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Don Stewart :: Does the Hare Chew Its Cud?

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Don Stewart
One of the so-called scientific errors found in the Bible concerns the hare chewing its cud. It is a favorite illustration of unbelievers as to the "unscientific" nature of Scripture.
The Bible lists the hare as an unclean animal, one that is not fit for human consumption. The reason it gives is what has caused the controversy:

The hare because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you (Leviticus 11:6).

To be fit for human consumption the Bible said that an animal must chew its cud and divide the hoof. The hare is listed as an unclean animal because it does not have cloven hooves. However, the Scripture says that the hare chews its cud. There are those who accuse the Bible of being in error because the hare is not a ruminant, it does not chew its cud.

Appears To Chew

The solution to this question is that the hare gives the appearance of chewing the cud. In fact, Linnaeus at first classified the hare as a ruminant, even though the four-stomach apparatus was lacking. Moreover, the list of forbidden animals was intended to be a practical guide, not a scientific classification. When the Israelite went out in the wilds looking for food he might have concluded that these animals were fit to eat since they ruminated like the larger cattle and fed on the same kind of grass and herbs. This is why the law pointed out that they did not have hooves at all and therefore could not meet the requirements for edible flood. F. Duane Lindsay adds this comment:

It is true that the coney and rabbit do not chew the cud in the modern scientific sense, but their jaw movements and thoroughness in chewing fell within the empirical significance of the Hebrew phrase (F. Duane Lindsay, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, eds., Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1985, pp. 190,191).

Therefore, the statement that the hare chews its cud should not be taken in the strict scientific classification. Moses listed things not as a comparative anatomist, but as things appeared to the observer.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.