Located close to the entrance to Beit Shemesh, a short drive from Jerusalem, the Biblical Museum of Natural History opened recently. The new museum showcases the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects mentioned in the Old Testament and also relates to zoological matters referred to in the Talmud (seminal texts of the Jewish oral law), reports the museum’s General Director Rabbi Natan Slifkin. In the course of the tour, he explains, visitors are introduced to the Old Testament animals and their symbolism, values from the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), Jewish law and history and the natural history of biblical Israel. The larger species have undergone taxidermy and are displayed as stuffed animals; while smaller species are exhibited live. A collection of biological artifacts is on display too.

Exhibits include The Predators of Scripture, The Wonders of God’s Creation, Biblical Vs. Israeli Wildlife and The Kosher Signs of Animals, Birds, Fish and Insects, among others, including Exotic Shofars (Jewish ceremonial rams’ horns), which the museum deems “the world’s largest collection.”

Tours of the museum are for groups only, and they must be booked in advance.