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Title: Bible Animals; - Being a Description of Every Living Creature Mentioned in - the Scripture, from the Ape to the Coral.
Author: Wood, J. G. (John George), 1827-1889
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bible Animals; - Being a Description of Every Living Creature Mentioned in - the Scripture, from the Ape to the Coral." ***

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Transcriber's note:
     Spelling and punctuation inconsistencies have been harmonized.
     The original hyphenation and use of accented words has been
     retained. Obvious printer errors have been repaired. Italic text
     has been marked with _underscores_. Please see the end of this
     book for further notes.

  [Illustration: THE OSTRICH.

  "What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and
  his rider."--JOB xxxix. 18.]



    BY THE

    REV. J. G. WOOD, M.A., F.L.S. ETC.,


    BY W. F. KEYL, T. W. WOOD, AND E. A. SMITH._








Owing to the conditions of time, language, country, and race under
which the various books of the Holy Scriptures were written, it is
impossible that they should be rightly understood at the present day,
and in this land, without the aid of many departments of knowledge.
Contemporary history, philology, geography, and ethnology must all be
pressed into the service of the true Biblical scholar; and there is
yet another science which is to the full as important as either of the
others. This is Natural History, in its widest sense.

The Oriental character of the Scriptural books causes them to abound
with metaphors and symbols, taken from the common life of the time.
They embrace the barren precipitous rocks alternating with the green
and fertile valleys, the trees, flowers, and herbage, the creeping
things of the earth, the fishes of the sea, the birds of the air, and
the beasts which abode with man or dwelt in the deserts and forests.
Unless, therefore, we understand these writings as those understood
them for whom they were written, it is evident that we shall
misinterpret instead of rightly comprehending them. Even with secular
books of equally ancient date, the right understanding of them would
be important, but in the case of the Holy Scriptures it is more than
important, and becomes a duty. The field which is laid open to us is
so large that only one department of Natural History, namely Zoology,
can be treated in this work, although it is illustrated by many
references to other branches of Natural History, to the physical
geography of Palestine, Egypt, and Syria, the race-character of the
inhabitants, and historical parallels. The importance of Zoology in
elucidating the Scriptures cannot be overrated, and without its aid we
shall not only miss the point of innumerable passages of the Old and
New Testament, but the words of our Lord Himself will either be
totally misinterpreted, or at least lose the greater part of their

The object of the present work is therefore to take, in its proper
succession, every creature whose name is given in the Scriptures, and
to supply so much of its history as will enable the reader to
understand all the passages in which it is mentioned. A general
account of each animal will be first given, followed by special
explanations (wherever required) of those texts in which pointed
reference is made to it, but of which the full force cannot be
gathered without a knowledge of Natural History.

The illustrations are all taken from the living animals, while the
accessory details have been obtained either from the Egyptian or
Assyrian monuments, from actual specimens, or from the photographs and
drawings of the latest travellers. They have been selected and
arranged so that each illustration explains one or more passages of
Scripture, and it is hoped that the work will possess equal interest
for the natural historian and the Biblical student.




   The Monkey tribe rarely mentioned in Scripture--Why the Ape was
   introduced into Palestine--Solomon's ships, and their cargo of
   Apes, peacocks, ivory, and gold--Various species of Monkey that
   might have been imported--The Rhesus Monkey--The Hoonuman, or
   Entellus--Habits of the Monkey, and reverence in which it is
   held by the natives--The Egyptians and their Baboon
   worship--Idols and memorials--The Wanderoo--Its singular
   aspect--Reasons why it should be introduced into
   Palestine--General habits of the Wanderoo--Its love of
   curiosities--Probability that Solomon had a menagerie--Various
   species of Monkey that may be included in the term _Kophim_--The
   Satyr of Scripture--Babylon in its glory and fall--Fulfilment of
   prophecy--Judaic ideas of the Satyrs, or Seirim 1


   The Bat mentioned always with abhorrence--Meaning of the Hebrew
   name--The prohibition against eating Bats--The edible species,
   their food and mode of life--The noisome character of the Bat,
   and the nature of its dwelling-place--Its hatred of
   light--Baruch and his prophecy--Appropriateness of the
   prophecy--Singular Mahommedan legend respecting the original
   creation of the Bat--The legend compared with the apocryphal
   gospels--The Bats of Palestine--Mr. Tristram's discoveries--Bats
   found in the quarries from which the stone of the Temple was
   hewn--Edible Bats in a cave near the centre of
   Palestine--Another species of long-tailed Bat captured in the
   rock caves where hermits had been buried--Other species which
   probably inhabit Palestine 11


   Frequent mention of the Lion in the Scriptures--Probability that
   it was once a common animal, though now extinct--Reasons for its
   disappearance--The Lion employed as an emblem in the
   Bible--Similarity of the African and Asiatic species--The chief
   characteristics of the Lion--Its strength, activity, and mode
   of seizing its prey--Various names of the Lion--Its courage when
   roused--Its roar, and peculiar mode of utterance--Invisibility
   of the Lion at dusk--The Lion lying in wait--The dwelling-place
   of the Lion--Its restlessness at night--Passages illustrative of
   these characteristics--Modes of capturing the Lion--The pitfall
   and the net--Lions kept as curiosities--The Lion-hunt as
   depicted on the buildings of ancient Nineveh 18


   The Leopard not often mentioned in the Scriptures--Its
   attributes exactly described--Probability that several animals
   were classed under the name--How the Leopard takes its
   prey--Craft of the Leopard--Its ravages among the flocks--The
   empire of man over the beast--The Leopard at bay--Localities
   wherein the Leopard lives--The skin of the Leopard--Various
   passages of Scripture explained 29


   The Cat never mentioned by name in the canonical Scriptures, and
   only once in the Apocrypha--The Cat domesticated among the
   Egyptians, and trained in bird-catching--Neglected capabilities
   of the Cat--Anecdote of an English Cat that caught fish for her
   master--Presumed reason why the Scriptures are silent about the
   Cat--The Cat mentioned by Baruch 36


   Antipathy displayed by Orientals towards the Dog, and manifested
   throughout the Scriptures--Contrast between European and
   Oriental Dogs--Habits of the Dogs of Palestine--The city Dogs
   and their singular organization--The herdsman's Dog--Various
   passages of Scripture--Dogs and the crumbs--Their
   numbers--Signor Pierotti's experience of the Dogs--Possibility
   of their perfect domestication--The peculiar humiliation of
   Lazarus--Voracity of the Wild Dogs--The fate of Ahab and
   Jezebel--Anecdote of a volunteer Watch-dog--Innate affection of
   the Dog towards mankind--Peculiar local instinct of the Oriental
   Dog--Albert Smith's account of the Dogs at Constantinople--The
   Dervish and his Dogs--The Greyhound--Uncertainty of the word 39


   Identity of the animal indisputable--Its numbers, past and
   present--The Wolf never mentioned directly--Its general
   habits--References in Scripture--Its mingled ferocity and
   cowardice--Its association into packs--The Wolf's bite--How it
   takes its prey--Its ravages among the flocks--Allusions to this
   habit--The shepherd and his nightly enemies--Mr. Tristram and
   the Wolf--A semi-tamed Wolf at Marsaba 50


   The two animals comprehended under one name--The Jackal--Its
   numbers in ancient and modern Palestine--General habits of the
   Jackal--Localities where the Jackal is found--Samson, and the
   three hundred "foxes"--Popular objections to the narrative--The
   required number easily obtained--Signor Pierotti's remarks upon
   the Jackal--An unpleasant position--How the fields were set on
   fire--The dread of fire inherent in wild beasts--The truth of
   the narrative proved--The Fox and Jackal destructive among
   grapes--Allusions to the Fox in the New Testament--Partially
   tamed Foxes 55


   The Hyæna not mentioned by name, but evidently alluded
   to--Signification of the word _Zabua_--Translated in the
   Septuagint as "Hyæna"--A scene described by the Prophet
   Isaiah--The Hyæna plentiful in Palestine at the present day--Its
   well-known cowardice and fear of man--The uses of the Hyæna, and
   the services which it renders--The particular species of
   Hyæna--The Hyæna in the burial-grounds--Hunting the
   Hyæna--Curious superstition respecting the talismanic properties
   of its skin--Precautions adopted in flaying it--Popular legends
   of the Hyæna and its magical powers--The cavern home of the
   Hyæna--The Valley of Zeboim 62


   Difficulty of identifying the Weasel of Scripture--The Weasel of
   Palestine--Suggested identity with the Ichneumon 68


   Translation of the Hebrew word _Anakah_--The Shrew-mouse of
   Palestine--Etymology of the word--The Gecko or Fan-foot, its
   habits and peculiar cry--Repugnance felt by the Arabs of the
   present day towards the Gecko 69


   Difficulty of identifying the _Tachash_ of Scripture--References
   to "badgers' skins"--The Dugong thought to be the Badger--The
   Bedouin sandals--Nature of the materials for the
   Tabernacle--Habits of the Badger--The species found in
   Palestine--Uses of the Badgers' skins--Looseness of zoological
   terms 70


   The Syrian Bear--Identity of the Hebrew and Arabic titles--Its
   colour variable according to age--Bears once numerous in
   Palestine, and now only occasionally seen--Reason for their
   diminution--Present localities of the Bear, and its favourite
   haunts--Food of the Bear--Its general habits--Its ravages among
   the flocks--The Bear dangerous to mankind--The Bear robbed of
   her whelps--Illustrative passages--Its mode of fighting--Various
   references to the Bear, from the time of Samuel to that of St.
   John 75


   Various readings of the word _Kippôd_--The Jewish Bible and its
   object--The Syrian Hedgehog and its appearance--Its fondness for
   dry spots--The prophecies of Isaiah and Zephaniah, and their
   bearing on the subject--The Porcupine supposed to be the
   Kippôd--The Hedgehog and Porcupine called by the same name in
   Greek and Arabic--Habits of the Porcupine--Its quills, and the
   manner of their shedding 80


   Presumed identity of the Kippôd with the Porcupine--The same
   Greek name applied to the Porcupine and Hedgehog--Habits of the
   Porcupine--The common Porcupine found plentifully in Palestine


   The two Hebrew words which are translated as "Mole"--Obscurity
   of the former name--A parallel case in our own language--The
   second name--The Moles and the Bats, why associated
   together--The real Mole of Scripture, its different names, and
   its place in zoology--Description of the Mole-rat and its
   general habits--Curious superstition--Discovery of the species
   by Mr. Tristram--Scripture and science--How the Mole-rat finds
   its food--Distinction between the Mole and the present animal 86


   Conjectures as to the right translation of the Hebrew word
   _Akbar_--Signification of the word--The Mice which marred the
   land--Miracles, and their economy of power--The Field-mouse--Its
   destructive habits and prolific nature--The insidious nature of
   its attacks, and its power of escaping observation--The Hamster,
   and its habits--Its custom of storing up provisions for the
   winter--Its fertility and unsociable nature--The Jerboa, its
   activity and destructiveness--Jerboas and Hamsters eaten by
   Arabs and Syrians--Various species of Dormice and Sand-rats 91


   The prohibitions of the Mosaic law--The chewing of the cud and
   division of the hoof--Identity of the Hare of
   Scripture--Rumination described--The Hare a rodent and not a
   ruminant--Cowper and his Hares--Structure of the rodent
   tooth--The Mosaic law accommodated to its recipients--The Hares
   of Palestine and their habits 96


   The cattle of Palestine, and their decadence at the present
   day--Ox-flesh not used for food in modern times--Oxen of the
   stall, and oxen of the pasture--The use of the ox in
   agriculture--The yoke and its structure--The plough and the
   goad--The latter capable of being used as a weapon--Treading out
   the corn--The cart and its wheels--The ox used as a beast of
   burden--Cattle turned loose to graze--The bulls of
   Bashan--Curiosity of the ox tribe--A season of drought--Branding
   the cattle--An Egyptian field scene--Cattle-keeping an
   honourable post--The ox as used for sacrifice--Ox-worship--The
   bull Apis, and his history--Persistency of the
   bull-worship--Jeroboam's sin--Various names of cattle--The
   Indian buffalo 101


   The Tô, Wild Bull of the Old Testament--Passages in which it is
   mentioned--The Wild Bull in the net--Hunting with nets in the
   East--The Oryx supposed to be the Tô of Scripture--Description
   of the Oryx, its locality, appearance, and habits--The points in
   which the Oryx agrees with the Tô--The "snare" in which the foot
   is taken, as distinguished from the net 116


   The Reêm evidently known to the Jews--Various theories
   concerning the Unicorn--Supposed identity with the Indian
   Rhinoceros--Passages of Scripture alluding to the strength,
   violent and intractable temper of the Reêm--The Reêm a
   two-horned animal--Its evident connexion with the Ox tribe--Its
   presumed identity with the now extinct Urus--Mr. Dawkins'
   treatise on the Urus--Enormous size and dangerous character of
   the Urus--Rabbinical legend of the Reêm--Identity of the Urus
   with the modern varieties of cattle--The Bull-hunts of Nineveh


   The Bison tribe and its distinguishing marks--Its former
   existence in Palestine--Its general habits--Origin of its
   name--Its musky odour--Size and speed of the Bison--Its
   dangerous character when brought to bay--Its defence against the
   Wolf--Its untameable disposition 131


   The Gazelle identified with the _Tsebi_, i.e. the Roe or Roebuck
   of Scripture--Various passages relating to the Tsebi--Its
   swiftness, its capabilities as a beast of chase, its beauty, and
   the quality of its flesh--The Tsebiyah rendered in Greek as
   Tabitha, and translated as Dorcas, or Gazelle--Different
   varieties of the Gazelle--How the Gazelle defends itself against
   wild beasts--Chase of the Gazelle--The net, the battue, and the
   pitfall--Coursing the Gazelle with greyhounds and falcons--Mr.
   Chasseaud's account of a hunting party--Gentleness of the
   Gazelle 133


   The Dishon or Dyshon--Signification of the word
   _Pygarg_--Certainty that the Dishon is an antelope, and that it
   must be one of a few species--Former and present range of the
   Addax--Description of the Addax--The Strepsiceros of Pliny 141


   The word _Jachmur_ evidently represents a species of
   antelope--Probability that the Jachmur is identical with the
   Bubale, or Bekk'r-el-Wash--Resemblance of the animal to the ox
   tribe--Its ox-like horns and mode of attack--Its capability of
   domestication--Former and present range of the Bubale--Its
   representation on the monuments of ancient Egypt--Delicacy of
   its flesh--Size and general appearance of the animal 143


   Importance of Sheep in the Bible--The Sheep the chief wealth of
   the pastoral tribes--Tenure of land--Value of good
   pasture-land--Arab shepherds of the present day--Difference
   between the shepherds of Palestine and England--Wanderings of
   the flocks in search of food--Value of the wells--How the Sheep
   are watered--Duties of the shepherd--The shepherd a kind of
   irregular soldier--His use of the sling--Sheep following their
   shepherd--Calling the Sheep by name--The shepherd usually a part
   owner of the flocks--Structure of the sheepfolds--The rock
   caverns of Palestine--David's adventure with Saul--Penning of
   the Sheep by night--Use of the dogs--Sheep sometimes brought up
   by hand--How Sheep are fattened in the Lebanon district--The two
   breeds of Sheep in Palestine--The broad-tailed Sheep, and its
   peculiarities--Reference to this peculiarity in the Bible--The
   Talmudical writers, and their directions to sheep-owners 146


   The Zemer or Chamois only once mentioned in the
   Bible--Signification of the word _Zemer_--Probability that the
   Zemer is the Aoudad--Appearance of the Aoudad--Its strength and
   activity--Fierce temper of the adult male--Horns of the
   Aoudad--Their probable use as musical instruments--Habits of the
   Aoudad--The Mouflon probably classed with the Aoudad under the
   name of Zemer--Appearance and habits of the Mouflon 185


   Value of the Goat--Its use in furnishing food--The male kid the
   usual animal of slaughter--Excellence of the flesh, and
   deception of Isaac--Milk of the Goat--An Oriental milking
   scene--The hair of the Goat, and the uses to which it is
   put--The Goat's skin used for leather--The "bottle" of
   Scripture--Mode of making and repairing the bottles--Ruse of the
   Gibeonites--The "bottle in the smoke"--The sacks and the
   kneading-troughs--The Goat as used for sacrifice--General habits
   of the Goat--Separation of the Goats from the sheep--Performing
   Goats--Different breeds of Goats in Palestine 189


   The Azelim or Wild Goats of Scripture identical with the Beden
   or Arabian Ibex--Different names of the Beden--Its appearance
   and general habits--En-gedi, or Goats' Fountain--The Beden
   formerly very plentiful in Palestine, and now tolerably
   common--Its agility--Difficulty of catching or killing it--How
   the young are captured--Flesh of the Beden--Use of the horns at
   the present day--The Ako of Deuteronomy 203


   The Hart and Hind of Scripture--Species of Deer existing in
   Palestine--Earliest mention of the Hind--The Hart classed among
   the clean animals--Passages alluding to its speed--Care of the
   mother for her young, and her custom of secreting it--Tameable
   character of the Deer--The Rabbinical writers and their
   theories--Shedding of the Deer's horns--Its fabled mode of
   sleeping--The gall in the tail--Curious traditions of the enmity
   between Deer and serpents--Virtues of a Deer-skin coat 208



   The two species of Camel, and the mode of distinguishing
   them--Value of the Camel in the East--Camels mentioned as
   elements of wealth--Uses of the Camel--The Jews forbidden to eat
   its flesh--The milk of the Camel--Thirst-enduring
   capability--The internal reservoir--The hump, and its uses to
   the animal--The Camel as a beast of draught and burden--How the
   Camel is laden--Knowledge of its own powers--Camels for
   riding--Difficulty of sitting a Camel--A rough-paced
   steed--Method of guiding the Camel--The mesh'ab, or Camel-stick
   of office--The women's saddle--Rachel's stratagem--Ornaments of
   the Camel--The swift dromedary, Heirie, or Deloul--Its ungainly
   aspect--Speed and endurance of the Deloul--The Camel-posts of
   Bornu--Camel-drivers and their conduct--The driver's song--Young
   Camels and their appearance--The deserted Camel 216


   The Camel and its master--Occasional fury of the animal--A boy
   killed by a Camel--Another instance of an infuriated
   Camel--Theory respecting the Arab and his Camel--Apparent
   stupidity of the Camel--Its hatred of a load, and mode of
   expressing its disapprobation--Riding a Camel through the
   streets--A narrow escape--Ceremony of weaning a young Camel--The
   Camel's favourite food--Structure of the foot and adaptation to
   locality--Difficulty in provisioning--Camel's hair and
   skin--Sal-ammoniac and desert fuel--The Camel and the needle's
   eye--Straining at a gnat and swallowing a Camel 233


   General description of the animal--Its use in mountain
   roads--Peculiar formation of the foot--Uses of a mixed
   breed--Its power of enduring cold--Used chiefly as a beast of
   draught--Unfitness for the plough--The cart and mode of
   harnessing--The load which it can draw--Camel-skin ropes--A
   Rabbinical legend 244


   The Hebrew words which signify the Horse--The Horse introduced
   into Palestine from Egypt--Similarity of the war-horse of
   Scripture and the Arab horse of the present day--Characteristics
   of the Horse--Courage and endurance of the Horse--Hardness of
   its unshod hoofs--Love of the Arab for his Horse--Difficulty of
   purchasing the animal--The Horse prohibited to the
   Israelites--Solomon's disregard of the edict--The war-chariot,
   its form and use--Probable construction of the iron chariot--The
   cavalry Horse--Lack of personal interest in the animal 248


   Importance of the Ass in the East--Its general use for the
   saddle--Riding the Ass not a mark of humility--The triumphal
   entry--White Asses--Character of the Scriptural Ass--Saddling
   the Ass--The Ass used in agriculture--The Ass's millstone--The
   water-wheel and the plough--Reminiscences of the Ass in the
   Scriptural narrative--Its value as property--The flesh of the
   Ass--The siege of Samaria and its horrors--Various legends
   respecting the Ass--The impostor and his fate--Samson and Balaam


   The Arod and Pere of Scripture--Various allusions to the Wild
   Ass--Its swiftness and wildness--The Wild Ass of Asia and
   Africa--Knowledge of the animal displayed by the sacred
   writers--How the Wild Ass is hunted--Excellence of its
   flesh--Sir R. K. Porter's meeting with a Wild Ass--Origin of the
   domestic Ass--The Wild Asses of Quito 279


   Ancient use of the Mule--Various breeds of Mule--Supposed date
   of its introduction into Palestine--Mule-breeding forbidden to
   the Jews--The Mule as a saddle-animal--Its use on occasions of
   state--The king's Mule--Mules brought from Babylon after the
   captivity--Obstinacy of the Mule--The Mule as a beast of
   burden--The "Mule's burden" of earth--Mules imported by the
   Phoenicians--Legends respecting the Mule 285


   The Mosaic prohibition of the pig--Hatred of Swine by Jews and
   Mahometans--A strange use of bacon--The prodigal son--Resistance
   to the prosecution of Antiochus--Swine hated by the early
   Egyptians--Supposed connexion between Swine and diseases of the
   skin--Destruction of the herd of Swine--The locality of the
   event discovered--Pigs bred for the monasteries--The jewel of
   gold in a Swine's snout--The wild boar of the woods, and the
   beast of the reeds--The damage which it does to the
   vines--General account of the wild boar of Palestine--Excellence
   of its flesh 292


   The Elephant indirectly mentioned in the Authorized
   Version--Solomon's ivory throne--Ivory used in Egypt--Horns of
   ivory--The ivory palaces--Beds of ivory--The Tyrian ships--Ivory
   mentioned by Homer--Vessels of ivory--The Elephant as an engine
   of war--Antiochus and his Elephants--Oriental
   exaggeration--Self-devotion of Eleazar--Attacking the Elephants,
   and their gradual abandonment in war--The Talmudical writers on
   the Elephant--A funeral and an omen 302


   The Shaphan of Scripture, and the correct meaning of the
   word--Identification of the Shaphan with the Syrian
   Hyrax--Description of the animal--Its feet, teeth, and apparent
   rumination--Passages in which the Coney is mentioned--Habits of
   the animal--Its activity and wariness--The South African Hyrax,
   and its mode of life--Difficulty of procuring it--Similarity in
   appearance and habits of the Syrian species--Three species of
   Hyrax known to naturalists--The Talmudical writers on the
   Shaphan--The jerboa and the rabbit--A curious speculation and a
   judicious compromise 312


   Literal translation of the word _Behemoth_--Various theories
   respecting the identity of the animal--The Hippopotamus known to
   the ancient Hebrews--Geographical range of the animal--"He
   eateth grass like the ox"--Ravages of the Hippopotamus among the
   crops--Structure of the mouth and teeth--The "sword or scythe"
   of the Hippopotamus--Some strange theories--Haunts of the
   Hippopotamus--The Egyptian hunter--A valuable painting--Strength
   of the Hippopotamus--Rising of the Nile--Modern
   hunters--Wariness of the Hippopotamus--The pitfall and the
   drop-trap 318



   Difficulty of identifying the various birds mentioned in
   Scripture--The Vultures of Palestine--The Lämmergeier, or
   Ossifrage of Scripture--The Hebrew word _Peres_, and its
   signification--The Ossifrage, or Bone-breaker--Appearance of the
   Lämmergeier--Its flight and mode of feeding--How the Lämmergeier
   kills snakes and tortoises, and breaks marrow-bones--Mode of
   destroying the chamois and mountain sheep--Nest of the
   Lämmergeier 333


   The Râchâm or Gier-Eagle identified with the Egyptian
   Vulture--Its appearance on the Egyptian monuments--Signification
   of the word _Râchâm_--Various translations of the word--The
   shape, size, and colour of the bird--Its value as a scavenger,
   and its general habits--The Egyptian Vultures and the
   griffons--Its fondness for the society of man--Nest of the
   Egyptian Vulture 339


   The Griffon Vulture identified with the Eagle of Scripture--The
   word _Nesher_ and its signification--Geographical range of the
   Griffon--Its mode of flight and sociable habits--The featherless
   head and neck of the bird--The Vulture used as an image of
   strength, swiftness, and rapacity--Its powers of sight--How
   Vultures assemble round a carcase--Nesting-places of the
   Griffon--Mr. Tristram's description of the Griffon--Rock caves
   of the Wady Hamâm--Care of the young, and teaching them to
   fly--Strength of the Griffon--Its emblematical use in Egypt and
   Assyria--The god Nisroch--Noble aspect of the Griffon--Its
   longevity--Various attitudes assumed by the bird 344


