This word is used for any poisonous snake, and is applied in this general sense by the translators of the Authorized Version.
The word adder occurs five times in the text of the Authorized Version (see below), and three times int he margin as synonymous
with cockatrice, viz., (Isaiah 11:8; 14:29; 59:5) It represents four Hebrew words:
- Acshub is found only in (Psalms 140:3) and may be represented by the Toxicoa of Egypt and North Africa.
- Pethen. [Asp]
- Tsepha, or Tsiphoni, occurs five times in the Hebrew Bible. In (Proverbs 23:32) it is it is translated adder, and in (Isaiah 11:8; 14:29; 59:5; Jeremiah 8:17) it is rendered cockatrice . From Jeremiah we learn that it was of a hostile nature, and from the parallelism of (Isaiah 11:8) it appears that the Tsiphoni was considered even more dreadful than the Pethen .
- Shephipon occurs only in (Genesis 49:17) where it is used to characterize the tribe of Dan. The habit of lurking int he sand and biting at the horse’s heels here
alluded to suits the character of a well-known species of venomous snake, and helps to identify it with the celebrated horned
viper, the asp of Cleopatra (Cerastes), which is found abundantly in the dry sandy deserts of Egypt, Syria and Arabia. The
cerastes is extremely venomous. Bruce compelled a specimen to scratch eighteen pigeons upon the thigh as quickly as possible,
and they all died in nearly the same interval of time.