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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
in the general sense of a venomous serpent. (See SERPENT), is the rendering in the Auth. Vers. of the following Hebrew words in certain passages: עִכְשׁוּב (akshub', perhaps so called from coiling and lying in wait), an asp, or other venomous reptile, only found in Psalms 140:3; פֶּתֶן (pe'then, probably from twisting itself), an equally indefinite term for a viper or venomous serpent, Psalms 58:4; Psalms 91:13 (elsewhere "asp," Deuteronomy 32:33; Job 20:14; Job 20:16; Isaiah 11:8); צַפְעוֹנַי (tsiphoni', so called from hissing), a basilisk, or other poisonous serpent, Proverbs 23:32 (elsewhere "cockatrice," Isaiah 11:8; Isaiah 59:5; Jeremiah 8:17; like the kindred צֶפִע, tse'pha, Isaiah 14:29); שְׁפַיפוֹן (shephiphon', so called from creeping), apparently an adder, or small speckled venomous snake, occurs only in Genesis 49:17. Few, if any, of these terms are descriptive of a particular species of serpent, although special traits are given in connection with some of them that enable us to make an approximation toward their identification with those described by modern naturalists. (See SNAKE). The terms adder and viper are nearly interchangeable in modern science, the latter being strictly the name of a genus of serpents having the head covered with scales. (See VIPER). The true adders are classed under the sub-genus Berus, and are of several species, properly distinguished by the granular scales of the head, sometimes with larger scales intermixed, and having nostrils of a moderate size. (See ASP).