   Signification of the word _Asniych_--The Golden Eagle and its
   habits--The Imperial Eagle--Its solitary mode of life--The
   Short-toed Eagle common in Palestine--Its zoological
   position--Food of the Short-toed Eagle--Its form and colour 354


   The Osprey, or Fishing Eagle--Its geographical range--Mode of
   securing prey--Structure of its feet--Its power of balancing
   itself in the air 356


   The word _Dayah_ and its signification--Dayah a collective term
   for different species of Kites--The Common or Red Kite plentiful
   in Palestine--Its piercing sight and habit of soaring--The Black
   Kite of Palestine and its habits--The Egyptian Kite--The Raah or
   Glede of Scripture--The Buzzards and their habits--The Peregrine
   Falcon an inhabitant of Central Palestine, and the Lanner of the
   eastern parts of the country 357


   The Netz or Hawk--Number of species probably grouped under that
   name--Rare occurrence of the word--The Sparrow-Hawk and its
   general habits--Its place of nesting--The Kestrel, or
   Wind-hover--Various names by which it is known in England--Its
   mode of feeding and curious flight--The Hariers--Probable
   derivation of the name--Species of Hariers known to inhabit
   Palestine--Falconry apparently unknown to the ancient Jews 364


   The words which have been translated as "Owl"--The Côs, or
   Little Owl--Use made of the Little Owl in bird-catching--Habits
   of the bird--The Barn, Screech, or White Owl a native of
   Palestine--The Yanshûph, or Egyptian Eagle Owl--Its food and
   nest--The Lilith, or Night Monster--Various interpretations of
   the word--The Kippoz probably identical with the Scops Owl, or
   Marouf 37


   Different interpretations of the word _Tachmâs_--Probability
   that it signifies the Nightjar--Various names of the bird--Its
   remarkable jarring cry, and wheeling flight--Mode of
   feeding--Boldness of the bird--Deceptive appearance of its size


   Identification of the smaller birds--Oriental indifference to
   natural history--Use of collective terms--The
   Swallow--Signification of the word _Deror_--The Bird of
   Liberty--Swallows and Swifts--The Sunbirds and
   Bee-eaters--Variety of small birds found in Palestine--The
   Swallows of Palestine--Swallows protected by man in various
   countries--Nesting of the Swallow--The Rufous Swallow and
   Martin--The Sis or Swift--Various species of Swift inhabiting
   the Holy Land--Talmudical notions of the Swift or Swallow--The
   leper and his offering--The cooking pot and the sacrificial
   vessel--Signification of the word _Tzippor-deror_ 381


   The Dukiphath of Scripture--Various interpretations of the
   word--The Hoopoe--Its beauty and ill reputation--The unpleasant
   odour of its nest--Food of the Hoopoe--Its beautiful nest, and
   remarkable gestures--A curious legend of Solomon and the Hoopoe


   Signification of the word _Tzippor_--The bird used for the
   leper's sacrifice--The Sparrow upon the house-top--Architecture
   of the East--Proclamation from the house-tops--The Blue Thrush,
   its appearance and habits--Little birds exposed for sale in the
   market--The two Sparrows sold for a farthing--Bird-catching--The
   net, the snare, and the trap--The Sparrow that builds her nest
   in the Temple--The Tree Sparrow--Various Sparrows that inhabit
   Palestine--Birds kept in cages 395


   The Cuckoo only twice mentioned in Scripture--Difficulty of
   identifying the Shachaph--The common species, and the Great
   Spotted Cuckoo--Depositing the egg--Conjectures respecting the
   Shachaph--Etymology of the word--The various gulls, and other
   sea-birds 405


   Parallel between the lamb and the Dove--Derivation of the Hebrew
   word _Yonâh_--The Dove and the olive branch--Abram's sacrifice,
   and its acceptance--The sacrifice according to the law of
   Moses--The Dove-sellers of the Temple--Talmudical zoology--The
   story of Ilisch--The Dove and the raven--The Dove a type of
   Israel--The Beni-yonâh, or Sons of Pigeons--Home-finding
   instinct of the pigeon--The Oriental Dove-cotes--Voice of the
   Dove--Its strength of wing--The Dove's dung of Samaria--Various
   pigeons of Palestine--The Rock Dove and its multitudes--The Dove
   and the Griffon--The Turtle Doves of Palestine, and their
   appearance and habits 408


   Poultry plentiful in Palestine at the present day--The Domestic
   Fowl unknown in the early times of Israel--The eating and
   gathering of eggs--References to Poultry in the New
   Testament--The egg and the scorpion--The fatted fowl of
   Solomon--The hen brooding over her eggs--Poultry prohibited
   within Jerusalem--The cock-crowing 421


   The foreign curiosities imported by Solomon--The word _Tucciyim_
   and its various interpretations--Identity of the word with the
   Cingalese name of the Peacock--Reasons why the Peacock should
   have been brought to Solomon--Its subsequent neglect and
   extirpation 425


   The word _Kore_ and its signification--The Partridge upon the
   mountains--David's simile--The Desert Partridge and its
   habits--Hunting the Partridge with sticks--Eggs of the
   Partridge--A disputed reading, and probable signification of the
   passage--Egg-hunting in Palestine--The various species of
   Partridge--The Francolin and the Sand-grouse 426


   Signification of the word _Selâv_--Various passages in which the
   word is mentioned--The locust, the stork, and the
   sand-grouse--Spreading the birds around the camp--Migration of
   the Quail--Drying the Quails for food--Modes of catching the
   Quail in the East--The Quail-hunters of Northern
   Africa--Quarrelsome nature of the bird--Quail-fighting in the
   East--How the Quails were brought to the Israelites 430


   Signification of the word _Oreb_--The Haven tribe plentiful in
   Palestine--The Raven and the dove--Elijah and the
   Ravens--Various explanations of the circumstance--Feeding the
   young Ravens--Luis of Grenada's sermon--The white Raven of
   ancient times--An old legend--Reference to the blackness of the
   Raven's plumage--Desert-loving habits of the Raven--Its mode of
   attacking the eye--Notions of the old commentators--Ceremonial
   use of the Raven--Return of the Ravens--Cunning of the
   bird--Nesting-places of the Raven--The magpie and its
   character--The starling--Its introduction into Palestine--The
   Rabbi perplexed--Solution of the difficulty 439


   Hebrew words designating the Ostrich--Description of the bird in
   the Book of Job--Ancient use of Ostrich plumes--Supposed
   heedlessness of eggs and young--Mode of depositing the
   eggs--Hatching them in the sand--Natural enemies of the
   Ostrich--Anecdote of Ostriches and their young--Alleged
   stupidity of the Ostrich--Methods of hunting and snaring the
   bird--The Ostrich in domestication--Speed of the Ostrich--The
   flesh of the bird prohibited to the Jews--Ostrich eggs and their
   uses--Food of the Ostrich--Mode of drinking--Cry of the Ostrich,
   and reference made to it in Micah 450


   Signification of the word _Kippod_--The Bittern and its general
   appearance--The bird of solitude--Difficulty of detecting the
   Bittern in its haunts--Mudie's description of the Bittern and
   its home--The strange cry of the bird--Superstitions connected
   with it--The Night-raven--Nest of the Bittern--Scarcity of the
   bird at the present day--Food of the Bittern--The bird formerly
   brought to table 462


   The Heron mentioned as an unclean bird--The Heron used for food
   in England, and considered as a delicacy--Sociable character of
   the bird, and its mode of feeding--Its enormous appetite--How
   the Heron fights--Ancient falconry--Nesting of the Heron--The
   papyrus marshes and their dangers--Description of the
   papyrus--Vessels of bulrushes--The Egret and its beautiful
   plumage--Uses of the train feathers 468


   Various passages in which the Crane is mentioned--Its migratory
   habits and loud voice--Geographical range of the Crane--The bird
   once plentiful in the fen districts of England--Its favourite
   roosting-places--Size of the Crane, and measurement of the
   wings--The Crane once used as food--Plumes of the Crane and
   their use--Structure of the vocal organs--Nest and eggs of the
   Crane. 474


   Signification of the Hebrew word _Chasidah_--Various passages in
   which it is mentioned--The Chasidah therefore a large,
   wide-winged, migratory bird--Its identification with the
   Stork--Derivation of its Hebrew name--The Stork always
   protected--Uses of the tail--Its mode of quartering the ground
   in search of food--Migratory habits of the Stork--Nesting of the
   bird, and its favourite localities--The fir-trees of
   Palestine--Love of the Stork for its young 478


   Signification of the word _Tinshemeth_--The Gallinule and the
   Ibis--Appearance and habits of the Hyacinthine Gallinule--A
   strange use for the bird--The White or Sacred Ibis--The bird
   mentioned by Herodotus--The Glossy Ibis, or Black
   Ibis--Veneration with which the bird was regarded 485


   The word _Shâlâk_ and its signification--The Greek
   Catarrhactes--Habits of the Cormorant--The bird trained to catch
   fish--Mode of securing its prey--Nests and eggs of the
   Cormorant--Nesting in fir-trees--Flesh of the bird 490


   The Pelican of the wilderness--Attitudes of the bird--Its love
   of solitude--Derivation of the Hebrew word--Fantastic
   interpretation--Mode of feeding the young--Fables regarding the
   Pelican--Breeding-places of the bird--The object of its wide
   wings and large pouch--Colour of the Pelican 495



   Reptiles in general--Looseness of the term "creeping
   things"--The Tzab of the Scriptures, translated as
   Tortoise--Flesh and eggs of the Tortoise--Its slow
   movements--Hibernation dependent on temperature--The
   Water-Tortoises--Their food and voracity--Their eggs--Their
   odour terrifying the horses--The Dhubb lizard and its
   legends--Its armed tail, and the use made of it--Its food, and
   localities which it prefers 505


   Signification of the word _Leviathan_--Description in the Book
   of Job--Structure and general habits of the Crocodile--The
   throat-valve and its use--Position of the nostrils--Worship of
   the Crocodile--The reptile known in the Holy Land--Two legends
   respecting its presence there--Mode of taking prey--Cunning of
   the Crocodile--The baboons and the Crocodile--Speed of the
   reptile--Eggs and young of the Crocodile, and their
   enemies--Curious story of the ichneumon and ibis--Modes of
   capturing the Crocodile--Analysis of Job's description--The
   Crocodile also signified by the word _Tannin_. Aaron's rod
   changed into a Tannin--Various passages in which the word
   occurs--Use of the word by the Prophet Jeremiah 514


   Difficulty of identifying the Letââh--Probability that it is a
   collective and not a specific term--Various Lizards of
   Palestine--The Green or Jersey Lizard--The Cyprius, its
   appearance and habits--The Glass Snake or
   Scheltopusic--Translation of the word _Chomet_--Probability that
   it signifies the Skink--Medicinal uses of the Lizard--The Seps
   tribe--The common Cicigna, and the popular belief concerning its
   habits--The Sphænops and its shallow tunnel 529


   Translation of the word _Koach_--Signification of the word, and
   its applicability to the Chameleon--Power of the reptile's
   grasp--The prehensile tail--Demeanour of the Chameleon on the
   ground--The independent eyes--Its frequent change of
   colour--Mode of taking prey--Strange notions respecting the
   Chameleon--The Monitor, or Land Crocodile--Its habits and use to
   mankind--The Nilotic Monitor, and its habit of destroying the
   eggs and young of the Crocodile--The Gecko or Ferret of
   Scripture 534


   Serpents in general--Signification of the Hebrew word
   _Nachash_--Various passages in which the Nachash is
   mentioned--The fiery Serpents of the wilderness--Explanation of
   the words "flying" and "fiery" as applied to Serpents--Haunts of
   the Serpent--The Cobra, or Asp of Scripture--Meaning of the word
   _Pethen_--The deaf Adder that stoppeth her ear--Serpent-charming
   in the East--Principle on which the charmers work--Sluggishness
   of the Serpent nature--Ceremony of initiation into
   Serpent-charming--Theories respecting the deaf Adder--Luis of
   Grenada's sermon--The Cerastes, or Horned Serpent--Appearance
   and habits of the reptile--The "Adder in the path" 540


   Passages in which the word _Epheh_ occurs--El-effah--The Sand
   Viper, or Toxicon--Its appearance and habits--The
   Acshub--Adder's poison--The Spuugh-Slange--The Cockatrice, or
   Tsepha--The Yellow Viper--Ancient ideas concerning the
   Cockatrice--Power of its venom 552


   The Frog only mentioned in the Old Testament as connected with
   the plagues of Egypt--The severity of this plague explained--The
   Frog detestable to the Egyptians--The Edible Frog and its
   numbers--Description of the Species. 557



   Impossibility of distinguishing the different species of
   fishes--The fishermen Apostles--Fish used for food--The miracle
   of the loaves and Fishes--The Fish broiled on the coals--Clean
   and unclean Fishes--The scientific writings of Solomon--The
   Sheat-fish, or Silurus--The Eel and the Muræna--The Long-headed
   Barbel--Fish-ponds and preserves--The Fish-ponds of Heshbon--The
   Sucking-fish--The Lump-sucker--The Tunny--The Coryphene 563


   Various modes of capturing Fish--The hook and line--Military use
   of the hook--Putting a hook in the jaws--The fishing
   spear--Different kinds of net--The casting-net--Prevalence of
   this form--Technical words among fishermen--Fishing by
   night--The draught of Fishes--The real force of the
   miracle--Selecting the Fish--The Fish-gate and Fish-market--Fish
   killed by a draught--Fishing in the Dead Sea--Dagon, the
   fish-god of Philistina, Assyria, and Siam--Various Fishes of
   Egypt and Palestine 571



   The purple of Scripture--Various Molluscs from which it is
   obtained--The common Dog whelk of England--The sac containing
   the purple dye--Curious change of colour--Mode of obtaining the
   dye--The Tyrian purple--The king of the Ethiopians and the
   purple robe--The professional purple dyers--Various words
   expressive of different shades of purple--Care taken to keep the
   preparation of the dye secret 586


   The Snail which melteth--Rendering of the Jewish Bible--Theory
   respecting the track of the Snail--The Hebrew word
   _Shablul_--Various Snails of Palestine 589


   Ingredients of the sacred incense--The Onyx, or
   Onycha--Derivation of the word--The Arabic Dofr--The Doofu of
   Abyssinia--Odour of the perfume 590


   The Pearl of Scripture--Wisdom compared to Pearl--Different
   renderings of the Hebrew word--Opinions of the
   Talmudists--Structure of Pearls--The Pearls of the marine and
   aquatic mussels--Pearl-fisheries of the Conway--Metaphorical
   uses of the Pearl--The Pearl of great price--Casting Pearls
   before swine--An ancient proverb 592


   Insects--Beetles not mentioned in Scripture--The Locust--Various
   species of the insect, and different words used to signify
   it--The Arbeh of Scripture, and its derivation--The two
   migratory Locusts at rest and on the wing--The Locust
   swarms--Gordon Cumming's account--Progress of the insect
   hosts--Vain attempts to check them--Tossed up and down as a
   Locust--Effect of the winds on the insect--The east and the west
   winds--Locusts used for food--Ancient and modern travellers--The
   food of St. John 596


   The Hebrew word _Debôrah_-The Honey Bee of Palestine--Abundance
   of Bees in the Holy Land--Habitations of the wild Bee--Hissing
   for the Bee--Bees in dead carcases--The honey of
   Scripture--Domesticated Bees and their hives--Stores of wild
   honey--The story of Jonathan--The Crusaders and the
   honey--Butter and honey--Oriental sweetmeats--The Dibs, or
   grape-honey, and mode of preparation--Wax, its use as a metaphor


   The Tzirah or Hornet of Scripture--Travellers driven away by
   Hornets--The Hornet used as a metaphor--Oriental symbolism--The
   Talmudical writers--Sting of the Hornet 613


   The Ant of Scripture--Solomon's allusion to the Ant--Habit of
   laying up stores of food--A controversy respecting the Ant--The
   Ants of Palestine, and their habits--The Agricultural or
   Mound-making Ant--Preparing ground, sowing, tending, reaping,
   and storing the crop--Different habits of Ants--Development of
   the insect--The winged Ants--An Arab proverb 616


   The scarlet or crimson of Scripture--Signification of the word
   _Tolââth_--The Coccus or Cochineal of Palestine compared with
   that of Mexico--Difference between the sexes--Mode of preparing
   the insect--The Arabic word _Kermes_ 622


   The Moth of Scripture evidently the Clothes Moth--The Sâs and
   the 'Ash--Similitude between the Hebrew _sâs_ and the Greek
   _sês_--Moths and garments--Accumulation of clothes in the
   East--Various uses of the hoarded robes--The Moths, the rust,
   and the thief 624


   Various passages wherein Silk is mentioned--The virtuous woman
   and her household--Probability that the Hebrews were acquainted
   with Silk--Present cultivation of the Silkworm--The Silk-farms
   of the Lebanon--Signification of the word _Meshi_--Silkworms and
   thunder--Luis of Grenada's sermon--The Hebrew word _Gâzam_, and
   its signification--The Palmer-worm of Scripture 627


   Flies of Scripture--Dead Flies and the apothecary's
   ointment--Gadflies and their attacks--Annoyance caused by the
   House-fly--Flies and ophthalmia--Signor Pierotti's account of
   the Flies--The sovereign remedy against Flies--Causes of their
   prevalence 632


   The Gnat of Scripture--Straining out the Gnat and swallowing the
   camel, a typographical error--Probable identity of the Gnat and
   the mosquito 635


   Insect parasites--The plague of Lice--Its effect on the
   magicians or priests--The Hebrew word _Chinnim_--Probability
   that it may be represented by "tick"--Habits of the ticks, their
   dwellings in dust, and their effects on man and beast 636


   Prevalence of the Flea in the East, and the annoyance caused by
   them to travellers--Fleas of the Lebanon--The Bey's
   bedfellows--The Pasha at the bath--Use of the word in Scripture


   The Scorpions of Palestine--Signification of the word
   _Akrabbim_--Habits of the Scorpion--Dangers of mud walls--Venom
   of the Scorpion--Scorpions at sea--The Scorpion whip, and its
   use--The Scorpion Pass 640


   Signification of the word _Semamith_--Various interpretations of
   a Scriptural passage--Talmudical opinions respecting the
   creature--The 'Akkabish and its web--Spiders of Palestine 643


   Various words translated as "Worm"--Probable confusion of the
   words--The Rimmah and the Tole'ah--The Worm which destroyed
   Jonah's gourd--The Earthworm 644


   Signification of the word _Alukah_--The Arabic word--Leeches in
   Palestine--The horse and the Leech--Leeches in England 646


   Use of the Sponge in Scripture--Probability that the ancient
   Jews were acquainted with it--Sponges of the Mediterranean--The
   Coral, and its value--Signification of the word _Ramoth_ 647




    THE OSTRICH AND ITS HUNTERS. (Job xxxix. 19)        _Frontispiece._

    THE LION AND HIS DEN. (Ezek. xix. 2)                   _to face_ 26

    DOGS PROWLING AT NIGHT. (Psa. lix. 14)                    "      48

    THE BADGER AND ITS HOME. (Exod. xxvi. 14)                 "      72

     (Prov. xxviii. 15)                                       "      76

    OXEN BEARING THE YOKE. (Lam. iii. 27)                     "     104

     (Psa. xxiii. 2)                                          "     156

    GOATS WOUNDED BY LION. (Amos iii. 12)                     "     202

    THE HIND AND HER YOUNG. (Job xxxix. 1)                    "     212

    CAMELS AND THEIR BURDENS. (Isa. xxx. 6)                   "     222

    THE WAR HORSE GOING TO BATTLE. (Job xxxix. 25)            "     250

    WILD ASSES AND THE HUNTERS. (Job xxxix. 5-8)              "     282

    THE WILD BOAR IN THE VINEYARD. (Psa. lxxx. 13)            "     300

    ELEPHANTS IN A FOREST. (Ezek. xxvii. 15)                  "     312

    THE HIPPOPOTAMUS OR BEHEMOTH. (Job xl. 21)                "     324

    VULTURES AND THEIR PREY. (Matt. xxiv. 28)                 "     352

    THE EAGLE AND ITS NEST. (Job xxxix. 27)                   "     354

    THE OSPREY AND ITS HAUNTS. (Deut. xiv. 12)                "     356

    THE OWL AMONG RUINS. (Job xxx. 29)                        "     376

    PEACOCKS. (1 Kings x. 22)                                 "     426

    THE BITTERN AND ITS HOME. (Isa. xiv. 23)                  "     466

    THE STORK IN THE FIR-TREES. (Psa. civ. 17)                "     482

    THE CROCODILE OR LEVIATHAN. (Job xli. 7)                  "     520

    LOCUSTS ON THE MARCH. (Exod. x. 5)                        "     600



    THE RHESUS AND ENTELLUS. (1 Kings x. 22)                          3

    THE WANDEROO                                                      6

    BATS IN THEIR CAVE. (Levit. xi. 19)                              17

    THE LEOPARD BY THE WAY. (Hos. xiii. 7)                           30

    THE WOLF AMONG THE SHEEP. (John x. 12)                           51

    JACKALS AND THE SCAPEGOAT. (Psa. lxiii. 10)                      56

    HYÆNAS AND VULTURES. (Ezek. xxix. 5)                             65

    THE HEDGEHOG. (Isa. xxxiv. 11)                                   81

    THE MOLE-RAT. (Levit. xi. 30)                                    87

    FIELD-MICE AMONG CORN. (1 Sam. vi. 5)                            93

    SYRIAN HARES. (Deut. xiv. 7)                                     97

    OXEN TREADING OUT CORN. (Deut. xxv. 4)                          107

    THE BUFFALO. (Amos vi. 12)                                      114

    THE WILD BULL, OR ORYX. (Isa. li. 21)                           119

    THE UNICORN, OR BISON. (Job xxxix. 9)                           132

    GAZELLES UPON THE MOUNTAINS. (Cant. ii. 8)                      136

    THE PYGARG, OR ADDAX. (Deut. xiv. 4)                            142

    THE FALLOW-DEER, OR BUBALE. (1 Kings iv. 23)                    145

    SHEEP LED TO PASTURE. (John x. 3)                               154

    THE RAM'S HORN TRUMPET. (Josh. vi. 4)                           175

    THE PLACE OF SACRIFICE ON MOUNT GERIZIM                         181

    THE CHAMOIS, OR AOUDAD. (Deut. xiv. 4, 5)                       187

    GOATS DIVIDED FROM SHEEP. (Matt. xxv. 52)                       199

    THE WILD GOAT, OR IBEX. (Psa. cxiv. 18)                         206

    THE HIND, OR FALLOW-DEER. (Cant. ii. 7)                         209

    THE DROMEDARY AND ITS RIDER. (Jer. ii. 23)                      231

    THE CAMEL AND THE "NEEDLE'S EYE." (Matt. xix. 24)               243

    BACTRIAN CAMELS HARNESSED. (Isa. xxi. 7)                        246

    THE WAR CHARIOT OF EGYPT. (Jer. xlvi. 9)                        261

    THE STATE CHARIOT OF ASSYRIA. (Jer. xvii. 25)                   262

    SYRIAN ASSES. (Prov. xxvi. 3)                                   269

    MULES AND THEIR DRIVER. (Psa. xxxii. 9)                         287

    CONIES AMONG THE ROCKS. (Prov. xxx. 26)                         313

    THE HIPPOPOTAMUS IN THE RIVER. (Job xl. 21)                     325

    THE HIPPOPOTAMUS AND TRAP. (Job xl. 24)                         328

    THE OSSIFRAGE, OR LÄMMERGEIER. (Deut. xiv. 12)                  334

    THE GIER-EAGLE, OR EGYPTIAN VULTURE. (Deut. xiv. 17)            340

    THE VULTURE, OR KITE. (JOB xxviii. 7)                           358

    THE GLEDE, OR PEREGRINE FALCON. (Deut. xiv. 13)                 361

    THE LANNER FALCON                                               363

    THE HAWK, OR KESTREL. (Job xxxix. 26)                           366

    THE LITTLE OWL. (Psa. cii. 6)                                   372

    THE NIGHT-HAWK. (Deut. xiv. 15)                                 378

    THE SWALLOW AND SWIFT. (Jer. viii. 7)                           385

    THE LAPWING, OR HOOPOE. (Levit. xi. 19)                         393

    THE SPARROW, OR BLUE THRUSH. (Psa. cii. 7)                      399

    THE SPARROW, OR TREE SPARROW. (Psa. lxxxiv. 3)                  403

    THE CUCKOO. (Levit. xi. 16)                                     406

    THE ROCK DOVE. (Cant. ii. 14)                                   416

    THE TURTLE DOVE. (Cant. ii. 12)                                 420

    POULTRY. (Luke xiii. 34)                                        423

    THE PARTRIDGE ON THE MOUNTAINS. (1 Sam. xxvi. 20)               428

    THE QUAIL. (Psa. cv. 40)                                        431

    THE RAVEN. (Job xxxviii. 41)                                    441

    THE OSTRICH AND ITS EGGS. (Job xxxix. 14)                       454

    THE BITTERN. (Isa. xiv. 23)                                     463

    THE HERON. (Deut. xi. 19)                                       469

    THE CRANE. (Isa. xxxviii. 14)                                   475

    THE SWAN OR IBIS, OR GALLINULE. (Deut. xiv. 16)                 486

    THE PELICAN OF THE WILDERNESS. (Psa. cii. 6)                    496

    THE TORTOISE AND DHUBB. (Levit. xi. 29)                         507

    THE LIZARD, OR CYPRIUS. (Levit. xi. 30)                         530

    THE CHAMELEON AND THE GECKO. (Levit. xi. 30)                    535

      (Psa. lviii. 4; Gen. xlix. 17)                                542

    THE VIPER, OR TOXICOA. (Job xx. 16)                             553

    THE FROG. (Exod. viii. 3)                                       558

    FISHES--MURÆNA, BARBEL, AND SHEAT-FISH. (Levit. xi. 10)         566

    FISHES--SUCKING-FISH, TUNNY, AND CORYPHENE. (Levit. x. 9)       569

    FISHES--LATES, MULLUS, AND URANOSCOPUS. (Numb. xi. 5)           582

    THE PEARL OYSTER. (Matt. xiii. 45)                              594

    THE BEE. (Isa. vii 19)                                          606

    THE HORNET. (Exod. xxiii. 28)                                   614

    THE ANT. (Prov. vi. 6)                                          621

    THE CRIMSON WORM, OR COCHINEAL. (Isa. i. 18)                    623


    FLIES. (Isa. vii. 18)                                           635

    THE SCORPION. (Rev. ix. 10)                                     641

    THE CORAL. (Job xxviii. 18)                                     648




   The Monkey tribe rarely mentioned in Scripture--Why the Ape was
   introduced into Palestine--Solomon's ships, and their cargo of
   Apes, peacocks, ivory and gold--Various species of Monkey that
   might have been imported--The Rhesus Monkey--The Hoonuman or
   Entellus--Habits of the Monkey, and reverence in which it is
   held by the natives--The Egyptians and their Baboon
   worship--Idols and memorials--The Wanderoo--its singular
   aspect--Reasons why it should be introduced into
   Palestine--General habits of the Wanderoo--its love of
   curiosities--Probability that Solomon had a menagerie--Various
   species of Monkey that maybe included in the term "Kophim"--The
   Satyr of Scripture--Babylon in its glory and fall--Fulfilment of
   prophecy--Judaic ideas of the Satyrs, or Seirim.

