A form of divination by rats or mice supposedly alluded to in Isaiah LXVI:17. The method lies in their peculiar cries or some mark of devastation denoting evil which they make. Aelian told how Fabius Maximus resigned the dictatorship because of a warning from the creatures. Cassius Flaminius resigned being commander of the calvary because of them.
Herodotus told of how the army of Semmacherib of which he was a member was defeated after being infested by rats. The rodents ate through the quivers and bows so that by morning the weapons were destroyed and in confusion men fled as many were killed.
Horapollo, in his curious study of Egyptian Hieroglyphics, described the rat as the symbol of destruction, and that the Hebrew name for the animal came from the root meaning separate, divide, or judge. One of the commentators on Horapollo remarked that the rat had a finely discriminating taste.
An Egyptian manuscript in the Biblotheque Royale in Paris contains a representation of a soul going to judgment, in which one of the figures is depicted as having a head of a rat, and having a well-known wig.
It is recognized that the Libian rats and the mouse of Scripture are the same as the Arabian jerboa, which is characterized as having a long tail, bushy at the end, and short front legs.
The mice and emerods of gold (I Samuel V: 6, 7) were essentially charms sharing a precise symbolic meaning. A.G.H.