The gemara in Pesachim 9b states:

שהטילה נפל לבור …..

חכמים וטיהרוהו מפני שחולדה וברדלס מצויין שם

(translation from Sefaria) who threw a stillborn baby into a pit, ... and a priest came and glanced ... a marten and a polecat [bardelas] are found there.

Marten is an arboreal animal, polecat usualy unts in the burrows. They are not scavengers. Indeed the Sefer Haaruch says that חולדה is Martorella (in Italian Marten is martora, martorella is a little marten), he was living in Italia and . Perhaps he says this regarding חולדת הסנאים an animal who lives in bushes. polecat lives on the ground but is not a scavenger. If I remember, Rashi in BK says that ברדלס is putois, polecat in French.

What is the right translation of חולדה וברדלס in the actual context?

Weasel is similar to marten and lives on the ground. Cheeta is also not an animal who pilfers.

From the Gemara in Pesachim we see that Chulda is omnivore, eats meat and bread and eat in its hole. The bardelas is cietd as carnivore and also eat in a hole.

  • There is some discussion on ברדלס on Wikipedia
    – b a
    May 7, 2019 at 10:26

2 Answers 2



In a 2016 blogpost titled "Day of the Bardelas," R' Natan Slifkin writes about the bardelas in depth and proposes 3 options: (abridged- see blogpost for full version)

In Greek, it refers primarily to the leopard but also to the “lesser leopard” i.e. the cheetah.

According to the Babylonian Talmud the bardelas is to be identified with the tzavua, which is the hyena. [... t]his identification was accepted by Maimonides, who gave the Arabic name of the hyena (Rambam. commentary to the Mishna, Bava Kama 1:4))

וברדלס הוא החיה הנקראת בלשון ערבי אלצבע

While in this [particular] passage (Bava Kamma 15b) the Talmud identifies the bardelas as the hyena, it seems that other references to the bardelas in the Talmud do not refer to this animal. Instead, they are apparently a corruption of the word mandris. This appears to refer to the mongoose or similar such creature.


Whereas there are differing opinions as to what the bardelas is, it seems to be the prevailing opinion that the chuldah is a weasel.

Leviticus 11:29

וְזֶ֤ה לָכֶם֙ הַטָּמֵ֔א בַּשֶּׁ֖רֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵ֣ץ עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ הַחֹ֥לֶד וְהָעַכְבָּ֖ר וְהַצָּ֥ב לְמִינֵֽהוּ׃

The following shall be unclean for you from among the things that swarm on the earth: the mole, the mouse, and great lizards of every variety;

Rashi there:

החלד. מוש"טילא:

החלד — moustille in O. F.; (English = weasel).

R' Slifkin also calls it a weasel in this blogpost.

  • 1
    For rat and mangoose it seems very adapted to an animal entering in a well. I assume that there are many animals called bardelas and following the situation, the right animal we need to choice the right animal so for this berayta I prefer rat and mangoose
    – kouty
    May 7, 2019 at 16:53

A partial, complimentary answer to the other one quoting R' Slifkin:

Bardeles is Pardelis, ancient Greek for Leopard. See here:

from earlier πάρδαλις (párdalis, “leopard”).

The Beis and Peh were flipped as was common in Mishnaic times. See for instance Tos. Yom Tov on Peah 6:6

הבקר כמו הפקר. ששניהם הבי''ת והפ''א ממוצא השפה ומתחלפין:

A leopard is what is usually called a  נמר. Why would the Mishna in Bava Kamma 15b list both though?

והאדם הזאב והארי והדוב והנמר והברדלס והנחש הרי אלו מועדין

The term Pardelis was used for taxonomic purposes to identify anything spotted, such as Cervus camelopardalis, the 'camel leopard', aka giraffe.

It would be safe to assume chazzal would also use the word to mean anything spotted. In fact נמר was also used by chazzal as a general term for spotted. See Menachos 29b about the 'spotted' seffer torah

א''ר יצחק בר שמואל בר מרתא משמיה דרב והוא דכתיב רוביה דספרא שפיר א''ל אביי לרב יוסף אי אית בההוא דף שלש טעיות מאי א''ל הואיל ואיתיהיב לאיתקוני מיתקן וה''מ חסירות אבל יתירות לית לן בה חסירות מ''ט לא אמר רב כהנא משום דמיחזי כמנומר.

So I would suggest since both terms for spotted creatures can be somewhat fluid, one of the two in the mishna would be the leopard, and one a different spotted creature.

As the OP pointed out, the Bardeles seems to be a scavenger. Are there any spotted scavengers in the Levant? The striped hyena definitely fits the bill.

So let's go with that. והנמר והברדלס translate as the leopard and the striped hyena, respectively.

  • So I assume that the bardelas can be Genet
    – kouty
    May 8, 2019 at 12:26
  • That looks to be more specific to Africa, but maybe. I'm not saying anything definitely, just offering an audit trail of etymological progression, and a suggestion which I see others have thought of first.
    – user6591
    May 8, 2019 at 12:32
  • There are in all places, even in France. People used them as we use cats to chase mouthes and rats.
    – kouty
    May 8, 2019 at 12:35
  • 1
    From the wiki page you linked: All genet species are indigenous to Africa. The common genet was introduced to southwestern Europe during historical times.[2] It was brought from the Maghreb to the Mediterranean region as a semi-domestic animal about 1000 to 1500 years ago, and from there spread to southern France and Italy.[29] In Africa, it is found in wooded habitats north of the Sahara, in savannazones south of the Sahara to southern Africaand along the coast of Arabia, Yemen and Oman.[30] I don't see anything mentioned that it was ever found in Israel or Persia. Although you never know
    – user6591
    May 8, 2019 at 12:37
  • ok, thanks..…..
    – kouty
    May 8, 2019 at 12:50

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