Animals belonging to the monkey tribe are but sparingly mentioned in
Holy Writ. If, as is possible, the Satyr of Scripture signifies some
species of baboon, there are but three passages either in the Old or
New Testament where these animals are mentioned. In 1 Kings x. 22, and
the parallel passage 2 Chron. ix. 21, the sacred historian makes a
passing allusion to apes as forming part of the valuable cargoes which
were brought by Solomon's fleet to Tharshish, the remaining articles
being gold, ivory, and peacocks. The remaining passage occurs in Is.
xiii. 21, where the prophet foretells that on the site of Babylon
satyrs shall dance.

The reason for this reticence is simple enough. No monkey was
indigenous to Palestine when the various writers of the Bible lived,
and all their knowledge of such animals must have been derived either
from the description of sailors, or from the sight of the few
specimens that were brought as curiosities from foreign lands. Such
specimens must have been extremely rare, or they would not have been
mentioned as adjuncts to the wealth of Solomon, the wealthiest, as
well as the wisest monarch of his time. To the mass of the people they
must have been practically unknown, and therefore hold but a very
inferior place in the Scriptures, which were addressed to all mankind.

There is scarcely any familiar animal, bird, reptile or insect, which
is not used in some metaphorical sense in the imagery which pervades
the whole of the Scriptures. For example, the various carnivorous
animals, such as the lion, wolf, and bear, are used as emblems of
destruction in various ways; while the carnivorous birds, such as the
eagle and hawk, and the destructive insects, such as the locust and
the caterpillar, are all similarly employed in strengthening and
illustrating the words of Holy Writ.

But we never find any animal of the monkey tribe mentioned
metaphorically, possibly because any monkeys that were imported into
Palestine must only have been intended as objects of curiosity, just
as the peacocks which accompanied them were objects of beauty, and the
gold and ivory objects of value--all being employed in the decoration
of the king's palace.

The question that now comes before us is the species of monkey that is
signified by the Hebrew word Kophim. In modern days, we distinguish
this tribe of animals into three great sections, namely, the apes, the
baboons, and the monkey; and according to this arrangement the ape,
being without tails, must have been either the chimpanzee of Africa,
the orang-outan of Sumatra, or one of the Gibbons. But there is no
reason to imagine that the word Kophim was intended to represent any
one of these animals, and it seems evident that the word was applied
to any species of monkey, whether it had a tail or not.

Perhaps the best method of ascertaining approximately the particular
species of monkey, is to notice the land from which the animals came.
Accordingly, we find that the ships of Solomon brought gold, ivory,
apes, and peacocks, and that they evidently brought their cargoes from
the same country. Consequently, the country in question must produce
gold, and must be inhabited by the monkey tribe, by the elephant, and
by the peacock. If the peacock had not been thus casually mentioned,
we should have been at a loss to identify the particular country to
which reference is made; but the mention of that bird shows that some
part of Asia must be signified. It is most probable that the vessels
in question visited both India and Ceylon, although, owing to the very
imperfect geographical knowledge of the period, it is not possible to
assert absolutely that this is the case. In India, however, and the
large island of Ceylon, gold, elephants, peacocks, and monkeys exist;
and therefore we will endeavour to identify the animals which are
mentioned under the general term Apes, or Kophim.


  "_Bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes._"--1 KINGS x. 22.]

We are quite safe in suggesting that some of the apes in question must
have belonged to the Macaques, and it is most likely that one of them
was the RHESUS, or BHUNDER, scientifically named _Macacus Rhesus_.

This animal is very plentiful in India, and is one of the many
creatures which are held sacred by the natives. Consequently, it takes
up its quarters near human habitations, feeling sure that it will not
be injured, and knowing that plenty of food is at hand. It is said
that in some parts of India the natives always leave one-tenth of
their grain-crops for the monkeys, and thus the animals content
themselves with this offering, and refrain from devastating the
fields, as they would otherwise do. This story may be true or not. It
is certainly possible that in a long series of years the monkeys of
that neighbourhood have come to look upon their tithe as a matter
belonging to the ordinary course of things; but whether it be true or
not, it illustrates the reverence entertained by the Hindoos for their

In many places where grain and fruit crops are cultivated, the monkeys
get rather more than their share, plundering without scruple, and
finding no hindrance from the rightful owners, who dare not drive them
away, lest they should injure any of these sacred beings. However,
being unmindful of the maxim, "qui facit per alium, facit per se,"
they are only too glad to avail themselves of the assistance of
Europeans, who have no scruples on the subject. Still, although they
are pleased to see the monkeys driven off, and their crops saved, they
would rather lose all their harvest than allow a single monkey to be
killed, and in the earlier years of our Indian colony, several riots
took place between the natives and the English, because the latter had
killed a monkey through ignorance of the reverence in which it was

Another monkey which may probably have been brought to Palestine from
India is the HOONUMAN, ENTELLUS, or MAKUR, which is more reverenced by
the Hindoos than any other species. Its scientific title is _Presbytes
entellus_. In some parts of India it is worshipped as a form of
divinity, and in all it is reverenced and protected to such an extent
that it becomes a positive nuisance to Europeans who are not
influenced by the same superstitious ideas as those which are so
prevalent in India. Being a very common species, it could easily be
captured, especially if, as is likely to be the case, it was fearless
of man through long immunity from harm. The sailors who manned
Solomon's navy would not trouble themselves about the sacred character
of the monkeys, but would take them without the least scruple wherever
they could be found.

The Hoonuman would also be valued by them on account of its docility
when taken young, and the amusing tricks which it is fond of
displaying in captivity as well as in a state of freedom. Moreover, it
is rather a pretty creature, the general colour being yellowish, and
the face black.

Perfectly aware of the impunity with which they are permitted to act,
these monkeys prefer human habitations to the forests which form the
natural home of their race, and crowd into the villages and temples,
the latter being always swarming with the long-tailed host. As is the
case with the Rhesus, the Hoonuman monkeys are much too fond of
helping themselves from the shops and stalls, and if they can find a
convenient roof, will sit there and watch for the arrival of the most
dainty fruits.

However, the natives, superstitious as they are, and unwilling to
inflict personal injury on a monkey, have no scruple in making
arrangements by which a monkey that trespasses on forbidden spots will
inflict injury on itself. They may not shoot or wound in any way the
monkeys which cluster on their roofs, and the animals are so perfectly
aware of the fact, that they refuse to be driven away by shouts and
menacing gestures. But, they contrive to make the roofs so
uncomfortable by covering them with thorns, that the monkeys are
obliged to quit their points of vantage, and to choose some spot where
they can sit down without fear of hurting themselves.

That the Hindoos should pay homage almost divine to a monkey, does
seem equally absurd and contemptible. But, strange as this
superstition may be, and the more strange because the intellectual
powers of the educated Hindoos are peculiarly subtle and penetrating,
it was shared by a greater, a mightier, and a still more intellectual
race, now extinct as a nation. The ancient Egyptians worshipped the
baboon, and ranked it among the most potent of their deities; and it
can but strike us with wonder when we reflect that a people who could
erect buildings perfectly unique in the history of the world, who held
the foremost place in civilization, who perfected arts which we, at a
distance of three thousand years, have only just learned, should pay
divine honours to monkeys, bulls, and snakes. Such, however, was the
case; and we find that the modern Hindoo shows as great reverence for
the identical animals as did the Egyptian when Pharaoh was king, and
Joseph his prime minister.

It is said by some, that neither the Egyptian of the ancient times,
nor the Hindoo of the present day, actually worshipped those
creatures, but that they reverenced them as external signs of some
attribute of God. Precisely the same remarks have been made as to the
worship of idols, and it is likely enough that the highly educated
among the worshippers did look upon a serpent merely as an emblem of
divine wisdom, a bull as an image of divine strength, and a monkey as
an external memorial of the promised incarnation of divinity. So with
idols, which to the man of educated and enlarged mind were nothing but
visible symbols employed for the purpose of directing the mind in
worship. But, though this was the case with the educated and
intellectual, the ignorant and uncultivated, who compose the great
mass of a nation, did undoubtedly believe that both the living animal
and the lifeless idol were themselves divine, and did worship them

  [Illustration: THE WANDEROO.]

There is one species of monkey, which is extremely likely to have been
brought to Palestine, and used for the adornment of a luxurious
monarch's palace. This is the WANDEROO, or NIL-BHUNDER (_Silenus
veter_). The Wanderoo, or Ouanderoo, as the name is sometimes spelled,
is a very conspicuous animal, on account of the curious mane that
covers its neck and head, and the peculiarly formed tail, which is
rather long and tufted, like that of a baboon, and has caused it to be
ranked among those animals by several writers, under the name of the
Lion-tailed Baboon. That part of the hairy mass which rolls over the
head is nearly black, but as it descends over the shoulders, it
assumes a greyer tinge, and in some specimens is nearly white,
reminding the observer of the huge wigs which were so prevalent in the
time of Charles II, or of the scarcely less enormous head-dresses with
which our judges are decorated. As is the case with many animals, the
mane is not seen in the young specimens, and increases in size with
age, only reaching its full dimensions when the animal has attained
adult age. Moreover, the grey hue belongs exclusively to the elder
monkeys, and only in the oldest specimens is the full, white,
venerable, wig-like mane to be seen in perfection.

In captivity, the general demeanour of this monkey corresponds with
its grave and dignified aspect. It seems to be more sedate than the
ordinary monkeys, to judge from the specimens which have lived in the
Zoological Gardens, and sits peering with its shiny brown eyes out of
the enormous mane, with as much gravity as if it were really a judge
deciding an important case in law. Not that it will not condescend to
the little tricks and playful sallies for which the monkeys are so
celebrated; but it soon loses the vivacity of youth, and when
full-grown, presents as great a contrast to its former vivacity, as
does a staid full-grown cat sitting by the fire, to the restless,
lively, playful kitten of three months old. During its growth, it can
be taught to go through several amusing performances, but it has
little of the quick, mercurial manner, which is generally found among
the monkey tribe.

The docility of the Wanderoo often vanishes together with its youth.
The same animal may be gentle, tractable, and teachable when young,
and yet, when a few years have passed over its head and whitened its
mane, may be totally obstinate and dull, refusing to perform the feats
which it accomplished in its youth, or to learn others more suitable
to its years. Consistent kind treatment will, however, have its effect
upon the creature, but as a general rule, an old Wanderoo is apt to be
a treacherous and spiteful animal.

The natives of the country in which the Wanderoo lives, attribute to
it the wisdom which its venerable aspect seems to imply, much as the
ancient Athenians venerated the owl as the bird of wisdom, and the
chosen companion of the learned Minerva. In many places, the Wanderoo
is thought to be a sort of king among monkeys, and to enjoy the same
supremacy over its maneless kinsfolk, that the king-vulture maintains
over the other vultures which are destitute of the brilliant crest
that marks its rank.

I am induced to believe that the Wanderoo must have been one of the
monkeys which were brought to Solomon, for two reasons.

In the first place, it is a native both of India and Ceylon, and
therefore might have formed an article of merchandise, together with
the peacock, gold, and ivory. And if, as is extremely probable, the
Tharshish of the Scripture is identical with Ceylon, it is almost
certain that the Wanderoo would have been brought to Solomon, in order
to increase the glories of his palace. Sir Emerson Tennant points out
very forcibly, that in the Tamil language, the words for apes, ivory,
and peacocks, are identical with the Hebrew names for the same
objects, and thus gives a very strong reason for supposing that Ceylon
was the country from which Solomon's fleet drew its supplies.

Another reason for conjecturing that the Wanderoo would have been one
of the animals sent to grace the palace of Solomon is this. In the
days when that mighty sovereign lived, as indeed has been the case in
all partially civilized countries, the kings and rulers have felt a
pride in collecting together the rarest objects which they could
purchase, giving the preference to those which were in any way
conspicuous, whether for intrinsic value, for size, for beauty, or for
ugliness. Thus, giants, dwarfs, and deformed persons of either sex,
and even idiots, were seen as regular attendants at the court, a
custom which extended even into the modern history of this country,
the "Fool" being an indispensable appendage to the train of every
person of rank. Animals from foreign lands were also prized, and value
was set upon them, not only for their variety, but for any external
characteristic which would make them especially conspicuous.

Ordinary sovereigns would make collections of such objects, simply
because they were rare, and in accordance with the general custom;
and in importing the "apes" and peacocks together with the gold and
ivory, Solomon but followed the usual custom. He, however, on whom the
gift of wisdom had been especially bestowed, would have another motive
besides ostentation or curiosity. He was learned in the study of that
science which we now call Natural History. It is, therefore, extremely
probable, that he would not neglect any opportunities of procuring
animals from distant lands, in order that he might study the products
of countries which he had not personally visited, and it is not likely
that so conspicuous an animal as the Wanderoo would have escaped the
notice of those who provided the cargo for which so wealthy a king
could pay, and for which they would demand a price proportionate to
its variety.

There is perhaps no monkey which is so conspicuous among its kin as
the Wanderoo, and certainly no monkey or ape inhabiting those parts of
the world to which the fleet of Solomon would have access. Its staid,
sedate manners, its black body, lion-like tail, and huge white-edged
mane, would distinguish it so boldly from its kinsfolk, that the
sailors would use all their efforts to capture an animal for which
they would be likely to obtain a high price.

The peculiar and unique character of Solomon affords good reason for
conjecture that, not only were several species of the monkey tribe
included under the general word Kophim, but that the number of species
must have been very large. An ordinary monarch would have been content
with one or two species, and would probably have been perfectly
satisfied if a number of monkeys had been brought from beyond seas,
irrespective of distinction of species. But, if we consider the
character of Solomon, we shall find that he would not have been
content with such imperfect knowledge. We are told that he wrote
largely of the various productions of the earth, and, to judge him by
ourselves, it is certain that with such magnificent means at his
command, he would have ransacked every country that his ships could
visit, for the purpose of collecting materials for his works. It is
therefore almost certain that under the word Kophim may be included
all the most plentiful species of monkey which inhabit the countries
to which his fleet had access, and that in his palace were collected
together specimens of each monkey which has here been mentioned,
besides many others of which no special notice need be taken, such as
the Bonnet Monkeys, and other Macaques.

We now come to the vexed question of the SATYRS, respecting which word
great controversies have been raised. The Hebrew word Seirim merely
signifies "hairy beings," and does not seem to be applied to any
definite species of animal. Several scholars, therefore, translate the
word by "wild goats," and instead of reading the passages (Is. xiii.
21, and xxxiv. 14) "Satyrs shall dance there," they read them, "The
he-goats shall skip there." This is certainly an easier interpretation
than that which is accepted in our translation, but whether it is more
correct may be doubted. Moreover, the word "goat" would not convey the
idea of utter desolation which the prophecy implied, and which has
been so signally fulfilled in the Babylon of the present day. The vast
palaces and temples have sunk into shapeless heaps of ruins, affording
scarcely a trace by which the buildings can be identified. The many
massive gates, for which the city was famous, have disappeared. The
double lines of fortification are only to be distinguished by a few
scattered mounds, while the wonderful palace of Nebuchadnezzar has
left but a few shattered walls as relics of an edifice whose fame
spread over the world.

What precise animal was meant by the word Seirim cannot be
ascertained, nor is it even certain whether the word signified any
particular species at all. The ancient commentators identified Seirim
with the semi-human creatures of mythology, known as Satyrs, and
strengthened this opinion by a reference to Lev. xvii. 7, where the
Israelites are warned against worshipping Seirim, or "devils"
according to our translation. In common with all the civilized world,
they fully believed that Satyrs were veritable inhabitants of the
woods and deserts, with forms half man half goat, with powers more
than human, and with passions below humanity. Of course we cannot now
accept such an interpretation, but must grant, either that a mere
metaphor of desolation was intended, or that the prophecy alluded to
various wild animals that inhabit deserted places. Accept which
interpretation we will, it is impossible to identify any particular
animal with the "Satyr" of Isaiah, and therefore it will be better to
decline giving any opinion on a subject which cannot be definitely


   The Bat mentioned always with abhorrence--Meaning of the Hebrew
   name--The prohibition against eating Bats--The edible species,
   their food and mode of life--The noisome character of the Bat,
   and the nature of its dwelling-place--Its hatred of
   light--Baruch and his prophecy--Appropriateness of the
   prophecy--Singular Mahommedan legend respecting the original
   creation of the Bat--The legend compared with the apocryphal
   gospels--The Bats of Palestine--Mr. Tristram's discoveries--Bats
   found in the quarries from which the stone of the Temple was
   hewn--Edible Bats in a cave near the centre of
   Palestine--Another species of long-tailed Bat captured in the
   rock caves where hermits had been buried--Other species which
   probably inhabit Palestine.

Among the animals that are forbidden to be eaten by the Israelites we
find the BAT prominently mentioned, and in one or two parts of
Scripture the same creature is alluded to with evident abhorrence. In
Isaiah ii. 20, for example, it is prophesied that when the day of the
Lord comes, the worshippers of idols will try to hide themselves from
the presence of the Lord, and will cast their false gods to the bats
and the moles, both animals being evidently used as emblems of
darkness and ignorance, and associated together for a reason which
will be given when treating of the mole. The Hebrew name of the Bat is
expressive of its nocturnal habits, and literally signifies some being
that flies by night, and it is a notable fact that the Greek and Latin
names for the bat have also a similar derivation.

In Lev. xi. 20, the words, "All fowls that creep, going upon all four,
shall be an abomination unto you," are evidently intended to apply to
the bat, which, as is now well known, is not a bird with wings, but a
mammal with very long toes, and a well developed membrane between
them. Like other mammals, the Bat crawls, or walks, on all four legs,
though the movement is but a clumsy one, and greatly different from
the graceful ease with which the creature urges its course through the
evening air in search of food.

Perhaps the prohibition to eat so unsightly an animal may seem almost
needless; but it must be remembered that in several parts of the
earth, certain species of Bat are used as food. These are chiefly the
large species, that are called Kalongs, and which feed almost entirely
on fruit, thus being to their insectivorous relatives what the
fruit-loving bear is among the larger carnivora. These edible Bats
have other habits not shared by the generality of their kin. Some of
the species do not retire to caves and hollow trees for shelter during
their hours of sleep, but suspend themselves by their hind legs from
the topmost branches of the trees whose fruit affords them
nourishment. In this position they have a most singular aspect,
looking much as if they themselves were large bunches of fruit hanging
from the boughs. Thus, they are cleanly animals, and are as little
repulsive as bats can be expected to be.

But the ordinary bats, such as are signified by the "night-fliers" of
the Scriptures, are, when in a state of nature, exceedingly unpleasant
creatures. Almost all animals are infested with parasitic insects, but
the Bat absolutely swarms with them, so that it is impossible to
handle a Bat recently dead without finding some of them on the hands.
Also, the bats are in the habit of resorting to caverns, clefts in the
rocks, deserted ruins, and similar dark places, wherein they pass the
hours of daylight, and will frequent the same spots for a long series
of years. In consequence of this habit, the spots which they select
for their resting place become inconceivably noisome, and can scarcely
be entered by human beings, so powerful is the odour with which they
are imbued.

Sometimes, when travellers have been exploring the chambers of ruined
buildings, or have endeavoured to penetrate into the recesses of rocky
caves, they have been repelled by the bats which had taken up their
habitation therein. No sooner does the light of the torch or lamp
shine upon the walls, than the clusters of bats detach themselves from
the spots to which they had been clinging, and fly to the light like
moths to a candle. No torch can withstand the multitude of wings that
come flapping about it, sounding like the rushing of a strong wind,
while the bats that do not crowd around the light, dash against the
explorers, beating their leathery wings against their faces, and
clinging in numbers to their dress. They would even settle on the
face unless kept off by the hands, and sometimes they force the
intruders to beat a retreat. They do not intend to attack, for they
are quite incapable of doing any real damage; and, in point of fact,
they are much more alarmed than those whom they annoy. Nocturnal in
their habits, they cannot endure the light, which completely dazzles
them, so that they dash about at random, and fly blindly towards the
torches in their endeavours to escape.

If, then, we keep in mind the habits of the bats, we shall comprehend
that their habitations must be inexpressibly revolting to human
beings, and shall the better understand the force of the prophecy that
the idols shall be cast to the bats and the moles.

There is another, and a very forcible passage, in which the Bat is
mentioned. In the apocryphal book of Baruch, the Bat is used as a
lively image of something peculiarly repulsive and hateful. Baruch was
the secretary and faithful friend of Jeremiah the prophet, and Chapter
VI. of the book of Baruch purports to be an epistle of Jeremiah to the
captive Jews about to be led away to Babylon. After showing that they
had brought their fate upon themselves by neglecting the worship of
the true God, and prophesying that they would remain in captivity for
seven generations, the writer proceeds, in a strain of scathing and
sustained satire, to deride the idols which they had adored, and to
censure the infamous ceremonies that formed part of the worship.

