The Hebrew name for this creature, included among the unclean “swarming creatures” at Leviticus 11:29, appears to be derived from a root meaning “to cleave to the ground.” The Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament by Brown, Driver and Briggs (p. 839) suggests “lizard” as the translation. Lizards are four-legged reptiles, generally small, with long tails and scaly skin. The lizard’s legs are attached far enough out at the sides to enable it to rest its belly on the ground without folding its feet under it. More than forty kinds are found in Palestine. They are to be found in trees, in warm crevices of rocks and on walls and ceilings in homes.—See CHAMELEON; GECKO; SAND LIZARD.
Lexicons generally suggest that the Hebrew word koʹahh also refers to a kind of lizard. Since the root meaning of the name is “power” or “strength,” it may refer to the monitor lizard, a powerful, large lizard. It inhabits dry, sandy desert areas. In Palestine this lizard reaches a length of about four feet (1.2 meters). It is an eater of carrion, and is on the list of “unclean” foods.—Lev. 11:29, 30.
Another creature listed as unclean for Israelite use as food is referred to by the Hebrew word hhoʹmet, at Leviticus 11:30. Some recent translations (RS; NW) render this “sand lizard.” The sand lizard is generally a small lizard inhabiting mainly desert areas. Its color resembles the yellowish shade of the desert sands. The lizard’s toes are fringed, keeping its feet from sinking in as it moves about. Though it cannot climb, it runs and burrows with extraordinary rapidity in sandy ground.
[Picture on page 1070]
The chameleon is one of the lizards often found in Palestine