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Greek/a word used in the septuaginta


some years ago you helpped me with Greek words that are used in the Talmud. will you satisfy my curiousity in this one?
Lev 11:6
‘the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you;
Lev 11:6
καὶ τὸν χοιρογρύλλιον ὅτι ἀνάγει μηρυκισμὸν τοῦτο καὶ ὁπλὴν οὐ διχηλεῖ ἀκάθαρτον τοῦτο ὑμῖν

In Midrash Tanhuma there is a story:
This one of ten sayings our rabbies  changed for the king Ptolemy when they wrote the Tora in Greek (speaking about the septuaginta) …. And they wrote "the one of younger legs" and did not wrote "hare (female)" (Hebrew ארנבת  is a female form) as king Ptolemy's wife Hare was her name, so that he would not say: they are loughing at me the Jews and wrote for me my wife name in their Tora.
Now I wonder, what is the etymology of  χοιρογρύλλιον? It seems to be a composed word. Is it some how connected to χοῖρος - young pig?
And if they were translating ארנבת  (female hare) into Greek, what would be the Greek word?



first of all the  ancient Greek word for “hare” was  the masculine noun λαγῶς (Attic declension), as we read e.g.  in Homer and Aeschylus.

As for “female hare”, it was θήλεια λαγῶς where the femminine adjective θήλεια (from θῆλυς) means  just “female” and λαγῶς means “hare”.

With regard to  χοιρογρύλλιον (Lev 11:6), which is the accusative singular of the masculine noun  χοιρογρύλλιος (also χοιρόγρυλλος) belonging to the 2nd declension, it seems to be composed of χοῖρος (joung pig, see Homer’s Od. 14.73) and γρῦλος, later γρύλλος (pig, see Plutarch, "Beasts are rational/ Bruta animalia ratione uti",2.986b), both meaning “pig/porker”.

Anyway, the word χοιρογρύλλιος [which is a rare noun used in the Septuaginta, i.e. the translation of the Hebrew Bible and some related texts into Koiné Greek (sponsored by Ptolemy II in the 3rd century BC] has been often  translated as “coney” or “hyrax”, not as “hare” which appears only in the Latin Vulgate Bible (4th century AD) where St.Jerome uses the Latin noun “lepus” (hare).

For the translation of χοιρογρύλλιος as  “Hyrax syriacus”/ “coney”, "Hebrew “shâphân”, see for example  Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, “A Greek-English Lexicon”.

As for “hyrax” (Greek, ὕραξ meaning  mouse or shrew-mouse), please note that it is a small , well-furred, rotund animal found in rocky districts and common in the Middle East.

To conclude,I cannot say anything else about the very unusual  word χοιρογρύλλιος, except  tell you again  that its translation as “hare” is quite questionable.

Hope anyway this can be helpful to you.

Best regards,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thank you very much for your detailed answer. When looking again in the bible, Lev 11:5, the word δασύποδα stand for the hebrew שפן (shaphan). I could not find this in any dictionary. what is the meaning of δασύποδα? is it somthing about legs? than what is the prefix δασύ- ?
thank you again


The word δασύποδα is the accusative singular of the masculine noun δασύπους (nominative case), whose genitive is δασύποδος (3rd.declension).

It is composed of δασύ (neuter form of the adjective δασύς mening “rough”, “shaggy”) and the noun πούς, genitive ποδός, meaning “foot”.

Therefore δασύπους  literally means “rough-foot” and then maybe  “hare”, though such a translation is not so certain (See Aristotle, Περὶ τὰ Ζῷα Ἱστορίαι ("Inquiries on Animals”, aka History of Animals), book 3, section 12 (511a31) where Aristotle says:” ὁ δὲ δασύπους μόνος καὶ ἐντὸς ἔχει τῶν γνάθων τρίχας καὶ ὑπὸ τοῖς ποσίν  meaning “The hare, or dasypod, is the only animal known to have hair inside its mouth and underneath its feet”, according to translation  by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson).

So, as you can see, δασύποδα in Lev 11:5 has nothing to do with “legs”.

Best regards,



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I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning ANCIENT GREEK. So, do not ask me please questions regarding MODERN GREEK as it is different from Ancient Greek either in spelling/meaning or in pronunciation.


Over 25 years teaching experience.

I received my Ph.D in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy) and my thesis was about ancient Greek drama (Aeschylus).

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