Medieval views on the sexuality of the hare in Ibn ezra’s biblical commentary

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Abraham Ibn Ezra, a medieval Jewish commentator combined in his interpretations to the Bible, information taken from Middle Ages. Ibn Ezra’s basic concept was that contemporary science may explain the biblical text. In his commentary on Leviticus 11.6 and Deuteronomy 14.7, Ibn Ezra suggests two options for explaining why the Bible’s lawmaker uses the female form when he mentions the hare (in Hebrew: ‘arnevet’). One, the hare has only a female species. Second, the hare is an animal that changes its sex from male to female and vice versa, and therefore it is not possible to clearly characterize it as a male. The view that the hare is a hermaphrodite was voiced in the classical times. In the middle ages additional views were evident with regard to the sexual uniqueness of the hare. According to the bestiary literature, the hare is an animal capable of changing its sex, i.e., sometimes it is male and sometimes female.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-163
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Science and Theology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Commentary
  • Hare
  • Ibn Ezra
  • Jewish
  • Medieval


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