After describing the idols, made splendid with silver and gold, whose
hands hold sceptres, and axes, and wands, and yet cannot save
themselves from robbers; whose tongues are polished by the workman and
yet cannot speak a word; whose eyes are covered with dust which they
cannot wipe off for themselves; he proceeds as follows: "Their hearts
are gnawed upon by things creeping out of the earth; and when they eat
them and their clothes they feel it not. Their faces are blacked
through the smoke that cometh out of the Temple. Upon their bodies and
heads sit bats, swallows and birds, and the cats also. By this ye may
know that they are no gods; therefore fear them not."

It is not to be expected that so strange looking an animal as the Bat
would escape mention in the legends which are so plentiful in the

Signor Pierotti, who has done such signal service in the investigation
of the Holy Land, gives a most remarkable semi-Mahommedan and
semi-Christian legend respecting the origin of the Bat. The
Mahommedans, unlike the generality of Jews, have always respected the
memory of our Lord Christ--the Prophet Isa, as they call Him--ranking
Him as one of the greatest of God's prophets, though they deny His
actual divinity. In this curious legend, they have confused the forty
days fast in the wilderness with the enforced Mahommedan fast called
Ramadhan, much as the writers of the apocryphal gospels attributed to
the holy family and the apostles certain phrases and acts of worship
which were not in existence until several centuries after the
Christian era.

Towards the west of Jericho, there is a mountain which is identified
both by Christians and Mahommedans as being the spot to which our Lord
retired during his passion, and which, in consequence of this
supposition, is called Kuruntun, or Quarantine.

The reader, while perusing the following legend, must bear in mind
that the fast of Ramadhan lasts for a month, and that from sunrise to
sunset an entire abstinence from all kinds of nourishment is
imperative upon all good Mussulmans. Even such luxuries as smoking or
inhaling perfumes are forbidden, and although washing is permitted,
the head must not be plunged under water, lest a few drops might find
their way through the nostrils. In consequence of this strict
prohibition, the moments of daybreak and sunset are noted with the
most scrupulous care, the tables being set, pipes lighted, coffee
prepared, and every luxury being made ready just before sunset, so
that as the orb disappears beneath the horizon, the fasting multitudes
may not lose a moment in satisfying their wants. A similar anxiety
marks the approach of daybreak, because, as the first beams of the sun
break through the darkness, neither food nor drink may pass their

We will now proceed to the Mahommedan legend, as it is given by S.
Pierotti: "In this wild spot the great prophet Isa retired with his
disciples to keep the holy month of the Ramadhan, afar from the
tumults of the world. As the view westward was obstructed by the
mountains of Jerusalem, and, consequently, the sunset could not be
seen, he made, by the permission of God, an image in clay
representing a winged creature; and, after invoking the aid of the
Eternal, breathed upon it. Immediately it flapped its large wings, and
fled into one of the dark caverns in the mountains. This creature was
the Khopash (bat), which lies hid so long as the sun shines upon the
world, and comes forth from its retreat when it sets. Every night, at
the Moghreb, _i.e._ at the moment of breaking the fast, this bat
fluttered round Isa, who then prepared himself with his disciples for

"As soon as they had performed this sacred duty, the Merciful caused
to descend from heaven a silver table, covered with a cloth whose
brilliancy illumined the darkness, on which were placed a large
roasted fish, five loaves, salt, vinegar, oil, pomegranates, dates,
and fresh salad, gathered in the gardens of heaven. On these the
Prophet supped, and the angels of heaven ministered at table."

This curious legend bears a great resemblance to the tales which are
told of our Lord's childhood in some of the spurious gospels. It shows
that both emanated from the same class of mind. In both is seen a
strange mixture of vivid imagination contrasted with unexpected and
almost puerile lack of invention; and, in both is exhibited a total
failure in apprehension of cause and effect. Indeed, it is evident
that this legend was the work of a comparatively modern Mahommedan
story-teller, who appropriated the forty days' fast of our Lord from
the true gospels, and the making of a flying creature of clay from the
false, and modified them both to suit the purposes of his tale.

No particular species of Bat seems to be indicated by the Hebrew word
Hatalleph, which is evidently used in a comprehensive sense, and
signifies all and any species of Bat. Until very lately, the exact
species of Bats which inhabit Palestine were not definitely
ascertained, and could only be conjectured. But, Mr. Tristram, who
travelled in the Holy Land for the express purpose of investigating
its physical history, has set this point at rest, in his invaluable
work, "The Land of Israel," to which frequent reference will be made
in the course of the following pages.

Almost every cavern which he entered was tenanted by bats, and he
procured several species of these repulsive but interesting animals.
While exploring the vast prairies in which the stone for the Temple
was worked beneath the earth, so that no sound of tool was heard
during the building, numbers of bats were disturbed by the lights, and
fluttered over the heads of the exploring party.

On another occasion, he was exploring a cave near the centre of
Palestine, when he succeeded in procuring some specimens, and
therefore in identifying at least one species. "In climbing the rocks
soon afterwards, to examine a cave, I heard a singular whining chatter
within, and on creeping into its recesses, a stone thrown up roused
from their roosting-places a colony of large bats, the soft waving
flap of whose wings I could hear in the darkness. How to obtain one I
knew not; but on vigorously plying my signal whistle, all the party
soon gathered to my help. B. suggested smoking them, so a fire of
brushwood was kindled, and soon two or three rushed out. Two fell to
our shot, and I was delighted to find myself the possessor of a couple
of large fox-headed bats of the genus Pteropus (_Xantharpya
ægyptiaca_), and extending twenty and a half inches from wing to wing.
As none of the bats of Palestine are yet known, this was a great
prize, and another instance of the extension westward of the Indian
fauna." These Bats belong to the fruit-eating tribe, and are closely
allied to the Flying Foxes of Java, Australia, and Southern Africa.
Therefore, this would be one of the species commonly used for food,
and hence the necessity for the prohibition. The present species
extends over the greater part of Northern Africa and into parts of

The same traveller subsequently discovered several more species of
bats. On one occasion, he was exploring some caves, near the site of
the ancient Jericho. On the eastern face of the cliffs are a number of
caves, arranged in regular tiers, and originally approached by steps
cut out of the face of the rock. These staircases are, however, washed
away by time and the rains, and in consequence the upper tiers were
almost inaccessible. In some of these caves the walls were covered
with brilliant, but mutilated frescoes; and in others, hermits had
lived and died and been buried. Mr. Tristram and his companions had
penetrated to the second tier, and there made a curious discovery.

  [Illustration: THE BAT.

  "_The Lapwing and the Bat are unclean._"--LEV. xi. 19.]

"In the roof of this was a small hole, athwart which lay a stick.
After many efforts, we got a string across it, and so hauled up a
rope, by which, finding the stick strong enough, we climbed, and with
a short exercise of the chimney-sweeper's art, we found ourselves in a
third tier of cells, similar to the lower ones, and covered with the
undisturbed dust of ages. Behind the chapel was a dark cave, with an
entrance eighteen inches high. Having lighted our lantern, we crept in
on our faces, and found the place full of human bones and skulls; with
dust several inches deep. We were in the burying-place of the
Anchorites. Their bones lay heaped, but in undisturbed order, probably
as the corpses had been stretched soon after death, and as in the
campo-santo of some Italian monasteries, had been desiccated, and in
the dry atmosphere had gradually pulverized. The skeletons were laid
west and east, awaiting the resurrection. After capturing two or three
long-tailed bats, of a species new to us (_Rhinopoma microphylla_),
the only living occupants, we crept out, with a feeling of religious
awe, from this strange sepulchral cave." This bat is called the
Egyptian Rhinopome, and the same species of Bat was found in
considerable numbers in the cave at Es Sumrah. Three more species were
found in the tombs of the kings, and it is probable that many other
species inhabit Palestine. It is certain, at all events, that
representatives of three more families of Bats inhabit Egypt, and
therefore are most probably to be found in Palestine.


   Frequent mention of the Lion in the Scriptures--Probability that
   it was once a common animal, though now extinct--Reasons for its
   disappearance--The Lion employed as an emblem in the
   Bible--Similarity of the African and Asiatic species--The chief
   characteristics of the Lion--its strength, activity, and mode of
   seizing its prey--Various names of the Lion--its courage when
   roused--its roar and peculiar mode of utterance--Invisibility of
   the Lion at dusk--The Lion lying in wait--The dwelling-place of
   the Lion--Its restlessness at night--Passages illustrative of
   these characteristics--Modes of capturing the Lion--The pitfall
   and the net--Lions kept as curiosities--The Lion hunt as
   depicted, on the buildings of ancient Nineveh.

Of all the undomesticated animals of Palestine, none is mentioned so
frequently as the LION. This may appear the more remarkable, because
for many years the Lion has been extinct in Palestine. The leopard,
the wolf, the jackal, and the hyæna, still retain their place in the
land, although their numbers are comparatively few; but the Lion has
vanished completely out of the land. The reason for this disappearance
is twofold, first, the thicker population; and second, the
introduction of firearms.

No animal is less tolerant of human society than the Lion. In the
first place, it dreads the very face of man, and as a rule, whenever
it sees a man will slink away and hide itself. There are, of course,
exceptional cases to this rule. Sometimes a Lion becomes so old and
stiff, his teeth are so worn, and his endurance so slight, that he is
unable to chase his usual prey, and is obliged to seek for other means
of subsistence. In an unpopulated district, he would simply be starved
to death, but when his lot is cast in the neighbourhood of human
beings, he is perforce obliged to become a "man-eater." Even in that
case, a Lion will seldom attack a man, unless he should be able to do
so unseen, but will hang about the villages, pouncing on the women as
they come to the wells for water, or upon the little children as they
stray from their parents, and continually shifting his quarters lest
he should be assailed during his sleep. The Lion requires a very large
tract of country for his maintenance, and the consequence is, that in
proportion as the land is populated does the number of Lions decrease.

Firearms are the special dread of the Lion. In the first place, the
Lion, like all wild beasts, cannot endure fire, and the flash of the
gun terrifies him greatly. Then, there is the report, surpassing even
his roar in resonance; and lastly, there is the unseen bullet, which
seldom kills him at once, but mostly drives him to furious anger by
the pain of his wound, yet which he does not dread nearly so much as
the harmless flash and report. There is another cause of the Lions
banishment from the Holy Land. It is well known that to attract any
wild beast or bird to some definite spot, all that is required is to
provide them with a suitable and undisturbed home, and a certainty of
food. Consequently, the surest method of driving them away is to
deprive them of both these essentials. Then the Lion used to live in
forests, which formerly stretched over large tracts of ground, but
which have long since been cut down, thus depriving the Lion of its
home, while the thick population and the general use of firearms have
deprived him of his food. In fact, the Lion has been driven out of
Palestine, just as the wolf has been extirpated from England.

But, in the olden times, Lions must have been very plentiful. There is
scarcely a book in the Bible, whether of the Old or New Testaments,
whether historical or prophetical, that does not contain some mention
of this terrible animal; sometimes describing the actions of
individual Lions, but mostly using the word as an emblem of strength
and force, whether used for a good purpose or abused for a bad one.

There are several varieties of Lion, which may be reduced to two,
namely, the African and the Asiatic Lion. It is almost certain,
however, that these animals really are one and the same species, and
that the trifling differences which exist between an African and an
Asiatic Lion, are not sufficient to justify a naturalist in
considering them to be distinct species. The habits of both are
identical, modified, as is sure to be the case, by the difference of
locality; but then, such variations in habit are continually seen in
animals confessedly of the same species, which happen to be placed in
different conditions of climate and locality.

That it was once exceedingly plentiful in Palestine is evident, from a
very cursory knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. It is every where
mentioned as a well-known animal, equally familiar and dreaded. When
the disobedient prophet was killed by the Lion near Bethel, the fact
seemed not to have caused any surprise in the neighbourhood. When the
people came out to rescue the body of the prophet, they wondered much
because the Lion was standing by the fallen man, but had not torn him,
and had left the ass unhurt. But that a Lion should have killed a man
seems to have been an event which was not sufficiently rare to be

We will now proceed to those characteristics of the Lion which bear
especial reference to the Scriptures.

In the first place, size for size, the Lion is one of the strongest of
beasts. Perhaps it is surpassed in point of sheer strength by the
mole, but it possesses infinitely more activity than that animal.
Moreover, the strength of the mole is concentrated in its
fore-quarters, the hind limbs being comparatively feeble; whereas, the
strength of the Lion is equally distributed over the body and limbs,
giving to the animal an easy grace of movement which is rare except
with such a structure. A full-grown Lion cannot only knock down and
kill, but can carry away in its mouth, an ordinary ox; and one of
these terrible animals has been known to pick up a heifer in its
mouth, and to leap over a wide ditch still carrying its burden.
Another Lion carried a two-year old heifer, and was chased for five
hours by mounted farmers, so that it must have traversed a very
considerable distance. Yet, in the whole of this long journey, the
legs of the heifer had only two or three times touched the ground.

It kills man, and comparatively small animals, such as deer and
antelopes, with a blow of its terrible paw; and often needs to give no
second blow to cause the death of its victim. The sharp talons are not
needed to cause death, for the weight of the blow is sufficient for
that purpose.

When the hunter pursues it with dogs, after the usual fashion, there
is often a great slaughter among them, especially among those that are
inexperienced in the chase of the Lion. Urged by their instinctive
antipathy, the dogs rush forward to the spot where the Lion awaits
them, and old hounds bay at him from a safe distance, while the young
and inexperienced among them are apt to convert the sham attack into a
real one. Their valour meets with a poor reward, for a few blows from
the Lion's terrible paws send his assailants flying in all directions,
their bodies streaming with blood, and in most cases a fatal damage
inflicted, while more than one unfortunate dog lies fairly crushed by
the weight of a paw laid with apparent carelessness upon its body.
There is before me a Lion's skin, a spoil of one of these animals shot
by the celebrated sportsman, Gordon Cumming. Although the skin lies
flat upon the floor, and the paws are nothing but the skin and talons,
the weight of each paw is very considerable, and always surprises
those who hear it fall on the floor.

There are several Hebrew words which are used for the Lion, but that
which signifies the animal in its adult state is derived from an
Arabic word signifying strength; and therefore the Lion is called the
Strong-one, just as the Bat is called the Night-flier. No epithet
could be better deserved, for the Lion seems to be a very incarnation
of strength, and, even when dead, gives as vivid an idea of
concentrated power as when it was living. And, when the skin is
stripped from the body, the tremendous muscular development never
fails to create a sensation of awe. The muscles of the limbs,
themselves so hard as to blunt the keen-edged knives employed by a
dissecter, are enveloped in their glittering sheaths, playing upon
each other like well-oiled machinery, and terminating in tendons
seemingly strong as steel, and nearly as impervious to the knife. Not
until the skin is removed can any one form a conception of the
enormously powerful muscles of the neck, which enable the Lion to lift
the weighty prey which it kills, and to convey it to a place of

Although usually unwilling to attack an armed man, it is one of the
most courageous animals in existence when it is driven to fight, and
if its anger is excited, it cares little for the number of its foes,
or the weapons with which they are armed. Even the dreaded firearms
lose their terrors to an angry Lion, while a Lioness, who fears for
the safety of her young, is simply the most terrible animal in
existence. We know how even a hen will fight for her chickens, and how
she has been known to beat off the fox and the hawk by the reckless
fury of her attack. It may be easily imagined, therefore, that a
Lioness actuated by equal courage, and possessed of the terrible
weapons given to her by her Creator, would be an animal almost too
formidable for the conception of those who have not actually witnessed
the scene of a Lioness defending her little ones.

The roar of the Lion is another of the characteristics for which it is
celebrated. There is no beast that can produce a sound that could for
a moment be mistaken for the roar of the Lion. The Lion has a habit of
stooping his head towards the ground when he roars, so that the
terrible sound rolls along like thunder, and reverberates in many an
echo in the far distance. Owing to this curious habit, the roar can be
heard at a very great distance, but its locality is rendered
uncertain, and it is often difficult to be quite sure whether the Lion
is to the right or the left of the hearer.

There are few sounds which strike more awe than the Lion's roar. Even
at the Zoological Gardens, where the hearer knows that he is in
perfect safety, and where the Lion is enclosed in a small cage faced
with strong iron bars, the sound of the terrible roar always has a
curious effect upon the nerves. It is not exactly fear, because the
hearer knows that he is safe; but it is somewhat akin to the feeling
of mixed awe and admiration with which one listens to the crashing
thunder after the lightning has sped its course. If such be the case
when the Lion is safely housed in a cage, and is moreover so tame that
even if he did escape, he would be led back by the keeper without
doing any harm, the effect of the roar must indeed be terrific when
the Lion is at liberty, when he is in his own country, and when the
shades of evening prevent him from being seen even at a short

In the dark, there is no animal so invisible as a Lion. Almost every
hunter has told a similar story--of the Lion's approach at night, of
the terror displayed by dogs and cattle as he drew near, and of the
utter inability to see him, though he was so close that they could
hear his breathing. Sometimes, when he has crept near an encampment,
or close to a cattle inclosure, he does not proceed any farther lest
he should venture within the radius illumined by the rays of the fire.
So he crouches closely to the ground, and, in the semi-darkness, looks
so like a large stone, or a little hillock, that any one might pass
close to it without perceiving its real nature. This gives the
opportunity for which the Lion has been watching, and in a moment he
strikes down the careless straggler, and carries off his prey to the
den. Sometimes, when very much excited, he accompanies the charge with
a roar, but, as a general fact, he secures his prey in silence.

The roar of the Lion is very peculiar. It is not a mere outburst of
sound, but a curiously graduated performance. No description of the
Lion's roar is so vivid, so true, and so graphic as that of Gordon
Cumming: "One of the most striking things connected with the Lion is
his voice, which is extremely grand and peculiarly striking. It
consists at times of a low, deep moaning, repeated five or six times,
ending in faintly audible sighs. At other times he startles the forest
with loud, deep-toned, solemn roars, repeated five or six times in
quick succession, each increasing in loudness to the third or fourth,
when his voice dies away in five or six low, muffled sounds, very much
resembling distant thunder. As a general rule, Lions roar during the
night, their sighing moans commencing as the shades of evening envelop
the forest, and continuing at intervals throughout the night. In
distant and secluded regions, however, I have constantly heard them
roaring loudly as late as nine or ten o'clock on a bright sunny
morning. In hazy and rainy weather they are to be heard at every hour
in the day, but their roar is subdued."

Lastly, we come to the dwelling-place of the Lion. This animal always
fixes its residence in the depths of some forest, through which it
threads its stealthy way with admirable certainty. No fox knows every
hedgerow, ditch, drain, and covert better than the Lion knows the
whole country around his den. Each Lion seems to have his peculiar
district, in which only himself and his family will be found. These
animals seem to parcel out the neighbourhood among themselves by a
tacit law like that which the dogs of eastern countries have imposed
upon themselves, and which forbids them to go out of the district in
which they were born. During the night he traverses his dominions;
and, as a rule, he retires to his den as soon as the sun is fairly
above the horizon. Sometimes he will be in wait for prey in the
broadest daylight, but his ordinary habits are nocturnal, and in the
daytime he is usually asleep in his secret dwelling-place.

We will now glance at a few of the passages in which the Lion is
mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, selecting those which treat of its
various characteristics.

The terrible strength of the Lion is the subject of repeated
reference. In the magnificent series of prophecies uttered by Jacob on
his deathbed, the power of the princely tribe of Judah is predicted
under the metaphor of a Lion--the beginning of its power as a Lion's
whelp, the fulness of its strength as an adult Lion, and its matured
establishment in power as the old Lion that couches himself and none
dares to disturb him. Then Solomon, in the Proverbs, speaks of the
Lion as the "strongest among beasts, and that turneth not away for

Solomon also alludes to its courage in the same book, Prov. xxviii. 1,
in the well-known passage, "The wicked fleeth when no man pursueth:
but the righteous are bold as a lion." And, in 2 Sam. xxiii. 20, the
courage of Benaiah, one of the mighty three of David's army, is
specially honoured, because he fought and killed a Lion single-handed,
and because he conquered "two lion-like men of Moab." David, their
leader, had also distinguished himself, when a mere keeper of cattle,
by pursuing and killing a Lion that had come to plunder his herd. In
the same book of Samuel which has just been quoted (xvii. 10), the
valiant men are metaphorically described as having the hearts of

The ferocity of this terrible beast of prey is repeatedly mentioned,
and the Psalms are full of such allusions, the fury and anger of
enemies being compared to the attacks of the Lion.

Many passages refer to the Lion's roar, and it is remarkable that the
Hebrew language contains several words by which the different kind of
roar is described. One word, for example, represents the low, deep,
thunder-like roar of the Lion seeking its prey, and which has already
been mentioned. This is the word which is used in Amos iii. 4, "Will a
lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey?" and in this passage the
word which is translated as Lion signifies the animal when full grown
and in the prime of life. Another word is used to signify the sudden
exulting cry of the Lion as it leaps upon its victim. A third is used
for the angry growl with which a Lion resents any endeavour to deprive
it of its prey, a sound with which we are all familiar, on a miniature
scale, when we hear a cat growling over a mouse which she has just
caught. The fourth term signifies the peculiar roar uttered by the
young Lion after it has ceased to be a cub and before it has attained
maturity. This last term is employed in Jer. li. 38, "They shall
_roar_ together like lions; they shall _yell_ as lions' whelps," in
which passage two distinct words are used, one signifying the roar of
the Lion when searching after prey, and the other the cry of the young

The prophet Amos, who in his capacity of herdsman was familiar with
the wild beasts, from which he had to guard his cattle, makes frequent
mention of the Lion, and does so with a force and vigour that betoken
practical experience. How powerful is this imagery, "The lion hath
roared; who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken; who can but
prophesy?" Here we have the picture of the man himself, the herdsman
and prophet, who had trembled many a night, as the Lions drew nearer
and nearer; and who heard the voice of the Lord, and his lips poured
out prophecy. Nothing can be more complete than the parallel which he
has drawn. It breathes the very spirit of piety, and may bear
comparison even with the prophecies of Isaiah for its simple grandeur.

It is remarkable how the sacred writers have entered into the spirit
of the world around them, and how closely they observed the minutest
details even in the lives of the brute beasts. There is a powerful
passage in the book of Job, iv. 11, "The old lion perisheth for lack
of prey," in which the writer betrays his thorough knowledge of the
habits of the animal, and is aware that the usual mode of a Lion's
death is through hunger, in consequence of his increasing inability to
catch prey.

The nocturnal habits of the Lion and its custom of lying in wait for
prey are often mentioned in the Scriptures. The former habit is spoken
of in that familiar and beautiful passage in the Psalms (civ. 20),
"Thou makest darkness, and it is night; wherein all the beasts of the
forest do creep forth. The young Lions roar after their prey; and seek
their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together,
and lay them down in their dens."

Its custom of lying in wait is frequently alluded to. See Psalm x. 9,
where it is said of the wicked man, that "He lieth in wait secretly,
as a lion in his den." Also, Lam. iii. 10, "He was unto me as a bear
lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places." Also, Ps. xvii. 11,
wherein the peculiar gait and demeanour of the Lion is admirably
depicted, "They have now compassed us in our steps; they have set
their eyes bowing down to the earth; like as a lion that is greedy of
his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places."

The retired spots, deep in the forest, where the Lion makes his den,
are repeatedly mentioned. See for example, Cant. iv. 8, "Look from the
top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions'
dens." Also, Jer. iv. 7, "The lion is come up from his thicket, and
the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way." The same Prophet
contains several passages illustrative of the Lion's habitation; see
ch. v. 6, "Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them;" xii.
8, "Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest;" and lastly,
xxv. 38, "He hath forsaken his covert as the lion."

An animal so destructive among the flocks and herds could not be
allowed to carry out its depredations unchecked, and as we have
already seen, the warfare waged against it has been so successful,
that the Lions have long ago been fairly extirpated in Palestine. The
usual method of capturing or killing the Lion was by pitfalls or nets,
to both of which there are many references in the Scriptures.

  [Illustration: THE LION.

  "The lion is come up from his thicket."--JER.. iv. 7.

  "She lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young
  lions."--EZEKIEL. xix. 2.]

The mode of hunting the Lion with nets was identical with that which
is practised in India at the present time. The precise locality of the
Lion's dwelling-place having been discovered, a circular wall of net
is arranged round it, or if only a few nets can be obtained, they are
set in a curved form, the concave side being towards the Lion. They
then send dogs into the thicket, hurl stones and sticks at the
den, shoot arrows into it, fling burning torches at it, and so
irritate and alarm the animal that it rushes against the net, which
is so made that it falls down and envelopes the animal in its folds.
If the nets be few, the drivers go to the opposite side of the den,
and induce the Lion to escape in the direction where he sees no foes,
but where he is sure to run against the treacherous net. Other large
and dangerous animals were also captured by the same means.

