'The household snake': Detection and eradication of pests in the home by means of snakes, as reflected in Talmudic sources

פרסום מחקרי: פרסום בכתב עתמאמרביקורת עמיתים

תקציר

Literary sources of the classical era (first-fifth centuries), both Greco-Roman and Jewish, indicate that snakes were used for different purposes, such as for medicine, as raw materials for manufacturing objects, and as pets. This article discusses the use of snakes to deal with pests in the ancient homes as reflected in the Talmudic sources as well as in classical literature. The Jerusalem Talmud (Yerushalmi) brings a story of how a house snake helped a family locate a wild snake that entered the house and left its venom in the food. The impression is that the origin of the story is from a non-Jewish environment, and not necessarily from Eretz Israel. It is not impossible that the story is one version of stories about Aesculapian snakes that helped exterminate and drive away pests, as related by Pliny. This narrative variation was absorbed by the sages from their own non-Jewish environment, who adapted the story to the religious-educational messages that they sought to convey. It seems that the practice of using snakes to exterminate domestic pests was relatively limited and less common than that of small predators, such as cats, mongooses or weasels.

שפה מקוריתאנגלית
עמודים (מ-עד)685-697
מספר עמודים13
כתב עתJournal of the Royal Asiatic Society
כרך32
מספר גיליון3
מזהי עצם דיגיטלי (DOIs)
סטטוס פרסוםפורסם - 1 יולי 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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