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Me editorial entitled, “Was The Lord Mistaken?” was already partly prepared when the January 15 issue of the Bible-Science Newsletter arrived in my mail. And lo and behold, it carried an article by the Lutheran Pastor E.P. Schulze about “The Ruminating Hare.” Now the veracity of Scripture is certainly not dependent upon any rational or scientific proof. The Bible is true a priori, whether we can verify its truth or not. Nevertheless, it is rather interesting when men discover empirically that what the Word of God said centuries ago is indeed scientifically verifiable fact. This appears to be the case with the ruminating, or cud-chewing, hare. Because of the interesting information furnished in it, I will quote the last part of this article in full.

Although we know that the sun neither rises nor sets, we speak of its rising and setting because it appears to do so. Perhaps in the instance of the hare’s ruminating Moses spoke in similar phenomenal fashion. Yet it seems to me that we may not yet have sounded the depth of the question: “Does the hare actually chew the cud?”

Does the Have Ruminate?

F.C. Pasche writes (I am translating his words from the German):

“‘The poet Cowper, who kept rabbits and observed them minutely testifies that one of them ruminated all day until evening.’ Goldsmith: ‘The rhinoceros, the horse, the rabbit, the marmot and the squirrel all chew the cud by intervals.’ Tristram: ‘The Hebrew word does not imply having a ruminant stomach, but simply rechew, or masticate.’ J.D. Michaelis: ‘Although there may have been no genuine rumination in the strict sense of the term, yet the acts of the hare munching its food went popularly by the name of rumination, or chewing again.'”

Pasche quotes Friedrich Bettex, who in turn cites the distinguished authority on ruminants, Prof. Ruetimeyer of Basel as being quite sure that the hare ruminates:

“That the hare chews the cud is not new to me. Only I would call attention to the circumstances that in today’s anatomical and embryological classification the practice of rumination is not decisive by itself.”

In other words, an animal may chew the cud and yet not be classified among the Ruminantia.

Engelder has this to say:

“What does ‘chewing the cud’ mean? It does not mean that the animal performing that operation must have the complex stomach, which is four-chambered, of the true ruminants. Our zoologists use the term ‘true ruminants’ to designate the animals that have a four-chambered stomach, but they classify as ruminants also those whose stomach is three-parted. And we claim the privilege, with Moses, of classifying as cud-chewers also those animals which, let their stomach be what it will, chew their food a second time. And the hare is such an animal.”

In a footnote Engelder quotes Jenks and Warne, Comprehensive Commentary, as follows:

Arnebeth. That this is the hare is confirmed by the cognate languages. That it chews the cud is proved beyond all doubt. See Michaelis and Linnaeus. Although it wants the four stomach peculiar to cleft-hoof cattle, yet it returns the food, once chewed, into its mouth by the esophagus, since its stomach has several little cells, divided by partitions, from which the food, while it is too hard, is repelled.”

Finally, in this note, he cites Dr. P.E. Kretzmann: “Careful scientists, even distinguished biologists, such as one at a leading state university which I attended, have admitted that our knowledge of certain mammals in this class would not warrant our declaring the statement of Leviticus 11:6 untrue. While mammals of this class do not have the digestive apparatus of those that chew the cud, there is evidently a process of total or partial regurgitation, together with a second chewing of the food, which fully substantiates the statement found in Scripture. It is not a mere semblance of chewing the cud with which we are dealing but an actual chewing of food previously swallowed.”


F.C. Pasche, Erklaerung etlicher Stellen in den Buechern Mosis (Lehre und Wehre, June-July, 1923, page 188)

Theodore Engelder, Verbal Inspiration (Concordia Theological Monthly, July, 1941, pages 490-491)

Incidentally, for those who might be interested, the Bible-Science Newsletter (actually a newspaper-type publication) can be obtained for $2.00 per year in the U.S.A. and $2.25 in Canada. Write to: Bible-Science Association, P.O. Box 1016, Caldwell, Idaho 83605. This does not constitute a blanket recommendation; nevertheless, this paper frequently contains worthwhile articles. According to its masthead, it is “Dedicated To: Special Creation, Literal Bible Interpretation, Divine Design and Purpose in Nature, A Young Earth, A Universal Noachian Flood, Christ as God and Man—Our Savior, Christ-Centered Scientific Research.”