Proverbs 30:26

ESV the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs;
NIV hyraxes are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags;
NASB The rock hyraxes are not a mighty people, Yet they make their houses in the rocks;
CSB hyraxes are not a mighty people, yet they make their homes in the cliffs;
NLT Hyraxes — they aren’t powerful, but they make their homes among the rocks.
KJV The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;

What does Proverbs 30:26 mean?

This verse describes an animal using the Hebrew word sāphān, which is not clearly defined. Translations use terms such as "rock badger" or "coney" or "hyrax" (Leviticus 11:5; Deuteronomy 14:7). Many commentators associate it with the species hyrax syriacus: the rock hyrax. These mammals look somewhat like a combination of rabbit, guinea pig, and meerkat. American readers would likely associate them with groundhogs, also called "woodchucks." These animals were famous for their social structure and using rock crevices to hide from predators.

In Agur's era (Proverbs 30:1), homes and fortresses built on high, rocky terrain were excellent choices for defense. Groups who could conquer and settle such locations were considered "mighty" as a result (Obadiah 1:2–3). Rock hyraxes were not mighty, at all—they were weak and could only hide from enemies. Yet they populated the most "secure" places in the ancient middle east. That irony is used in other passages to explain God's ability to provide protection even for the vulnerable (Psalm 104:18).

Also noteworthy is how a rock hyrax community will actively look out for danger. Their habitat allows relatively clear views. If they see an enemy approaching, they make warning sounds and hide under rocks. A bird of prey might see a rock badger yet find it extremely difficult to catch. Wise Christians, like rock badgers, should be aware of their enemy, the Devil, and cling to the Rock of Ages for protection (1 Peter 5:8–9).
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