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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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The translation in the Revised Version of the Hebrew "ẓ efa' " and "ẓ if' oni" (Isaiah 11:8 , 14:29 , 59:5 Jeremiah 8:17 Proverbs 23:32 ), for which the Authorized Version has "cockatrice." The Septuagint uses the word β α σ ι λ ί σ κ ο ν in Isaiah 59:5 for "ef' eh," and in Psalm 91:13 for "peten." In all these places some variety of serpent is evidently meant, but the ancient versions do not indicate which. The rendering "basilisk"— so also Jerome and the Syriac Version— is correct in so far as that the Hebrew word likewise appears to designate some fabulous creature, though it is not known which was the particular kind of serpent that suggested the fanciful notions of the ancients. According to some, the Hebrew "ẓ efa' " is the same species as "shefifon" ( Genesis 49:17 ), the horned adder or cerastes, a very poisonous viper found in Arabia, in the Sinaitic peninsula.

J. Jr. I. Be.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Basilisk'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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