By: Emil G. Hirsch
A loose expression used in the A. V. as the equivalent of and . ("remes" = creeping—that is, without, or with imperceptible, feet; applies to terrestrial and also to water animals. The R. V. more correctly translates it "teemeth" in Gen. ix. 2; Lev. xx. 25, and "moveth" in Lev. xi. 44; Ps. lxix. 34; Gen. viii. 19. Generally, however, "remes" stands for "reptiles," possibly also for very small quadrupeds. In the Talmud "remes" is used as a general name for worms infesting the intestines of man or beast (Niddah 21a), for which elsewhere the words (Ab. iii. 1) and occur. But, according to Tos. to Niddah 23a, s.v. , only the serpent was called the "creeping thing," .
("shereẓ," Gen. vii. 21; Lev. v. 2; xi. 10, 29; Deut. xiv. 19) applies only to animals that swarm, whether terrestrial, such as the weasel, mouse, lizard (Lev. v. 29); aquatic (Lev. xi. 10; Gen. i. 2; compare Ex. vii. 28 [A.V. viii. 3]); or even winged (Lev. xi. 20-23). The fundamental connotation of the verb and noun is undoubtedly the incalculably prolific multitudes of little animals which always appear in troops or swarms. The R. V. therefore gives the translation "breed abundantly" (Gen. viii. 17, ix. 7; compare Ex. i. 7).
In rabbinical Hebrew "shereẓ" is the generic term for amphibious reptiles ('Ab. Zarah 31b). The etymological implication of prolific increase is brought out in Ex. R. viii. 2; Lev. R. § 13 (the "'aḳrab" throws 60 young). It is also the typicalterm for ritual and moral impurity, in the oft-recurring phrase ("one takes the bath of purification while holding a shereẓ in his hand"), applied to one who would do penance without repentance (Yer. Ta'an. ii. 65d, beginning). A distinction is made between ("land insect"), ("water reptile"), and ("winged insect") (Pes. 24a). Maimonides ("Yad, "Ma'akalot Asurot, ii. 12 et seq.) says: " are all animals that are not fishes but live in the water, such as leeches, sea-dogs. ["romes" =creepers upon the earth] are worms produced by the decomposition of other substances, helminths; while ["those that swarm on the earth"] are generated through copulation of the parent animals."
- Nowack, Lehrbuch der Hebräischen Archäologic, i. 74-87;
- Benzinger, Arch. p. 40;
- Hart, Animals of the Bible;
- Lewysohn, Zoologic des Talmuds, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1858.