The Fox

There are a number of different types of foxes found in Israel today, but the fox mentioned in the Scripture is most likely the sand fox (Hebrew: shu’al hanegev Latin: Vulpes rueppellii). This fox was once found in many dry wadis in the Judean wilderness but during the 1980s was forced into even more remote areas with the dominance of the European red fox and the common wolf.

It is one of the smallest and most elusive members of the fox family. This is why Tobiah’s taunts were all the more insulting in Nehemiah 4:3. He was insinuating Nehemiah’s rebuilding efforts were so pathetic that it would only take one of these diminutive foxes to knock the whole wall down.

One of the most notable features of this fox is the fur on the pads of its feet, something which possibly helps distribute its weight, allowing it to move quietly and easily on sand as well as insulating itself from the desert heat. You will notice the huge ears, quite out of proportion to the rest of the animal. This helps radiate heat away from the animal so that they don’t lose too much water by panting.

These foxes are omnivores with a diet that varies considerably, depending on what is locally available, including human garbage. They are most active at dusk and hunt in darkness, spending most of the day in caves and crevices to avoid the heat. They are survivors in the harshest of conditions and, like all foxes, they are cunning and cruel. These are some of the reasons why Jesus likened Herod to this creature in Luke 13:32.