Bible makes no pretensions to science; we must not therefore expect
to meet in its pages with any kind of elaborate classification,
whether zoological or otherwise. The sacred books, on the other
hand, were composed by, and for a people almost exclusively given to
husbandry and pastoral life, hence in constant communication with
nature. To such a people references to the animal world, animal
customs, etc., are quite natural, and the more animals abounded in
the country, the more frequent and varied these allusions may be
expected to be. In point of fact, the names of a large number of
animals - over a hundred and twenty species - occur in the
Scriptures. A closer examination of the way in which references to
animals are introduced, the frequency of allusions to certain
species, and the date of the documents in which they are found, may
give a fair idea of the conditions of the country at the different
stages of its history. The species, for instance, called in Hebrew
re'em, very probably the aurochs, or wild ox, totally disappeared
about the time of the Babylonian captivity; the wild ass, the lion,
and a few others long ago became extinct in Palestine; other species
are now so scarce that they could hardly afford a familiar subject
for illustration. The variety of animals spoken of in the Bible is
remarkable; the ostrich, for instance, a denizen of the torrid
regions, and the camel, of the waterless districts around Palestine,
are mentioned side by side with the roebuck and deer of the woody
summits of Lebanon. This variety, greater probably in Palestine than
in any other country in the same latitude, should be attributed to
the great extremes of elevation and temperature in this small
country. Furthermore, that the Palestinian fauna is not now as rich
as it used to be during the Biblical times, must not be wondered at;
the land, now bare, was then well wooded, especially on the hills
east of the Jordan; hence the changes. Although no regular
classification is to be sought for in the Bible, it is easy to see,
however, that the animal creation is there practically divided into
four classes, according to the four different modes of locomotion;
among the animals, some walk, others fly, many are essentially
swimmers, several crawl on the ground. This classification, more
empiric than logical, would not by any means satisfy a modern
scientist; it must be known, however, if we wish fairly to
understand the language of the Scriptures on the matters connected
therewith. The first class, the behemôth, or beasts, in the
Biblical parlance, includes all quadrupeds living on the earth, with
the exception of the amphibia and such small animals as moles, mice,
and the like. Beasts are divided into cattle, or domesticated
(behemoth in the strict sense), and beasts of the field, i. e. wild
animals. The fowls, which constitute the second class, include not
only the birds, but also "all things that fly", even if
they "go upon four feet", as the different kinds of
locusts. Of the many "living beings that swim in the water"
no particular species is mentioned; the "great whales" are
set apart in that class, while the rest are divided according as
they have, or have not, fins and scales (Lev., xi, 9, 10). The
reptiles, or "creeping things", form the fourth class.
References to this class are relatively few; however, it should be
noticed that the "creeping things" include not only the
reptiles properly so called, but also all short-legged animals or
insects which seem to crawl rather than to walk, such as moles,
lizards, etc. From a religious viewpoint, all these animals are
divided into two classes, clean and unclean, according as they can,
or cannot, be eaten. We shall presently give, in alphabetical order,
the list of the animals whose names occur in the Bible; whenever
required for the identification, the Hebrew name will be indicated,
as well as the specific term used by naturalists. This list will
include even such names as griffon, lamia, siren or unicorn, which,
though generally applied to fabulous beings, have nevertheless, on
account of some misunderstandings or educational prejudices of the
Greek and Latin translators, crept into the versions, and have been
applied to real animals. (In the following list D.V. stands for
Douay Version, A.V. and R.V. for Authorized and Revised Version
- A kind of antelope (antilope addax) with twisted horns; it very
probably corresponds to the dîshõn of the Hebrews and
the pygarg of the divers translations (Deut., xiv, 5).
- A poisonous snake of the genus Vipera. The word, unused in the
D.V., stands in the A.V. for four different Hebrew names of
(Prov., vi, 6; xxx, 25). - Over twelve species of ants exist in
Palestine; among them the ants of the genus Atta are particularly
common, especially the atta barbara, of dark colour, and the atta
structor, a brown species. These, with the pheidole megacephala,
are, unlike the ants of northern countries, accustomed to lay up
stores of corn for winter use. Hence the allusions of the wise man
in the two above-mentioned passages of Proverbs.
- The word, first applied as a qualification to the gazelle, on
account of the lustre and soft expression of its eye, has become the
name of a genus of ruminant quadrupeds intermediate between the deer
and the goat. Four species are mentioned in the Bible:
the dîshon (D.V. pygarg; Deut., xiv, 5), commonly identified
with the antilope addax;
the çebhî (Deut., xii, 15, etc.; D.V. roe) or gazelle,
the the'ô (Deut., xiv, 5; D.V. wild goat; Is., li, 20, D.V.
wild ox), which seems to be the bubale (antilope bubalis); and
the yáhmûr (Deut., xiv, 5), the name of which is given
by the Arabs to the roebuck of Northern Syria and to the oryx (the
white antelope, antilope oryx) of the desert.
- Nowhere in the Bible is the ape supposed to be indigenous to
Palestine. Apes are mentioned with gold, silver, ivory, and peacocks
among the precious things imported by Solomon from Tharsis (III K.,
x, 22; II Par., ix, 21).
- This word, which occurs ten times in D.V., stands for four Hebrew
Péthén [Deut., xxxii, 33; Job, xx, 14, 16; Ps., lvii
(Hebr., lviii), 5; Is., xi, 8]. From several allusions both to its
deadly venom (Deut., xxxii, 33), and to its use by serpent-charmers
[Ps., lvii (Hebr., lviii), 5, 6], it appears that the cobra (naja
aspis) is most probably signified. Safely to step upon its body, or
even linger by the hole where it coils itself, is manifestly a sign
of God's particular protection [Ps., xc (Hebr., xci), 13; Is., xi,
8]. Sophar, one of Job's friends, speaks of the wicked as sucking
the venom of péthén, in punishment whereof the food
he takes shall be turned within him into the gall of this poisonous
reptile (Job, xx, 16, 14).
Akhshûbh, mentioned only once in the Hebrew Bible, namely
Ps., cxl (Vulg., cxxxix), 4, but manifestly alluded to in Ps.,
xiii, 3, and Rom., iii, 13, seems to have been one of the most
highly poisonous kinds of viper, perhaps the toxicoa, also called
echis arenicola or scytale of the Pyramids, very common in Syria
and North Africa.
Sháhál is also found only once to signify a snake,
Ps., xci (Vulg., xc), 13; but what particular kind of snake we are
unable to determine. The word Sháhál might possibly,
owing to some copyist's mistake, have crept into the place of
another name now impossible to restore.
çphônî (Is., lix, 5), "the hisser",
generally rendered by basilisk in ID.V. and in ancient
translations, the latter sometimes calling it regulus. This snake
was deemed so deadly that, according to the common saying, its
hissing alone, even its look, was fatal. It was probably a small
viper, perhaps a cerastes, possibly the daboia zanthina, according
- The ass has always enjoyed a marked favour above all other beasts
of burden in Palestine. This is evidenced by two very simple
remarks. While, on the one hand, mention of this animal occurs over
a hundred and thirty times in Holy Writ; on the other hand, the
Hebrew vocabulary possesses, to designate the ass, according to its
colour, sex, age, etc., a supply of words in striking contrast with
the ordinary penury of the sacred language. Of these various names
the most common is hamôr, "reddish", the hair of the
Eastern ass being generally of that colour. White asses, more rare,
were also more appreciated and reserved for the use of the nobles
(Judges, v, 10). The custom was introduced very early, as it seems,
and still prevails, to paint the most shapely and valuable donkeys
in stripes of different colours. In the East the ass is much larger
and finer than in other countries, and in several places the
pedigrees of the best breeds are carefully preserved. Asses have
always been an important item in the resources of the Eastern
peoples, and we are repeatedly told in the Bible about the herds of
these animals owned by the patriarchs (Gen., xii, 16; xxx, 43;
xxxvi, 24, etc.), and wealthy Israelites (I K., ix, 3; 1 Par.,
xxvii, 30, etc.). Hence the several regulations brought forth by
Israel's lawgiver on this subject: the neighbour's ass should not be
coveted (Exod., xx, 17); moreover, should the neighbour's stray ass
be found, it should be taken care of, and its owner assisted in
tending this part of his herd (Deut., xxii, 3, 4). The ass serves in
the East for many purposes. Its even gait and surefootedness, so
well suited to the rough paths of the Holy Land, made it at all
times the most popular of all the animals for riding in those hilly
regions (Gen., xxii, 3; Luke, xix, 30). Neither was it ridden only
by the common people, but also by persons of the highest rank
(Judges, v, 10; x, 4; II K., xvii, 23; xix, 26, etc.). No wonder
therefore that Our Lord about to come triumphantly to Jerusalem,
commanded His disciples to bring Him an ass and her colt; no lesson
of humility, as is sometimes asserted, but the affirmation of the
peaceful character of His kingdom should be sought there. Although
the Scripture speaks of "saddling" the ass, usually no
saddle was used by the rider; a cloth spread upon the back of the
ass and fastened by a strap was all the equipment. Upon this cloth
the rider sat, a servant usually walking alongside. Should a family
journey, the women and children would ride the asses, attended by
the father (Exod., iv, 20). This mode of travelling has been
popularized by Christian painters, who copied the eastern customs in
their representations of the Holy Family's flight to Egypt. Scores
of passages in the Bible allude to asses carrying burdens; the
Gospels, at least in the Greek text, speak of millstones run by
asses (Matt., xviii, 6, Mark, ix, 41; Luke, xvii, 2); Josephus and
the Egyptian monuments teach us that this animal was used for
threshing wheat; finally, we repeatedly read in the O.T. of asses
hitched to a plough (Deut, xxii, 10; Is., xxx, 24, etc.), and in
reference to this custom, the Law forbade ploughing with an ox and
an ass together (Deut., xxii, 10). From Is., xxi, 7, confirmed by
the statements of Greek writers, we learn that part of the cavalry
force in the Persian army rode donkeys; we should perhaps understand
from IV K., vii, 7, that the Syrian armies followed the same
practice; but no such custom seems to have ever prevailed among the
Hebrews. With them the ass was essentially for peaceful use, the
emblem of peace, as the horse was the symbol of war. The flesh of
the ass was unclean and forbidden by the Law. In some particular
circumstances, however, no law could prevail over necessity, and we
read that during Joram's reign, when Benadad besieged Samaria, the
famine was so extreme in this city, that the head of an ass was sold
for fourscore pieces of silver (IV K., vi, 25).
