The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia


Unclean animal (Lev. xi. 29). Saadia, Bochart, and others render by "mole," referring to the Arabic "ḥuld" and the Aramaic "ḥuldah." The family of the Mustelidœ, to which the weasel belongs, is represented in Palestine and Syria by several species.

In the Talmud the common weasel, Mustela vulgaris, is mentioned under the names and (Pes. 9a; Sanh. 105a). In Gen. R. xxiv. 6 also occurs the term . The weasel lives on dung-heaps and in holes and chinks of walls, and it burrows in the ground (Pes. 8b, 118b; Niddah 15b; Suk. 20b). It kills animals larger than itself (Ṭoh. iv. 3), and even attacks corpses (Shab. 151b). It is especially dangerous to domestic fowl (Ḥul. 52b et al.); its bent and pointed teeth pierce the skulls of hens (ib. 56a; comp. Rashi on Deut. xxxii. 5).

It is above all dangerous to the cat. Hence the proverb "Weasel and cat wed," applied to simulated friendship (Sanh. 105a). Like all small beasts of prey, the weasel carries off glittering objects to its hole (Lev. R. clxxi. 4). The weasel alone of all land animals has no counterpart in the sea (Ḥul. 127a). It was employed in clearing the house of mice (B. Ḳ. 80a). On the use of the weasel in divination see Sanh. 66a; and for the pretty story of the weasel and the well which, as witnesses of a betrothal, avenged its breach, see Rashi on Ta'an. 8a.

  • Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 151;
  • Lewysohn, Z. T. pp. 91, 366.
E. G. H. I. M. C.
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