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In its physical characteristics Palestine is unique, combining the most opposite physical features: e.g. maritime and inland, mountain and plain, luxuriance and desert, cold and tropical, glacial and volcanic, pastoral and arable. /Some species of animals, formerly abundant, have disappeared: e.g, lion, wild bull, rhinoceros, bison; but eighty species of mammalia still exist there.


N.B.— The Names in Italics (Col. 1) do not occur in the A.V., but the Animals are supposed to be denoted by the original text.

English Name. Hebrew and Greek. Description.
(I Kin. x. 22.)
Koph . . . .
Apes were imported, with peacocks and sandal-wood, by Solomon from Ophir (probably Ceylon). The word used is a Hebraised form of the Sanskrit name. The baboon was known to the Egyptians. None are now found in Palestine.
Ass (domestic). . . .
Judg. v. 10.)
Chamôr. . . . A native of Mesopotamia, of large size, the white species being most esteemed. It was the honoured animal for carrying official dignitaries, -- kings, prophets, judges. By Mosaic law its firstling was to be redeemed, as was a male child. They were guarded by many legal privileges, and a royal officer took charge of them. Six thousand seven hundred and twenty returned with the captives from Babylon. The ass, as well as the camel, was a beast of burden.

Ass (wild).. . (Job xxxix. 5 —8; Jer. ii. 24; xiv. 6.)

1. 'Arôd. . . .

2. Pereh. ovaypos.

'Arod occurs only in Job; elsewhere pereh is used. The wild ass neighs like a horse, herds in droves, is more fleet than a horse, dwells in desolate places, and is very shy. It is the Asinus hemippus, seldom found now west of the Hauran.

Badger. . . (Ex. xxvi. 14; Fzek. xvi. 10.)


This word occurs only of the skin used as an outer covering for the tabernacle, &c. Badgers are plentiful in Palestine, but their skin not suitable; so it is thought by some to be that of the Dugong, a mammal of the whale family, caught in the Red Sea; but tachash seems a generic word for "dolphins," "seals," &c. and in Ezek. xvi. 10 appears to mean "seal-skin."


(Lev. xi. 19.)


There are bats innumerable now in Palestine, notably in the vaults under the Temple, and the rocky caves of Galilee. The former are the "short-tailed," the latter the African "tawrny," and the English "long-eared." Near the Dead Sea are the "long-tailed" (Bhinopoma), &c. There are also the "horse-shoe," "fox-headed," "mouse-coloured," &c. They were forbidden as an article of food. See Birds, p. 84.

Bear. . . . (1 Sam. xvii. 34; 2 Kin. ii. 24.)

The Syrian bear is a light-coloured variety of the common brown bear. It is still found in ravines of Galilee, and of Mounts Lebanon and Hermon. It is represented, as an object of chase, on Assyrian monuments.

Behemoth. . (Job xl. 15.)


The name is of doubtful derivation. It may be the pi. of Heb. behemah, "beast;" or Hebraistic form of Egyptian p-ehe-mout, "water-ox." It is allowed to be the Hippopotamus, " river-horse." It is known to the Arabs as the "water-horse," and is still found in the lower Nile.

Bittern. . . (Is. xiv. 23; xxxiv. 11. Zeph. ii. 14.)

Kiphod. .

This animal is mentioned with the "cormorant," and therefore by some supposed to be a bird. It is evidently a token of desolation, so the context seems to demand the idea of some marsh-loving bird, fond of solitude and desert; whence the "bittern" is thought to be the Botaurus stellar is (so called from the noise it makes, like the bellowing of a bull, when its head is immersed in the mire). Many commentators follow the LXX. and Vulgate, and translate it "hedgehog," or "porcupine;" but these do not inhabit marshy ground, or "perch on the knops of pillars." See Birds, p. 84.

Bull, . .

See Unicorn, Ox, and Deer.

Camel. . . (Job i. 3.)


Doubtless both the Arabian one-humped and Bactrian two-humped species were known to the Hebrews, since both are found on Assyrian monuments, but the latter was rare. It seems to have been a sign of wealth (1 Chr. v. 21), and to have come into

English Name. Hebrew and Greek. Description.

Camel (cont.).

Palestine from Arabia. Its flesh was forbidden as food (Lev. xi. 4), but its milk was drunk, and its hair was used for weaving into cloth (Mark i. 6). Beker, bikrah (dromedary), are tbe male and female young camel. The dromedary, kirkarah, is a finer, swifter variety of camel.


(Baruch vi. 22.)

