What is a hyrax in the Bible? There are two hyraxes mentioned in the Bible. One is a swallow of solid food, another one is a hyrax that carries back water for people to drink. The creature is not described as a goat or lion, both animals defined in Leviticus 11:3-6.

What is a hyrax in the Bible?

Yes, before we address what the Bible talks about hyrax, it will be better if we have an idea about what hyrax is.


Hyrax is also called rock dasses. They are small, stub-tailed, rabbit-like animals, native to Africa and their closest living relatives are elephants and Manatees and they eat vegetables.

They inhabit rocky places and live in the clefts that are always found in such localities. It is an exceedingly active creature, leaping from rock to rock with wonderful rapidity. As small as it is, it takes the tolerable test of sportsmanship to kill hyrax as traps or snares might not get hold of it. In all, it is very crafty.


Deuteronomy 14:7-8

Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them, that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you. And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.

Deuteronomy 14:7-8


The Bible passages warned about eating them (hyrax inclusive) because they are unclean. You should not eat their flesh or touch their carcasses. Leviticus 11:4-8 confirms this.

Proverbs 30:24-28 makes reference to the skill of hyrax


Hyrax are feeble but can make their homes in crags, showing their skills surviving in difficult terrain and this is a sign of great wisdom.

Hyrax and elephant similarities

From our introduction, we have seen that the hyrax is a small, furry-like mammal that lives in rocky crevices mostly in Africa.

Like elephants, the rock hyrax belongs to Afrotheria. Elephants and hyrax belong to the same class within Afrotheria called Paenungulata.

The rock hyrax belongs to the order Hyracoidea, which diverged from the elephant’s evolutionary path some million years ago.
Considering the elephant’s size and its appearance in comparison to the rock hyrax, it comes as a surprise.

Male hyrax and elephant testes both remain within the retroperitoneal abdomen and do not descend into a scrotum like those of many other mammals. Their female counterparts both have a similar placental origin and carry pregnancies for a long period of time – 7-8 months and 21-22 months respectively.

Both hyrax and elephant tusks are unique compared to those of other tusks from their incisors rather than their canines.

The rock hyrax and elephant have flattered hoof-like nails and highly sensitive footpads.
The rock hyrax and elephant and intelligent animals with a capacity for long-term memory.

They both live very social lives and use complex vocal communication within their groups.
The rock hyrax is the African elephant’s closest living relative.

Why are rabbits unclean in the Bible?

In the Mosaic law, animals were divided into two groups. The clean and the unclean. Rabbits were placed in the unclean category which means they could not be eaten by the Jews.

Leviticus 11:6 KJV

And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.-

Leviticus 11:6 KJV

Leviticus_11-6 KJV

The book of Leviticus 11:6 says that they are unclean. Yes, it is clear that rabbits are unclean and should not be eaten simply. Still in the mosaic law, as I said earlier, it was forbidden to eat certain animals and these animals were later proven to be bad for humans since they could cause illness. And rabbits was one such animal, although looking at their physical appearance rabbits happen to be one of the cleanest animals the way and manner it contributes to or can cause illness to someone is still what I myself do not understand.

Is a hyrax a rat?

Hyrax is not a rodent and as such is not a rat. HYRAX are small, sub-tailed rabbit-like animals native to Africa. Here HYRAX is described as a rabbit-like animal and not a rabbit.
HYRAX and rabbit are two different animals with different features as follows:

1. Rat can have as many babies at a time but hyrax can only have two to three.

2. Rat can destroy about 20% of agricultural products worldwide each year but hyrax doesn’t destroy products, it feeds on vegetable matter and prefers grass when available.

3. Rat has short hair, a long naked tail, rounded erect ears, and protruding eyes while hyrax looks like an oversized guinea pig with round ears, a short tail, and a short neck.

Hyrax is simultaneously intimidated and cute. They wonder about rocks and cliff faces, trees, and through bushland while observing human movement.

Hyrax loves the sun and has a particular order of communication with different dialects depending on their region.

They are bigger than most rodents and their stomach has three Chambers. They live in rocky areas, as tree dwellers. Hyrax also has dedicated bathrooms where they deposit urine and faces, and can live up to 50 individuals in one colony sharing the same sleeping area.

And looking at the life of rats you will discover that rats live in yucca and cypress trees, as well as the elevated areas of human homes. Rats are generally slender with pointed heads, and large eyes.

Yes, going through the above you will discover that hyrax and rats are two different sets of animals and do not belong to the same group.

Why is a hyrax related to an elephant?

The answer to this question is found in the similarities between both creatures. Both are herbivores, and not just any herbivore, but a highly specialized one. In order for a plant-eater to exist, it must be able to eat grasses and other plants in a way that is not harmful to itself or its environment.

While the hyrax is related to elephants, they are completely unrelated in terms of diet. The elephant’s diet consists mainly of plants and fungi, while the hyrax’s diet consists mainly of grasses and other flowering plants. It has been suggested that these two animals were related at some point in time (although how long ago is unknown), but there is no evidence supporting this idea.

The hyraxes’ closest relative is the elephant shrew which also eats similar foods to that of the hyraxes: grasses, flowers, leaves and fruit. The elephant shrews have also been found to use their strong limbs like arms to dig up roots from below ground level as well as to throw their feces at predators from above ground level!

Hyrax and elephants are considered close relatives because of their similarities which were stated earlier.


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