MOUSE (Hebr. "'akbar"):
An animal enumerated among the unclean "creeping things" in Lev. xi. 29. In I Sam. vi., where the reference is to the mice sent as a plague upon the Philistines to ravage their fields, "'akbar" may denote specifically the field-mouse, while elsewhere the term probably includes the whole family of small rodents, as the rat, marmot, jerboa, etc. In Isa. lxvi. 17 eating the mouse is placed in the same category with eating swine's flesh. For the legendary action of mice in the destruction of Sennacherib's army see Herodotus, ii. 141.
In the Talmud the term "'akbar" apparently includes also the rat (comp. B. M. 97a, where the case is mentioned of a cat being killed by 'akbarim). A distinction is made between house-, field-, and watermice (Ḥul. 126b, 127a, and parallels), as also between black, gray, and white ones (Pes. 10b). The mouse is an object of disgust (Suk. 36b). It is of malicious nature, since it causes destruction (to cloth and wood) without any profit to itself (Hor. 13a). Even a human corpse is not safe from it (Shab. 151b and parallels). Hence its many enemies, e.g., the cat, the fox, the hedgehog, the weasel, and man (B. Ḳ. 80a). But no mouse robs another one (Pes. 10b). Eating of anything which a mouse has gnawed weakens the memory; hence the cat, which eats the mice themselves, does not recognize its master (Hor. 13a). Mice often carry away bright objects, as coins, rings, etc.; and a miser who buries his money is called a "mouse lying upon its denarii" (Sanh. 29b). Another proverb which is cited in connection with the mouse is: "Not the mouse is the thief, but the hole" (i.e., the receiver of stolen goods; 'Er. 30a).
- Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 122;
- Lewysohn, Z. T. pp. 105, 269.