Allusions to this sort of hunting are familiar to all students of the
Bible. In the book of Job, xix. 6, the writer laments that "God hath
compassed me with his net," in allusion to the custom of surrounding
the den of the animal. The Psalms make frequent mention of the net as
used in hunting. See Ps. ix. 15, "In the net they hid is their foot
taken." Ps. xxxv. 8, "Let his net that he hath hid catch himself,"
together with other passages. Then, the prophet Isaiah alludes to the
utter helplessness of a wild animal when thus taken. Isaiah li. 20,
"Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a
wild bull in a net."

Another and more common, because an easier and a cheaper method was,
by digging a deep pit, covering the mouth with a slight covering of
sticks and earth, and driving the animal upon the treacherous
covering. It is an easier method than the net, because after the pit
is once dug, the only trouble lies in throwing the covering over its
mouth. But, it is not so well adapted for taking beasts alive, as they
are likely to be damaged, either by the fall into the pit, or by the
means used in getting them out again. Animals, therefore, that are
caught in pits are generally, though not always, killed before they
are taken out. The net, however, envelops the animal so perfectly, and
renders it so helpless, that it can be easily bound and taken away.
The hunting net is very expensive, and requires a large staff of men
to work it, so that none but a rich man could use the net in hunting.

The passages in which allusion is made to the use of the pitfall in
hunting are too numerous to be quoted, and it will be sufficient to
mention one or two passages, such as those wherein the Psalmist
laments that his enemies have hidden for him their net in a pit, and
that the proud have digged pits for him.

Lions that were taken in nets seem to have been kept alive in dens,
either as mere curiosities, or as instruments of royal vengeance.
Such seems to have been the object of the Lions which were kept by
Darius, into whose den Daniel was thrown, by royal command, and which
afterwards killed his accusers when thrown into the same den. It is
plain that the Lions kept by Darius must have been exceedingly
numerous, because they killed at once the accusers of Daniel, who were
many in number, together with their wives and children, who, in
accordance with the cruel custom of that age and country, were
partakers of the same punishment with the real culprits. The whole of
the first part of Ezek. xix. alludes to the custom of taking Lions
alive and keeping them in durance afterwards.

Sometimes the Lion was hunted as a sport, but this amusement seems to
have been restricted to the great men, on account of its expensive
nature. Such hunting scenes are graphically depicted in the famous
Nineveh sculptures, which represent the hunters pursuing their mighty
game in chariots, and destroying them with arrows. Rude, and even
conventional as are these sculptures, they have a spirit, a force, and
a truthfulness, that prove them to have been designed by artists to
whom the scene was a familiar one. Nothing can be better than the
attitudes of the Lions; and, whether they are shown in the act of
striking a blow, with all the talons thrust out and the toes spread as
widely as possible; whether they are springing on the chariot of the
hunter, or sinking lifeless beneath his arrows, every attitude is
marvellously true to nature, and makes the spectator regret that the
artist should have been trammelled by the exigencies of the work on
which he was engaged.


   The Leopard not often mentioned in the Scriptures--its
   attributes exactly described--Probability that several animals
   were classed under the name--How the Leopard takes its
   prey--Craft of the Leopard--its ravages among the flocks--The
   empire of man over the beast--The Leopard at Bay--Localities
   wherein the Leopard lives--The skin of the Leopard--Various
   passages of Scripture explained.

Of the Leopard but little is said in the Holy Scriptures.

In the New Testament this animal is only mentioned once, and then in a
metaphorical rather than a literal sense. In the Old Testament it is
casually mentioned seven times, and only in two places is the word
Leopard used in the strictly literal sense. Yet, in those brief
passages of Holy Writ, the various attributes of the animal are
delineated with such fidelity, that no one could doubt that the
Leopard was familiarly known in Palestine. Its colour, its swiftness,
its craft, its ferocity, and the nature of its dwelling-place, are all
touched upon in a few short sentences scattered throughout the Old
Testament, and even its peculiar habits are alluded to in a manner
that proves it to have been well known at the time when the words were

It is my purpose in the following pages to give a brief account of the
Leopard of the Scriptures, laying most stress on the qualities to
which allusion is made, and then to explain the passages in which the
name of the animal occurs.

In the first place, it is probable that under the word Leopard are
comprehended three animals, two of which, at least, were thought to be
one species until the time of Cuvier. These three animals are the
LEOPARD proper (_Leopardus varius_), the OUNCE (_Leopardus uncia_),
and the CHETAH, or HUNTING LEOPARD (_Gueparda jubata_). All these
three species belong to the same family of animals; all are spotted
and similar in colour, all are nearly alike in shape, and all are
inhabitants of Asia, while two of them, the Leopard and the Chetah,
are also found in Africa.

It is scarcely necessary to mention that the Leopard is a beast of
prey belonging to the cat tribe, that its colour is tawny, variegated
with rich black spots, and that it is a fierce and voracious animal,
almost equally dreaded by man and beast. It inhabits many parts of
Africa and Asia, and in those portions of the country which are
untenanted by mankind, it derives all its sustenance from the
herb-eating animals of the same tracts.

  [Illustration: THE LEOPARD.

  "_As a Leopard by the way will I observe them._"--HOS. xiii. 7.]

To deer and antelopes it is a terrible enemy, and in spite of their
active limbs, seldom fails in obtaining its prey. Swift as is the
Leopard, for a short distance, and wonderful as its spring, it has not
the enduring speed of the deer or antelope, animals which are
specially formed for running, and which, if a limb is shattered, can
run nearly as fast and quite as far on three legs as they can when all
four limbs are uninjured. Instinctively knowing its inferiority in the
race, the Leopard supplies by cunning the want of enduring speed.

It conceals itself in some spot whence it can see far around without
being seen, and thence surveys the country. A tree is the usual spot
selected for this purpose, and the Leopard, after climbing the trunk
by means of its curved talons, settles itself in the fork of the
branches, so that its body is hidden by the boughs, and only its head
is shown between them. With such scrupulous care does it conceal
itself, that none but a practised hunter can discover it, while any
one who is unaccustomed to the woods cannot see the animal even when
the tree is pointed out to him.

As soon as the Leopard sees the deer feeding at a distance, he slips
down the tree and stealthily glides off in their direction. He has
many difficulties to overcome, because the deer are among the most
watchful of animals, and if the Leopard were to approach to the
windward, they would scent him while he was yet a mile away from them.
If he were to show himself but for one moment in the open ground he
would be seen, and if he were but to shake a branch or snap a dry twig
he would be heard. So, he is obliged to approach them against the
wind, to keep himself under cover, and yet to glide so carefully along
that the heavy foliage of the underwood shall not be shaken, and the
dry sticks and leaves which strew the ground shall not be broken. He
has also to escape the observation of certain birds and beasts which
inhabit the woods, and which would certainly set up their alarm-cry as
soon as they saw him, and so give warning to the wary deer, which can
perfectly understand a cry of alarm, from whatever animal it may
happen to proceed.

Still, he proceeds steadily on his course, gliding from one covert to
another, and often expending several hours before he can proceed for a
mile. By degrees he contrives to come tolerably close to them, and
generally manages to conceal himself in some spot towards which the
deer are gradually feeding their way. As soon as they are near enough,
he collects himself for a spring, just as a cat does when she leaps on
a bird, and dashes towards the deer in a series of mighty bounds. For
a moment or two they are startled and paralysed with fear at the
sudden appearance of their enemy, and thus give him time to get among
them. Singling out some particular animal, he leaps upon it, strikes
it down with one blow of his paw, and then, crouching on the fallen
animal, he tears open its throat, and laps the flowing blood.

In this manner does it obtain its prey when it lives in the desert,
but when it happens to be in the neighbourhood of human habitations,
it acts in a different manner. Whenever man settles himself in any
place, his presence is a signal for the beasts of the desert and
forest to fly. The more timid, such as the deer and antelope, are
afraid of him, and betake themselves as far away as possible. The more
savage inhabitants of the land, such as the lion, leopard, and other
animals, wage an unequal war against him for a time, but are
continually driven farther and farther away, until at last they are
completely expelled from the country. The predaceous beasts are,
however, loth to retire, and do so by very slow degrees. They can no
longer support themselves on the deer and antelopes, but find a simple
substitute for them in the flocks and herds which man introduces, and
in the seizing of which there is as much craft required as in the
catching of the fleeter and wilder animals. Sheep and goats cannot run
away like the antelopes, but they are penned so carefully within
inclosures, and guarded so watchfully by herdsmen and dogs, that the
Leopard is obliged to exert no small amount of cunning before it can
obtain a meal.

Sometimes it creeps quietly to the fold, and escapes the notice of the
dogs, seizes upon a sheep, and makes off with it before the alarm is
given. Sometimes it hides by the wayside, and as the flock pass by it
dashes into the midst of them, snatches up a sheep, and disappears
among the underwood on the opposite side of the road. Sometimes it is
crafty enough to deprive the fold of its watchful guardian. Dogs which
are used to Leopard-hunting never attack the animal, though they are
rendered furious by the sound of its voice. They dash at it as if they
meant to devour it, but take very good care to keep out of reach of
its terrible paws. By continually keeping the animal at bay, they give
time for their master to come up, and generally contrive to drive it
into a tree, where it can be shot.

But instances have been known where the Leopard has taken advantage of
the dogs, and carried them off in a very cunning manner. It hides
itself tolerably near the fold, and then begins to growl in a low
voice. The dogs think that they hear a Leopard at a distance, and dash
towards the sound with furious barks and yells. In so doing, they are
sure to pass by the hiding-place of the Leopard, which springs upon
them unawares, knocks one of them over, and bounds away to its den in
the woods. It does not content itself with taking sheep or goats from
the fold, but is also a terrible despoiler of the hen-roosts,
destroying great numbers in a single night when once it contrives to
find its way into the house.

As an instance of the cunning which seems innate in the Leopard, I may
mention that whenever it takes up its abode near a village, it does
not meddle with the flocks and herds of its neighbours, but prefers to
go to some other village at a distance for food, thus remaining
unsuspected almost at the very doors of the houses.

In general, it does not willingly attack mankind, and at all events
seems rather to fear the presence of a full-grown man. But, when
wounded or irritated, all sense of fear is lost in an overpowering
rush of fury, and it then becomes as terrible a foe as the lion
himself. It is not so large nor so strong, but it is more agile and
quicker in its movements; and when it is seized with one of these
paroxysms of anger, the eye can scarcely follow it as it darts here
and there, striking with lightning rapidity, and dashing at any foe
within reach. Its whole shape seems to be transformed, and absolutely
to swell with anger; its eyes flash with fiery lustre, its ears are
thrown back on the head, and it continually utters alternate snarls
and yells of rage. It is hardly possible to recognise the graceful,
lithe glossy creature, whose walk is so noiseless, and whose every
movement is so easy, in the furious passion-swollen animal that flies
at every foe with blind fury, and pours out sounds so fierce and
menacing that few men, however well armed, will care to face it.

As is the case with most of the cat tribe, the Leopard is an excellent
climber, and can ascend trees and traverse their boughs without the
least difficulty. It is so fond of trees, that it is seldom to be seen
except in a well-wooded district. Its favourite residence is a forest
where there is plenty of underwood, at least six or seven feet in
height, among which trees are sparingly interspersed. When crouched in
this cover it is practically invisible, even though its body may be
within arm's length of a passenger. The spotted body harmonizes so
perfectly with the broken lights and deep shadows of the foliage that
even a practised hunter will not enter a covert in search of a Leopard
unless he is accompanied by dogs. The instinct which teaches the
Leopard to choose such localities is truly wonderful, and may be
compared with that of the tiger, which cares little for underwood, but
haunts the grass jungles, where the long, narrow blades harmonize with
the stripes which decorate its body.

The skin of the Leopard has always been highly valued on account of
its beauty, and in Africa, at the present day, a robe made of its
spotted skin is as much an adjunct of royalty as is the ermine the
emblem of judicial dignity in England. In more ancient times, a
leopard skin was the official costume of a priest, the skin being
sometimes shaped into a garment, and sometimes thrown over the
shoulders and the paws crossed over the breast.

Such is a general history of the Leopard. We will now proceed to the
various passages in which it is mentioned, beginning with its outward

In the first place, the Hebrew word Namer signifies "spotted," and is
given to the animal in allusion to its colours. The reader will now
see how forcible is the lament of Jeremiah, "Can the Ethiopian change
his skin, or the Leopard his spots?" Literally, "Can the Ethiopian
change his skin, or the spotted one his spots?"

The agility and swiftness of the Leopard are alluded to in the
prediction by the prophet Habakkuk of the vengeance that would come
upon Israel through the Chaldeans. In chap. i. 5, we read: "I will
work a work in your days, which ye will not believe though it be told
you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation,
which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the
dwelling-places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful;
their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. Their
horses also are swifter than the Leopards, and are more fierce than
the evening wolves."

The craftiness of the Leopard, and the manner in which it lies in wait
for its prey, are alluded to in more than one passage of Holy Writ.
Hosea the prophet alludes to the Leopard, in a few simple words which
display an intimate acquaintance with the habits of this formidable
animal, and in this part of his prophecies he displays that peculiar
local tone which distinguishes his writings. Speaking of the
Israelites under the metaphor of a flock, or a herd, he proceeds to
say: "According to their pasture so were they filled; they were
filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.
Therefore I will be unto them as a lion, as a Leopard by the way will
I observe them." The reader will note the peculiar force of this
sentence, whereby God signifies that He will destroy them openly, as a
lion rushes on its prey, and that he will chastise them unexpectedly,
as if it were a Leopard crouching by the wayside, and watching for the
flock to pass, that it may spring on its prey unexpectedly. The same
habit of the Leopard is also alluded to by Jeremiah, who employs
precisely the same imagery as is used by Habakkuk. See Jer. v. 5, 6,
"These have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. Wherefore
a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings
shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities." It is
evident from the employment of this image by two prophets, the one
being nearly a hundred years before the other, that the crafty,
insidious habits of the Leopard were well known in Palestine, and that
the metaphor would tell with full force among those to whom it was

The havoc which the Leopard makes among the sheep and goats is alluded
to by the prophet Isaiah, chap. xi. 6: "The wolf also shall dwell with
the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf
and the young lion together, and a little child shall lead them." Here
again we find the same imagery employed, the people being signified
under the metaphor of flocks and herds, and their enemies symbolised
by lions, wolves, and Leopards. And herein the Prophet speaks as from
accurate knowledge of the habits of the three predaceous animals. The
wolf, as a rule, devastates the sheepfolds; the Leopard will steal
upon and carry off the straggling goat or kid, because it can follow
them upon the precipices where no wolf would dare to tread; while the
lion, being the strongest and more daring of the three, attacks the
herds, and carries away to its lair the oxen which neither Leopard nor
wolf could move.

There is of course a deeper meaning than has been mentioned but any
commentary on that subject would be out of place in a work like the
present, and, however tempting the subject may be to the writer, it is
better that the reader should be left to investigate it for himself.

Lastly, the peculiar localities which the Leopard loves are mentioned
in the Song of Solomon, chap. iv. 8: "Come with me from Lebanon, my
spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top
of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the
leopards." Formerly, large forests of pine, oak, and cedar covered
Lebanon, and in those days the wild beasts of the forest would be
extremely plentiful. Even at the present day they are not extinct, and
a recent traveller, the Rev. J. L. Porter, states that considerable
numbers of wild beasts still inhabit the retired glens of the range of
Lebanon, and that he himself has seen jackals, hyænas, wolves, bears,
and Leopards.

The remaining passages, in which a beast formed like a Leopard was
seen in a vision by the prophet Daniel and St. John the Evangelist,
are purely allegorical, and have nothing to do with the actual animal.


   The Cat never mentioned by name in the canonical Scriptures, and
   only once in the Apocrypha--The Cat domesticated among the
   Egyptians, and trained in bird-catching--Neglected capabilities
   of the Cat--Anecdote of an English Cat that caught fish for her
   master--Presumed reason why the Scriptures are silent about the
   Cat--The Cat mentioned by Baruch.

It is a very remarkable circumstance that the word CAT is not once
mentioned in the whole of the canonical Scriptures, and only once in
the Apocrypha.

The Egyptians, as is well known, kept Cats domesticated in their
houses, a fact which is mentioned by Herodotus, in his second book,
and the 66th and 67th chapters. After describing the various animals
which were kept and fed by this nation, he proceeds to narrate the
habits of the Cat, and writes as follows:

"When a fire takes place, a supernatural impulse seizes the cats. For
the Egyptians, standing at a distance, take care of the cats and
neglect to quench the fire; but the cats make their escape, and
leaping over the men, cast themselves into the fire, and when this
occurs, great lamentations are made among the Egyptians. In whatever
house a cat dies of a natural death, all the family shave their
eyebrows. All cats that die are carried to certain sacred houses,
where, after being embalmed, they are buried in the city of Bubastis."

Now, as many of those cat-mummies have been discovered in good
preservation, the species has been identified with the Egyptian Cat of
the present day, which is scientifically termed _Felis maniculatus_.
Not only did the Egyptians keep Cats at their houses, but, as is shown
by certain sculptures, took the animals with them when they went
bird-catching, and employed them in securing their prey. Some persons
have doubted this statement, saying, that in the first place, the Cat
is not possessed of sufficient intelligence for the purpose; and that
in the second place, as the hunter is represented as catching wild
fowl, the Cat would not be able to assist him, because it would not
enter the water. Neither objection is valid, nor would have been made
by a naturalist.

There are no grounds whatever for assuming that the Cat has not
sufficient intelligence to aid its master in hunting. On the contrary,
there are many familiar instances where the animal has been trained,
even in this country, to catch birds and other game, and bring its
prey home. By nature the Cat is an accomplished hunter, and, like
other animals of the same disposition, can be taught to use its powers
for mankind. We all know that the chetah, a member of the same tribe,
is in constant use at the present day, and we learn from ancient
sculptures that the lion was employed for the same purpose. Passing
from land to water, mankind has succeeded in teaching the seal and the
otter to plunge into the water, catch their finny prey, and deliver it
to their owners. Among predaceous birds, we have trained the eagle,
the falcon, and various hawks, to assist us in hunting the finned and
feathered tribes, while we have succeeded in teaching the cormorant to
catch fish for its master, and not for itself. Why, then, should the
Cat be excepted from a rule so general? The fact is, the Cat has
been, although domesticated for so many centuries, a comparatively
neglected animal; and it is the fashion to heap upon it the
contumacious epithets of sullen, treacherous, selfish, spiteful, and
intractable, just as we take as our emblems of stupidity the ass and
the goose, which are really among the most cunning of the lower
animals. We have never tried to teach the Cat the art of hunting for
her owners, but that is no reason for asserting that the animal could
not be taught.

As to entering the water, every one who is familiar with the habits of
the Cat knows perfectly well that the Cat will voluntarily enter water
in chase of prey. A Cat does not like to wet her feet, and will not
enter the water without a very powerful reason, but when that motive
is supplied, she has no hesitation about it. A curious and valuable
confirmation of this fact appeared some time ago in "The Field"
newspaper, in which was recorded the history of an old fisherman,
whose Cat invariably went to sea with him, and as invariably used to
leap overboard, seize fish in her mouth, and bring them to the side of
the boat, where her kindly owner could lift her out, together with the
captured fish.

The Cat, then, having been the favoured companion of the Egyptians,
among whom the Israelites lived while they multiplied from a family
into a nation, it does seem very remarkable that the sacred writers
should not even mention it. There is no prohibition of the animal,
even indirectly, in the Mosaic law; but it may be the case that the
Israelites repudiated the Cat simply because it was so favoured by
their former masters.

The only passage in the Apocrypha is a passing allusion in Baruch (vi.
22), where it is said of the idols, that bats and birds shall sit on
their bodies, and the cats also. That the word is rightly translated
admits of no doubt, because it is the same that is employed by
Herodotus in the passage already quoted.


   Antipathy displayed by Orientals towards the Dog, and manifested
   throughout the Scriptures--Contrast between European and
   Oriental Dogs--Habits of the Dogs of Palestine--The City Dogs
   and their singular organization--The herdsman's Dog--Various
   passages of Scripture--Dogs and the crumbs--their
   numbers--Signor Pierotti's experience of the Dogs--Possibility
   of their perfect domestication--The peculiar humiliation of
   Lazarus--Voracity of the Wild Dogs--The fate of Ahab and
   Jezebel--Anecdote of a volunteer Watch-dog--Innate affection of
   the Dog towards mankind--Peculiar local Instinct of the Oriental
   Dog--Albert Smith's account of the Dogs at Constantinople--The
   Dervish and his Dogs--The Greyhound--Uncertainty of the word.

Scarcely changed by the lapse of centuries, the Oriental of the
present day retains most of the peculiarities which distinguished him
throughout the long series of years during which the books of sacred
Scripture were given to the world.. In many of these characteristics
he differs essentially from Europeans of the present day, and exhibits
a tone of mind which seems to be not merely owing to education, but to
be innate and inherent in the race.

One of these remarkable characteristics is the strange loathing with
which he regards the Dog. In all other parts of the world, the Dog is
one of the most cherished and valued of animals, but among those
people whom we popularly class under the name of Orientals, the Dog is
detested and despised. As the sacred books were given to the world
through the mediumship of Orientals, we find that this feeling towards
the Dog is manifested whenever the animal is mentioned; and whether we
turn to the books of the Law, the splendid poetry of the Psalms and
the book of Job, the prophetical or the historical portions of the Old
Testament, we find the name of the Dog repeatedly mentioned; and in
every case in connexion with some repulsive idea. If we turn from the
Old to the New Testament, we find the same idea manifested, whether in
the Gospels, the Epistles, or the Revelation.

To the mind of the true Oriental the very name of the Dog carries with
it an idea of something utterly repugnant to his nature, and he does
not particularly like even the thought of the animal coming across his
mind. And this is the more extraordinary, because at the commencement
and termination of their history the Dog was esteemed by their
masters. The Egyptians, under whose rule they grew to be a nation,
knew the value of the Dog, and showed their appreciation in the many
works of art which have survived to our time. Then the Romans, under
whose iron grasp the last vestiges of nationality crumbled away,
honoured and respected the Dog, made it their companion, and
introduced its portrait into their houses. But, true to their early
traditions, the Jews of the East have ever held the Dog in the same
abhorrence as is manifested by their present masters, the followers of

Owing to the prevalence of this feeling, the Dogs of Oriental towns
are so unlike their more fortunate European relatives, that they can
hardly be recognised as belonging to the same species. In those lands
the traveller finds that there is none of the wonderful variety which
so distinguishes the Dog of Europe. There he will never see the bluff,
sturdy, surly, faithful mastiff, the slight gazelle-like greyhound,
the sharp, intelligent terrier, the silent, courageous bulldog, the
deep-voiced, tawny bloodhound, the noble Newfoundland, the clever,
vivacious poodle, or the gentle, silken-haired spaniel.

As he traverses the streets, he finds that all the dogs are alike, and
that all are gaunt, hungry, half starved, savage, and cowardly, more
like wolves than dogs, and quite as ready as wolves to attack when
they fancy they can do so with safety. They prowl about the streets in
great numbers, living, as they best can, on any scraps of food that
they may happen to find. They have no particular masters, and no
particular homes. Charitable persons will sometimes feed them, but
will never make companions of them, feeling that the very contact of a
dog would be a pollution. They are certainly useful animals, because
they act as scavengers, and will eat almost any animal substance that
comes in their way.

The strangest part of their character is the organization which
prevails among them. By some extraordinary means they divide the town
into districts, and not one dog ever ventures out of that particular
district to which it is attached. The boundaries, although invisible,
are as effectual as the loftiest walls, and not even the daintiest
morsel will tempt a dog to pass the mysterious line which forms the
boundary of his district. Generally, these bands of dogs are so savage
that any one who is obliged to walk in a district where the dogs do
not know him is forced to carry a stout stick for his protection. Like
their European relatives, they have great dislike towards persons who
are dressed after a fashion to which they are unaccustomed, and
therefore are sure to harass any one who comes from Europe and wears
the costume of his own country. As is customary among animals which
unite themselves in troops, each band is under the command of a single
leader, whose position is recognised and his authority acknowledged by
all the members.