COLT. - This is more specially the symbol of peace and meek
obedience (John, xii, 15).
WILD, corresponds in the O.T. to two words, péré and
arôdh. Whether these two names refer to different species, or
are, the one, the genuine Hebrew name, the other, the Aramaic
equivalent for the same animal, is uncertain. Both signify one of
the wildest and most untamable animals. The wild ass is larger and
more shapely than the domestic one, and outruns the fleetest horse.
Its untamableness joined to its nimbleness made it a fit symbol for
the wild and plunder-loving Ismael (Gen., xvi, 12). The wild ass,
extinct in western Asia, still exists in central Asia and the
deserts of Africa.
(Lev., xi, 22). - Instead of this Latin word, the A.V. reads
bald-locust. According to the tradition enshrined in the Talmud, the
common truxalis, a locust with a very long smooth head is probably
or wild ox (urus, bos primigenius), is undoubtedly the rimu of the
Assyrian inscriptions, and consequently corresponds to the re'em or
rêm of the Hebrews. The latter word is translated sometimes in
our D.V. by rhinoceros (Num., xxiii, 22; xxiv, 8; Deut., xxxiii, 17;
Job, xxxix, 9, 10), sometimes by unicorn (Ps., xxi, 22; xxviii, 6;
xci, 11; Is., xxxiv, 7). That the re'em, far from being unicorn, was
a two-horned animal, is suggested by Ps., xxi, 22, and forcibly
evidenced by Deut., xxxiii, 17, where its horns represent the two
tribes of Ephraim and Manasses; that, moreover, it was akin to the
domestic ox is shown from such parallelisms as we find in Ps.,
xxviii, 6, where we read, according to the critical editions of the
Hebrew text: "The voice of Yahweh makes Lebanon skip like a
bullock, and Sirion like a young re'em"; or Is., xxxiv, 7: "And
the re'em shall go down with them, and the bulls with the mighty";
and still more convincingly by such implicit descriptions as that of
Job, xxxix, 9, 10: "Shall the rêm be willing to serve
thee, or will he stay at thy crib? Canst thou bind the rêm
with thy thong to plough, or will he break the clods of the valleys
after thee?" These references will be very clear, the last
especially, once we admit the re'em is an almost untamable wild ox,
which one would try in vain to submit to the same work as its
domestic kin. Hence there is very little doubt that in all the
above-mentioned places the word aurochs should be substituted for
rhinoceros and unicorn. The aurochs is for the sacred poets a
familiar emblem of untamed strength and ferocity. It no longer
exists in western Asia.
a kind of dog-faced, long-haired monkey, dwelling among ruins (gen.
Cynocephalus); it was an object of worship for the Egyptians. Some
deem it to be the "hairy one" spoken of in Is., xiii, 21
and xxxiv, 14, but it is very doubtful whether it ever existed west
of the Euphrates.
- No mention of the badger (meles taxus) is found in the D.V.,
whereas the A.V. regularly gives it as the English equivalent for
táhásh. The skin of the táhásh is
repeatedly spoken of as used for the outer cover of the tabernacle
and the several pieces of its furniture. The old translations, and
the D.V. after them, understood the word táhásh to
mean a color (violet; Ex., xxv, 5; xxvi, 14; xxxv, 7, 23; xxxvi, 19;
Num., iv, 10, 25; Ezech., xvi, 10); but this is a misrepresentation;
so also is the rendering of the A.V.; for though the badger is
common in Palestine, yet the Hebrew name most probably indicates the
dugong (halicore hemprichii or halicore tabernaculi), a very large
species of the seal family living in the Red Sea, the skin of which
is used to the present day for such purposes as those alluded to in
occurs in the D.V. as an equivalent for several Hebrew names of
Péthén (Ps. xc, 13), the cobra; had the Latin and
English translators been more consistent they would have rendered
this Hebrew word here, as in the other places, by asp;
Céphá' and Cíphe 'ônî (Prov.,
xxiii, 32; Is., xi. 8; xiv, 29; Jer., viii, '17;
'éphe'éh (Is., lix, 5), a kind of viper impossible to
determine, or perhaps the echis arenicola;
flying sãrãph (Is., xiv, 29; xxx, 6), a winged
serpent (?), possibly also a reptile like the draco fimbriatus,
which, having long ribs covered with a fringe-like skin, is able to
glide through the air for short distances.
- The bat, fourteen species of which still exist in Palestine is
reckoned among unclean "winged things" (Lev., xi, 19;
Deut., xiv, 18). Its abode is generally in dark and desolate places
such as ruins and caverns.
- The bear spoken of in the Bible is the ursus syriacus, scarcely
different from the brown bear of Europe. Since the destruction of
the forests, it is now rarely seen south of Lebanon and Hermon,
where it is common. Not unfrequently met in the Holy Land during the
O.T. times, it was much dreaded on account of its ferocious and
destructive instincts; to dare it was accordingly a mark of uncommon
courage (I K., xvii, 34-36). Its terror-striking roars and its
fierceness, especially when robbed of its cubs, are repeatedly
WILD. - The expression occurs twice in the D.V., but much oftener in
the A.V., and R. V., where it is in several places a substitute for
the awkward "beast of the field", the Hebrew name of wild
animals at large. The first time we read of "wild beasts"
in the D.V., it fairly stands for the Hebrew word zîz [Ps.
lxxix (Hebr., lxxx), 14], albeit the "singular wild beast"
is a clumsy translation. The same Hebrew word in Ps. xlix, 11, at
least for consistency's sake, should have been rendered in the same
manner; "the beauty of the field" must consequently be
corrected into "wild beast". In Is., xiii, 21, "wild
beasts" is an equivalent for the Hebr. Ciyyîm, i. e.
denizens of the desert. This word in different places has been
translated in divers manners: demons (Is., xxxiv, 14), dragons (Ps.
lxxiii, 14; Jer., 1, 39); it possibly refers to the hyena.
- Palestine, according to Scripture, is a land flowing with honey
(Ex., iii, 8). Its dry climate, its rich abundance, and variety of
aromatic flowers, and its limestone rocks render it particularly
adapted for bees. No wonder then that honey bees, both wild and
hived, abound there. All the different species known by the names of
bombus, nomia, andrena, osmia, megachile, anthophora, are widely
spread throughout the country. The hived honey bee of Palestine,
apis fasciata, belongs to a variety slightly different from ours,
characterized by yellow stripes on the abdomen. Wild bees are said
to live not only in rocks [Ps. lxxx (Hebr., lxxxi), 17], but in
hollow trees (I K., xiv, 25), even in dried carcasses (Judges, xiv,
8). Syrian and Egyptian hives are made of a mash of clay and straw
for coolness. In O.T. times, honey was an article of export (Gen.,
xliii, 11; Ezech,, xxvii, 17). Bees are spoken of in Holy Writ as a
term of comparison for a numerous army relentlessly harassing their
enemies. Debôrah, the Hebrew name for bee, was a favourite
name for women.
given by A.V. (Lev., xi, 22) as an equivalent for Hebrew, árbéh,
does not meet the requirements of the context: "Hath the legs
behind longer wherewith it hoppeth upon the earth", any more
than the bruchus of D.V., some species of locust, the locusta
migratoria being very likely intended.
is generally translated by "great beasts"; in its wider
signification it includes all mammals living on earth, but in the
stricter sense is applied to domesticated quadrupeds at large.
