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Reference: Coney


The Hyrax syriacus, called by the Arabs wabr, also the ghanam beni Israel (the sheep of the children of Israel). The coney is a small rabbit-like animal, with short ears and a mere stump of a tail. It has stiff greyish-brown hair, with softer, lighter-coloured hair on the belly; it is nocturnal in its habits, and lives in holes in the rocks. Conies are very plentiful along the rocky shores of the Dead Sea, and also in the Lebanon, especially above Sidon; they can, however, be seen as a rule only between sunset and sunrise. They are gregarious in their habits, and disappear into their rocky fastnesses (Ps 104:18; Pr 30:24,26) with the greatest rapidity on the slightest approach of danger. The Bedouin, when hunting them, lie hidden for many hours during the night close to their holes. They feed on grass and sweet-smelling herbs, and their flesh is esteemed for eating by the Bedouin; they do not actually 'chew the cud' (Le 11:5; De 14:7), though they work their jaws in a way that resembles a ruminant. Structurally the coney is so peculiar as to have an order, the Hyracoidea, to itself.

E. W. G. Masterman.

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