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“Cockatrice” or “Adder” in Isaiah 11:8 et al.?

"And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den." (Isaiah 11:8, KJV)

Critics claim that the cockatrice is one of the mythological creatures in the KJV. The cockatrice is typically described as a rooster-like creature with a lizard-like tail. Such a creature does not exist today. However, the cockatrice may have been an actual creature that has become extinct. In fact, it resembles the Archaeopteryx - an extinct bird with a lizard-like tail.


       

Cockatrice (Left) and Archaeopteryx (Right)1

If there is evidence that a bird with a lizard-like tail once existed, is it fair to dismiss the cockatrice as mere myth?

Otherwise, the biblical cockatrice may simply be a deadly venomous serpent, most likely the cobra. The cockatrice is equivalent to the basilisk, which comes from the Greek “βασιλίσκος,” which means “little king.” The basilisk was called “little king” because it had a “mitre” on its head. A snake that wears a “mitre” is the cobra. Jeremiah 8:17 speaks of cockatrices as serpents. Isaiah 59:5 equates cockatrice eggs to viper eggs, indicating that the cockatrice is a viper. In an era before “cobra” was imported into the English vocabulary, “cockatrice” referred to the hooded venomous serpent.




l Photograph available at Wikipedia: "Archaeopterix".  Author: H. Raab (July 5, 2009).