These peculiarities are to be seen almost exclusively in the dogs
which run wild about the towns, because there is abundant evidence in
the Scriptures that the animal was used in a partially domesticated
state, certainly for the protection of their herds, and possibly for
the guardianship of their houses. That the Dog was employed for the
first of these purposes is shown in Job xxx. 1: "But now they that are
younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have
disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock." And that the animal
was used for the protection of houses is thought by some commentators
to be shown by the well-known passage in Is. lvi. 10: "His watchmen
are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot
bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber." Still, it is very
probable that in this passage the reference is not made to houses, but
to the flocks and herds which these watchmen ought to have guarded.

The rooted dislike and contempt felt by the Israelites towards the Dog
is seen in numerous passages. Even in that sentence from Job which has
just been quoted, wherein the writer passionately deplores the low
condition into which he has fallen, and contrasts it with his former
high estate, he complains that he is despised by those whose fathers
he held even in less esteem than the dogs which guarded his herds.
There are several references to the Dog in the books of Samuel, in all
of which the name of the animal is mentioned contemptuously. For
example, when David accepted the challenge of Goliath, and went to
meet his gigantic enemy without the ordinary protection of mail, and
armed only with a sling and his shepherd's staff, Goliath said to him,
"Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?" (1 Sam. xvii. 43.)
And in the same book, chapter xxiv. 14, David remonstrates with Saul
for pursuing so insignificant a person as himself, and said, "After
whom is the King of Israel come out? after a dead dog, after a flea."

The same metaphor is recorded in the second book of the same writer.
Once it was employed by Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan, when
extolling the generosity of David, then King of Israel in the place of
his grandfather Saul: "And he bowed himself, and said, 'What is thy
servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?" (2
Sam. ix. 8.) In the same book, chapter xvi. 9, Abishai applies this
contemptuous epithet to Shimei, who was exulting over the troubled
monarch with all the insolence of a cowardly nature, "Why should this
dead dog curse my lord the king?" Abner also makes use of a similar
expression, "Am I a dog's head?" And we may also refer to the familiar
passage in 2 Kings viii. 13. Elisha had prophesied to Hazael that he
would become king on the death of Ben-hadad, and that he would work
terrible mischief in the land. Horrified at these predictions, or at
all events pretending to be so, he replied, "But what, is thy servant
a dog, that he should do this great thing?"

If we turn from the Old to the New Testament, we find the same
contemptuous feeling displayed towards the Dog. It is mentioned as an
intolerable aggravation of the sufferings endured by Lazarus the
beggar as he lay at the rich man's gate, that the dogs came and licked
his sores. In several passages, the word Dog is employed as a metaphor
for scoffers, or unclean persons, or sometimes for those who did not
belong to the Church, whether Jewish or Christian. In the Sermon on
the Mount our Lord himself uses this image, "Give not that which is
holy unto dogs" (Matt. vii. 6.) In the same book, chapter xv. 26,
Jesus employs the same metaphor when speaking to the Canaanitish woman
who had come to ask him to heal her daughter: "It is not meet to take
the children's bread and cast it to dogs." And that she understood the
meaning of the words is evident from her answer, in which faith and
humility are so admirably blended. Both St. Paul and St. John employ
the word Dog in the same sense. In his epistle to the Philippians,
chapter iii. 2, St. Paul writes, "Beware of dogs, beware of evil
workers." And in the Revelation, chapter xxii. 14, these words occur:
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right
to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates to the city;
for without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers,
and idolaters, and whomsoever loveth and maketh a lie."

That the dogs of ancient times formed themselves into bands just as
they do at present is evident from many passages of Scripture, among
which may be mentioned those sentences from the Psalms, wherein David
is comparing the assaults of his enemies to the attacks of the dogs
which infested the city. "Thou hast brought me into the dust of death;
for dogs have compassed me, the assembly of the wicked have enclosed
me." This passage will be better appreciated when the reader has
perused the following extract from a recent work by Signor Pierotti.
After giving a general account of the Dogs of Palestine and their
customs, he proceeds as follows:--

"In Jerusalem, and in the other towns, the dogs have an organization
of their own. They are divided into families and districts, especially
in the night time, and no one of them ventures to quit his proper
quarter; for if he does, he is immediately attacked by all the
denizens of that into which he intrudes, and is driven back, with
several bites as a reminder. Therefore, when an European is walking
through Jerusalem by night, he is always followed by a number of
canine attendants, and greeted at every step with growls and howls.
These tokens of dislike, however, are not intended for him, but for
his followers, who are availing themselves of his escort to pass
unmolested from one quarter to another.

"During the hard winter of 1859, I fed many of the dogs, who
frequented the road which I traversed almost every evening, and
afterwards, each time that I passed, I received the homage not only of
the individuals, but of the whole band to which they belonged, for
they accompanied me to the limits of their respective jurisdictions
and were ready to follow me to my own house, if I did but give them a
sign of encouragement, coming at my beck from any distance. They even
recollected the signal in 1861, though it was but little that I had
given them."

The account which this experienced writer gives of the animal presents
a singular mixture of repulsive and pleasing traits, the latter being
attributable to the true nature of the Dog, and the former to the
utter neglect with which it is treated. He remarks that the dogs which
run wild in the cities of Palestine are ill-favoured, ill-scented, and
ill-conditioned beasts, more like jackals or wolves than dogs, and
covered with scars, which betoken their quarelsome nature. Yet, the
same animals lose their wild, savage disposition, as soon as any human
being endeavours to establish that relationship which was evidently
intended to exist between man and the dog. How readily even these
despised and neglected animals respond to the slightest advance, has
been already shown by Sig. Pierotti's experience, and there is no
doubt that these tawny, short-haired, wolf-like animals, could be
trained as perfectly as their more favoured brethren of the western

As in the olden times, so at the present day, the dogs lie about in
the streets, dependent for their livelihood upon the offal that is
flung into the roads, or upon the chance morsels that may be thrown to
them. An allusion to this custom is made in the well-known passage in
Matt. xv. The reader will remember the circumstance that a woman of
Canaan, and therefore not an Israelite, came to Jesus, and begged him
to heal her daughter, who was vexed with a devil. Then, to try her
faith, He said, "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to
cast it to dogs." And she said, "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the
crumbs which fall from their master's table." Now, the "crumbs" which
are here mentioned are the broken pieces of bread which were used at
table, much as bread is sometimes used in eating fish. The form of the
"loaves" being flat, and much like that of the oat-cake of this
country, adapted them well to the purpose. The same use of broken
bread is alluded to in the parable of Lazarus, who desired to be fed
with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, _i.e._ to partake
of the same food as the dogs which swarmed round him and licked his
sores. Thus we see that Lazarus was supposed to have undergone the
very worst indignities to which poverty could bring a man, and the
contrast between himself and the other personage of the parable
receives additional strength.

The "crumbs," however liberally distributed, would not nearly suffice
for the subsistence of the canine armies, and their chief support
consists of the offal, which is rather too plentifully flung into the
streets. The Dogs of Palestine are, indeed, much like hyænas of
certain African towns, and act as scavengers, devouring any animal
substance that may fall in their way. If the body of any animal, not
excluding their own kind, be found lying in the streets, the dogs will
assemble round it, and tear it to pieces, and they have no scruples
even in devouring a human body. Of course, owing to the peculiar
feeling entertained by the Orientals towards the Dog, no fate can be
imagined more repulsive to the feelings of humanity than to be eaten
by dogs; and therein lies the terror of the fate which was prophesied
of Ahab and Jezebel. Moreover, the blood, even of the lower animals,
was held in great sanctity, and it was in those days hardly possible
to invoke a more dreadful fate upon any one than that his blood should
be lapped by dogs.

We lose much of the real force of the Scriptures, if we do not possess
some notion of the manners and customs of Palestine and the
neighbouring countries, as well as of the tone of mind prevalent among
the inhabitants. In our own country, that any one should be eaten by
dogs would be a fate so contrary to usage, that we can hardly conceive
its possibility, and such a fate would be out of the ordinary course
of events. But, if such a fate should happen to befall any one, we
should have no stronger feeling of pity than the natural regret that
the dead person was not buried with Christian rites.

But, with the inhabitants of Palestine, such an event was by no means
unlikely. It was, and is still, the custom to bury the corpse almost
as soon as life has departed, and such would ordinarily have been the
case with the dead body of Jezebel. But, through fear of the merciless
Jehu, by whose command she had been flung from the window of her own
palace, no one dared to remove her mangled body. The dogs, therefore,
seized upon their prey; and, even before Jehu had risen from the
banquet with which he celebrated his deed, nothing was left of the
body but the skull, the feet, and the hands.

In Mr. Tristram's work, the author has recognised the true dog nature,
though concealed behind an uninviting form: "Our watch-dog, Beirût,
attached himself instinctively to Wilhelm, though his canine instinct
soon taught him to recognise every one of our party of fourteen, and
to cling to the tents, whether in motion or at rest, as his home. Poor
Beirût! though the veriest pariah in appearance, thy plebeian form
encased as noble a dog-heart as ever beat at the sound of a stealthy

The same author records a very remarkable example of the sagacity of
the native Dog, and the fidelity with which it will keep guard over
the property of its master. "The guard-house provided us, unasked,
with an invaluable and vigilant sentry, who was never relieved, nor
ever quitted the post of duty. The poor Turkish conscript, like every
other soldier in the world, is fond of pets, and in front of the grim
turret that served for a guard-house was a collection of old
orange-boxes and crates, thickly peopled with a garrison of dogs of
low degree, whose attachment to the spot was certainly not purchased
by the loaves and fishes which fell to their lot.

"One of the family must indeed have had hard times, for she had a
family of no less than five dependent on her exertions, and on the
superfluities of the sentries' mess. With a sagacity almost more than
canine, the poor gaunt creature had scarcely seen our tents pitched
before she came over with all her litter and deposited them in front
of our tent. At once she scanned the features of every member of the
encampment, and introduced herself to our notice. During the week of
our stay, she never quitted her post, or attempted any depredation on
our kitchen-tent, which might have led to her banishment. Night and
day she proved a faithful and vigilant sentry, permitting no stranger,
human or canine, European or Oriental, to approach the tents without
permission, but keeping on the most familiar terms with ourselves and
our servants.

"On the morning of our departure, no sooner had she seen our camp
struck, than she conveyed her puppies back to their old quarters in
the orange-box, and no intreaties or bribes could induce her to
accompany us. On three subsequent visits to Jerusalem, the same dog
acted in a similar way, though no longer embarrassed by family cares,
and would on no account permit any strange dog, nor even her
companions at the guard-house, to approach within the tent ropes."

After perusing this account of the Dog of Palestine, two points strike
the reader. The first is the manner in which the Dog, in spite of all
the social disadvantages under which it labours, displays one of the
chief characteristics of canine nature, namely, the yearning after
human society. The animal in question had already attached herself to
the guard-house, where she could meet with some sort of human
converse, though the inborn prejudices of the Moslem would prevent the
soldiers from inviting her to associate with them, as would certainly
have been done by European soldiers. She nestled undisturbed in the
orange-box, and, safe under the protection of the guard, brought up
her young family in their immediate neighbourhood. But, as soon as
Europeans arrived, her instinct told her that they would be closer
associates than the Turkish soldiers who were quartered in the
guard-house, and accordingly she removed herself and her family to the
shelter of their tents.

Herein she carried out the leading principle of a dog's nature. A dog
_must_ have a master, or at all events a mistress, and just in
proportion as he is free from human control, does he become less
dog-like and more wolf-like. In fact, familiar intercourse with
mankind is an essential part of a dogs true character, and the animal
seems to be so well aware of this fact, that he will always contrive
to find a master of some sort, and will endure a life of cruel
treatment at the hands of a brutal owner rather than have no master at

The second point in this account is the singular local instinct which
characterises the Dogs of Palestine and other eastern countries, and
which is as much inbred in them as the faculty of marking game in the
pointer, the combative nature in the bulldog, the exquisite scent in
the bloodhound, and the love of water in the Newfoundland dog. In
England, we fancy that the love of locality belongs especially to the
cat, and that the Dog cares little for place, and much for man. But,
in this case, we find that the local instinct overpowered the yearning
for human society. Fond as was this dog of her newly-found friends,
and faithful as she was in her self-imposed service, she would not
follow them away from the spot where she had been born, and where she
had produced her own young.

This curious love for locality has evidently been derived from the
traditional custom of successive generations, which has passed from
the realm of reason into that of instinct. The reader will remember
that Sig. Pierotti mentions an instance where the dogs which he had
been accustomed to feed would follow him as far as the limits of
their particular district, but would go no farther. The late Albert
Smith, in his "Month at Constantinople," gives a similar example of
this characteristic. He first describes the general habits of the

On the first night of his arrival, he could not sleep, and went to the
window to look out in the night. "The noise I heard then I shall never
forget. To say that if all the sheep-dogs, in going to Smithfield on a
market-day, had been kept on the constant bark, and pitted against the
yelping curs upon all the carts in London, they could have given any
idea of the canine uproar that now first astonished me, would be to
make the feeblest of images. The whole city rang with one vast riot.
Down below me, at Tophané--over-about Stamboul--far away at
Scutari--the whole sixty thousand dogs that are said to overrun
Constantinople appeared engaged in the most active extermination of
each other, without a moment's cessation. The yelping, howling,
barking, growling, and snarling, were all merged into one uniform and
continuous even sound, as the noise of frogs becomes when heard at a
distance. For hours there was no lull. I went to sleep, and woke
again, and still, with my windows open, I heard the same tumult going
on; nor was it until daybreak that anything like tranquillity was

"Going out in the daytime, it is not difficult to find traces of the
fights of the night about the limbs of all the street dogs. There is
not one, among their vast number, in the possession of a perfect skin.
Some have their ears gnawed away or pulled off; others have their eyes
taken out; from the backs and haunches of others perfect steaks of
flesh had been torn away; and all bear the scars of desperate combats.

  [Illustration: "At evening let them return; and let them make a noise
  like a dog, and go round about the city. Let them wander up and down
  for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied"--PSALM lix. 14, 15.]

"Wild and desperate as is their nature, these poor animals are
susceptible of kindness. If a scrap of bread is thrown to one of them
now and then, he does not forget it; for they have, at times, a hard
matter to live--not the dogs amongst the shops of Galata or Stamboul,
but those whose 'parish' lies in the large burying-grounds and desert
places without the city; for each keeps, or rather is kept, to his
district, and if he chanced to venture into a strange one, the odds
against his return would be very large. One battered old animal, to
whom I used occasionally to toss a scrap of food, always followed
me from the hotel to the cross street in Pera, where the two
soldiers stood on guard, but would never come beyond this point.
He knew the fate that awaited him had he done so; and therefore,
when I left him, he would lie down in the road, and go to sleep
until I came back.

"When a horse or camel dies, and is left about the roads near the
city, the bones are soon picked very clean by these dogs, and they
will carry the skulls or pelves to great distances. I was told that
they will eat their dead fellows--a curious fact, I believe, in canine
economy. They are always troublesome, not to say dangerous, at night;
and are especially irritated by Europeans, whom they will single out
amongst a crowd of Levantines."

In the same work there is a short description of a solitary dervish,
who had made his home in the hollow of a large plane-tree, in front of
which he sat, surrounded by a small fence of stakes only a foot or so
in height. Around him, but not venturing within the fence, were a
number of gaunt, half-starved dogs, who prowled about him in hopes of
having an occasional morsel of food thrown to them. Solitary as he
was, and scanty as must have been the nourishment which he could
afford to them, the innate trustfulness of the dog-nature induced them
to attach themselves to human society of some sort, though their
master was one, and they were many--he was poor, and they were hungry.

Once in the Scriptures the word Greyhound occurs, namely, in Prov.
xxx. 29-31: "There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely
in going: a lion, which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not
away for any; a greyhound; an he-goat also; and a king, against whom
there is no rising up." But the word "Greyhound" is only employed
conjecturally, inasmuch as the signification of the Hebrew word
_Zarzir-mathnâim_ is "one girt about the loins." Some commentators
have thought that the horse might be signified by this word, and that
the girding about the loins referred to the trappings with which all
Easterns love to decorate their steeds. Probably, however, the word in
question refers neither to a horse nor a dog, but to a human athlete,
or wrestler, stripped, and girt about the loins ready for the contest.


   Identity of the animal indisputable--its numbers, past and
   present--The Wolf never mentioned directly--its general
   habits--References in Scripture--its mingled ferocity and
   cowardice--its association into packs--The Wolf's bite--How it
   takes its prey--its ravages among the flocks--Allusions to this
   habit--The shepherd and his nightly enemies--Mr. Tristram and
   the Wolf--A semi-tamed Wolf at Marsaba.

There is no doubt that the Hebrew word _Zeëb_, which occurs in a few
passages of the Old Testament, is rightly translated as WOLF, and
signifies the same animal as is frequently mentioned in the New

This fierce and dangerous animal was formerly very plentiful in
Palestine, but is now much less common, owing to the same causes which
have extirpated the lion from the country. It is a rather remarkable
fact, that in no passage of Holy Writ is the Wolf directly mentioned.
Its name is used as a symbol of a fierce and treacherous enemy, but
neither in the Old nor New Testament does any sacred writer mention
any act as performed by the Wolf. We have already heard of the lion
which attacked Samson and was killed by him, of the lion which slew
the disobedient prophet, and of the lions which spared Daniel when
thrown into their den. We also read of the dogs which licked Ahab's
blood, and ate the body of Jezebel, also of the bears which tore the
mocking children.

But in no case is the Wolf mentioned, except in a metaphorical sense;
and this fact is the more remarkable, because the animals were so
numerous that they were very likely to have exercised some influence
on a history extending over such a lengthened range of years, and
limited to so small a portion of the earth. Yet we never hear of the
Wolf attacking any of the personages mentioned in Scripture; and
although we are told of the exploit of David, who pursued a lion and a
bear that had taken a lamb out of his fold, we are never told of any
similar deed in connexion with the Wolf.

  [Illustration: THE WOLF.

  "_The wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep_"--JOHN x. 12.]

This animal was then what it is now. Seldom seen by day, it lies
hidden in its covert as long as the light lasts, and steals out in
search of prey in the evening. This custom of the Wolf is mentioned in
several passages of Holy Scripture, such as that in Jer. v. 5, 6:
"These have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. Wherefore
a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings
shall spoil them." In this passage the reader will see that the
rebellious Israelites are compared to restive draught cattle which
have broken away from their harness and run loose, so that they are
deprived of the protection of their owners, and exposed to the fury of
wild beasts. A similar reference is made in Hab. i. 8: "Their horses
also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the
evening wolves." The same habit of the Wolf is alluded to in Zeph.
iii. 3: "Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are
evening wolves."

Individually, the Wolf is rather a timid animal. It will avoid a man
rather than meet him. It prefers to steal upon its prey and take it
unawares, rather than to seize it openly and boldly. It is ever
suspicious of treachery, and is always imagining that a trap is laid
for it. Even the shallow device of a few yards of rope trailing from
any object, or a strip of cloth fluttering in the breeze, is quite
sufficient to keep the Wolf at bay for a considerable time. This fact
is well known to hunters, who are accustomed to secure the body of a
slain deer by simply tying a strip of cloth to its horn. If taken in a
trap of any kind, or even if it fancies itself in an enclosure from
which it can find no egress, it loses all courage, and will submit to
be killed without offering the least resistance. It will occasionally
endeavour to effect its escape by feigning death, and has more than
once been known to succeed in this device.

But, collectively, the Wolf is one of the most dangerous animals that
can be found. Herding together in droves when pressed by hunger, the
wolves will openly hunt prey, performing this task as perfectly as a
pack of trained hounds. Full of wiles themselves, they are craftily
wise in anticipating the wiles of the animals which they pursue; and
even in full chase, while the body of the pack is following on the
footsteps of the flying animal, one or two are detached on the flanks,
so as to cut it off if it should attempt to escape by doubling on its

There is no animal which a herd of wolves will not attack, and very
few which they will not ultimately secure. Strength avails nothing
against the numbers of these savage foes, which give no moment of
rest, but incessantly assail their antagonist, dashing by instinct at
those parts of the body which can be least protected, and lacerating
with their peculiar short, snapping bite. Should several of their
number be killed or disabled, it makes no difference to the wolves,
except that a minute or two are wasted in devouring their slain or
wounded brethren, and they only return to the attack the more excited
by the taste of blood. Swiftness of foot avails nothing against the
tireless perseverance of the wolves, who press on in their peculiar,
long, slinging gallop, and in the end are sure to tire out the swifter
footed but less enduring animal that flees before them. The stately
buffalo is conquered by the ceaseless assaults of the wolves; the bear
has been forced to succumb to them, and the fleet-footed stag finds
his swift limbs powerless to escape the pursuing band, and his
branching horns unable to resist their furious onset when once they
overtake him.

In the passage from Habakkuk which has already been quoted, allusion
is made to the ferocity of the Wolf, and the same characteristic is
mentioned in several other parts of Scripture. Take, for example, Gen.
xlix. 27: "Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall
devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil." Or the
passage in Ezekiel xxii. 27: "Her princes in the midst thereof are
like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood." Or the well-known
metaphor of our Lord in Matt. vii. 15: "Beware of false prophets,
which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening

That the Wolf is a special enemy to the sheep-fold is shown in many
parts of the Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments,
especially in the latter. In John x. 1-16, Jesus compares himself to a
good shepherd, who watches over the fold, and, if the wolves should
come to take the sheep, would rather give up His life than they should
succeed. But the false teachers are compared to bad shepherds, hired
for money, but having no interest in the sheep, and who therefore will
not expose themselves to danger in defence of their charge.

This metaphor was far more effective in Palestine, and at that time,
than it is in this country and at the present day. In this land, the
shepherd has no anxiety about the inroads of wild beasts, but in
Palestine one of his chief cares was to keep watch at night lest the
wolves should attack the fold, and to drive them away himself in case
they should do so. Therefore the shepherd's life was one which
involved no small danger as well as anxiety, and the metaphor used by
our Lord gains additional force from the knowledge of this fact.

A similar metaphor is used when Jesus wished to express in forcible
terms the dangers to which the chosen seventy would oft be subjected,
and the impossibility that they should be able to overcome the many
perils with which they would be surrounded. "Go your ways: behold, I
send you forth as lambs among wolves" (Luke x. 3).

The well-known fact of the ravages of wolves among sheep has been
employed by the prophet Isaiah in two passages, wherein he foretells
the peaceful state of the world when the kingdom of the Messiah shall
have been established: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and
the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young
lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them"
(Is. xi. 6). The second passage occurs in chapter lxv. 23-25, and is
of a similar character: "They shall not labour in vain, nor bring
forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord,
and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before
they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will
hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall
eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They
shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord."

Mr. Tristram several times met wolves while he was engaged in his
travels, and mostly saw solitary specimens. One such encounter took
place in the wilderness of Judah: "On my way back, I met a fine
solitary wolf, who watched me very coolly, at the distance of sixty
yards, while I drew my charge and dropped a bullet down the barrel.
Though I sent the ball into a rock between his legs as he stood
looking at me in the wady, he was not sufficiently alarmed to do more
than move on a little more quickly, ever and anon turning to look at
me, while gradually increasing his distance. Darkness compelled me to
desist from the chase, when he quietly turned and followed me at a
respectful distance. He was a magnificent animal, larger than any
European wolf, and of a much lighter colour."

Those who are acquainted with the character of the animal will
appreciate the truthfulness of this description. The cautious prowl at
a distance, the slow trot away when he fancied he might be attacked,
the reverted look, and the final turning back and following at a
respectful distance, are all characteristic traits of the Wolf, no
matter to what species it may belong, nor what country it may inhabit.

On another occasion, while riding in the open plain of Gennesaret, the
horse leaped over the bank of a little ditch, barely three feet in
depth. After the horse had passed, and not until then, a Wolf started
out of the ditch, literally from under the horse's hoofs, and ran off.
The animal had been crouching under the little bank, evidently
watching for some cows and calves which were grazing at a short
distance, under the charge of a Bedouin boy. The same author mentions
that one of the monks belonging to the monastery at Marsaba had
contrived to render a Wolf almost tame. Every evening at six o'clock
the Wolf came regularly across the ravine, had a piece of bread, and
then went back again. With the peculiar jealousy of all tamed animals,
the Wolf would not suffer any of his companions to partake of his good
fortune. Several of them would sometimes accompany him, but as soon as
they came under the wall of the monastery he always drove them away.