However in Job, xl, 10, where it is left untranslated and considered
as a proper name, it indicates a particular animal. The description
of this animal has long puzzled the commentators. Many of them now
admit that it represents the hippopotamus, so well known to the
ancient Egyptians; it might possibly correspond as well to the
- No other classification of birds than into clean and unclean is
given. The Jews, before the captivity, had no domestic fowls except
pigeons . Although many birds are mentioned, there occur few
allusions to their habits. Their instinct of migration, the snaring
or netting them, and the caging of song birds are referred to.
DYED. - So does the English version, Jer., xii, 9, wrongly interpret
the Hebrew áyit. which means beast of prey, sometimes also
bird of prey.
SINGING. - This singing bird of Soph., ii, 14, according to the
D.V., owes its origin to a mistranslation of the original, which
most probably should be read: "And their voice shall sing at
the window"; unless by a mistake of some scribe, the word qôl,
voice, has been substituted for the name of some particular bird.
SPECKLED, Hebrew çãbhûá (Jer., xii, 9). A
much discussed translation. The interpretation of the English
versions, however meaningless it may seem to some, is supported by
the Targum, the Syriac, and St. Jerome. In spite of these
authorities many modern scholars prefer to use the word hyena, given
by the Septuagint and confirmed by Ecclesiasticus, xiii, 22 as well
as by the Arabic (dábúh) and rabbinical Hebrew
(çebhôá), names of the hyena.
According to several authors, the re'em of the Bible. It belongs to
the same genus as the aurochs, but being indigenous to America
(whence its name, bos americanus), and specifically different from
the aurochs, cannot possibly have been known by the Hebrews.
(botháurus vulgaris), a shy, solitary, wading bird related to
the heron and inhabiting the recesses of swamps, where its
startling, booming cry at night gives a frightening impression of
desolation. In the D.V., bittern stands for Hebr. qã'ãth
(Lev., xi, 18; Is., xxxiv, 11; Soph., ii, 14), although by some
inconsistency the same Hebrew word is rendered Deut., xiv, 17, by
cormorant, and Ps. ci (Hebr., cii), 7, by pelican. The pelican meets
all the requirements of all the passages where qã'ãth
is mentioned, and would perhaps be a better translation than
certainly, designates, Deut., xxviii, 42, a voracious insect; the
Hebrew çelãçál, "chirping",
suggests that the cricket was possibly meant and might be
substituted for blast. In Ps. lxxvii (Hebr., lxxviii), 46, blast
stands for hãsîl, "the destroyer", perhaps
the locust in its caterpillar state, in which it is most
WILD. - The only allusion to this animal is found Ps. lxxix (Hebr.,
lxxx), 14; however, the wild boar was undoubtedly always, as it is
now, common in Palestine, having its lair in the woods, and most
destructive to vineyards.
- Though it occurs once (Lev., xi, 22) as an equivalent for Hebrew,
ârbéh (probably the locusta migratoria), the word
bruchus is the regular interpretation for yéléq,
"licker". The Biblical bruchus may be fairly identified
with the beetle, or some insect akin to it. Anyway the yéléq
of Jer., li, 14, 27, should have been rendered in the same manner as
antilope bubalis, or alcephalus bubalis, which should not be
confounded with the bubale, bos bubalus, is probably signified by
the Hebrew, the'ô, interpreted by the Douay translators, wild
goat, in Deut., xiv, 5, and wild ox, Is., li, 20. It still exists in
Palestine, but was formerly much more common than now.
(bos bubalus). - So does the D.V. translate the Hebrew, yáhmûr,
III K., iv, 23 (Hebr., I K., v, 3). Being a denizen of marshy and
swampy lands, the buffalo must have been scarcely known by the
Hebrews. Moreover, its coarse, unpleasant smelling flesh seems to
exclude the identification with the animal referred to in the above
mentioned passage, where we should probably read roebuck.
- Another word for buffalo, D.V., Deut., xiv, 5. According to good
authorities, the oryx, or white antelope, might be here intended,
the Hebrew word yáhmûr possibly meaning, as its Arabic
equivalent does, both the roebuck and the oryx.
- A symbol of fierce and relentless adversaries [Ps. xxi (Hebr.,
- The bullock, as yet unaccustomed to the yoke, is an image of
Israel's insubordinate mind before he was subdued by the captivity
(Jer., xxxi, 18).
(Hebr., rã'ah). - Probably the ringtail of D.V. and the glede
of A,V. (Deut., xiv, 13); possibly, through a scribe's error, might
be identified with the kite, dã'ah, of Lev,, xi, 14. The
buzzard, three species of which exist in Palestine, has always been
One of the most popular representations of the deity among the
Chanaanites. The calf is, in Biblical poetry, a figure for vexing
and pitiless foes [Ps., xxi (Hebr., xxii), 13]. The fatted calf was
a necessary feature, so to say, of a feast dinner.
a prominent domestic animal of the East without the existence of
which life in the Arabian deserts would be impossible. It was
perhaps the first beast of burden applied to the service of man;
anyway it is mentioned as such in the Biblical records as early as
the time of Abraham. It constituted a great element in the riches of
the early patriarchs. There are two species of camel: the one-humped
camel (camelus dromedarius), and the two-humped camel (camelus
bactrianus). The camel is used for riding as well as for carrying
loads; its furniture is a large frame placed on the humps, to which
cradles or packs are attached. In this manner was all the
merchandise of Assyria and Egypt transported. But the camel is
appreciated for other reasons: it may be hitched to a wagon or to a
plough, and in fact is not unfrequently yoked together with tIme ass
or the ox; the female supplies abundantly her master with a good
milk; camel's hair is woven into a rough cloth wherewith tents and
Cloaks are made; finally its flesh, albeit coarse and dry, may be
eaten. With the Jews, however, the camel was reckoned among the
occurs only once in the D.V. (Deut., xiv, 5), as a translation of
zémér, The word, a mere transcription of the Latin and
the Greek, is a combination of the names of the camel and the
leopard, and indicates the giraffe. But this translation, as well as
that of the A.V. (chamois), is doubtless erroneous; neither the
giraffe nor the chamois ever lived in Palestine. The wild sheep or
mouflon, which still lingers in Cyprus and Arabia Petrala, is very
the locust in its larva state, in which it is most voracious. So
does A.V. render the Hebrew, gãzám; the word
palmerworm, given by the D.V. seems better.
- Mention of this animal occurs only once in the Bible, namely Bar.,
vi, 21. The original text of Baruch being lost, we possess no
indication as to what the Hebrew name of the cat may have been.
Possibly there was not any; for although the cat was very familiar
to the Egyptians, it seems to have been altogether unknown to the
Jews, as well as to the Assyrians and Babylonians, even to the
Greeks and Romans before the conquest of Egypt. These and other
reasons have led some commentators to believe that the word cat, in
the above cited place of Baruch, might not unlikely stand for
another name now impossible to restore.
- Very early in the history of mankind, animals were tamed and
domesticated, to be used in agriculture, for milk, for their flesh,
and especially for sacrifices. Many words in Hebrew expressed the
different ages and sexes of cattle, West of the Jordan the cattle
were generally stall-fed ; in the plains and hills south and
east they roamed in a half-wild state; such were the most famous
"bulls of Basan".
(Hebr., shephîphõn) should be substituted in D.V. for
the colourless "serpent", Gen., xlix, 17. The
identification of the shephîphõn with the deadly horned
cerastes (cerastes hasselquistii or vipera cerastes) is evidenced by
the Arabic name of the latter (shúffon), and its customs in
perfect agreement with the indications of the Bible. The cerastes,
one of the most venomous of snakes, is in the habit of coiling
itself in little depressions such as camels' footmarks, and suddenly
darting on any passing animal.
(Hebr., kôâh). - Mentioned Lev., xi, 30, with the mole
(Hebr., tínshéméth). In spite of the authority
of the ancient translations, it is now generally admitted that the
tínshéméth is the chameleon, very common in
Palestine; whereas the kôâh is a kind of large lizard,
perhaps the land monitor (psammosaurus scincus).
(antilope rupicapra) is now totally unknown in western Asia, where
it very probably never existed. The opinion of those who see it in
the Hebrew zémér (Deut., xiv, 5) should consequently
be entirely discarded (see Camelopardalus).
(Hebr., anãphah, Lev., xi, 19; Deut., xiv, 18) would be the
plover; but it rather stands here for the heron, all the species of
which (this is the sense of the expression "according to its
kind"), numerous in Palestine, should be deemed unclean.
(Lev., xi, 5; Deut., xiv, 7), a mere transliteration of the Greek
name of the porcupine, corresponds to the Hebrew shãphãn,
translated, Ps. ciii (Hebr., civ), 18, by irchin, and Prov., xxx,
26, by rabbit. As St. Jerome noticed it, the shãphãn
is not the porcupine, but a very peculiar animal of about the same
size, dwelling among the rocks, and in holes, and called in
Palestine "bear-rat", on account of some resemblance with
these two quadrupeds. We call it coney, or daman (hyrax syriacus).
