charmers.” (Ps. 58:4, 5) Though some naturalists claim snakes cannot hear, the Bible is in harmony with the latest findings that demonstrate that snakes have an internal sound mechanism and that they can hear fairly well. Thus the New York Times of January 10, 1954 (Sec. 4, p. 9), reported under the heading “Are Snakes ‘Charmed’ by Music?”:
“Dr. David I. Macht, research pharmacologist of the Mount Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, is one of the world’s leading authorities on cobra snake venom. . . . 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. Revise the textbooks, the physicians recommended.”
The snake can best hear a vibration on the ground or notes of high pitch. Some of its most common preys make high-pitched sounds; these high-pitched notes produce great uneasiness and alarm in the snake. Thus notes produced by flutes only signify food or danger to the snake and do not meet with an appreciation of the music played. When a snake charmer starts playing on his flute, this immediately gets a reaction from the snake and it lifts itself erect, alert to danger. Recognizing the sound as coming from the flute, it will naturally fix its attention on that object and the one playing it. If the charmer moves or sways back and forth, the snake will do the same. If he moves around the snake in a circle, the snake will, of course, turn to keep its eyes on the source of the sound.
Pharaoh Tutankhamen, whose tomb was discovered in 1922, used the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje) as his imperial symbol.
Some cobras, such as the black-necked or spitting cobra of Africa, can spit or spray venom a distance of six to twelve feet (1.8 to 3.7 meters). The spitting cobras aim at the eyes of the victim and seldom miss their target. Spitting cobras appear to be able to eject their venom in rapid-fire salvos. One observer reports that in Tanganyika a black-necked cobra sprayed venom between a dozen and twenty times—in rapid succession.
[Gr., a·leʹktor; Lat., gallus].
A rooster or male chicken. Due to the widespread domestication of the chicken, the jaunty figure of the cock with its bright-colored plumage, long tail feathers arched over its back, and red wavy fleshlike comb topping its head, with two similar appendages hanging beneath the beak and throat, is a generally familiar sight. From early times it appears to have been prominent in India, Persia and Babylon, and is mentioned by Greek writers of the classical period.
The cock is not mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures and appears in the Christian Greek Scriptures only in connection with its crowing (Gr., a·le·kto·ro·pho·niʹa), as at Mark 13:35, where Jesus shows “cock-crowing” to have marked a definite period of the night. The most frequent references, however, relate to Jesus’ prophecy concerning Peter’s denials of him, fulfilled on the night prior to Jesus’ death and recounted by all four writers of the Gospel accounts. (Matt. 26:34, 74, 75; Mark 14:30, 72; Luke 22:34, 60, 61; John 13:38; 18:27) For a full consideration of these reports see COCKCROW.
While the Jewish Mishnah contains a prohibition against the keeping of domestic fowl by the Jews, due to the probability of their causing ceremonial defilement, Rabbinical sources indicate that they were kept as much by the Jews as by the Romans. An onyx seal bearing the figure of a cock was found near Mizpah and contains the inscription “belonging to Jaazaniah, servant of the king.” If, as some suggest, this Jaazaniah is the one mentioned at 2 Kings 25:23 and Jeremiah 40:8-10, this would indicate the keeping of cocks in Palestine back in the seventh century B.C.E. The figure of a cock has also been found on a sherd of a cooking pot excavated at ancient Gibeon.
The cock was a symbol of watchfulness and may have been used as such on the above-mentioned seal. The Greek name for it is similar to the Greek word aʹle·ktros, meaning “one without a bed” or “the sleepless one.” Among the Romans the third watch of the night was called the gallicinium or “cockcrowing.” Some claim that the prime purpose for keeping such cocks in ancient times was not to provide food but, rather, for their service as natural alarm clocks, rousing men for the day’s activities. The cruel “sport” of cockfighting, however, was popular among the Greeks and Romans for centuries before the Common Era, though nothing indicates its practice in Palestine.
This was the name given to the third watch period of the night, according to the Grecian and the Roman division. (Mark 13:35) It corresponded to the time from midnight to three o’clock in the morning.
There has been some discussion of the subject of cockcrowing owing to Jesus’ reference to it in connection with his prediction of Peter’s denying him on three occasions. (Matt. 26:34, 74, 75; Mark 14:30, 72; Luke 22:34; John 13:38) On the basis of statements made in the Jewish Mishnah, some argue that cocks were not bred in Jerusalem, since they caused ceremonial uncleanness by their scratching up the ground. They say that the cockcrowing mentioned by Jesus actually refers to the Roman gallicinium, a time signal said to be made with bugles by the Roman guard stationed on the ramparts of the castle of Antonia in Jerusalem that sounded out at the close of the third night watch.
However, the Jewish Talmud contains definite indications that cocks were bred in Jerusalem in those times. Further indication is that Jesus, when mourning over the city of Jerusalem, chose the simile of a ‘mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings’ to express the desire he had held toward it. (Matt. 23:37) His choice of illustrations was always such as would be readily appreciated by his listeners. So, in his statement to Peter, there seems to be no good reason for assuming that Jesus meant anything other than a literal cockcrowing.
Others point out an apparent contradiction in the four accounts, since Matthew, Luke and John mention only one cockcrowing, while Mark quotes Jesus as saying: “Truly I say to you, You today, yes, this night, before a cock crows twice, even you will disown me three times.” He repeats this statement in relating what happened later.—Mark 14:30, 72.
This is evidently a matter of one writer giving a more detailed account than the others rather than a contradiction. The incident involves Peter, and since Mark was his close companion over a period of time and doubtless wrote his Gospel account with Peter’s aid or on the basis of his testimony, it is reasonable that Mark’s account would be the more explicit one. (At other times Matthew gave the more detailed description of certain events, as seen by a comparison of Matthew 8:28 with Mark 5:2 and