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English Bible Dictionary

Adder | Shephipon

 

This word is used for any poisonous snake, and is applied in this general sense by the translators of the Authorized Version. The word adder occurs five times in the text of the Authorized Version, and three times in the margin as synonymous with cockatrice, viz., (Isaiah 11:8; 14:29; 59:5) It represents four Hebrew words:

Shephipon occurs only in (Genesis 49:17) where it is used to characterize the tribe of Dan. The habit of lurking in the sand and biting at the horse's heels here alluded to suits the character of a well-known species of venomous snake, and helps to identify it with the celebrated horned viper, the asp of Cleopatra (Cerastes), which is found abundantly in the dry sandy deserts of Egypt, Syria and Arabia. The cerastes is extremely venomous. Bruce compelled a specimen to scratch eighteen pigeons upon the thigh as quickly as possible, and they all died in nearly the same interval of time.

 

* See other occurrences of the same term: Adder.

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