(Isaiah 14:23, English Revised Version) I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.

(Isaiah 34:11, ERV) But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it; and the owl and the raven shall dwell therein: and he shall stretch over it the line of confusion, and the plummet of emptiness.

(Zephaniah 2:14, ERV) And herds shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the pelican and the porcupine shall lodge in the chapiters thereof: their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds; for he hath laid bare the cedar work.

The word קִפּוֹד appears 3 times in the Old Testament and means "porcupine" according to Brown-Driver-Briggs (even though not all translations translate it this way).

What do porcupines symbolise in the Bible?

  • What reason is there to think the porcupines are meant to 'symbolize' anything?
    – user2910
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 23:07

1 Answer 1


Ellicott has well stated in relation to the Hebrew noun the KJV translates "bittern":

Naturalists are not agreed as to the meaning of the noun. In the LXX and Vulgate it appears as “hedgehog,” or “porcupine,” and the “tortoise,” “beaver,” “otter,” and “owl” have all been suggested by scholars. Its conjunction with “pelican" in Isaiah 34:11 and Zephaniah 2:14, and with "pools of water" here, is in favour of some kind of water-fowl. The “hedgehog” frequents dry places, and not marshes, and does not roost, as in Zephaniah 2:14, on the capitals of ruined columns. On the whole, therefore, “bittern” (Botaurus stellaris) may as well stand.

In any case, the roosting of some kind of water fowl in Hebrew often meant that a place was deserted. Indeed, the same word translated emptiness in Isa 34:11 is used in Gen 1:2.,

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