These are small, slow-crawling animals with a soft body protected by a coiled shell. They move with wave-like motions of their single foot, secreting a slime as they go to make their travel easier. The psalmist may have had this peculiar motion in mind when he spoke of the snail “which melts away as it goes” (Ps. 58:8).
The snail_ in (Leviticus 11:30) (KJV ) is probably a skink, a type of sand lizard.
In Le 11:30, is probably a sort of lizard; and in Ps 58:8, the common slug or snail_ without a shell, which “melteth” away by depositing its slime wherever it passes.
(1.) Heb. homit, among the unclean creeping things (Lev. 11:30). This was probably the sand-lizard, of which there are many species in the wilderness of Judea and the Sinai peninsula.
(2.) Heb. shablul (Ps. 58:8), the snail_ or slug proper. Tristram explains the allusions of this passage by a reference to the heat and drought by which the moisture of the snail is evaporated. “We find,” he says, “in all parts of the Holy Land myriads of snail-shells in fissures still adhering by the calcareous exudation round their orifice to the surface of the rock, but the animal of which is utterly shrivelled and wasted, ‘melted away.'”
chomet (Lev 11:30). Rather “a lizard.” Some think the Stellio lacerta. The Chaldee means “to bow down”; the Muslims kill it, as though it mimicked them at prayers. The shablul in Psa 58:8 is a “snail” or ‘slug” (limax), which delights in the damp night; but in the hot sunshine, as it crawls over a dry surface and moistens the way with its secretion, its moisture melts away.
((1) chomeT, the Revised Version (British and American) “sand-lizard,” Septuagint saura, “lizard” (Le 11:30);
(2) shabbelul, Septuagint keros, “wax” (Ps 58:8)):
(1) ChomeT is 7th in the list of unclean “creeping things” in Le 11:30, and occurs nowhere else. “Snail” is not warranted by Septuagint or Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) the Revised Version (British and American) has “sand-lizard.” It may be the skink or a species of Lacerta. See LIZARD.
(2) Shabbelul is translated “snail” in Ps 58:8: “Let them be as a snail which melteth and passeth away.” Mandelkern gives limax, “slug.”
Gesenius derives shabbelul from balal, “to pour”; compare Arabic balla, “to wet,” instancing leimax, “snail,” or “slug,” from leibo, “to pour.” While Septuagint has keros, “wax,” Talmud (Mo`edh QaTan 6b) supports “snail.” The ordinary explanation of the passage, which is not very satisfying, is that the snail leaves a trail of mucus (i.e. it melts) as it moves along. This does not in any way cause the snail to waste away, because its glands are continually manufacturing fresh mucous. Two large species of snail, Helix aspersa and Helix pomatia, are collected and eaten, boiled, by the Christians of Syria and Palestine, especially in Lent. The Jews and Moslems declare them to be unclean and do not eat them.
Alfred Ely Day
In Lev. 11:30 it is supposed that the word chomet refers to some kind of lizard: the R.V. has ‘sand-lizard.’ In Ps. 58:8 the word is shablul, of which it says it ‘melteth.’ It was erroneously supposed by the Jews that by the slime which a snail leaves on its trail it gradually wasted away. The passage simply means that when dead the snail seems to melt entirely away: it is used as a symbol of the wicked passing away.
• A crustacean.
• Forbidden as food
1. The Hebrew word shablul occurs only in (Psalms 58:8) The rendering of the Authorized Version is probably correct. The term would denote either a limax or a helix , which are particularly noticeable for the slimy track they leave behind them, by which they seem to waste themselves away. To this, or to the fact that many of them are shrivelled up among the rocks in the long heat of the summer, the psalmist refers.
2. The Hebrew word chomet occurs only as the name of some unclean animal in (Leviticus 11:30) Perhaps some kind of lizard may be intended.