Seven articles debating whether hares and rabbits chew "cud" were published in Investigator Magazine commencing with #145.
Read and decide for yourself whether the Bible anticipated a modern scientific discovery by 3400 years.
HARES, RUMINANTS and CUD (and AMY)
(Investigator 145, 2012 July)
"MOSES IS WRONG"
The Bible says hares "chew the cud" (Leviticus 11:6; Deuteronomy 14:7) but this statement was almost universally rejected. When scientists, in 1940, heard how rabbits return food to mouth for re-eating their reaction was: "Too fantastic for serious consideration."
Hares are born fully furred with eyes open and have longer ears and hind legs than rabbits.
The following quotes are from theological references but the authors relied on biological knowledge generally available:
Bishop Colenso says that he has a note from Professor Owen denying that the hare is a ruminant animal; therefore, says the Bishop, "Owen is right and Moses is wrong."
(Nicholson, W. n.d., The Bible Explainer and Concordance)
The animal which is called the hare does not actually chew the cud…
(Fallows, S. 1909, The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary)
The idea that it chews the cud is an error…
(Cheyne, T.T. & Black, J.S. 1914, Encyclopedia Biblica)
It was erroneously thought by the ancient Jews to have chewed the cud.
(Peloubet, F.N. & Adams, A.D. 1925, Peloubet's Bible Dictionary)
Anatomical analysis of the hare reveals that they do not re-chew their food…
(Pinney, R. 1964 The Animals in the Bible)
It was erroneously thought by the ancient Jews to have chewed the cud.
(Smith, W. 1967 Smith's Bible Dictionary)
The hare is not, of course a ruminant, and is probably so described because of the movement of its throat and lips. (McKenzie, S.J. 1976, Dictionary of the Bible)
AMY CONFIRMS THE BIBLE
From time to time Amy puts mouth to anus to take fecal pellets and swallow them. Amy is a rabbit I'm acquainted with in Adelaide and her eating action is part of bunny biology. And it's true of hares too.
The discovery was made by British scientist E. L. Taylor and reported in Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (March 1941, Volume A110: 159-163). He wrote:
"the rabbit habitually reingests up to 90 per cent of its daily solid excrement, this being taken directly from the anus at a certain time of day and swallowed in pellet form, without mastication." (p. 159)Zoologist J. Z. Young in The Life of Vertebrates (1962) writes:
"Lagomorphs share with rodents the habit of passing food twice through the alimentary canal (caecotrophy). Dried faecal pellets are produced only during the day. At night soft pellets covered with mucus are formed in the caecum and are immediately taken from the anus by the lips. They are stored in the stomach and later mixed with further food taken. The double passage of the food is necessary for the life of mice and guinea pigs as well as rabbits. The animals die in two or three weeks if prevented from reaching the anus."E. P. Walker in Mammals of the World Volume II (1975) writes: "This may be similar to ‘chewing the cud' in ruminant animals." The obvious, important, similarities are:
• The food passes through the digestive system twice;
• The process is necessary for the assimilation of nutrients and maintenance of life.
The Hebrew translated "chew the cud" literally reads "make cud ascend". (Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance, p. 939) This has generated debate on the Internet since some hare populations apparently excrete partly digested "food balls" onto flat surfaces and re-eat them later. If correct then different varieties of hares differ in how they re-eat their food. There is also the question whether hares and rabbits re-chew their cud or just swallow it without re-chewing.
For the phrase "make cud ascend" to be true of cattle, sheep, camels, antelopes, gazelles and hyraxes as well as hares (Deuteronomy 14:3-7) these animals must all have something in common. The feature in common is that food is returned to the mouth and swallowed a second time.
E. L. Taylor in a footnote added some history about his 1940 discovery and that his colleagues considered it "too fantastic for serious consideration":
The first observation of this procedure was made by Morot [a Frenchman] in 1882, but appears to have been completely overlooked until the Danish observer Madsen came across it last year [i.e. 1939 since Proceedings received Taylor's article in 1940]. Madsen made a brief, and, rather inconclusive observation of his own, and sent a letter to the Editor of Nature who passed it on for an opinion as to its suitability for publication. My first reaction on reading this communication was one of incredulity, and those among my colleagues to whom I mentioned the matter regarded it as too fantastic for serious consideration.The Bible does not call hares and rabbits "ruminants". Ruminants are classified by anatomy and are mammals that possess a stomach of three or four chambers. This clearly excludes hares and rabbits.
If, however, cud is food returned to the mouth from the digestive system and swallowed again, then ruminants, hares, and rabbits all do this.
And that is what the Bible evidently means by "chewer of cud" or "make cud ascend" — not classification based on anatomy, but the repeat passage of food through the digestive system.
There's even a monkey that chews cud although monkeys are primates and not ruminants. New Scientist reported that the proboscis monkey of Borneo "can truly be said to chew the cud." (2nd April, 2011, p. 19) The monkey regurgitates food and re-chews.