Its habit of lingering among the rocks is alluded to, Ps. ciii, 18;
its wisdom and defencelessness, Prov., xxx, 24-26. "It cannot
burrow, for it has no claws, only nails half developed ; but it
lies in holes in the rocks, and feeds only at dawn and dusk, always
having sentries posted, at the slightest squeak from which the whole
party instantly disappears. The coney is not a ruminant (cf. Lev.,
xi, 5), but it sits working its jaws as if re-chewing. It is found
sparingly in most of the rocky districts, and is common about Sinai"
(naja aspis), most likely the deadly snake called péthén
by the Hebrews, found in Palestine and Egypt and used by
(coccus ilicis). - A hemiptera homoptera insect very common on the
Syrian holm-oak, from the female of which the crimson dye (kermes)
is prepared. The complete name in Hebrew is equivalent to "scarlet
insect", the "insect" being not unfrequently omitted
in the translations.
HEN. - Domestic poultry are not mentioned till after the captivity.
No wonder, consequently, that the three times we meet with the word
cock in the D.V. it is owing to a misinterpretation of the primitive
Job, xxxviii, 36, the word sékhwi means soul, heart: "Who
hath put wisdom in the heart of man? and who gave his soul
Prov., xxx, 31, zãrzîr should be translated as "hero".
Is., xxii, 17, where the word gébhér, great, strong
man, has been rendered according to some rabbinical conceptions.
In Our Lord's
time domestic poultry, introduced from India through Persia, had
become common, and their well-known habits gave rise to familiar
expressions, and afforded good and easy illustrations (Mark, xiii,
35; xiv, 30, etc.). Jesus Christ compared His care for Jerusalem to
that of a hen for her brood.
- A fabulous serpent supposed to be produced from a cock's egg
brooded by a serpent; it was alleged that its hissing would drive
away all other serpents, and that its breath, even its look, was
fatal. The word is used in A.V. as the regular equivalent for
- See ASS'S COLT (sup.).
- See Cherogrillus (sup.).
Hebrew, rãmôth, should probably be substituted, Job,
xxviii, 18, for "eminent things", and Ezech., xxvii, 16,
for "silk" in the D.V. The coral dealt with at Tyre was
that of the Red Sea or even of the Indian Ocean; coral seems to have
been scarcely known among the Jews.
(Lev., xi, 17; Deut., xiv, 17), very frequently met with on the
coasts, rivers, and lakes of Palestine, probably corresponds to the
shãlãk of the Hebrew, although this name, which means
"the plunger", might be applied to some other plunging
- See CATTLE (sup.).
(grus cinerea). - The word does not occur in D.V., but seems the
best translation of Hebrew, ãghûr, read in two
passages: Is., xxxviii, 14, and Jer., viii, 7, where its loud voice
and migratory instincts are alluded to. There is little doubt that
the two above indicated places of D.V., where we read "swallow",
should be corrected.
a good translation for Hebr., çelãçál,
"chirping", which besides the feature suggested by the
etymology, is described Deut., xxviii, 42, as a voracious insect.
See BLAST (sup.).
- We do not read this word in any other place than Lev., xi, 29
(D.V.), where it corresponds to the Hebrew, çãb; the
animal is, nevertheless, oftener spoken of in the Holy Books under
cover of several metaphors: ráhâb, "the proud"
(Is., li, 9); tánnîn, "the stretcher"
(Ezech., xxix, 3); líweyãthãn (leviathan) [Ps.
lxxiii (Hebr., lxxiv), 14; Job, xl, 20, xli, 25]. See DRAGON (inf.).
The crocodile (crocodilus vulgaris) is still found in great numbers,
not only in the upper Nile, but also in Palestine. A remarkable
description of the crocodile has been drawn by the author of the
Book of Job. He depicts the difficulty of capturing, snaring, or
taming him, his vast size, his impenetrable scales, his flashing
eyes, his snorting, and his immense strength. Dreadful as he is, the
crocodile was very early regarded and worshipped as a deity by the
Egyptians. He is, in the Bible, the emblem of the people of Egypt
and their Pharao, sometimes even of all Israel's foes.
according to some, would be the bird called in Hebrew shâhâph
(Lev., xi, 16; Deut., xiv, 15), and there reckoned among the unclean
birds. Two species, the cuculus canorus, and the oxylophus
glandarius live in the Holy Land; however there is little
probability that the cuckoo is intended in the mentioned passages,
where we should perhaps see the shear-water and the various species
ZANTHINA, See Basilisk (sup.).
- See Cherogrillus (sup.).
- (Hebr., áyyãl). Its name is frequently read in the
Scriptures, and its habits have afforded many allusions or
comparisons, which fact supposes that the deer was not rare in
Palestine. Its handsome form, its swiftness, its shyness, the love
of the roe for her fawns, are alluded to; it seems from Prov., v, 19
and some other indirect indications that the words áyyãl
and áyyãlah (deer and hind) were terms of endearment
most familiar between lovers.
(Is., xxxiv, 14). - So does D. V, translate çíyyîm;
it is certainly a mistake. The word at issue is generally believed
to refer to the hyena (hyœna striata), still found everywhere
in caves and tombs, So also is the word "devils" of Bar.,
iv, 35, We possess no longer the Hebrew text of the latter; but it
possibly contained the same word; anyway, "hyena" is
unquestionably a far better translation than the mere meaningless
- The D, V., following the Vulgate (Deut., viii, 15) thereby means a
serpent whose bite causes a mortal thirst ; but this
interpretation seems to come from a misunderstanding suggested by
the Septuagint; the original writer most likely intended there to
mean "drought", as the A.V. rightly puts it, and not any
kind of serpent.
- The dog in the East does not enjoy the companionship and
friendship of man as in the western countries. Its instinct has been
cultivated only in so far as the protecting of the flocks and camps
against wild animals is concerned. In the towns and villages it
roams in the streets and places, of which it is the ordinary
scavenger; packs of dogs in a half-wild state are met with in the
cities and are not unfrequently dangerous for men. For this reason
the dog has always been, and is still looked upon with loathing and
aversion, as filthy and unclean. With a very few exceptions,
whenever the dog is spoken of in the Bible (where it is mentioned
over forty times), it is with contempt, to remark either its
voracious instincts, or its fierceness, or its loathsomeness; it was
regarded as the emblem of lust, and of uncleanness in general. As
the Mohammedans, to the present day, term Christians "dogs",
so did the Jews of old apply that infamous name to Gentiles.
(Hebr., yônah). - Though distinguishing it from tôr, the
turtle-dove, the Jews were perfectly aware of their natural affinity
and speak of them together. The dove is mentioned in the Bible
oftener than any other bird (over fifty times); this comes both from
the great number of doves flocking in Palestine, and of the favour
they enjoy among the people. The dove is first spoken of in the
record of the flood (Gen., viii, 8-12); later on we see that Abraham
offered up some in sacrifice, which would indicate that the dove was
very early domesticated. In fact several allusions are made to
dove-cotes, with their "windows" or latticed openings. But
in olden times as well as now, besides the legions of pigeons that
swarm around the villages, there were many more rock-doves, "doves
of the valleys", as they are occasionally termed (Ezech., vii,
16; Cant., ii, 14; Jer., xlviii, 28), that filled the echoes of the
mountain gorges with the rustling of their wings. The metallic
lustre of their plumage, the swiftness of their flight, their habit
of sweeping around in flocks, their plaintive coo, are often alluded
to by the different sacred writers. The dark eye of the dove,
encircled by a line of bright red skin, is also mentioned; its
gentleness and innocence made it the type of trust and love, and,
most naturally, its name was one of the most familiar terms of
endearment. Our Lord spoke of the dove as a symbol of simplicity;
the sum of its perfections made it a fitting emblem for the Holy
a word frequently found in the translations of the Bible as
substitute, so it seems, for other names of animals that the
translators were unable to identify. It stands indeed for several
thán (Job, xxx, 29; Is., xxxiv, 13; xxxv, 7; xliii, 20;
Jer., ix, 11; x, 22; xiv, 6; xlix, 33; li, 37; Mich., i, 8; Mal.,
i, 3), unquestionably meaning a denizen of desolate places, and
generally identified with the jackal;
tánnîm, in a few passages with the sense of serpent
[Deut., xxxii, 33; Ps., xc (Hebr., xci), 13; Dan., xiv, 22-27), in
others most likely signifying the crocodile [Ps., lxxiii (Hebr.,
lxxiv), 13; Is., li, 9; Ezech., xxix, 3], or even a sea-monster
(Ezech., xxxii, 2), such as a whale, porpoise, or dugong, as
rightly translated Lam., iv, 3, and as probably intended Ps.,
líweyãthãn (leviathan), meaning both the
crocodile [Ps., lxxiii (Hebr., lxxiv), 14] and sea-monster [Ps.
ciii (Hebr., civ), 26];
çiyyim (Ps. lxxiii, 14; Jer., 1, 39), which possibly means
places, such as Esth., x, 7; xi, 6; Ecclus., xxv, 23, can be neither
traced back to a Hebrew original, nor identified with sufficient
probability. The author of the Apocalypse repeatedly makes mention
of the dragon, by which he means "the old serpent, who is
called the Devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world"
(Apoc., xii, 9, etc.). Of the fabulous dragon fancied by the
ancients, represented as a monstrous winged serpent, with a crested
head and enormous claws, and regarded as very powerful and
ferocious, no mention whatever is to be found in the Bible. The word
dragon, consequently, should really be blotted out of our Bibles,
except perhaps Is., xiv, 29 and xxx, 6, where the draco fimbriatus
is possibly spoken of. See BASILISK, 4 (sup.).