The inhabitants of Palestine say that the Wolves of that country are
not gregarious, and that they hunt singly, or at most in little packs
of few in number. Still they dread the animal exceedingly, and say
that one Wolf will do more damage in a flock of sheep than a whole
pack of jackals.

As a general rule, the Syrian wolf, like the Syrian bear, is of a
lighter colour than its European relatives, and appears to be a larger
and stronger animal.


   The two animals comprehended under one name--The Jackal--its
   numbers in ancient and modern Palestine--General habits of the
   Jackal--Localities where the Jackal is found--Samson, and the
   three hundred "foxes"--Popular objections to the narrative--The
   required number easily obtained--Signor Pierotti's remarks upon
   the Jackal--An unpleasant position--How the fields were set on
   fire--The dread of fire inherent in wild beasts--The truth of
   the narrative proved--The Fox and Jackal destructive among
   grapes--Allusions to the Fox in the New Testament--Partially
   tamed Foxes.

There are several passages in the Old Testament in which the word FOX
occurs, and it is almost certain that the Hebrew word _Shuâl_, which
is rendered in our translation as Fox, is used rather loosely, and
refers in some places to the Jackal, and in others to the Fox. We
will first take those passages in which the former rendering of the
word is evidently the right one, and will begin by examining those
characteristics of the animal which afford grounds for such an

  [Illustration: THE FOX OR JACKAL.

  "_They shall be a portion for foxes._"--PSALM ixiii. 10. _The end of
  the Scape Goat._]

Even at the present time, the Jackal is extremely plentiful in
Palestine; and as the numbers of wild beasts have much decreased in
modern days, the animals must have been even more numerous than they
are at present. It is an essentially nocturnal and gregarious animal.
During the whole of the day the Jackals lie concealed in their holes
or hiding-places, which are usually cavities in the rocks, in tombs,
or among ruins. At nightfall they issue from their dens, and form
themselves into packs, often consisting of several hundred
individuals, and prowl about in search of food. Carrion of various
kinds forms their chief subsistence, and they perform in the country
much the same task as is fulfilled by the dogs in the cities.

If any animal should be killed, or even severely wounded, the Jackals
are sure to find it out and to devour it before the daybreak. They
will scent out the track of the hunter, and feed upon the offal of the
beasts which he has slain. If the body of a human being were to be
left on the ground, the Jackals would certainly leave but little
traces of it; and in the olden times of warfare, they must have held
high revelry in the battle-field after the armies had retired. It is
to this propensity of the Jackal that David refers--himself a man of
war, who had fought on many a battle-field, and must have seen the
carcases of the slain mangled by these nocturnal prowlers: "Those that
seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the
earth. They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for
foxes" (Ps. lxiii. 9, 10). Being wild beasts, afraid of man, and too
cowardly to attack him even when rendered furious by hunger, and
powerful by force of numbers, they keep aloof from towns and cities,
and live in the uninhabited parts of the country. Therefore the
prophet Jeremiah, in his Book of Lamentations, makes use of the
following forcible image, when deploring the pitiful state into which
Judæa had fallen: "For this our heart is faint; for these things our
eyes are dim: because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the
foxes walk upon it" (Lam. v. 17). And Ezekiel makes use of a similar
image: "O Israel, thy prophets are like foxes in the desert."

But, by far the most important passage in which the Fox is mentioned,
is that wherein is recorded the grotesque vengeance of Samson upon the
Philistines: "And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took
firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst
between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them
go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the
shocks and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives"
(Judges xv. 4, 5). Now, as this is one of the passages of Holy Writ to
which great objections have been taken, it will be as well to examine
these objections, and see whether they have any real force. The first
of these objections is, that the number of foxes is far too great to
have been caught at one time, and to this objection two answers have
been given. The first answer is, that they need not have been caught
at once, but by degrees, and kept until wanted. But the general tenor
of the narrative is undoubtedly in favour of the supposition that this
act of Samson was unpremeditated, and that it was carried into
operation at once, before his anger had cooled. The second answer is,
that the requisite number of Foxes might have been miraculously sent
to Samson for this special purpose. This theory is really so foolish
and utterly untenable, that I only mention it because it has been put
forward. It fails on two grounds: the first being that a miracle would
hardly have been wrought to enable Samson to revenge himself in so
cruel and unjustifiable a manner; and the second, that there was not
the least necessity for any miracle at all.

If we put out of our minds the idea of the English Fox, an animal
comparatively scarce in this country, and solitary in its habits, and
substitute the extremely plentiful and gregarious Jackal, wandering in
troops by night, and easily decoyed by hunger into a trap, we shall
see that double the number might have been taken, if needful.
Moreover, it is not to be imagined that Samson caught them all with
his own hand. He was at the head of his people, and had many
subordinates at his command, so that a large number of hunters might
have been employed simultaneously in the capture. In corroboration of
this point, I insert an extremely valuable extract from Signor
Pierotti's work, in which he makes reference to this very portion of
the sacred history:--

"It is still very abundant near Gaza, Askalon, Ashdod, Ekron, and
Ramleh. I have frequently met with it during my wanderings by night,
and on one occasion had an excellent opportunity of appreciating their
number and their noise.

"One evening in the month of January 1857, while it was raining a
perfect deluge, I was obliged, owing to the dangerous illness of a
friend, to return from Jerusalem to Jaffa. The depth of snow on the
road over a great part of the mountain, the clayey mud in the plain,
and the darkness of the night, prevented my advancing quickly; so that
about half-past three in the morning I arrived on the bank of a small
torrent, about half an hour's journey to the east of Ramleh. I wished
to cross: my horse at first refused, but, on my spurring it, advanced
and at once sank up to the breast, followed of course by my legs,
thus teaching me to respect the instinct of an Arab horse for the

"There I stuck, without the possibility of escape, and consoled my
horse and myself with some provisions that I had in my saddle-bags,
shouting and singing at intervals, in the hope of obtaining succour,
and of preventing accidents, as I knew that the year before a mule in
the same position had been mistaken for a wild beast, and killed. The
darkness was profound, and the wind very high; but, happily, it was
not cold; for the only things attracted by my calls were numbers of
jackals, who remained at a certain distance from me, and responded to
my cries, especially when I tried to imitate them, as though they took
me for their music-master.

"About five o'clock, one of the guards of the English consulate at
Jerusalem came from Ramleh and discovered my state. He charitably
returned thither, and brought some men, who extricated me and my horse
from our unpleasant bath, which, as may be supposed, was not
beneficial to our legs.

"During this most uncomfortable night, I had good opportunity of
ascertaining that, if another Samson had wished to burn again the
crops in the country of the Philistines, he would have had no
difficulty in finding more than three hundred jackals, and catching as
many as he wanted in springs, traps, or pitfalls. (See Ps. cxl. 5.)"

The reader will now see that there was not the least difficulty in
procuring the requisite number of animals, and that consequently the
first objection to the truth of the story is disposed of.

We will now proceed to the second objection, which is, that if the
animals were tied tail to tail, they would remain on or near the same
spot, because they would pull in different directions, and that,
rather than run about, they would turn round and fight each other.
Now, in the first place, we are nowhere told that the tails of the
foxes, or jackals, were placed in contact with each other, and it is
probable that some little space was left between them. That animals so
tied would not run in a straight line is evident enough, and this was
exactly the effect which Samson wished to produce. Had they been at
liberty, and the fiery brand fastened to their tails, they would have
run straight to their dens, and produced but little effect. But their
captor, with cruel ingenuity, had foreseen this contingency, and, by
the method of securing them which he adopted, forced them to pursue a
devious course, each animal trying to escape from the dreaded
firebrand, and struggling in vain endeavours to drag its companion
towards its own particular den.

All wild animals have an instinctive dread of fire; and there is none,
not even the fierce and courageous lion, that dares enter within the
glare of the bivouac fire. A lion has even been struck in the face
with a burning brand, and has not ventured to attack the man that
wielded so dreadful a weapon. Consequently it may be imagined that the
unfortunate animals that were used by Samson for his vindictive
purpose, must have been filled with terror at the burning brands which
they dragged after them, and the blaze of the fire which was kindled
wherever they went. They would have no leisure to fight, and would
only think of escaping from the dread and unintelligible enemy which
pursued them.

When a prairie takes fire, all the wild inhabitants flee in terror,
and never think of attacking each other, so that the bear, the wolf,
the cougar, the deer, and the wild swine, may all be seen huddled
together, their natural antagonism quelled in the presence of a common
foe. So it must have been with the miserable animals which were made
the unconscious instruments of destruction. That they would stand
still when a burning brand was between them, and when flames sprang up
around them, is absurd. That they would pull in exactly opposite
directions with precisely balanced force is equally improbable, and it
is therefore evident that they would pursue a devious path, the
stronger of the two dragging the weaker, but being jerked out of a
straight course and impeded by the resistance which it would offer.
That they would stand on the same spot and fight has been shown to be
contrary to the custom of animals under similar circumstances.

Thus it will be seen that every objection not only falls to the
ground, but carries its own refutation, thus vindicating this episode
in sacred history, and showing, that not only were the circumstances
possible, but that they were highly probable. Of course every one of
the wretched animals must have been ultimately burned to death, after
suffering a prolonged torture from the firebrand that was attached to
it. Such a consideration would, however, have had no effect for
deterring Samson from employing them. The Orientals are never sparing
of pain, even when inflicted upon human beings, and in too many cases
they seem utterly unable even to comprehend the cruelty of which they
are guilty. And Samson was by no means a favourable specimen of his
countrymen. He was the very incarnation of strength, but was as
morally weak as he was corporeally powerful; and to that weakness he
owed his fall. Neither does he seem to possess the least trace of
forbearance any more than of self-control, but he yields to his own
undisciplined nature, places himself, and through him the whole
Israelitish nation, in jeopardy, and then, with a grim humour,
scatters destruction on every side in revenge for the troubles which
he has brought upon himself by his own acts.

There is a passage in the Old Testament which is tolerably familiar to
most students of the Scriptures: "Take us the foxes, the little foxes,
that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes" (Solomon's
Song, ii. 15). In this passage allusion is made to the peculiar
fondness for grapes and several other fruits which exist both in the
Fox and the Jackal. Even the domesticated dog is often fond of ripe
fruits, and will make great havoc among the gooseberry bushes and the
strawberry beds. But both the Fox and the Jackal display a wonderful
predilection for the grape above all other fruit, and even when
confined and partly tamed, it is scarcely possible to please them
better than by offering them a bunch of perfectly ripe grapes. The
well-known fable of the fox and the grapes will occur to the mind of
every one who reads the passage which has just been quoted.

There are two instances in the New Testament where the Fox is
mentioned, and in both cases the allusion is made by the Lord himself.
The first of these passages is the touching and well-known reproach,
"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the
Son of Man hath not where to lay his head" (Matt. viii. 20). The
second passage is that in which He speaks of Herod as "that fox,"
selecting a term which well expressed the character of the cruel and
cunning ruler to whom it was applied.

The reader will remember that, in the history of the last-mentioned
animal an anecdote is told of a semi-tamed wolf that used to come
every evening for the purpose of receiving a piece of bread. At the
same monastery, three foxes used to enjoy a similar privilege. They
came regularly to the appointed place, which was not that which the
wolf frequented, and used to howl until their expected meal was given
to them. Several companions generally accompanied them, but were
always jealously driven away before the monks appeared with the bread.


   The Hyæna not mentioned by name, but evidently alluded
   to--Signification of the word Zabua--Translated in the
   Septuagint as Hyæna--A scene described by the Prophet
   Isaiah--The Hyæna plentiful in Palestine at the present day--its
   well-known cowardice and fear of man--The uses of the Hyæna and
   the services which it renders--The particular species of
   Hyæna--The Hyæna in the burial-grounds--Hunting the
   Hyæna--Curious superstition respecting the talismanic properties
   of its skin--Precautions adopted in flaying it--Popular legends
   of the Hyæna and its magical powers--The cavern home of the
   Hyæna--The Valley of Zeboim.

Although in our version of the Scriptures the Hyæna is not mentioned
by that name, there are two passages in the Old Testament which
evidently refer to that animal, and therefore it is described in these
pages. If the reader will refer to the prophet Jeremiah, xii. 7-9, he
will find these words: "I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine
heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of
her enemies. Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it
crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it. Mine heritage is
unto me as a speckled bird; the birds round about are against her:
come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour." Now,
the word _zabua_ signifies something that is streaked, and in the
Authorized Version it is rendered as a speckled bird. But in the
Septuagint it is rendered as Hyæna, and this translation is thought by
many critical writers to be the true one. It is certain that the word
_zabua_ is one of the four names by which the Talmudical writers
mention the Hyæna, when treating of its character; and it is equally
certain that such a rendering makes the passage more forcible, and is
in perfect accordance with the habits of predacious animals.

The whole scene which the Prophet thus describes was evidently
familiar to him. First, we have the image of a deserted country,
allowed to be overrun with wild beasts. Then we have the lion, which
has struck down its prey, roaring with exultation, and defying any
adversary to take it from him. Then, the lion having eaten his fill
and gone away, we have the Hyænas, vultures, and other carrion-eating
creatures, assembling around the carcase, and hastening to devour it.
This is a scene which has been witnessed by many hunters who have
pursued their sport in lands where lions, hyænas, and vultures are
found; and all these creatures were inhabitants of Palestine at the
time when Jeremiah wrote.

At the present day, the Hyæna is still plentiful in Palestine, though
in the course of the last few years its numbers have sensibly
diminished. The solitary traveller, when passing by night from one
town to another, often falls in with the Hyæna, but need suffer no
fear, as it will not attack a human being, and prefers to slink out of
his way. But dead, and dying, or wounded animals are the objects for
which it searches; and when it finds them, it devours the whole of its
prey. The lion will strike down an antelope, an ox, or a goat--will
tear off its flesh with its long fangs, and lick the bones with its
rough tongue until they are quite cleaned. The wolves and jackals will
follow the lion, and eat every soft portion of the dead animal, while
the vultures will fight with them for the coveted morsels. But the
Hyæna is a more accomplished scavenger than lion, wolf, jackal, or
vulture; for it will eat the very bones themselves, its
tremendously-powerful jaws and firmly-set teeth enabling it to crush
even the leg-bone of an ox, and its unparalleled digestive powers
enabling it to assimilate the sharp and hard fragments which would
kill any creature not constituted like itself.

In a wild, or even a partially-inhabited country, the Hyæna is,
therefore, a most useful animal. It may occasionally kill a crippled
or weakly ox, and sometimes carry off a sheep; but, even in that case,
no very great harm is done, for it does not meddle with any animal
that can resist. But these few delinquencies are more than compensated
by the great services which it renders as scavenger, consuming those
substances which even the lion cannot eat, and thus acting as a
scavenger in removing objects which would be offensive to sight and
injurious to health.

The species which is mentioned in the Scriptures is the Striped Hyæna
(_Hyæna striata_); but the habits of all the species are almost
exactly similar. We are told by travellers of certain towns in
different parts of Africa which would be unendurable but for the
Hyænas. With the disregard for human life which prevails throughout
all savage portions of that country, the rulers of these towns order
executions almost daily, the bodies of the victims being allowed to
lie where they happened to fall. No one chooses to touch them, lest
they should also be added to the list of victims, and the decomposing
bodies would soon cause a pestilence but for the Hyænas, who assemble
at night round the bodies, and by the next morning have left scarcely
a trace of the murdered men.

Even in Palestine, and in the present day, the Hyæna will endeavour to
rifle the grave, and to drag out the interred corpse. The bodies of
the rich are buried in rocky caves, whose entrances are closed with
heavy stones, which the Hyæna cannot move; but those of the poor,
which are buried in the ground, must be defended by stones heaped over
them. Even when this precaution is taken, the Hyæna will sometimes
find out a weak spot, drag out the body, and devour it.

In consequence of this propensity, the inhabitants have an utter
detestation of the animal. They catch it whenever they can, in
pitfalls or snares, using precisely the same means as were employed
two thousand years ago; or they hunt it to its den, and then kill it,
stripping off the hide, and carrying it about still wet, receiving a
small sum of money from those to whom they show it. Afterwards the
skin is dressed, by rubbing it with lime and salt, and steeping it in
the waters of the Dead Sea. It is then made into sandals and leggings,
which are thought to be powerful charms, and to defend the wearer from
the Hyæna's bite.

  [Illustration: THE HYÆNA.

  "_I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the
  fowls of the heaven._"--EZEK. xxix. 5.]

They always observe certain superstitious precautions in flaying the
dead animal. Believing that the scent of the flesh would corrupt the
air, they invariably take the carcase to the leeward of the tents
before they strip off the skin. Even in the animal which has been kept
for years in a cage, and has eaten nothing but fresh meat, the odour
is too powerful to be agreeable, as I can testify from practical
experience when dissecting a Hyæna that had died in the Zoological
Gardens; and it is evident that the scent of an animal that has lived
all its life on carrion must be almost unbearable. The skin being
removed, the carcase is burnt, because the hunters think that by this
process the other Hyænas are prevented from finding the body of their
comrade, and either avenging its death or taking warning by its fate.

Superstitions seem to be singularly prevalent concerning the Hyæna. In
Palestine, there is a prevalent idea that if a Hyæna meets a solitary
man at night, it can enchant him in such a manner as to make him
follow it through thickets and over rocks, until he is quite
exhausted, and falls an unresisting prey; but that over two persons he
has no such influence, and therefore a solitary traveller is gravely
advised to call for help as soon as he sees a Hyæna, because the
fascination of the beast would be neutralized by the presence of a
second person. So firmly is this idea rooted in the minds of the
inhabitants, that they will never travel by night, unless they can
find at least one companion in their journey.

In Northern Africa there are many strange superstitions connected with
this animal, one of the most curious of which is founded on its
well-known cowardice. The Arabs fancy that any weapon which has killed
a Hyæna, whether it be gun, sword, spear, or dagger, is thenceforth
unfit to be used in warfare. "Throw away that sword," said an Arab to
a French officer, who had killed a Hyæna, "it has slain the Hyæna, and
it will be treacherous to you."

At the present day, its numbers are not nearly so great in Palestine
as they used to be, and are decreasing annually. The cause of this
diminution lies, according to Signor Pierotti, more in the destruction
of forests than in the increase of population and the use of
fire-arms, though the two latter causes have undoubtedly considerable

There is a very interesting account by Mr. Tristram of the haunt of
these animals. While exploring the deserted quarries of Es Sumrah,
between Beth-arabah and Bethel, he came upon a wonderful mass of
hyænine relics. The quarries in which were lying the half-hewn blocks,
scored with the marks of wedges, had evidently formed the resort of
Hyænas for a long series of years. "Vast heaps of bones of camels,
oxen, and sheep had been collected by these animals, in some places to
the depth of two or three feet, and on one spot I counted the skulls
of seven camels. There were no traces whatever of any human remains.
We had here a beautiful recent illustration of the mode of foundation
of the old bone caverns, so valuable to the geologist. These bones
must all have been brought in by the Hyænas, as no camel or sheep
could possibly have entered the caverns alive, nor could any floods
have washed them in. Near the entrance where the water percolates,
they were already forming a soft breccia."

The second allusion to the Hyæna is made in 1 Sam. xiii. 18, "Another
company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the Valley of
Zeboim towards the wilderness," _i.e._ to the Valley of Hyænas.

The colour of the Striped Hyæna varies according to its age. When
young, as is the case with many creatures, birds as well as mammals,
the stripes from which it derives its name are much more strongly
marked than in the adult specimen. The general hue of the fur is a
pale grey-brown, over which are drawn a number of dark stripes,
extending along the ribs and across the limbs.

In the young animal these stripes are nearly twice as dark and twice
as wide as in the adult, and they likewise appear on the face and on
other parts of the body, whence they afterwards vanish. The fur is
always rough; and along the spine, and especially over the neck and
shoulders, it is developed into a kind of mane, which gives a very
fierce aspect to the animal. The illustration shows a group of Hyænas
coming to feed on the relics of a dead animal. The jackals and
vultures have eaten as much of the flesh as they can manage, and the
vultures are sitting, gorged, round the stripped bones. The Hyænas are
now coming up to play their part as scavengers, and have already begun
to break up the bones in their crushing-mills of jaws.


   Difficulty of identifying the Weasel of Scripture--The Weasel of
   Palestine--Suggested identity with the Ichneumon.

The word Weasel occurs once in the Holy Scriptures, and therefore it
is necessary that the animal should be mentioned. There is a great
controversy respecting the identification of the animal, inasmuch as
there is nothing in the context which gives the slightest indication
of its appearance or habits.

The passage in question is that which prohibits the Weasel and the
mouse as unclean animals (see Lev. xi. 29). Now the word which is here
translated Weasel is _Choled_, or _Chol'd_; and, I believe, never
occurs again in the whole of the Old Testament. Mr. W. Houghton
conjectures that the Hebrew word Choled is identical with the Arabic
_Chuld_ and the Syriac _Chuldo_, both words signifying a mole; and
therefore infers that the unclean animal in question is not a Weasel,
but a kind of mole.

The Weasel does exist in Palestine, and seems to be as plentiful there
as in our own country. Indeed, the whole tribe of Weasels is well
represented, and the polecat is seen there as well as the Weasel.

It has been suggested with much probability, that, as is clearly the
case in many instances, several animals have been included in the
general term Weasel, and that among them may be reckoned the common
ichneumon (_Herpestes_), which is one of the most plentiful of animals
in Palestine, and which may be met daily.

The Septuagint favours the interpretation of Weasel, and, as there is
no evidence on either side, there we may allow the question to rest.
As, however, the word only occurs once, and as the animal, whatever it
may be, is evidently of no particular importance, we may reserve our
space for the animals which have more important bearings upon the Holy
Scriptures. The subject will be again mentioned in the account of the
Mole of the Old Testament.


   Translation of the Hebrew word _Anakah_--The Shrew-mouse of
   Palestine--Etymology of the word--The Gecko or Fan-foot, its
   habits and peculiar cry--Repugnance felt by the Arabs of the
   present day towards the Gecko.

Why the Hebrew word _Anakah_ should have been translated in our
version as Ferret there is little ground for conjecture.

The name occurs among the various creeping things that were reckoned
as unclean, and were prohibited as food (see Lev. xi. 29, 30): "These
also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creepeth
upon the earth: the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his
kind, and the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the
snail, and the mole." Now the word in question is translated in the
Septuagint as the Mygale, or Shrew-mouse, and it is probable that this
animal was accepted by the Jews as the Anakah. But, whether or not it
was the Shrew-mouse, it is certain that it is not the animal which we
call the Ferret. Mr. Tristram suggests that the etymology of the name,
_i.e._ Anâkah, the Groaner, or Sigher, points to some creature which
utters a mournful cry. And as the animal in question is classed among
the creeping things, he offers a conjecture that the Gecko,
Wall-lizard, or Fan-foot, may be the true interpretation of the word.

Being one of the lizards, it belongs to the "creeping things," and
frequently utters a mournful sound like the word "geck-o." It is
exceedingly plentiful, and inhabits the interior of houses, where it
can find the flies and other insects on which it lives. On account of
the structure of the toes, each of which is flattened into a disk-like
form, and furnished on the under surface with a series of plates like
those on the back of the sucking-fish, it can walk up a smooth,
perpendicular wall with perfect ease, and can even cling to the
ceiling like the flies on which it feeds.

The structure of the feet enables it to move about without the least
sound, and at first an observer is apt to be rather startled at the
mournful cry, and at the silent rapidity with which it darts from
place to place.

The Arabs of the present day are horribly afraid of the Gecko,
thinking that it poisons everything that it touches, and are even more
terrified than are ignorant people in England when they see a toad.
Both creatures are equally repulsive in aspect, and equally harmless
towards the human race.


   Difficulty in identifying the _Tachash_ of Scripture--References
   to "Badgers' skins"--The Dugong thought to be the Badger--The
   Bedouin sandals--Nature of the materials for the
   Tabernacle--Habits of the Badger--The species found in
   Palestine--Uses of the Badgers' skins--Looseness of zoological

Until very lately, there was much difficulty in ascertaining whether
the word _Tachash_ has been rightly translated as Badger. It occurs in
several parts of the Scriptures, and almost invariably is used in
relation to a skin or fur of some sort. We will first examine the
passages in which the Badger is mentioned, and then proceed to
identify the animal.

