GECKO, reptile of the order Lacertilia. Six genera belonging to the Gekkonidae family are to be found in Israel. The most common is the house gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, a nocturnal lizard up to about 4¾ inches (12 cm.) in length, with a soft speckled hide and prehensile feet which enable it to climb walls. Two animals referred to in the Bible are likely to be identical with the gecko. The anakah is included among the unclean swarming things (Lev. 11:30) and has, according to the Mishnah (Ḥul. 9:2), a soft hide. The word anakah means "groan", and the gecko does in fact emit a sound reminiscent of the groan of a sick person. The Book of Proverbs, in its enumeration of the "things which are little upon the earth, but… are exceeding wise" (30:24), mentions the semamit, which "taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces" (ibid., 28). This description fits the ubiquitous gecko which climbs on walls with feet that resemble hands. Although many other identifications have been suggested for the anakah and the semamit, the gecko fits them best. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Aharoni, Torat ha-Ḥai, 1, pt. 3 (1930), 62–66; Tristram, Nat Hist, 265f.; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 97. ADD BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 207. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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