- The word so rendered, Is., lx, 6, signifies rather a swift and
finely bred camel.
- See BADGER (sup.).
So is generally rendered the Hebrew, néshér, but there
is a doubt as to whether the eagle or some kind of vulture is
intended. It seems even probable that the Hebrews did not
distinguish very carefully these different large birds of prey, and
that all are spoken of as though they were of one kind. Anyway, four
species of eagles are known to live in Palestine: aquila chrysœtos,
aquila nœvia, aquila heliaca, and circœtos gallicus.
Many allusions are made to the eagle in Scripture: its inhabiting
the dizziest cliffs for nesting, its keen sight, its habit of
congregating to feed on the slain, its swiftness, its longevity, its
remarkable care in training its young, are often referred to (see in
particular Job, xxxix, 27-30). When the relations of Israel with
their neighbours became more frequent, the eagle became, under the
pen of the Jewish prophets and poets, an emblem first of the
Assyrian, then of the Babylonian, and finally of the Persian kings.
- We learn from Assyrian inscriptions that before the Hebrews
settled in Syria, there existed elephants in that country, and
Tiglath-Pileser I tells us about his exploits in elephant hunting.
We do not read, however, of elephants in the Bible until the
Machabean times. True, III Kings speaks of ivory, or "elephants'
teeth", as the Hebrew text puts it, yet not as indigenous, but
as imported from Ophir. In the post-exilian times, especially in the
books of the Machabees, elephants are frequently mentioned; they
were an important element in the armies of the Seleucides. These
animals were imported either from India or from Africa.
a Latin name of the hedgehog, preserved in the D.V. as a translation
of the Hebrew word qíppôdh (Is., xiv, 23; xxxiv, 11;
Soph., ii, 14, the word urchin has been used) and qîppôz
(Is., xxxiv, 15). The above identification of the qíppôdh
is based both on the Greek rendering and the analogy between this
Hebrew word and the Talmudic (qúppádh), Syriac
(qufdô), Arabic (qúnfúd) and Ethiopian (qinfz)
names of the hedgehog. Several scholars, however, discard this
identification, because the hedgehog, contrary to the qíppôdh,
lives neither in marshes nor ruins, and has no voice. The bittern
meets all the requirements of the texts where the qíppôdh
is mentioned. It should be noticed nevertheless that hedgehogs are
far from rare in Palestine. As to the qîppôz of Is.,
xxxiv, 15, read qíppôdh by some Hebrew Manuscripts, and
interpreted accordingly by the Septuagint, Vulgate and the versions
derived therefrom, its identity is a much discussed question. Some,
arguing from the authorities just referred to, confound it with the
qíppôdh, whereas others deem it to be the arrow-snake;
but besides that no such animal as arrow-snake is known to
naturalists, the context seems to call for a bird.
- The Hebrew language, generally poor, shows a remarkable opulence
when there is question of all things connected with pastoral life.
Six names at least, with their feminines, express the different
stages of development of the sheep. Its domestication goes back to
the night of time, so that the early traditions enshrined in the
Bible speak of the first men as shepherds. Whatever may be thought
of this point, it is out of question that from the dawn of
historical times down to our own, flocks have constituted the staple
of the riches of the land. The ewe of Palestine is generally the
ovis laticaudata, the habits of which, resembling those of all other
species of sheep, are too well known to be here dwelt upon. Let it
suffice to notice that scores of allusions are made in the Holy
Books to these habits as well as to the different details of the
- See HAWK (inf.).
(cervus dama or dama vulgaris) believed by some to be signified by
Hebrew, yáhmûr. The fallow-deer is scarce in the Holy
Land and found only north of Mount Thabor. If it is mentioned at all
in the Bible, it is probably ranked among the deer.
(Prov., v, 19), for Hebrew, yá'alah, feminine of yã'el
which should be regularly, as it is in several passages, rendered by
wild goat (ibex syriacus). See GOAT, WILD (inf.).
- An equivalent in D.V. (Jer., 1, 39), after St. Jerome, for Hebrew,
íyyîm. St. Jerome explains that they were wild beings,
denizens of deserts and woods, with a hooked nose, a horned
forehead, and goat feet. He translated the Hebrew by fig-faun,
adding to the original the adjective ficarii, possibly following in
this the pagan idea which, supposing that figs incline to lust,
regarded fig-groves a well fitted abode for fauns. The same Hebrew
word is rendered Is., xiii, 22 by owls, and Is., xxxiv, 14, by
monsters, which shows a great perplexity on the part of the
translators. The true meaning being "howlers", seems to
point out the jackal, called the "howler" by the Arabs.
spoken of I K., xxiv, 15; xxvi, 20, as the most insignificant cause
of trouble that may befall a man.
- The flocks of Palestine include generally both sheep and goats:
"The sheep eat only the fine herbage, whereas the goats browse
on what the sheep refuse. They pasture and travel together in
parallel columns, but seldom intermingle more closely, and at night
they always classify themselves. The goats are for the most part
black, the sheep white, dappled or piebald, forming a very marked
contrast . . ." (Tristram). The shepherd usually leads the
flock, calling tIme sheep by their names from time to time; in his
footsteps follows an old he-goat, whose stately bearing affords to
the natives matter for several comparisons; the Arabs, indeed to
this day, call a man of stately mien a "he-goat". The
shepherd at sunset waters his flock, folds them ordinarily in some
of the many caves found on every hillside, and with trained dogs
guards them at night.
- Two Hebrew words are thus translated:
'ãrõbh is the name of the Egyptian fly of the fourth
plague; this name, a collective one, though translated by dog-fly
in the Septuagint, seems to signify all kinds of flies. Flies are
at all times an almost insufferable nuisance; the common house-fly,
with the gnat, vexes men, while gad-flies of every description
tsetse, œstru, hippoboscida, tabanus marocanus, etc., infest
Zebhûbh is likewise the collective name of the Palestinian
fly, but more specifically of the gad-fly.
a trifle less annoying than in Egypt, flies were, however, deemed a
plague severe enough in Palestine to induce the natives to have
recourse to the power of a special god, Bá'ál-zebhûbh,
the master of the flies, that they and their cattle be protected
against that scourge.
- This word which, in its most general sense, applies to anything
that flies in the air (Gen., i, 20, 21), and which frequently occurs
in the Bible with this meaning, is also sometimes used in a narrower
sense, as, for instance, III K., iv, 23, where it stands for all
fatted birds that may be reckoned among the delicacies of a king's
table; so likewise Gen., xv, 11 and Is., xviii, 6, where it means
birds of prey in general. In this latter signification allusions are
made to their habit of perching on bare or dead trees, or of
flocking together in great numbers.
- Thus is usually rendered the Hebrew, shû'ãl, which
signifies both fox and jackal, even the latter more often than the
former. The fox, however, was well known by the ancient Hebrews, and
its cunning was as proverbial among them as among us (Ezech., xiii,
4; Luke, xiii, 32).
- Though not rare in Palestine, this word is only mentioned in the
O.T. in connection with the second plague of Egypt. Two species of
frogs are known to live in the Holy Land: the rana esculenta, or
common edible frog, and the hyla arborea, or green tree-frog. The
former throngs wherever there is water. In Apoc., xvi, 13, the frog
is the emblem of unclean spirits.
(Hebr., çebî, i. e. beauty) has been known at all times
as one of the most graceful of all animals. Several species still
exist in Palestine. Its different characteristics, its beauty of
form, its swiftness, its timidity, the splendour and meekness of its
eye, are in the present time, as well as during the age of the O.T.
writers, the subjects of many comparisons. However, the name of tIme
gazelle is scarcely, if at all, to be found in the Bible; in its
stead we read roe, hart, or deer. Like a few other names of graceful
and timid animals, the word gazelle has always been in the East a
term of endearment in love. It was also a woman's favourite name (I
Par., viii, 9; IV K., xii, 1; II Par., xxiv, 1; Acts, ix, 36).
- Probable translation of the anãqah of the Hebrews,
generally rendered in our versions by shrew-mouse, for which it
seems it should be substituted. The gecko, ptyodactylus gecko of the
naturalists, is common in Palestine.
