Previous Next

Table of Contents


Ad’der. This word is used for any poisonous snake, and is applied in this general sense by the translators of the Authorized Version. The word adder occurs five times in the text of the Authorized Version (see below), and three times in the margin as synonymous with cockatrice, viz., Isa. 11:8; 14:29; 59:5. It represents four Hebrew words:

1. Acshub is found only in Ps. 140:3, and may be represented by the Toxicoa of Egypt and North Africa.

2. Pethen. [Asp.]

3. Tsepha, or Tsiphoni, occurs five times in the Hebrew Bible. In Prov. 23:32 it is translated adder, and in Isa. 11:8; 14:29; 59:5; Jer. 8:17, it is rendered cockatrice. From Jeremiah we learn that it was of a hostile nature, and from the parallelism of Isa. 11:8 it appears that the Tsiphoni was considered even more dreadful than the Pethen.

4. Shephiphon occurs only in Gen. 49:17, where it is used to characterize the tribe of Dan. The habit of lurking in the sand and biting at the horse’s heels here alluded to suits the character of a well-known species of venomous snake, and helps to identify it with the celebrated horned viper, the asp of Cleopatra (Cerastes), which is found abundantly in the dry sandy deserts of Egypt, Syria, and Arabia. The cerastes is extremely venomous. Bruce compelled a specimen to scratch eighteen pigeons upon the thigh as quickly as possible, and they all died in nearly the same interval of time.


Horned Cerastes (Adder).