Not mentioned in the Canonical books, though carefully kept and reverenced in Egypt, of which it was a native, and where it was dedicated to the moon, solemnly embalmed, and buried, when dead, at Bubastis.

Cattle. . . . Ps. 1.10.)


There were two kinds, long and short-horned, the former more numerous, their horns pointed and projecting forwards. They were used for ploughing and threshing (i.e. treading out the corn), for sacrifices, and for food. See Ox.

Chamois. . . (Deut.xiv.5.)


It is impossible that the camelopard, a native of South Africa, should be allowed as food to the Hebrews. The root of the word is " spring, jump," and so it may include all the goat and antelope species. The "chamois" is not found in Palestine, or on Assyrian or Egyptian monuments. The Zemer is therefore supposed to be the wild sheep of Arabia Petrasa, dwelling in inaccessible heights, having large, strong horns, curved backwards.

Coney. . . . (Lev. xi. 5; Ps. civ. 18; Prov. xxx. 26.)

Shaphan. . . Saovnovs.

Shaphan was forbidden food to the Hebrews; it lived in rocks; it was "feeble;" it chewed the cud. Jewish tradition identifies it with the "rabbit," and says the Phoenicians gave "Spain" its name from its abundance of rabbits; but this animal was unknown in Syria, till imported in later times. The "coney" is the Ilyrax Syriacvs, somewhat like a rabbit in size and shape, neither rodent nor ruminant, but classed by itself.

Deer. . . . (Deut. xii. 15.)

1. Tsebi. . .

There are four Heb. words probably denoting deer or antelopes. 1. Tsebi ("Koe," or "roebuck," A.V.), doubtless the Gazella Ara-bica, still abundant in Syria (not the "roebuck," confined to Europe). It was allowed as food. Its swiftness is often mentioned (2 Sam. ii. 18), and its being chased (Is. xiii. 14); and its elegance made it a favourite term of endearment, and a female name, e.g. Zibiah (2 Kin. xii. 1), and Tabitha (Acts ix. 36). The Arabic name is Gazal.

(Deut. xiv. 5; Is. li. 20.)

2. T3, orteS. .

2. To ("wild ox," and "wild bull," A.V.), a clean animal, fit for food; "caught in a net." In older versions identified with Oryx leucoryx, an antelope still found in Palestine, hunted and tamed by Egyptians.

(Deut. xiv. 5.)

3. DishQn. . . Trvyapyos.

3. Dishon (the "pygarg," A.V.) is only once named among animals for food. It is probably the spotted-nosed Acldax, though not found in Palestine, but in Arabia and Egypt, answering to the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words.


4. Yachmur. . /3ouj5aAos.

4. Yachmur ("fallow deer," A.V.) was allowed for food, and was one of the provisions for Solomon's table. It is identified with the Alcephahis bubalis, still called "yachmur" by Arabs; it is red or pale brown. The "fallow deer" is a native of Syria and Palestine. R.


(1 Sam. xvii. 43; Job xxx. 1.)



Many species (for chase and vigilance) were known to the Assyrians, from the large mastiff to the hound; but the general term "dog" in the Bible is never used, except in a tone of disgust. No reference is made to his tending sheep (except Job xxx. 1), or being employed in the chase; but only as guarding the house (Is. lvi. 10), warding off wild beasts, as himself a wild predatory animal, living on flesh and by rapine, and even feeding on human bodies, as in the case of Jezebel. His " price " is an abomination to the Lord (Deut. xxiii. 18),—probably the fee received for omens gained from dogs, a common Babylonian practice. Three species of dogs are now found in Palestine: viz. 1. The pariah dog of towns and villages, the scavenger of the East. 2. The Syrian sheep-dog, like a Scotch colley. 3. The Persian greyhound. See Greyhound.

Dromedary. . (Jer. ii. 23.)

Beker, bikrah.

See Camel.

Elephant. . . (lKin.x.22.)

Shen. bdovreq.

No mention is made of elephants living in Palestine, but only of the importation of their teeth, i.e. ivory; but in the Books of the Maccabees we learn that they were employed in the army of Antiochus Epiphanes against the Jews. They are not part of the fauna of Syria.

Ferret. . . (Lev. xi. 30.)


This is an unclean "creeping thing," and its identification conjectural. Opinions are divided between "shrew," or "field-mouse"

English Name. Hebrew and Greek. Description.

Ferret (cont.).

(LXX.), "hedgehog," "toad," "green lizard," "water-lizard." The root of the Heb. word is doubtful, either " to be long and narrow," or " to grow." See Lizard.


(Judg. xv. 4.)