- So does A.V. render the Hebrew, rãhãm (Lev., xi, 18)
or rãhãmah (Deut., xiv, 17). By the gier-eagle, the
Egyptian vulture (neophron percnopterus), or Pharao's hen, is
generally believed to be signified. However, whether this bird
should be really recognized in the Hebrew, rãhãm, is
not easy to decide; for while, on the one hand, the resemblance of
the Arabic name for the Egyptian vulture with the Hebrew word rãhãm
seems fairly to support the identification, the mention of the rãhãm
in a list of wading birds, on the other hand, casts a serious doubt
on its correctness.
- See CAMELOPARDALUS (sup.).
- The same insect called sciniph in Ex., viii, 16, 17 and Ps. civ
(Hebr., cv), 31, and known under the familiar name of mosquito,
culex pipiens, is taken in the New Testament as an example of a
- Though the sacred writers spoke of the ewe more frequently than of
the goat, yet with the latter they were very well acquainted. It was
indeed, especially in the hilly regions east of the Jordan, an
important item in the wealth of the Israelites. The goat of
Palestine, particularly the capra membrica, affords numerous
illustrations and allusions, Its remarkably long ears are referred
to by Amos, iii, 12; its glossy dark hair furnishes a graphic
comparison to the author of Cant., iv, 1; vi, 4; this hair was woven
into a strong cloth; the skin tanned with the hair on served to make
bottles for milk, wine, oil, water, etc. The kid was an almost
essential part of a feast. The goat is mentioned in Dan,, viii, 5,
as the symbol of the Macedonian empire. The grand Gospel scene of
the separation of the just and the wicked on the last day is
borrowed from the customs of the shepherds in the East.
WILD, Job, xxxix, 1; I K., xxiv, 3, where it is an equivalent for
yã' él, translated, Ps., ciii (Hebr., Civ), 18, by
hart, Prov., v, 19, by fawn, is most probably the ibex syriacus, a
denizen of the rocky summits [Ps. ciii (Hebr., civ), 18]. It was
regarded as a model of grace (Prov., v, 19), and its name, Jahel,
Jahala, was frequently given to persons (Judges, v, 6; I, Esd., ii,
is probably the best rendering for the Hebrew, hãgãb
[Lev., xi, 22; Num,, xiii, 34 (Hebr., xiii, 33); Is., xl, 22;
Eccles., xii, 5, etc.], as in the A.V., if the Hebrew word be
interpreted "hopper" as Credner suggests; the D.V. uses
the word locust. The grasshopper is one of the smaller species of
the locust tribe.
- So D.V., Lev., xi, 13 (whereas Deut., xiv, 12, we read "grype")
translates the Hebrew, pérés, the "breaker"
whereby the lammergeyer or bearded vulture, gypœtus barbatus,
the largest and most magnificent of the birds of prey is probably
intended. The opinion that the Bible here speaks of the fabulous
griffon, i. e. a monster begotten from a lion and an eagle, and
characterized by the beak, neck, and wings of an eagle and the legs
and rump of a lion, is based only on a misinterpretation of the
a probable translation in several cases of the Hebrew, néshér,
regularly rendered by eagle. This most majestic bird (gyps fulvus),
the type, as it seems, of the eagle-headed figures of Assyrian
sculpture, is most likely referred to in Mich., i, 16, on account of
its bare neck and head.
Deut., xiv, 12. See GRIFFON (sup.).
- See Asp (sup.)
- Mentioned Lev., xi, 6; Deut., xiv, 7, in the list of the unclean
quadrupeds. Several species live in Palestine: lepus syriacus in the
north; lepus judœœ in the south and the Jordan valley,
together with lepus sinaiticus, lepus œgyptiacus and lepus
isabellinus, The statement of the Bible that the hare "cheweth
the cud" is a classical difficulty. It should be noticed that
this is not the reason why the hare is reckoned among the unclean
animals; but the cause thereof should be sought for in the fact that
though it chews the cud, which certainly it appears to do, it does
not divide the hoof.
and HIND. - Either the fallow-deer, still occasionally found in the
Holy Land, or the red deer, now extinct, or the deer generally. It
has afforded many illustrations to time Biblical writers and poets,
especially by its fleetness (Cant., ii, 9; Is., xxxv, 6), its
surefootedness [Ps. xvii (Hebr., xviii), 34; Hab., iii, 19], its
affection (Prov., v, 19), and its habit of hiding its young (Job,
(Hebr., neç) is, in the Scriptures, a general denomination
including, with the falcon, all the smaller birds of prey, the
kestrel, merlin, sparrow-hawk, hobby, and others, most common in
A.V. for Hebrew, táhmãs, more exactly translated in
D.V. by owl; some bird of the latter kind is indeed undoubtedly
intended, probably the barn owl (strix flammea).
(falco nisus), one of the hawks of Palestine, so common that it
might be regarded, in reference to the Bible, as the hawk par
- See Ericius (sup.).
See COCK (sup.).
- Mentioned Lev., xi, 19, in the list of unclean birds, but probably
in the wrong place in the D.V.; heron, indeed, should be substituted
for charadrion, whereas in the same verse it stands for stork, as
the A.V. correctly states it.
- See HART. (sup.).
- See BEHEMOTH (sup.).
(falco subbuteo). See HAWK (sup.).
- See HOUP (inf.).
(Hebr., çíre'ah; vespa crabro). - One of the largest
and most pugnacious wasps; when disturbed they attack cattle and
horses; their sting is very severe, capable not only of driving men
and cattle to madness, but even of killing them (Exod., xxiii, 28;
Deut., vii, 20; Jos., xxiv, 12).
- The horse is never mentioned in Scripture in connection with the
patriarchs; the first time the Bible speaks of it, it is in
reference to the Egyptian army pursuing the Hebrews, During the
epoch of the conquest and of Judges, we hear of horses only with the
Chanaanean troops, and later on with the Philistines, The hilly
country inhabited by the Israelites was not favourable to the use of
the horse; this is the reason why the Bible speaks of horses only in
connection with war. David and Solomon established a cavalry and
chariot force; but even this, used exclusively for wars of conquest,
seems to have been looked upon as a dangerous temptation to kings,
for the Deuteronomy legislation forbids them to multiply horses for
themselves. The grand description of the war-horse in Job is
classical; it will be noticed, however, that its praises are more
for the strength than for the swiftness of the horse. The prophet
Zacharias depicts (ix, 10) the Messianic age as one in which no
hostilities will be heard of; then all warlike apparel being done
away with, the horse will serve only for peaceful use.
(Lev., xi, 19; Deut., xiv, 18). - The analogy of the Hebrew with the
Syriac and Coptic for the name of this bird makes the identification
doubtless, although some, after the example of the A.V., see in the
Hebrew dûkhîpháth, the lapwing. The Egyptians
worshipped the houp and made it the emblem of Horus.
- This word is not to be found in any of the English translations of
the Bible; it occurs twice in the Septuagint, Jer., xii, 9, and
Ecclus., xiii, 22, being in both places the rendering for the Hebrew
name çãbhûá. The hyenas are very numerous
in the Holy Land, where they are most active scavengers; they feed
upon dead bodies, and sometimes dig the tombs open to get at the
corpses therein buried. Two Hebrew names are supposed to designate
the hyena: (1) çãbhûá. This word, which
has been interpreted "speckled bird", Jer., xii, 9, by
modern translators following the Vulgate, has been rendered by "holy
man", Ecclus., xiii, 22. Despite the authorities that favour
the above mentioned translation of Jer., xii, 9, the consistency of
the Septuagint on the one hand, and on the other the parallelism in
the latter passage, in addition to the analogy with the Arabic and
rabbinical Hebrew names for the hyena, fairly support the
identification of the çãbhûá with this
animal. (2) çíyyím, rendered in divers manners
in different places: wild beasts, Is., xiii, 21; demons, Is., xxxiv,
14; dragons, Ps. lxxiii (hebr., lxxiv), 14; Jer., 1, 39.
- See GOAT, WILD (sup.).
- The word occurs twice in the D.V. (Lev., xi, 17; Is., xxxiv, 11)
as an equivalent for yánshûph; some good authorities,
however, though the yánshûph is mentioned among wading
birds, do not admit the above identification and think that the
Egyptian eagle-owl (bubo ascalaphus), which they term great owl, is
spoken of. The ibis was worshipped by the Egyptians as the emblem of
- See WEASEL (inf.).
- D.V. Ps. ciii, 18. See CHEROGRILLUS (sup.).
- Frequently alluded to in Holy Writ, though the name is read
neither in the D.V. nor in any of the western translations, probably
because the animal, however common in Africa and south-western Asia
is unknown in European countries. The name regularly substituted for
jackal is fox. The jackal seems to be designated in Hebrew by three
different names: shû'ãl, "the digger"; íyyîm,
"the howlers"; and tãn, "the stretcher",
although we are unable to state the differences marked by these
three names, Numerous references may be found throughout the Bible
to the jackal's howlings and gregarious habits.
