SKINK (Heb. חֹמֶט, ḥomet), a reptile of the family Scincidae, of which six genera are found in Israel. These differ greatly in their bodily structure, some lacking legs entirely and resembling snakes, while others have atrophied feet or resemble the lizard. The ḥomet is included among the reptiles that are forbidden as food and render unclean men and articles which come into contact with their carcasses (Lev. 11:30). The identification of the ḥomet with the skink is based on the rendering of the Targum as well as on its description in rabbinical literature. Some commentators identify the ḥomet with the snail, but it is highly improbable. The ḥomet is enumerated among other species of reptile, and in addition it is difficult to accept that the stringent laws of ritual uncleanness would apply to snails, which abound in Israel, and some of which are so small that it is difficult to avoid contact with them.
Lewysohn, Zool, 279f., nr. 362; I. Aharoni, Zikhronot Zo'olog Ivri, 2 (1946), 233, 244; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 98. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Tzome'aḥ, 233.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.