The Heb. word universally translated " fox " generally refers to the "jackal," which is very abundant in Palestine; and the word seems a generic one, including both. Its root is either "to burrow," or "to be brown-red." It is generally used in the plural. The common English fox is abundant in the Taurus, and another kind near the Euphrates.

Goat. . . .
(Dan. viii. 5, 8.)
(Gen. xxvii. 9.)
(Gen. xxx. 35.)

1. Yatud (male.)
2.Tsfiphir (male).
Tp ay 05.
3. Sai'r (rough).
4. Tayish (tup).

The he-goat, Capra cegagrus, is used as a symbol of strength, and of impurity. Its flesh and milk were used as food, but the fat was prohibited (Lev. vii. 23). It was the sin-offering for accidental manslaughter (Num. xv. 27), and for sins of the congregation on the Day of Atonement, when one goat was sacrificed, and another (Azazel), dyed with its fellow's blood, was let escape into the wilderness, till its scarlet wool was bleached, as a symbol of pardoned sin. Goats' hair was used for weaving into cloth, and the skin for bottles and swimming bladders.

Goat (wild). .
(Deut. xiv. 5;
Ps. civ. 18.)
Ya'el..... This is the Capra ibex (the Beden or Jaela), common in Arabia Petraea and the Dead Sea, at Engedi ("fountain of the kid"). Its flesh is excellent venison, and is probably that brought by Esau to Isaac. H.
Greyhound. . (Prov. xxx. 31.) Zarzir mothnaim. Only once is "greyhound" used in the Bible, as an example of what "goes well, and is comely in going." The translation is very questionable. The Hebrew words for "girt loins" are also rendered "horse," "girt in the loins." Greyhounds occur on Assyrian monuments, and some naturalists trace their origin to an Asiatic home. They were used in Assyria and Babylonia, with the hawk, for hunting the gazelle. The LXX. translates it " the cock," in the above passage, which bird was unknown in Palestine in those times.

Hare. . . (Lev. xi. 6.)

Arnebeth. . . .

The Heb. word is translated "hare," which is forbidden as food, though it is not ruminant, as there alleged. Turks, Armenians, and Somal Arabs now abstain from it. So also Laplanders, and the ancient Chinese. Its use was forbidden on religious grounds to ancient Britons (Caes. B.G., v. 12). Two kinds are found in Palestine: 1. Leptis Syriacus, in the north, resembling our own, but short-eared; also represented on Assyrian sculptures: a tract was called Aranabanu, "hare country." 2. Lepus Egyptiacus, in the south, being as small as a rabbit, with very long ears. The LXX. renders the word Hedgehog, which see.

Hart. . . . Hind. . . . (Deut. xii. 15, 22.)


The "hart" (fern, hind) is mentioned with the "roebuck," as food allowed by Mosaic law, and as substantial daily food at Solomon's table. It is used as a symbol of the tribe of Naphtali (Gen. xlix. 21). It gives the name to the valley of Ajalon (Ayydlon, "place of stags"); and its peculiar traits are used as similes, e.g. panting after cooling water (Ps. xiii. 1), leaping nimbly (Is. xxxv. 6); its elegant form (Cant. ii. 9), swiftness of foot (2 Sam. ii. 18), tender love (Prov. v. 19), fear of thunder (Ps. xxix. 4, 9); concealment of young (Job xxxix. 1). It is thought to have been the red deer, now extinct in Palestine.

Hedgehog. . , (Lev. xi. 6.)

Arnebeth.. . .

The LXX. rendering in Lev. xi. 6 for arnebeth (hare). See also Bittern. Both hedgehog and porcupine are very common in Palestine,-- a large species of the former in the north, a smaller in Judasa. The porcupine abounds near the Dead Sea. Both are known in Egypt and Assyria.

Horse. . . . (Nah.iii.2, 3; Deut. xvii. -16.)


The kings of Israel were forbidden to multiply horses, because connected with the worship of the sun. They were not beasts of burden, but only for chase and war (as cavalry, and in chariots), and formed the strength of Assyrian and Egyptian armies. The horse does not occur on Assyrian sculptures, but only the wild ass. It was a native of Armenia and Media, whence it came to Palestine. In Scripture it is spoken of as less swift than the ass (Prov. xxvi. 3).

Hyaena. . . . (I Sam. xiii. 18; Is. xiii. 21; Jer. xii. 9.)

