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REPTILES ("remes," "shereẓ"):

In the Biblical account of creation the "creeping things" are divided into the "moving" creatures of the sea (Gen. i. 20) and "everything that creepeth upon the ground" (Gen. i. 25). As a group parallel to the "beasts" and the "fowls of the air" they are indicated by the word "remes" in Gen. vi. 7 and elsewhere.

The Talmud uses, for the amphibia and small animals, the generic terms "reḥesh" (moving things), "shereẓ" (creeping things), and "sheḳeẓ" (things which arouse disgust; Ḥul. 10a, 126b; Nid. 21a). But small mammals also, as the weasel, mouse, hedgehog, and mole, are sometimes comprised under the word "shereẓ" (comp. Shab. 107a et seq.). Maimonides ("Yad," Ma'akalot Asurot, ii., §§ 12 et seq.) makes the following distinction: "Shereẓ ha-mayim" are creatures not belonging to the fish tribe, but yet living in the water (leeches, seals, etc.); "romes 'al ha-areẓ" are the parasitic organisms which arise from the decomposition of foreign substances (intestinal worms, dung-beetles, etc.); while "shoreẓ 'al ha-areẓ" are the creatures produced by the "generatio propagativa." All reptiles are poisonous, but only the snake is deadly ('Ab. Zarah 31b). A characteristic common to all creeping things is that the white and the yolk in their eggs are not separated (Ḥul. 64a). See also Abomination; Creeping Things.

Bibliography:
  • Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 245;
  • Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, pp. 4, 218.
E. G. H. I. M. C.
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