What some people view as cute critters are becoming a troublesome pest to others. Hyraxes, also known as rock badgers or coneys, are mentioned in Leviticus 11:5, Deuteronomy 14:7, Psalm 104:18, and Proverbs 30:26. A BBC report describes how these relatives of the elephant and aardvark are leaving the crags and entering villages.

“A lot of people in the west haven’t heard of the hyrax, but it’s very common in the Middle East,” lead researcher Arik Kershenbaum told BBC Nature.
“It’s even mentioned in the Bible as one of the main inhabitants of the land.”
But, as Mr Kershenbaum explained, around Galilee the animals are no longer behaving in a “biblical way” – making their homes in the rocky hills and cliffs of the countryside.
“They’re coming into the villages and eating everything they can find,” said Mr Kershenbaum.
“It turns out that it’s the piles of boulders [created by clearing sites for building] that attract the hyraxes,” said Mr Kershenbaum.
They make their homes in the underground caverns and crevices created by these man-made rubble piles.
But early research indicates that simply filling in the boulder piles would drive hyraxes out of the villages and back to the cliffs, just as it says in the Bible.

For more information about the hyrax, see the Anchor Bible Dictionary 6:1143.

HT: The Land and the Book

Rock badger, coney, at Haibar, tb052004807

The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys (Ps 104:18).

Tel Zayit is a small site in the Shephelah of Judah best known for the 10th-century abecedary discovered in 2005. Tel Zayit is 5 miles (8 km) south of Gath (Tell es-Safi), 6 miles (9 km) southwest of Azekah, and 4.5 miles (7 km) north of Lachish. The excavator, Ron Tappy, has suggested that Tel Zayit is biblical Libnah, though for that identification Zayit is competing with Tel Burna (pdf), only 2.5 miles (4 km) to the east.

Gordon Franz joined the Tel Zayit team this summer and he has posted some of his personal reflections and experiences on his blog.

There were no spectacular small finds at Tel Zayit this summer. The most important discovery, however, was a clearer understanding of the stratigraphy of the site. In K-20 it was the newly discovered Persian period level as well as another phase of the Roman period. In O-19 all indications point to the abecedary being clearly dated to the 10th century BC. If this date is correct, it would demonstrate that Israelites living in this out-of-the-way city were literate and, therefore, not a bunch of hillbillies living in some little cow town!

I’ve heard that the team will not be in the field next summer, but you may want to consider joining as a volunteer in 2013.


Important sites in Shephelah. Source: Google Earth. For other images with marked routes, see Chris McKinny’s blog.