Tseboim. . [Oach, pi. OchimJ

"Hyaena" does not occur in the A.V.; but it is, and always has been, common in alt parts of Syria and Mesopotamia. There are passages where some suppose it is meant: e.g. Isa. xiii. 21, okhim, "doleful creatures," classed with "Ziim" (wild beasts), expresses the howl of hyaenas; Jer. xii. 9, tsabua ("speckled bird," A.V.) is rendered by many "hyaena;" the valley of Zeboim is still called by Arabs Shukh-ed-dubba, "ravine of the hyasna," exact __

English Name. Hebrew and Greek.


Hyaena (jcont.).

equivalent of the Hebrew. It is found with " lions," mentioned as predatory carnivora, in Assyrian records.

Jackal. . . .
(Is. xiii. 22; Cant. ii. 15; Lam. v. 18.)


1. Shual. . .

2. Iyyim, 1

The jackal (Canis aureus) is very common in Palestine. Two words occur in the Hebrew, viz. shual, universally rendered "fox," though often meaning "jackal;" and iyyim pl.), "wild beasts of the islands," which certainly seems to refer to jackals; so also tannim (pi.), "dragons," which occurs thirteen times, is used as a synonym of iyyim: the root of both is a word meaning "howl." Jackals "howl in the desert," herd in packs (the latter words are always plural), are fond of grapes. The Arabic for shual is shakal; and jackals still infect Syria by hundreds, secreted at Baalbec, in the Jordan valley, and around the walls of Jerusalem. See Fox.

Leopard. . (Jer. v. 6; Hat), i. 8.)

Namer. . . â– jrapSaAts.

Many cities and localities in Palestine bear in their names (Nimrah) a token of the prevalence of leopards in their vicinity, e.g. Beth-nimrah (which see), and "theNimrim" in Moab. Namer means "spotted." On a broken Assyrian obelisk Tiglath-Pileser I. is recorded to have hunted and killed leopards in the country of the Hittites (i.e. S. of Palestine). The leopard is still common there; the cheetah also haunts Mount Tabor, the Galilsean hills, Gilead, &c. In Scripture, illustrations are drawn from its "spots," its "watching for prey," its "activity," &c.


(Num. xxiv.

9; Jer. xlix.

19.) ' (Amos iii. 4;

Ps. xvii. 12;

Job iv. 10.)

(Job iv. 11.)

(Deut. xxxiii. 20.)

(Job iv. 10.)

Aryeh. 4

2. Kepheer.

3. Laish.

4. Labi.

5. Shachal. atvrj.

Five words occur in Heb.: 1. general term; 2. "fierce;" 3. "strong;" 4. "roaring;" 5. poetical. The whole five occur in Job iv. 10, 11. The oldest name is "laish," whence comes the name of the city Laish. In no passage is any mention made of hunting it, except in Job, though Ezekiel refers to its being taken in a net or pit (Ezek. xix. 2—9); but on Assyrian monuments hunting the lion is a very favourite subject. Tiglath-Pileser slew one hundred and twenty. They are still found in India and Africa. Besides mention of its depredations, the lion was the symbol of "strength," of the "tribe of Judah," and of "Christ" (Rev. v. 5).

Mole. . . . (Ley. xi. 30.)

(Is/ii. 20.)

1. Tinshemeth. .

2. Chaphar-peroth. l

Two words are rendered "mole" in our Bible; the former only among the unclean animals, but thought by some to be a kind of lizard; the latter is from the root chaphar, to "burrow," reduplicated, and so probably is the mole-rat {Spalax typh-lus). No other mention occurs of either of these animals. No mole has yet been found in Palestine; but the mole-rat is found in the debris about Jerusalem. It is silvery grey, without tail or eyes, and about ten inches long; feeds on bulbs, and lives in companies under ground.

Mouse. . . . (Lev. xi. 29; 1 Sam. vi. 4, 5.)

'Akhbar. . . .

The 'alchbar is mentioned as an unclean animal, and its name is generic of any small rodent. The ravages of the field-mouse were part of the plagues inflicted on Philistia during the time of detention of the ark. In Palestine are found the rat, mouse, marmot, dormouse, and jerboa (springing like a kangaroo, and living in sandy districts). The " hamster " is an article of food in northern Syria, and is probably the 'akhbar, an " abominable thing eaten," condemned by Isaiah.

Mule. . . , (2 Sam. xiii. 29.)


Three Heb. words (pered, rekesh, ytmuri) are translated "mule" in our A.V.; of which the first only is correct, the second ought to be " camel," and the third is doubtful. It occurs only once (Gen. xxxvi. 24), and is thought by some to have been a discovery by a herdsman of the crossing of breeds of cattle; but the Vulgate renders his discovery "warm springs" of water. The mule was not used by the Hebrews before David's time, when it and the horse supplanted the ass as the royal beast. They are still the most valuable beasts of burden, carrying heavier weights, and possessing greater powers of endurance in a mountainous country, than the horse, ass, or camel. Mules of a superior breed are found on Assyrian monuments.

