(Heb. shaphan; i.e., "the hider"), an animal which inhabits the
mountain gorges and the rocky districts of Arabia Petraea and
the Holy Land. "The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they
their houses in the rocks" (Prov. 30:26; Ps. 104:18). They are
gregarious, and "exceeding wise" (Prov. 30:24), and are
described as chewing the cud (Lev. 11:5; Deut. 14:7).

The animal intended by this name is known among naturalists as
the Hyrax Syriacus. It is neither a ruminant nor a rodent, but
is regarded as akin to the rhinoceros. When it is said to "chew
the cud," the Hebrew word so used does not necessarily imply the
possession of a ruminant stomach. "The lawgiver speaks according
to appearances; and no one can watch the constant motion of the
little creature's jaws, as it sits continually working its
teeth, without recognizing the naturalness of the expression"
(Tristram, Natural History of the Bible). It is about the size
and color of a rabbit, though clumsier in structure, and without
a tail. Its feet are not formed for digging, and therefore it
has its home not in burrows but in the clefts of the rocks.
"Coney" is an obsolete English word for "rabbit."