- This little animal, at least four species of which abide in Syria,
is nowhere nominally mentioned in the Bible; it must, nevertheless,
very probably be reckoned among the unclean animals indicated under
the general name of mouse.
- A slender hawk, most likely one of the species intended by Lev.,
xi, 16, for it is very common in Palestine. The remark of Job,
xxxix, 26, strikingly points out the tinnulus cenchris, one of the
- See GOAT. (sup.).
- See CATTLE (sup.).
- As suggested by the analogy with the Arabic, the black kite
(milvus nigrans) is probably meant by Hebr. dã'ah or dáyyah
(Lev., xi, 14; Deut., xiv, 13; Is., xxxiv, 15), interpreted kite in
the D.V.; it is one of the most common of the scavenger birds of
prey of the country, and for this reason, is carefully protected by
the villagers. Other kinds of kites, in particular the milvus
regalis, are common in Palestine.
- The Paschal Lamb was both a commemoration of the deliverance from
the bondage in Egypt, and a prophetic figure of the Son of God
sacrificed to free His people from their slavery to sin and death.
See EWE. (sup.).
(Is., xxxiv, 14). - Is a translation of Hebrew, lîlîth;
according to the old popular legends, the lamia was a feminine
bloodthirsty monster, devouring men and children. In the above cited
place, some kind of owl, either the screech or the hooting owl, is
very probably meant.
(gypœtus barbatus) very likely signified by the Hebrew, pérés,
translated by griffon in D.V.
- Lev., xi; 16; Deut., xiv, 15. See CUCKOO (sup.).
(Prov., xxx, 15). - Both the medicinal leech and the horse-leech are
frequently found in the streams, pools, and wells; they often attach
themselves to the inside of the lips and nostrils of drinking
animals, thereby causing them much pain.
- Under this name come a certain number of carnivorous animals more
or less resembling the real leopard (felis leopardus), namely felis
jubata, felis lynx, felis uncia, etc., all formerly numerous
throughout Palestine, and even now occasionally found, especially in
the woody districts. The leopard is taken by the Biblical writers as
a type of cunning (Jer., v, 6; Osee, xiii, 7), of fierceness, of a
conqueror's sudden swoop (Dan., vii, 6; Hab., i, 8). Its habit of
lying in wait by a well or a village is repeatedly alluded to.
- The word Leviathan (Hebrew, líweyãthãn),
which occurs six times in the Hebrew Bible, seems to have puzzled
not a little all ancient translators. The D.V. has kept this name,
Job, iii, 8; xl, 20; Is., xxvii, 1; it is rendered by dragon Ps.
lxxiii (Hebr., lxxiv), 14, and ciii (Hebr., civ), 26; The word
crocodile (Job, xl, 20 and Ps, lxxiii, 14);
sea-monster (Ps. ciii, 26, Is., xxvii, 1);
the Draco constellation (Job, iii, 8).
- Now extinct in Palestine and in the surrounding countries, the
lion was common there during the O.T. times; hence the great number
of words in the Hebrew language to signify it; under one or another
of these names it is mentioned a hundred and thirty times in the
Scriptures, as the classical symbol of strength, power, courage,
dignity, ferocity. Very likely as the type of power, it became the
ensign of the tribe of Juda; so was it employed by Solomon in the
decoration of the temple and of the king's house. For the same
reason, Apoc., v, 5, represents Jesus Christ as the lion of the
tribe of Juda. The craft and ferocity of the lion, on the other
hand, caused it to be taken as an emblem of Satan (I Pet., v, 8) and
of the enemies of the truth (II Tim., iv, 17).
- Immense is the number of these reptiles in Palestine; no less than
forty-four species are found there, Among those mentioned in the
Bible we may cite:
The Letã'ah, general name of the lizard, applied especially
to the common lizard, the green lizard, the blind worm, etc.;
the chõmét, or sand-lizard;
the çãb, or dább of the Arabs (uromastix
the kõâh, the divers kinds of monitor (psammosaurus
scincus, hydrosaurus niloticus, etc.);
the 'anãqah or gecko;
the semãmîth or stellio.
- One of the worst scourges of the East, very often referred to in
Holy Writ. As many as nine Hebrew words signify either the locust in
general or some species:
'árbéh, probably the locusta migratoria;
gãzãm, possibly the locust in its larva state, the
Gôbh, the locust in general;
chagab, most likely the grasshopper;
hãsîl, "the destroyer", perhaps the locust
in its caterpillar state, in which it is most destructive;
hárgõl, translated in the D.V. ophiomachus;
yéléq, the stinging locust;
çelãçâl possibly the cricket; and
sôl'ãm, rendered by attacus, or bald locust (probably
insects, locusts are most voracious in every stage of their
- According to some this species of vermin was one of the features
of the third Egyptian plague. It is but too common through all
- A word occurring a certain number of times in the D.V. as an
equivalent for Hebrew, hãsîl, which probably means a
kind of locust.
- Two Hebrew words are thus rendered, The first, tînshéméth
(Lev., xi, 30), would, according to good authorities, rather signify
the chameleon; with the second, haphárperôth (Is., ii,
20), some burrowing animal is undoubtedly intended, The mole of
Syria is not the common mole of Europe, talpa europœa, but the
mole-rat (spalax typhlus), a blind burrowing rodent.
- See GNAT. (sup.).
- Is in the D.V. besides Is., xiv, 11, where it stands for rímmah,
"worms", the common rendering for two words: ãsh
(Job, iv, 19), and sãs (Is., li, 8), the exact meaning of the
former is uncertain, whereas by the latter the clothes moth is
- See CHAMOIS, CAMELOPARDALUS (sup.).
- This word seems to be a general one, including the various rats,
dormice, jerboas, and hamsters, about twenty-five species of which
exist in the country.
- In spite of the enactment of the Law (Lev., xix, 19), the
Israelites early in the course of their history possessed mules;
these animals, in a hilly region such as the Holy Land, were for
many purposes preferable to horses and stronger than asses; they
were employed both for domestic and warlike use.
- See LOCUST. (sup.).
- See ANTELOPE (sup.).
(Hebr., óznîyyah). - The fishing eagle, which name
probably signifies all the smaller eagles.
- See LAMMERGEYER (sup.).
- Still occasionally found in the southeastern deserts of Palestine,
the ostrich, if we are to judge from the many mentions made of it,
was well known among the Hebrews, The beauty of its plumage, its
fleetness, its reputed stupidity, its leaving its eggs on the sand
and hatching them by the sun's heat are repeatedly alluded to.
- A generic name under which many species of nocturnal birds are
designated, some having a proper name in the Hebrew, some others
possessing none. Among the former we may mention the little owl
(athene persica), the Egyptian eagle-owl (bubo ascalephus), the
great owl of some authors, called ibis in the D.V., the screech or
hooting owl, probably the lîlîth of Is., xxxiv, and the
lamia of St. Jerome and the D.V.; the barn owl (stryx flammea),
possibly corresponding to the táhmãs of the Hebrews
and rendered by night-hawk in the A.V.; and the qîppôz
of Is., xxxiv, 15, as yet unidentified.
- See CATTLE (sup.).
WILD, Is., hi, 20, probably antilope bubalis. See ANTELOPE (sup.).
(Hebr., gãzãm) A general word for the locust, very
likely in its larva state.
- Although very common in the Holy Land, the partridge is mentioned
only three times in the sacred literature: I K., xxvi, 20 alludes to
chasing it on the mountains; Jer., xvii, 11, to the robbing of its
eggs; Ecclus., xi, 32, to the keeping a decoy partridge. Two kinds
of partridges are known to abide in the hilly resorts of Palestine;
the francolin inhabits the plains, and various sand-grouse are found
in the deserts.
- The texts where it is spoken of (III K., x, 22; II Par., ix, 21)
clearly indicate that it was not indigenous to Palestine, but
imported, probably from India.
D.V., Ps., ci (Hebr., cii), 7, for Hebr. qã'áth, in
other places is rendered by bittern, for which it might be
advantageously substituted. Pelicans are usually found about marshes
(Is., xxxiv, 11), and are in the habit of sitting for hours in sandy
desolate places [Ps., ci (Hebr., cii), 7; Soph., ii, 14] after they
might possibly be read instead of palmtree (Hebr. hôl) in Job,
xxix, 18, where the belief in its immortality seems referred to;
however the sense adopted by D.V., after Vulgate and Septuagint,
should not be slighted.
- See DOVE (sup.).
- See CORMORANT (sup.).
