Thursday, April 15, 2004

Drat! And I kept salivating during those Geico Commercials!

Apparently, the gecko is one of the non-kosher animals listed in parashat Shemini.

Vayikra 11:29-30:
וְזֶה לָכֶם הַטָּמֵא, בַּשֶּׁרֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵץ עַל-הָאָרֶץ: הַחֹלֶד וְהָעַכְבָּר, וְהַצָּב לְמִינֵהוּ.
וְהָאֲנָקָה וְהַכֹּחַ, וְהַלְּטָאָה; וְהַחֹמֶט, וְהַתִּנְשָׁמֶת.
"And these are they which are unclean unto you among the swarming things that swarm upon the earth: the weasel, and the mouse, and the great lizard after its kinds,
and the gecko, and the land-crocodile, and the lizard, and the sand-lizard, and the chameleon."

So according to this, the אֲנָקָה is the gecko.

Further info on the אֲנָקָה:

For the identification of various lizards, obviously we cannot trust the King James translation, which gives gecko.

Saadia Gaon says it is "warel," or gecko. אֲנָקָה means groan, and the gecko makes a groaning noise.

Rashi says it is הריצ"ון, and Tg Onkelos and Bava Batra 4a translate it as ילא, or hedgehog.

Tg Yonatan takes the root of the word to be ינק, to nurse, with the yud turning into an aleph in the animal name, and so he writes מינקת חיויא, which the Perush Yonatan writes, some say that is a type of creeping creature which nurses from a snake. What it would nurse, I do not know, since a snake is a reptile, not a mammal, and would therefore not possess mammary glands.

The LXX translates it as mugali, or mole.

Meanwhile, two other animals listed in this pasuk are translated by various commentators as gecko.

(some help in this from Eliyahu Segal, who got it from Aryeh Kaplan)

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