Tuesday we took our 5-year-old grandson to the Manatee Viewing Center on Tampa Bay (Gulf of Mexico). Our local electric power company (TECO) has provided excellent walkways that allow visitors to see the Manatees who come during the winter months to enjoy the warm water discharged from the power plant.
Our grandson enjoyed the visit, especially when he saw a large number of the Manatees moving about in the water. Well, he enjoyed turning $1.53 into three smashed pennies, too. In the learning center there are several exhibits of interest both to children and adults.
How Big Are Manatees? The poster says that adult manatees average 880-1220 pounds and are 8-9 feet long. The last statement under the question is this:
“The closest animal relative to the manatee is the elephant and the hydrax (a small gopher-size mammal.”
You may have wondered how I could relate this visit to traveling in the Bible lands. Well, here it is.
The hydrax is identified with the shaphan of the Hebrew Bible. English translations use some of the following terms:
- hydrax (CSB)
- shephan (NAU)
- rock badgers (NET; ESV; NKJ). The NET notes say this is the Syrian Hydrax.
- badgers (RSV)
- conies (KJV; ASV); coneys (NIV)
Fauna and Flora of the Bible identifies this animal as the Syrian Coney (Procavia syriacus).
The rock badger lives among rocks from the Dead Sea valley to Mt. Hermon.
One of the best places to see the rock badgers is at En Gedi on the west shore of the Dead Sea.
The Rock Badger is mentioned in the book of Proverbs among things that are small, but exceedingly wise. There is a great lesson here. Even though they are not mighty, they build their homes in secure places. This is similar to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 7:24-25. Notice the reading of Proverbs 30:26 in a few of the English translations:
The shephanim are not mighty people, Yet they make their houses in the rocks; (NAU)
rock badgers are creatures with little power, but they make their homes in the crags; (NET)
the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; (ESV)
hyraxes are not a mighty people, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; (CSB)