The Atheists, Bible correctors, Muslims and other Bible bashers often bring up this alleged “error”, found not only in the King James Bible but in the Hebrew text and virtually every Bible translation ever done.
The use their vast “scientific” knowledge and learning to tell us that “Rabbits do not chew the cud.” They go on to tell us that “ They do not have compartmentalized stomachs that ruminants must have in order to be cud-chewers.” and so, they say, there is a clear error in the Bible.
But are they looking at things the way God sees and classifies them?
No, they are not.
Let’s look at the passage.
In Leviticus 11:5-6 we read: “5. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.”
Deuteronomy 14:7 - “Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.”
Both the coney (Coney Island) and the hare are kinds of rabbits. And it is the Bible itself that tells us they “chew the cud”.
Answer - While neither animal is a true ruminant, they do re-chew their food, and so in that sense "chew the cud." Rechewing was accepted in this sense by the Hebrews.
Many Bible versions agree with the King James Bible and translate these animals that “chew the cud” as the CONEY (many of them) and the HARE or RABBIT.
These include Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1534, Coverdale 1535, The Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Geneva Bible 1587 - ALL of these read “the coney…the hare”, Darby 1890, the JPS (Jewish Publication Society) 1917, the 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company translation, The Complete Jewish Bible 1998, Webster’s Bible 1833 “coney…hare”, Darby 1890, Revised Version 1885, American Standard Version 1901, Rotherham's Emphasized Version 1902, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 - “the CONEY and the HARE…IT CHEWS THE CUD”, the 1917 Jewish Publication Societies translation, The New Jewish Version 1985, the NASB 1995, The Koster Scriptures 1998, The NIV 1984, 2011, ESV 2001-2011, Holman Standard 2009, The Judaica Press Tanach 2004, Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011, the Hebrew Names Version 2014, ISV 2014 - “the hare, it chews the cud”, World English Bible 2000,Complete Apostle’s Bbile 2003, A Conservative Version 2005 - “THE CONEY….and THE HARE), NET 2006 - “the hare…it chews the cud”, The New European Version 2010, The Hebrew Transliteration Scripture 2010 - “And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you”, theTree of Life Version 2015 -“CONEY… AND the HARE…IT CHEWS THE CUD”
The NASB is of interest. It supposedly is a revision of the ASV, but the ASV has "coney…and the hare” in Leviticus 11:5-6 just as the KJB. The NASB has been revised itself some ten times so far and all the way through the 1977 editions it replaced coney with "rock badger".
Leviticus 11:5 "Likewise the ROCK BADGER, for though it chews the cud, it does not divide the hoof. the RABBIT also, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you”
Then in the 1995 update NASB edition they have again changed the reading to this: "Likewise, the SHAPHAN, for though it chews the cud, it does not divide the hoof."
Apparently the new NASB editors don't have a clue what this animal is and have given up on the "rock badger”.
The NIV is constantly changing as well. The NIV 1982 edition reads: “The CONEY, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. The RABBIT, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you.” Leviticus 11:5-6
But now the NIV 2011 edition came out and it now reads: “The HYRAX, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof…The RABBIT though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof, it is unclean for you.”
In any event, they ALL say that RABBITS CHEW THE CUD.
See - “Do Rabbits Chew the Cud? The Bible beats the skeptics (again)”, Creation Magazine, by Jonathan Sarfatti -
Part of what Mr. Sarfati writes is this -
In modern English, animals that ‘chew the cud’ are called ruminants. They hardly chew their food when first eaten, but swallow it into a special stomach where the food is partially digested. Then it is regurgitated, chewed again, and swallowed into a different stomach. Animals which do this include cows, sheep and goats, and they all have four stomachs. Rock badgers and rabbits are not ruminants in this modern sense.
It is not an error of Scripture that ‘chewing the cud’ now has a more restrictive meaning than it did in Moses’ day.
However, the Hebrew phrase for ‘chew the cud’ simply means ‘raising up what has been swallowed’. Coneys and rabbits go through such similar motions to ruminants that Linnaeus, the father of modern classification (and a creationist), at first classified them as ruminants.
Also, rabbits and hares practise refection, which is essentially the same principle as rumination, and does indeed ‘raise up what has been swallowed’. The food goes right through the rabbit and is passed out as a special type of dropping. These are re-eaten, and can now nourish the rabbit as they have already been partly digested.
All of grace, believing the Book - the King James Bible.
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