- Believed by some, on account of a certain analogy of the Hebrew
qîppõd with the Arabic name of this animal, to he
spoken of in the Bible. See ERICIUS (sup.).
is in Vulgate and D.V. (Lev., xi, 18), the equivalent for the
Hebrew, rãhãm, translated in the Septuagint by "swan";
in the Greek version, porphyrion stands for the Hebrew, tínshéméth,
interpreted "swan" by the Latin and English Bibles. The
hypothesis that the Greek translators used a Hebrew text in which
the two words rãhãm and tínshéméth
stood contrariwise to their present order in the Massoretic text,
might account for this difference. This hypothesis is all the more
probable because in Deut., xiv, 17, porphyrion seems to be the Greek
translation for rãhãm. Whatever this may be, whether
the porphyrion, or purple water-hen (porphyrio antiquorum), or the
Egyptian vulture, should be identified with the rãhãm
remains uncertain. See GIER-EAGLE (sup.).
(Deut., xiv, 5). - This word, a mere adaptation from the Greek,
means "white-rumped", a character common to many species,
though the antilope addax is possibly signified by the Hebrew word
- The description given Ex., xvi, 11-13; Num., xi, 31, 32; Ps.,
lxxvii (Hebr., lxxviii) 27-35, and civ (Hebr., cv), 40, the
references to their countless flocks, their low flying, their habit
of alighting on land in the morning, together with the analogy of
the Hebrew and Arabic names, make it certain that the common quail
(coturnix vulgaris) is intended.
(Prov., xxx, 26). - A mistranslation for coney or daman. See
- See EWE, FLOCK (sup.).
- The Bible includes under this generic name a certain number of
birds having more or less resemblance with the raven, such as the
magpie, the jay, etc. The raven, eight species of which are found in
Palestine, is by far the most common of all the birds of that
country, where it is with buzzards, vultures, dogs, jackals, and
hyenas, an active scavenger. Its plumage is glossy black, and its
habits are frequently alluded to in Holy Writ, for instance feeding
on carcasses, wandering for its precarious meals, picking out the
eyes of the newly-dropped or weakly animals, resorting to desolate
places, etc. The raven, when no other food is nigh, not unfrequently
picks out grains freshly sown; hence its surname of seed-picker,
spermologos, which, later on became a synonym for ragamuffin. This
name, applied to St. Paul by his sceptical listeners of Athens, has
become, through a mistranslation, "word-sower" in our
Bibles (Acts, xvii, 18).
the equivalent in Ps. ci (Hebr., cii), 7, of the Hebrew word
translated Lev., xi, 17, by screech-owl, seems to mean the blue
thrush (petrocynela cyanea), a well-known solitary bird of the
country, which is fond of sitting alone on a roof or a rock.
Num., xxiii, 22, stands for Hebrew, re'em, and should consequently
be rendered by aurochs.
- So D.V., Deut., xiv, 13, translates rã'ah, possibly
substituted by a scribe's error for dã'ah, and very likely
meaning the black kite (milvus migrans).
- So is the Hebrew sã'îr rendered Is., xiii, 21, and
xxxiv, 14, by R.V. (D.V.: "hairy one"). The same word in
Lev., xvii, 7, and II Par., xi, 15, is translated "devils"
in all English Bibles. Sã'îr usually signifies the
he-goat. In the latter passages this sense is clearly inapplicable;
it Seems hardly applicable in the former. The writers of Leviticus,
and II Paralipomenon possibly intended some representation of the
same description as the goat-headed figures of the Egyptian
Pantheon. Concerning the sã'îr mentioned in Isaias, no
satisfactory explanation has as yet been given.
- See COCHINEAL (sup.).
- See GNAT (sup.).
- Very common in all hot, dry, stony places; is taken as an emblem
of the wicked.
- Its different kinds are probably signified by the word translated
larus. See CUCKOO (sup.).
- See BADGER (sup.).
Lam., iv, 3, probably means such animals as the whale, porpoise,
- A generic term whereby all ophidia are designated; ten names of
different species of snakes are given in the Bible.
- So does D.V. translate the Hebr. anãqah, which however
means rather some kind of lizard, probably the gecko.
Is., xiii, 22, a translation for Hebrew tán, which, indicates
an animal dwelling in ruins, and may generally be rendered by
jackal. No other resemblance than a verbal one should be sought
between this tán and the fabulous being, famous by its
allurements, called Siren by the ancient poets.
should be read instead of wax, Ps., lvii (Hebr., lviii) 9, to
translate the Hebrew, shábelûl. Unlike the snails of
northern climates which hibernate, those of Palestine sleep in
summer. The Psalmist alludes "to the fact that very commonly,
when they have secured themselves in some chink of the rocks for
their summer sleep, they are still exposed to the sun rays, which
gradually evaporate and dry up the whole of the body, till the
animal is shrivelled to a thread, and, as it were, melted away"
- The Hebrew word çíppôr, found over forty
times, is a general name for all small passerine birds, of which
there exist about a hundred and fifty species in the Holy Land.
- An insect living by millions in Palestine, where several hundred
species have been distinguished. Its web affords a most popular
illustration for frail and ephemeral undertakings (Job, viii, 14;
Is., lix, 5); in three passages, however, the translators seem to
have wrongly written spider for moth [Ps. xxxviii (Hebr., xxxix),
12], sigh [Ps. lxxxix (xc), 9], and pieces (Os., viii, 6).
- The Hebrew word hasîdhah, erroneously rendered "heron"
by the Douay translators, Lev., xi, 19, alludes to the well-known
affection of the stork for its young. Several passages have
reference to this bird, its periodical migrations (Jer., viii, 7),
its nesting in fir-trees, its black pinions stretching from its
white body (Zach., v, 9; D.V., kite; but the stork, hasîdhah,
is mentioned in the Hebrew text). Two kinds, the white and the black
stork, live in Palestine during the winter.
- Two words are so rendered: derôr, "the swift flyer",
which means the chimney swallow and other species akin to it [Ps.
lxxxiii (Hebr., lxxxiv), 4; D.V., turtle; Prov., xxvi, 2; D.V.,
sparrow], whereas sûs or sîs may be translated by
"swift", this bird being probably intended in Is.,
xxxviii, 14, and Jer., viii, 7.
- Mentioned only in the list of unclean birds (Lev., xi, 18; Deut.,
xiv, 16). The swan having always been very rare in Syria, there was
little need of forbidding to eat its flesh; by the Hebrew
tínshéméth, some other bird might possibly be
- The most abhorred of all animals among the Jews; hence the
swineherd's was the most degrading employment (Luke, xv, 15; cf.
Matt., viii, 32). Swine are very seldom kept in Palestine.
Job, iv, 11 (Hebr., láyísh), should be "lion".
- See DOVE (sup.).
- See AUROCHS (sup.).
Soph., ii, 14. See ERICIUS (sup.).
- See ASP (sup.).
- So does D.V. render the Hebrew, áyyah, Lev., xi, 14; Deut.,
xiv, 13; Job, xxviii, 7. As has been suggested above, the text of
Job at least, seems to allude to the kite rather than to the
vulture. Several kinds of vultures are nevertheless referred to in
the Bible; so, for instance, the bearded vulture (gypœtus
barbatus), called griffon in the D.V.; the griffon-vulture (gyps
fulvus), the Egyptian vulture (neophron percnopterus), etc. In the
biblical parlance vultures are oftentimes termed eagles.
- See PORPHYRION (sup.).
Lev., xi, 29, must be regarded as a general name, probably
designating, besides the weasel proper, the polecat and ichneumon,
all very common in the Holy Land.
(Gen., i, 21). - Tânnîm would perhaps be better
translated generally "sea-monster"; porpoises and dugongs
were certainly known to the Hebrews.
- Frequently mentioned in the Scriptures as a special foe to flocks
(Ecclus., xiii, 21; Matt., vii, 15), and an emblem of treachery,
ferocity, and bloodthirstiness. Wolves usually prowl at night around
the sheepfolds, and, though fewer in numbers than jackals, are much
more harmful. The tribe of Benjamin, owing to its warlike character,
was compared to a wolf.
- In English the translation for two Hebrew words: rímmah
[Exod., xvi, 24; Is., xiv, 11; (Job, vii, 5, A.V.)]; and tólá
(Exod., xvi, 20, etc.); these two Hebrew words are general; the
former designates particularly all living organisms generated and
swarming in decaying or rotten substances; the latter includes not
only worms, but also such insects as caterpillars, centipedes, etc.
Scripture Natural History (London, 1828); HARRIS, Natural History of
the Bible (ed. Conder, London, 1833-34); WOOD, Animals of the Bible
(London, 1883); TRISTRAM, Natural History of the Bible (London,
1883); The Fauna and Flora of Palestine (London, 1889); The Animal
Creation in the Bible, in Aids to the Student of the Bible (London,
1898); HART, The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (London, 1888);
KNIGHT, Bible Plants and Animals (London, 1889); BOCHART,
Hierozoicon (London, 1663, 1712); ROSENMÜLLER, Biblische
Naturalgeschichte (Leipzig, 1820); SCHEGG AND WIRTHMÜLLER,
Biblische Archäologie (Freiburg, 1887); CULTRERA, Fauna biblica
(Palermo, 1880); HAGEN, Lex. bibl. (Paris, 1905), I; Dictionaries of