(Revised from Investigator 18,  1991 May)

Hyrax syriacus  or "rock badger" is a rabbit-sized animal living in mountains among caves and rocks. It has also been called "rock rabbit", "shaphan" and "coney".

Moses called the Hyrax a "chewer of the cud". (Leviticus 11:5; Deuteronomy 14:7)

Everyone, however, seemed to disagree:

"they do not actually chew the cud".
(Hastings, J et al 1909, A Dictionary of the Bible, Twelth Impression 1950, T & C Clark, Britain.)

"...erroneously described as a ruminant."
(A Concise Bible Dictionary, No Date, Cambridge University Press, Britain)

"...the statement that it is a ruminant is unfounded."
(Buttrick, G A et al 1962, The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, Four Volumes, Abington Press, USA.)

"It does not really chew the cud, but has a motion of the jaws which resembles that function."
(Unger's Bible Dictionary, Paperback edition 1983, Moody Press, USA)

These quotations are from theological sources. However, the theologians relied on what seemed to be an established scientific finding. Nineteenth-century biologists had dissected the Hyrax and showed it had two stomach compartments and not the four compartments of cud-chewing ruminants such as cattle and sheep.

If the Bible is wrong in mundane testable points, then its untestable statements especially important claims – would also be dubious.  A principle Jesus gave is relevant:

"He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in very little is dishonest also in much." (Luke 16:10)
The Biological Abstracts are thick volumes containing tens-of-thousands of concise summaries of biological research done throughout the world. Abstract 72891 for 1967 says: 72891 HENDRICHS, H. Vergleichende Untersuchung des Wiederkau-verhaltens. [Comparative investigation of cud retainers.] BIOL ZENTRALBL 84(6): 67l-751. Illus. 1965 [recd. 1966]. All artiodactyl families and about 80% of the spp. were investigated. Chewing regurgitated fodder is an idle pastime as well as an instinct associated with appetite. Characteristic movements were analyzed for undisturbed samples of animals maintained on preserves. Group specific differences are reported in form, rhythm, frequency, and side of chewing motion. The ungulate type is characterized as a specialization. The operation is described for the first time for the order Hyracoidea. On the basis of 12 spp. of the marsupial subfamily Macropodinae rumination is inferred for the entire category. Advantages of the process are debated. D. S. Groschi Notice the sentence: "The operation is described for the first time for the order Hyracoidea."

"Order Hyracoidea" is the scientific name of a category of animals that includes the Hyrax. The full report, including photos of the Hyrax,  appeared in the German journal Biologisches Zentralblatt. (1965 Nov-Dec pp. 671-751)

In 1964 zoologist Hubert Hendrichs observed hyraxes at the Munich zoo in Germany and noticed swallowing movements. He subsequently investigated more closely.

Hendrichs discussed hyraxes on pages 736 to 739 of his report. He admitted that Moses anticipated his discovery by 3000 years.

The reason the Hyrax's cud chewing behavior remained unconfirmed so long is that the animal chews cud as little as 30 minutes a day and usually at night. Unless hyraxes are held in captivity their cud chewing would not be noticed!

So the Bible turns out right regarding an observation on the Hyrax and people who disagreed turned out wrong – so what?

One isolated case of the Bible being proved right and people disagreeing with it proved wrong would not be significant. But what if it happened often? What if there are hundreds of examples in many areas of study including astronomy, futurology, geography, history, biology, psychology, oceanography, geology, medicine, etc?

A book that seems wrong in hundreds of points but always seems to turn out correct in the long run would be a peculiar book indeed. Could any human write such a book?


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