Critics and commentators did not know there's more than one way to return cud to mouth and criticized the Bible wrongly. Science caught up with Moses after 3400 years in 1940 but the discovery remained unknown to theologians and the public.
Many biblical teachings that critics ignored or believed erroneous have been confirmed in modern times including some that are matters of life and death such as the wrongness of racism and the best position for giving birth.
A person who regularly proves reliable earns trust and respect and will be believed when slandered by known liars. With the Bible, however, no amount of proof seems to count. Point after point gets confirmed, sometimes forcing revisions in textbooks, but atheists simply find new "liars" to make idols of and put on pedestals. Next time you encounter a Bible critic, who may be confident and imply he's smarter than all the others, remember Amy and how something "too fantastic for serious consideration" turned out true.
Hares and the Bible
(Investigator 146, 2012 September)
Cud is a portion of food that returns from a ruminant's stomach in the mouth to be chewed for the second time. More accurately, it is a bolus of semi-degraded food regurgitated from the reticulorumen of a ruminant. Cud is produced during the physical digestive process of rumination. (1)
Anonymous (No. 145, pg 13) claims that the Bible is correct in its assertions that hares chew the cud by attempting to define cud in very broad terms as "food [that] is returned to the mouth and swallowed a second time" (pg 15).
It is more accurate to say that hares eat their dung, and Biblical Hebrew has a number of words that correspond to dung: galal, domen, peresh and tsphuwa (2). The equivalent of the word cud, however, is gerah or garar (3).
We can see that in Hebrew the words for dung and cud are distinct. Anonymous says (pg 15) that: "The Hebrew translated "chew the cud" literally reads "make cud ascend." If this is correct then from where does the cud ascend? The answer of course is that it ascends, or rises up, from the stomach.
But hares do not regurgitate partially digested food; rather they eat their own dung, which of course is what comes out of an animal's anus. One cannot by any stretch of the imagination claim that eating dung is the equivalent of making cud ascend.
Either way you look at it the Bible is wrong when it claims hares chew the cud. In order to be correct the Bible would merely have to state that hares eat their own dung and this would be possible as the words for "dung" and "cud" in Hebrew are distinct.
In conclusion: rather than science catching up with the Bible as Anonymous likes to claim, it is Anonymous who attempts to make the Bible catch up with science — in this case by playing with the meaning of words.
2 Strong's Hebrew Lexicon:
3 Strong's Hebrew Lexicon:
CUD AND DUNG
(Investigator 147, 2012 November)
Mr Straughen (#146) calls partly digested food "dung", but it is not. If Straughen were in a restaurant and the waiter asked "Are you enjoying your meal sir?" he would not answer "I've got dung in my stomach."
Hares and rabbits — including Amy, the bunny featured in #145 — know the difference. I cite again the zoologist cited in #145: "Dried faecal pellets are produced only during the day. At night soft pellets covered with mucus are formed in the caecum and are immediately taken from the anus by the lips."
After the first passage through the hare's or rabbit's digestive system the food is only partly digested. The second passage completes digestion and what is then expelled is dung. Amy treats it as dung by not eating it again.
Straughen cites references that associate cud with "the physical digestive processes of rumination" i.e. only ruminants (for example sheep, reindeer and goats) chew cud.
Defining cud like this is present-day convention. The New Scientist magazine I cited in #145 reported that the proboscis monkey of Borneo "can truly be said to chew the cud." (2nd April, 2011, p. 19) Monkeys, however, are not ruminants.
Maybe future zoologists will argue that different ruminants differ in their digestive processes and what they re-chew therefore requires a different name for each ruminant. Cattle might then chew cud, but goats "fug" and sheep "gug" and others "nug", "ug" or "yuk". Where would that leave the Bible?
Modern definitions were not available in Bible times. If we add modern astronomy knowledge into our definition for stars, for example, it would follow that ancient people never saw any "stars". For the Bible to be right in calling hares "chewers of cud" requires only that consumed vegetation passes through the hares' digestive system twice and that this is necessary to maintain life.
This was a new discovery in 1940, initially considered "too fantastic for serious consideration", and is therefore a case of science catching up with the Bible.
The many critics who had declared the Bible erroneous were themselves wrong. Straughen obscures this by arguing about word meanings and definitions, but it's true nevertheless.
REGARDING CUD and DUNG
(Investigator 148, 2013 January)
I have read Anonymous' comments (No. 147, pg 13) on the subject of whether hares/rabbits can be said to "chew the cud" and am unable to agree with him.
The excreted pellets that rabbits consume are called cecotropes, and in his reply he challenges my claim that "it is more accurate to say that hares eat their dung" (No. 148, pg 60), which is fair enough:
Mr Straughen (#146) calls partly digested food "dung", but it is not. If Straughen were in a restraint and the waiter asked "Are you enjoying your meal sir?" he would not answer "I've got dung in my stomach."
