Lizard. Lizards receive little attention in the Bible, although they are common in Palestine. They appeared on the list of unclean animals (Lev. 11:30) and were thus forbidden as food to the Israelites.
The lizard comes in many species. Some of the small lizards often pass for snakes, while larger versions of this animal resemble the crocodile. All lizards are cold-blooded reptiles. Since their body temperature depends on their surroundings, they thrive in the tropics and in deserts. But when the sun gets too hot even for them, they lie in the shade or burrow into the sand. One species is even called a sand lizard (Lev. 11:30); (skink, NIV).
Lizards are ingenious in the different ways they move. Some unfurl skin-like sails and soar from tree to tree. Monitor lizards (probably the Bible’s great lizard, (Lev. 11:29), RSV, NIV) swim well. They can also climb trees. Many lizards scamper rapidly across the ground. Others have poorly developed legs or no legs at all. But the little gecko (translated ferret in KJV, (Lev. 11:30)) can walk across a plaster ceiling upside down or cling to a pane of glass. His toes end in a pad made of hundreds of tiny hooks, capped with a hidden claw. This enables him to get a foothold on smooth surfaces. Geckos are abundant in Palestine.
Most lizards eat insects. Larger species of this reptile also eat small animals or plants. The chameleon’s sticky tongue, nearly as long as his body, whips out to catch insects. Chameleons are also common in Palestine. They are so narrow they look as if they have been squashed, and their bulging eyes can see in opposite directions. They have a long tail that can grasp a branch or coil into a spiral when at rest. Chameleons move at a slow, deliberate pace.
The chameleon is known for its ability to change its color to match its surroundings. Actually, this is a common protective trait for most species of lizards. Another defensive tactic is the use of tricks or bluffs. The glass snake, a type of lizard, escapes capture by shedding its wiggling tail. Other lizards hiss, puff up, or use their tails as whips.