Ps 58:4b, 5a—“Deaf like the cobra that stops up its ear, that will not listen to the voice of charmers.”
In The New York Times, January 10, 1954, § 4, p. 9, under the title “Are Snakes ‘Charmed’ by Music?” the following report on Ps 58:4, 5 is found: “Dr. David I. Macht, research pharmacologist of the Mount Sinai Hospital in Baltimore [U.S.A.], is one of the world’s leading authorities on cobra snake venom. (Cobra venom is an accepted medication, in blood disorders, for instance.) Dr. Macht reported that in working with cobras and cobra venom he became acquainted with a number of Hindu physicians, well educated, and from different parts of India. All agreed that cobras respond to some musical tones, from musical pipes or fifes. Some forms of music excite the animals more than other forms, the physicians reported. Indian children, playing in the dark in the countryside, are even warned not to sing lest their sounds attract cobras, he said. Dr. Macht commented that Shakespeare, who repeatedly referred to serpents as deaf . . . merely repeated a common misunderstanding. On the other hand Dr. Macht said, the psalmist was right who implied conversely, in Psalm 58, Verse 5, that serpents can hear . . . . Contrary to the claims of some naturalists, Dr. Macht said, snakes are ‘charmed’ by sounds, not by movements of the charmer.”
Likewise, in an article published in the German zoological magazine Grzimeks Tier, Sielmanns Tierwelt (Grzimek’s Animal, Sielmann’s Animal World), July 1981, pp. 34, 35, the author tells of a cobra that lived on his estate in Sri Lanka in a termite hill. He asked a snake charmer to catch the wild snake and get it to dance. The author reports: “After I had assured my guest that there really was a cobra living there, he sat down in front of the termite hill and began to play his pipe. After a long time—I no longer believed anything would happen—the cobra raised its head several centimeters out of a hole. Before the snake could open its mouth the charmer hurried over and grabbed its head between his thumb and two fingers.” The Indian thereupon actually got the snake to dance.
Therefore, there is evidence that the cobra does “listen to the voice of charmers.”