There are two Hebrew words translated “moles” in Scripture. The first occurs in Leviticus 11:30 where the original word tanshemeth means “hard breather”. Unfortunately the translators have struggled with this word because it is translated “swan” in Leviticus 11:18 and Deuteronomy 14:16.

In Isaiah 2:20 we read, “In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats”.

Here, the word “moles” is the translation of two different Hebrew words, chephor peroth, which are rendered by Gesenius “into the digging of rats” – in other words, rats’ holes. Smith’s Bible Dictionary states that the words “may designate any of the small animals, such as rats and weasels, which burrow”.

If the Hebrew describes a mole or rat type animal, then the Middle East blind mole-rat seems a likely candidate. They live in underground communities, making large subterranean chambers for their young and for storehouses. They have the ability to continually monitor direction, using the earth’s magnetic field when they make long, underground journeys.

These mole-rats weigh 100-200 grams. They have light grey fur and four sharp teeth: two large teeth in the upper jaw and two smaller teeth in the lower jaw. They have a life span of up to 20 years and are notable for their ability to live with little oxygen. In Israel, the blind mole-rat is a major agricultural pest.

The reason why mankind is described as throwing its idols to the moles is because this animal is an apt representation of all idols and idolaters—blind, unable to hear some frequencies, connected with dirt, ruins and darkness, and reluctant to come to the light.