Ox . . .
(Gen. xii. 16.)
(Ps. xxii. 12.)
(Deut. xxii. 10.)

1. Bâkâr. . . .

2. Abirim.

3. Shor.

"Ox" is the generic term of the bovine race. There are many names by which it is distinguished in the Bible, marking difference of age or sex: e.g. bdkdr, collective name for " ploughing cattle;" eglath bdkdr," heifer;" par ben bdkdr, " young bullock;" egel (ra.), eglah (/.), "a calf;" abirim," strong ones," i.e. "bulls;" s7idr(Chald. tor, Ezra vi. 9), "one head of cattle."

English Name. Hebrew and Greek.


Ox (cont.).

They were pastured "in the open," there being no fences, hence many of the enactments; but could not have been extensively used for food, since there is little grazing land. Now they are rare in central districts from Lebanon to Hebron, and nowhere pastured, except in Dothan, Shechem, and Hamath. They are small, shaggy, short-legged, both long and short-horned. They were used for sacrifices, ploughing, treading out corn, drawing waggons (Num. vii. 3). See Unicorn, and Cattle.


See Hedgehog.

Ram. . . . (Gen. xv. 9; Is. xiv. 9.)


It was the offering of Abraham instead of his son. It was the prescribed sacrifice for trespass-offering, for the new moon, and for day of atonement; the fat of its broad tail was part of the peace-offering to Jehovah. It was the symbol of power or might (Luke i. 69), and of leadership (Is. xiv. 9); and among the Egyptians represented the omnipotence of the Deity. Its dyed skins were highly esteemed (Exod. xxv. 5). See Sheep.

Roe . . . .
Roebuck . .

See Deer.

Sheep. . . . (Gen. iv. 2; xlvii. 3.)


Ovis laticaudatus, a variety of the broad-tailed sheep, with white body, head and neck black or dark brown, wool thick. Sheep-keeping was one of the earliest industries, peculiarly of the Hebrews, even when offensive to their neighbours (Gen." xlvi. 34). It is used as a symbol of God's pastoral care for man, both in Old and New Testament. Still one of the industries of Palestine, and the "ewe lamb" is the pet animal of the peasant of Jerusalem. See Ram.

Swine. . . . (Lev. xi. 7; 2 Mac. vi. 18; Matt. vii. 6.)

Chazer. . . . .

The Hebrews and Phoenicians abhorred swine, and the Mosaic Law classed them with unclean animals, their flesh when badly cooked being productive of parasitical disease. In Gospel times they were kept, and probably eaten, around, if not in, Palestine.

Unicorn. . . (Job xxxix. 9-12.)

(Num. xxiii. 22.)

Reem, or Reim.

The LXX. translation has passed into our A.V., but is erroneous, as the mention of two horns on one reem (Deut. xxxiii. 17) proves. There Joseph is compared to a reem, his two horns being Ephraim and Manasseh. It was a very strong, wild ox, untameable, having two tall horns, with which it gored; it is distinct from oxen and. bulls, and used figuratively of "prince" or chieftain (Is. xxxiv. 6, 7). The description of it tallies with Caesar's account of the Hercynian Urns, which ranged from the Rhine to China, from Siberia to S. Persia. It is sculptured on Assyrian monuments, and their kings hunted rimu in Lebanon and Palestine, B.C. 884. - The rimu (Assyr.), or reem (Hebr.) is the Bos primigenius, a species of wild ox, with strong, thick, long, curved horns, and a hump on its back.

Weasel. . . (Lev. xi. 29.)


This word occurs only once among "unclean creeping things." The Hebrew is allied to the Arabic Jcnuld, "mole-rat;" and its root being chalad, "to dig," it seems to express the habits of that animal rather than those of the "weasel." In some Rabbinical writers chuldat is the "mole," in others the "polecat;" but the description of the habits of the choled in the Talmud is more applicable to the " weasel." "Weasels and polecats are common in Palestine, See Mole.

Wolf. . . (Gen. xlix. 27; Ezek. xxii. 27.)

Zeeb . . . .

The Canis lupus of Syria is larger and of lighter colour than the European species. It still infests the hill country of Benjamin, the ravines of Galilee and Lebanon, and hills of Bashan and Gilead. It was the symbol of Benjamin, and is used in Scripture as illustrative of ravening after its prey, stealing on it by night, &c.; so of "dishonest gain," extortion, oppression, &c.

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