However, by criticizing my statement I think Anonymous has exposed the weakness of his own argument, for what he is implying is that although cecotropes may look like dung and may smell like dung, they aren't. Therefore the comparison is incorrect.
So, if it isn't possible to say that cecotropes are dung why is it possible to say they are cud? If Anonymous applies his reasoning consistently then he cannot say that hares chew the cud anymore than I can say they chew their dung, for as cecotropes are distinct from dung so too arc they distinct from cud, and no amount of obfuscation can change this fact. Therefore the Bible is wrong.
Anonymous may claim that because cud and cecotropes are partially digested food they can be classed within the same category. Vomit, however, can also be considered partially digested food, and dogs on occasion will eat their own vomit, but no one would say they are chewing the cud.
Anonymous suggests that future scientists may invent words to describe the digestive process of various ruminants. Well, if future scientists can do this so too could the ancient Hebrews with God's guidance. All God would have had to do is convey to the scribe who wrote Leviticus 11:3-6 a specific word to describe what hares do and thereby have one word for cud and another for cecotropes. Problem solved.
HOW AMY EATS CUD
(Investigator 149, 2013 March)
Mr Straughen says: "excreted pellets that rabbits consume are called "cecotropes."
True, that's what zoologists call them now. But when E.L Taylor discovered in 1940 that rabbits re-eat their fecal pellets and that most of the vegetation goes through the rabbit's digestive system twice he had no word for it.
Ancient Israelites also had no word for it except "cud".
Straughen says God should have invented a new word. The Bible writers, however, used words people already knew because that promotes understanding.
In ruminants (such as goats, sheep and camels) the vegetation returns to the mouth via the gullet; in hares and rabbits it's via the anus.
Either way, the vegetation is re-eaten to fully digest it, and this is necessary to maintain life. With these important similarities the use of the same word "cud" was more appropriate than "dung".
To this argument we could add that Israelites spoke their own language, and in that language both methods of re-eating were called "chewing the cud". It's one phrase for what zoologists now regard as two processes. English also has lots of words with multiple meanings — people get used to it without everyone coining new words.
With this extra background can we still conclude that the Bible anticipated a 1940 scientific discovery and that critics who called the Bible wrong were themselves wrong?
In Hares, Ruminants and Amy (#145) I listed quotes such as this: "The idea that it chews the cud is an error". (Encyclopedia Biblica, 1914)
For such criticisms to be valid there would permanently have to be no explanation for what Moses wrote. But in 1940 an explanation was discovered.
The critics were wrong because they did not know about the other method of returning vegetation to the mouth and that Moses evidently used one phrase for both methods. Science now knows of both methods and therefore Moses anticipated a discovery by 3400 years.
Does Amy, the rabbit pictured in #145, "chew cud?" Yes. By Moses' alternative method of cud-eating, now called "caecotrophy", Amy eats cud.
Investigator 159, 2014 November
I also think there are serious problems with the methodology Anonymous uses in his attempts to prove the Bible. In the case of hares chewing the cud he convolutedly construes scripture in an attempt to make it say something it clearly does not say, and in my opinion this is akin to shaving wood off a square peg in an effort to make it fit a round hole.
Occam's razor states that the least speculative theory that best fits the known facts is the one most likely to be true, and in this case the most logical explanation is that the author of scripture was mistaken when he described hares as chewing the cud.
Investigator 160, 2015 January
Straughen re-raised the question of cud-chewing hares, claiming again "scripture was mistaken".
I'll explain once more:
Most cud chewing animals are "ruminants" and have four-chambered stomachs such as cattle and sheep. Camels too are "ruminants" but have three stomach compartments.
Let us suppose that future biologists decide to acknowledge this difference by coining a new word — camels are no longer ruminants but henceforth "ruminints" with an "i". What's the effect when we read a 20th century textbook and see camels called "ruminants" instead of "ruminints"? Is the older reference erroneous? No. There is no difference in biological knowledge. It is merely a case of one word "ruminant" doing the job of two words "ruminant" and "ruminint". In the 20th century there was no other way, since the word "ruminint" was not in use.
The situation with the hare is similar. Today the words "refection" and "caecotrophy" describe the eating behaviour of hares. These words were unavailable to Moses who grouped hares with cud chewers. For the term "cud-chewer" to be erroneous there must be no possibility that one word is doing the job of two words. There must, forever, be no plausible biological explanation.
But in 1940 science discovered a plausible explanation — Hares re-eat their fecal pellets. (See #145)
Ruminants have in common with hares that most of the food is swallowed twice, goes twice through much of the digestive system, and the process is necessary for life. This discovery refuted critics who claimed Moses was wrong.
Moses merely used one word "chewer-of-cud" where biologists today use two words.
In University science, students learned how to find information using various "Abstracts" and I applied this to the Bible. I went to the Zoological Abstracts and found the 1940 reference. Finding the reports of others' research is part of scientific method. I did this to check the Bible on lions, hyraxes, crocodiles and other animals.
Can science prove the Bible? Find out on this website: