. as the translation of the Heb. choach (חוֹחִ), which in all probability 'denotes some larger kind of lizard. SEE CHAMELEON. The only clue to an identification of tinsheneth is to be found in its etymology, and in the context in which the word occurs. Bochart conjectures that the root (נָשִׁם, nashdm, to breathe) from which the Heb. name of this creature is derived has' reference to a vulgar opinion among the ancients that the chameleon lived on air (comp. Ovid, Met. 15:411, "Id quoque quod ventis animal nutritur et aura," and see numerous quotations from classical authors cited by Bochart, Hieroz. 2, 505). The lung of the chameleon is very large, and when filled with air it renders the body semi-transparent; from the creature's power of abstinence, no doubt, arose the fable that it lived on air. It is probable that the animals mentioned with the tinshemeth (Le 11:30) denote different kinds of lizards; perhaps, therefore, since the etymology of the word is favorable to that view, the chameleon may be the animal intended by tinshemeth in the above passage. As to the change of color in the skin of this animal, numerous theories have been proposed; but, as this subject has no scriptural bearing, it will be enough to refer to the explanation given by Milne-Edwards, whose paper is translated in vol. 17 of the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal. The chameleon belongs to the tribe Dendi-osaura, order Sazura; the family inhabits Asia and Africa and' the south of Europe. The Chameleo vuligaris is doubtless the species mentioned in the Bible. See Tristram, Natiural iistory of the Bible, p. 249; Wood, Bible Animals, p. 87, 488. SEE LIZARD.