Nearly all the references to the Badger occur in the book of Exodus,
and form part of the directions for constructing the Tabernacle and
its contents. The first notice of the word occurs in Exodus xxv. 5,
where the people of Israel are ordered to bring their offerings for
the sanctuary, among which offerings are gold, silver, and brass,
blue, purple, and scarlet, fine linen, goats' hair, rams' skins dyed
red, badgers' skins, and shittim wood--all these to be used in the
construction of the Tabernacle. Then a little farther on, in chapter
xxvi. 14, we find one of the special uses to which the badgers' skins
were to be put, namely, to make the outer covering or roof of the
tabernacle. Another use for the badgers' skins was to form an outer
covering for the ark, table of shewbread, and other furniture of the
Tabernacle, when the people were on the march.

In all these cases the badger-skin is used as a covering to defend a
building or costly furniture, but there is one example where it is
employed for a different purpose. This passage occurs in the book of
Ezekiel, chapter xvi. 10. The prophet is speaking of Jerusalem under
the image of a woman, and uses these words, "I anointed thee with oil;
I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badger's
skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with
silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy
hands, and a chain upon thy neck, and I put a jewel on thy forehead,
and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head."

So we have here the fact, that the same material which was used for
the covering of the Tabernacle, and of the sacred furniture, could
also be used for the manufacture of shoes. This passage is the more
valuable because of an inference which may be drawn from it. The
reader will see that the badger-skin, whatever it may have been, must
have been something of considerable value, and therefore, in all
probability, something of much rarity.

In the present instance, it is classed with the most luxurious robes
that were known in those days, and it is worthy of special mention
among the bracelet, earrings, necklace, and coronal with which the
symbolized city was adorned. If the reader will now refer to the
passage in which the children of Israel were commanded to bring their
offerings, he will see that in those cases also the badger-skins were
ranked with the costliest articles of apparel that could be found, and
had evidently been brought from Egypt, the peculiar home of all the
arts; together with the vast quantity of gold and jewels which were
used for the same sacred purpose.

Now we find that the badger-skins in question must possess three
qualities: they must be costly, they must be capable of forming a
defence against the weather, and they must be strong enough to be
employed in the manufacture of shoes. If we accept the word Tachash as
signifying a Badger, we shall find that these conditions have been

But many commentators have thought that badger-skins could not have
been procured in sufficient numbers for the purpose, and have
therefore conjectured that some other animal must be signified by the
word Tachash.

A species of dugong (_Halicore hemprichii_) is the animal that has
been selected as the Badger of the Scriptures. It is one of the marine
mammalia, and always lives near the shore, where it can find the
various algæ on which it feeds. It is a gregarious animal, and, as it
frequently ascends rivers for some distance, it may be captured in
sufficient numbers to make both its flesh and skin useful. Moreover,
it is of considerable size, fourteen or fifteen feet in length being
its usual dimensions, so that a comparatively small number of the
skins would be required for the covering of the Tabernacle.

That shoes can be made of it is evident from the fact that at the
present day shoes, or rather sandals, are made from its hide, and are
commonly used by the Bedouins. But the very qualities and
peculiarities which render it a fit material for the sandal of a
half-naked Bedouin Arab, who has to walk continually over hard, hot,
sandy, and rough ground, would surely make it unsuitable for the
delicate shoes worn by a woman of rank who spends her time in the
house, and the rest of whose clothing is of fine linen and silk,
embroidered with gold and jewels. In our own country, the hobnailed
shoes of the ploughman and the slight shoe of a lady are made of very
different materials, and it is reasonable to conjecture that such was
the case when the passage in question was written.

  [Illustration: THE BADGER.

  "Thou shalt make a covering above of badgers' skins."--EX. xxvi. 14.]

Then Dr. Robinson, who admits that the hide of the dugong could hardly
have been used as the material for a lady's shoe, thinks that it would
have answered very well for the roof of the Tabernacle, because it was
large, clumsy, and coarse. It seems strange that he did not also
perceive that the two latter qualities would completely disqualify
such skins for that service. Everything clumsy and coarse was
studiously prohibited, and nothing but the very best was considered
fit for the Tabernacle of the Lord. By special revelation, Moses was
instructed to procure, not merely the ordinary timber of the country
for the framework--not only the fabrics which would keep out rain and
wind--not simply the metals in common use, from which to make the
lamps and other furniture--not the ordinary oils for supplying the
lamps; but, on the contrary, the finest linen, the most elaborate
embroidery, the rarest woods, the purest gold, the costliest
gems, were demanded, and nothing common or inferior was accepted.
The commonest material that was permitted was the long, soft
fleece of rams' wool; but, even in that case, the wool had to be dyed
of the regal scarlet--a dye so rare and so costly that none but the
wealthiest rulers could use it. Even the very oil that burned in the
lamps must be the purest olive-oil, prepared expressly for that

The very fact, therefore, that any article was plentiful and could
easily be obtained, would be a proof that such article was not used
for so sacred a purpose; while it is impossible that anything coarse
and clumsy could have been accepted for the construction of that
Tabernacle within which the Shekinah ever burned over the
Mercy-seat--over which the cloud rested by day, and the fire shone by
night, visible external proofs of the Divine glory within.

We therefore dismiss from our minds the possibility of accepting any
material for it which was not exceptionably valuable, and which would
be employed in the uses of ordinary life. The great object of the
minutely-elaborate directions which were given through Moses to the
Israelites was evidently to keep continually before their eyes the
great truth that they owed all to God, and that their costliest
offerings were but acknowledgments of their dependence.

We will now presume that the Tachash of the Pentateuch and Ezekiel is
really the animal which we know by the name of Badger. It exists
throughout the whole of the district traversed by the Israelites,
though it is not very plentiful, nor is it easily taken. Had such been
the case, its fur would not have been employed in the service of the

It is nocturnal in its habits, and very seldom is seen during the
hours of daylight, so that it cannot be captured by chase. It is not
gregarious, so that it cannot be taken in great numbers, as is the
case with certain wild animals which have been thought to be the
Tachash of Scripture. It is not a careless animal, so that it cannot
be captured or killed without the exercise of considerable ingenuity,
and the expenditure of much time and trouble. It is one of the
burrowing animals, digging for itself a deep subterranean home, and
always ready whenever it is alarmed to escape into the dark recesses
of its dwelling, from which it can scarcely be dislodged. It is not a
large animal, so that a considerable number of skins would be required
in order to make a covering which should overlap a structure
forty-five feet in length and fifteen in breadth. Were it a solitary
animal, there might be a difficulty in procuring a sufficient number
of skins. But it is partly gregarious in its habits, living together
in small families, seven or eight being sometimes found to inhabit a
single dwelling-place. It is, therefore, sufficiently rare to make its
skin valuable, and sufficiently plentiful to furnish the requisite
number of skins. All these facts tend to show that the cost of such a
covering must have been very great, even though it was the outermost,
and, consequently, the least valuable of the four. It has been
suggested that these skins were only used to lay over the lines where
the different sets of coverings overlapped each other, and that, in
consequence, they need not have been very numerous.

But we find that these same skins, which were evidently those which
formed the external roof, were used, when the Tabernacle was taken
down, for the purpose of forming distinct coverings for the ark of the
testimony, the table of shewbread, the seven-branched candlestick, the
golden altar, the various vessels used in the ministrations, and
lastly, the altar of sacrifice itself. Thus, when we recollect the
dimensions of the ark, the table, the candlestick, and the two altars,
we shall see that, in order to make separate covers for them, a
quantity of material would be used which would be amply sufficient to
cover the whole roof of the Tabernacle, even if it had, as was most
probably the case, a ridged, and not a flat roof.

We now come to our next point, namely, the aptitude of the Badger's
skin to resist weather. Any one who has handled the skin of the Badger
will acknowledge that a better material could hardly be found. The fur
is long, thick, and, though light, is moderately stiff, the hairs
falling over each other in such a manner as to throw off rain or snow
as off a penthouse. And, as to the third point, namely, its possible
use as a material for the manufacture of shoes, we may call to mind
that the skin of the Badger is proverbially tough, and that this very
quality has caused the animal to be subjected to most cruel treatment
by a class of sporting men which is now almost extinct.

The Septuagint gives little assistance in determining the precise
nature of the Tachash, and rather seems to consider the word as
expressive of the colour with which the fur was dyed than that of the
animal from which it was taken. Still, it must be remembered that not
only are zoological terms used very loosely in the Scriptures, but
that in Hebrew, as in all other languages, the same combination of
letters often expresses two different ideas, so that the word Tachash
may equally signify a colour and an animal. Moreover, it has been well
pointed out that the repeated use of the word in the plural number
shows that it cannot refer to colour; while its almost invariable
combination with the Hebrew word that signifies a skin implies that it
does not refer to colour, but to an animal.

What that animal may be, is, as I have already mentioned, conjectural.
But, as the authorized translation renders the word as Badger, and as
this reading fulfils the conditions necessary to its identification,
and as no other reading does fulfil them, we cannot be very far wrong
if we accept that translation as the correct one, and assume the
Tachash of the Scriptures to be the animal which we call by the name
of Badger.


   The Syrian Bear--Identity of the Hebrew and Arabic titles--Its
   colour variable according to age--Bears once numerous in
   Palestine, and now only occasionally seen--Reason for their
   diminution--Present localities of the Bear, and its favourite
   haunts--Food of the Bear--Its general habits--Its ravages among
   the flocks--The Bear dangerous to mankind--The Bear robbed of
   her whelps--Illustrative passages--Its mode of fighting--Various
   references to the Bear, from the time of Samuel to that of St.

Whatever doubt may exist as to the precise identity of various animals
mentioned in the Scriptures, there is none whatever as to the creature
which is frequently alluded to under the name of Bear.

The Hebrew word is _Dôb_, and it is a remarkable fact that the name of
this animal in the Arabic language is almost identical with the Hebrew
term, namely, _Dubh_. The peculiar species of Bear which inhabits
Palestine is the Syrian Bear (_Ursus Isabellinus_), and, though it has
been variously described by different eye-witnesses, there is no doubt
that the same species was seen by them all. As is the case with many
animals, the Syrian Bear changes its colour as it grows older. When a
cub, it is of a darkish brown, which becomes a light brown as it
approaches maturity. But, when it has attained its full growth, it
becomes cream-coloured, and each succeeding year seems to lighten its
coat, so that a very old Bear is nearly as white as its relative of
the Arctic regions. Travellers, therefore, who have met the younger
specimens, have described them as brown in hue, while those who have
seen more aged individuals have stated that the colour of the Syrian
Bear is white.

Owing to the destruction of forests, the Bear, which is essentially a
lover of the woods, has decreased considerably in number. Yet, even at
the present time, specimens may be seen by the watchful traveller,
mostly about the range of Lebanon, but sometimes at a considerable
distance from that locality. Mr. Tristram, for example, saw it close
to the Lake of Gennesaret. "We never met with so many wild animals as
on one of those days. First of all, a wild boar got out of some scrub
close to us, as we were ascending the valley. Then a deer was started
below, ran up the cliff, and wound along the ledge, passing close to
us. Then a large ichneumon almost crossed my feet and ran into a
cleft; and, while endeavouring to trace him, I was amazed to see a
brown Syrian Bear clumsily but rapidly clamber down the rocks and
cross the ravine. He was, however, far too cautious to get within
hailing distance of any of the riflemen."

  [Illustration: "As a roaring lion and a ranging bear, so is a wicked
  ruler over the poor people."--PROV. xxviii. 15.]

The same author mentions that some of the chief strongholds of this
Bear are certain clefts in the face of a precipitous chasm through
which the river Leontes flows. This river runs into the sea a few
miles northward of Tyre, and assists in carrying off the melted snows
from the Lebanon range of mountains. His description is so
picturesque, that it must be given in his own words. "The channel,
though a thousand feet deep, was so narrow that the opposite ridge was
within gunshot. Looking down the giddy abyss, we could see the cliff
on our side partially covered with myrtle, bay, and caper
hanging from the fissures, while the opposite side was perforated
with many shallow caves, the inaccessible eyries of vultures,
eagles, and lanner falcons, which were sailing in multitudes
around. The lower part had many ledges clad with shrubs, the
strongholds of the Syrian Bear, though inaccessible even to goats. Far
beneath dashed the milk-white river, a silver line in a ruby setting
of oleanders, roaring doubtless fiercely, but too distant to be heard
at the height on which we stood. This _cleft_ of the Leontes was the
only true Alpine scenery we had met with in Palestine, and in any
country, and amidst any mountains, it would attract admiration."

On those elevated spots the Bear loves to dwell, and throughout the
summer-time generally remains in such localities. For the Bear is one
of the omnivorous animals, and is able to feed on vegetable as well as
animal substances, preferring the former when they can be found. There
is nothing that a Bear likes better than strawberries and similar
fruits, among which it will revel throughout the whole fruit season,
daintily picking the ripest berries, and becoming wonderfully fat by
the constant banquet. Sometimes, when the fruits fail, it makes
incursions among the cultivated grounds, and is noted for the ravages
which it makes among a sort of vetch which is much grown in the Holy

But during the colder months of the year the Bear changes its diet,
and becomes carnivorous. Sometimes it contents itself with the various
wild animals which it can secure, but sometimes it descends to the
lower plains, and seizes upon the goats and sheep in their pastures.
This habit is referred to by David, in his well-known speech to Saul,
when the king was trying to dissuade him from matching himself against
the gigantic Philistine. "And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to
go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a
youth, and he a man of war from his youth.... Thy servant kept his
father's sheep, and there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out
of the flock: and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered
it out of his hand; and when he arose against me, I caught him by the
beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and
the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them,
seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God."--1 Sam. xvii.

Though not generally apt to attack mankind, it will do so if first
attacked, and then becomes a most dangerous enemy. See, for example,
that most graphic passage in the book of the prophet Amos, whose
business as a herdsman must have made him conversant with the habits,
not only of the flocks and herds which he kept, but of the wild beasts
which might devour them:--"Woe unto you that desire the day of the
Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and
not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or
went into a house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit
him." (v. 19.)

Another reference to the dangerous character of the Bear is made in 2
Kings ii. 23, 24, in which is recorded that two she-bears came out of
the wood near Bethel, and killed forty-two of the children that mocked
at Elisha.

As the Bear is not swift of foot, but rather clumsy in its movements,
it cannot hope to take the nimbler animals in open chase. It prefers
to lie in wait for them in the bushes, and to strike them down with a
sudden blow of its paw, a terrible weapon, which it can wield as
effectively as the lion uses its claws. An allusion to this habit is
made in the Lamentations of Jeremiah (iii. 10), "He was unto me as a
bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places."

Harmless to man as it generally is, there are occasions on which it
becomes a terrible and relentless foe, not seeking to avoid his
presence, but even searching for him, and attacking him as soon as
seen. In the proper season of the year, hunters, or those who are
travelling through those parts of the country infested by the Bear,
will sometimes find the cubs, generally two in number, their mother
having left them in the den while she has gone to search for food.
Although they would not venture to take the initiative in an attack
upon either of the parents, they are glad of an opportunity which
enables them to destroy one or two Bears without danger to themselves.
The young Bears are easily killed or carried off, because at a very
early age they are as confident as they are weak, and do not try to
escape when they see the hunters approaching.

The only danger lies in the possibility that their deed may be
discovered by the mother before they can escape from the locality,
and, if she should happen to return while the robbers are still in
the neighbourhood, a severe conflict is sure to follow. At any time an
angry Bear is a terrible antagonist, especially if it be wounded with
sufficient severity to cause pain, and not severely enough to cripple
its movements. But, when to this easily-roused ferocity is added the
fury of maternal feelings, it may be imagined that the hunters have
good reason to fear its attack.

To all animals that rear their young is given a sublime and almost
supernatural courage in defending their offspring, and from the
lioness, that charges a host of armed men when her cubs are in danger,
to the hen, which defies the soaring kite or prowling fox, or to the
spider, that will give up her life rather than abandon her yet
unhatched brood, the same self-sacrificing spirit actuates them all.
Most terrible therefore is the wrath of a creature which possesses, as
is the case of the Bear, the strongest maternal affections, added to
great size, tremendous weapons, and gigantic strength. That the sight
of a Bear bereaved of her young was well known to both writers and
contemporary readers of the Old Testament, is evident from the fact
that it is mentioned by several writers, and always as a familiar
illustration of furious anger. See for example 2 Sam. xvii. 8, when
Hushai is dissuading Absalom from following the cautious counsel of
Ahithophel, "For thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be
mighty men of war, and they be chafed in their minds as a bear robbed
of her whelps in the field." Solomon also, in the Proverbs (xvii. 12),
uses the same image, "Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man,
rather than a fool in his folly."

When the Bear fights, it delivers rapid strokes with its armed paw,
tearing and rending away everything that it strikes. A blow from a
bear's paw has been several times known to strip the entire skin,
together with the hair, from a man's head, and, when fighting with
dogs, to tear its enemies open as if each claw were a chisel. This
mode of fighting is clearly alluded to by the prophet Hosea, who
seems, from the graphic force of his sentences, to have been an actual
spectator of some such combat, "I will meet them as a bear that is
bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart" (Hos.
xiii. 8).

That the Bear was a well-known animal both in the earlier and later
times of the Scripture is also evident from the fact that it was
twice used as a symbol exhibited to a seer in a vision. The first of
these passages occurs in the book of Daniel (vii. 5), when the prophet
is describing the wonderful vision of the four beasts:--"And behold
another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on
one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it, between the teeth
of it, and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh." The
second allusion occurs in the Revelation, the seven-headed and
ten-crowned beast having a form like that of a leopard, but feet like
those of a Bear.


   Various readings of the word _Kippôd_--The Jewish Bible and its
   object--The Syrian Hedgehog and its appearance--Its fondness for
   dry spots--The prophecies of Isaiah and Zephaniah, and their
   bearing on the subject--The Porcupine supposed to be the
   Kippôd--The Hedgehog and Porcupine called by the same name in
   Greek and Arabic--Habits of the Porcupine--Its quills, and the
   manner of their shedding.

In our Authorized Bible, there are one or two passages where the
Hebrew word _Kippôd_ is translated as BITTERN. For example, there is
Isaiah xiv. 22, 23, "I will cut off from Babylon the name, and
remnant, and son and nephew, saith the Lord. I will also make it a
possession for the bittern, and pools of water, and I will sweep it
with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts."

Then there is another passage of the same prophet (xxxiv. 11), "But
the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it (_i.e._ Idumea), the
owl also and the raven shall dwell in it." The last mention of this
creature occurs in Zephaniah ii. 14, "And flocks shall lie down in the
midst of her (_i.e._ Nineveh), all the beasts of the nations: both the
bittern and the cormorant shall lodge in the upper lintels of it;
their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the
thresholds; for he shall uncover the cedar-work."

Now, in the "Jewish School and Family Bible," a new literal
translation by Dr. A. Benisch, under the superintendence of the Chief
Rabbi, the word Kippôd is translated, not as Bittern, but Hedgehog. As
I shall have to refer to this translation repeatedly in the course of
the present work, I will give a few remarks made by the translator in
the preface.

  [Illustration: SYRIAN HEDGEHOG.

  "_Pelican and hedgehog shall possess it._"--ISA. xxxiv. 11. (Jewish

After premising that both Christian and Jew agree in considering the
Old Testament as emanating from God, and reverencing it as such, he
proceeds to say that the former, as holding himself absolved from the
ceremonial law of the Mosaic dispensation, has not the interest in the
exact signification of every letter of the law which necessarily
attaches itself to the Jew, who considers himself bound by that law,
although some ceremonies, "by their special reference to the Temple in
Jerusalem and the actual existence of Israel in the Holy Land, are at
present not practicable."

He then observes that the translators of the authorized Anglican
version, whose many excellences he fully admits, could not be
considered as free agents, as they were bound by the positive
injunctions of their monarch, as well as by the less obvious, but more
powerful influence of Christian authorities, to alter the original
translation as little as possible, and to keep the ecclesiastical
words. Retaining, therefore, the renderings of the Anglican
translation whenever it can be done without infringing upon absolute
accuracy, the translator has marked with great care various passages
where he has felt himself obliged to give a different rendering to the
Hebrew. Whenever words, especially such as are evidently the names of
animals, cannot be rendered with any amount of probability, they have
not been translated at all, and to those about which there are good
grounds of doubt a distinctive mark is affixed.

Now to the word Hedgehog, by which the Hebrew Kippôd is rendered, no
such marking is attached in either of the three quoted passages, and
it is evident therefore that the rendering is satisfactory to the
highest authorities on the Hebrew language. And we have the greater
assurance of this accuracy, because, in the mere translation of the
name of an animal, no doctrinal point is involved, and so there can be
no temptation to the translator to be carried away by preconceived
ideas, and to give to the word that rendering which may tend to
establish his peculiar doctrinal ideas.

The Septuagint also translates Kippôd as [Greek: echinos] (_echinus_)
_i.e._ the Hedgehog, and this rendering is advocated by the eminent
scholar Gesenius, who considers it to be formed from the Hebrew word
_kaped_, _i.e._ contracted; reference being of course made to the
Hedgehog's habit of rolling itself up when alarmed, and presenting
only an array of bristles to the enemy. This derivation of the word is
certainly more convincing than a suggestion which has been made, that
the Hebrew Kippôd may signify the Hedgehog, because it resembles the
Arabic name of the same animal, viz. Kunfod.

As therefore the word Kippôd is translated as Hedgehog in the
Septuagint and Jewish Bible, and as Bittern in the authorized version,
we very naturally ask ourselves whether either or both of these
animals inhabit Palestine and the neighbouring countries. We find that
both are plentiful even at the present day, and that more than one
species of Hedgehog and Bittern are known in the Holy Land. About the
Bittern we shall treat in good time, and will now take up the
rendering of Hedgehog.

There are at least two species of Hedgehog known in Palestine, that of
the north being identical with our own well-known animal (_Erinaceus
Europoeus_), and the other being a distinct species (_Erinaceus
Syriacus_). The latter animal is the species which has been chosen for
illustration. It is smaller than its northern relative, lighter in
colour, and, as may be seen from the illustration, is rather different
in general aspect.

Its habits are identical with those of the European Hedgehog. Like
that animal it is carnivorous, feeding on worms, snails, frogs,
lizards, snakes, and similar creatures, and occasionally devouring the
eggs and young of birds that make their nest on the ground.

Small as is the Hedgehog, it can devour all such animals with perfect
ease, its jaws and teeth being much stronger than might be anticipated
from the size of their owner.

One or two objections that have been made to the translation of the
Kippôd as Hedgehog must be mentioned, so that the reader may see what
is said on both sides in dubious cases. One objection is, that the
Kippôd is (in Isaiah xiv. 23) mentioned in connexion with pools of
water, and that, as the Hedgehog prefers dry places to wet, whereas
the Bittern is essentially a marsh-dweller, the latter rendering of
the word is preferable to the former. Again, as the Kippôd is said by
Zephaniah to "lodge in the upper lintels," and its "voice to sing in
the windows," it must be a bird, and not a quadruped. We will examine
these passages separately, and see how they bear upon the subject. As
to Zephaniah ii. 13, the Jewish Bible treats the passage as
follows:--"And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and
destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and arid like the
desert. And droves shall crouch in the midst of her, all the animals
of nations: both pelican and hedgehog (Kippôd) shall lodge nightly in
the knobs of it, a voice shall sing in the windows; drought shall be
in the thresholds, for he shall uncover the cedar-work."

Now the reader will see that, so far from the notion of marsh-land
being connected with the Kippôd, the whole imagery of the prophecy
turns upon the opposite characteristics of desolation, aridity, and
drought. The same imagery is used in Isaiah xxxiv. 7-12, which the
Jewish Bible reads as follows, "For it is the day of the vengeance of
the Eternal, and the year of recompenses for the quarrel of Zion. And
the brooks thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof
into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It
shall not go out night nor day; the smoke of it shall go up for ever;
from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass
through it for ever and ever. Pelican and hedgehog (Kippôd) shall
possess it; owls also and ravens shall dwell in it; and he shall
stretch over it the line of desolation, and the stones of emptiness."
And to the end of the chapter the same idea of drought, desolation,
and solitude is carried out.

Thus, even putting the question in the simplest manner, we have two
long passages which directly connect the Kippôd with drought, aridity,
and desolation, in opposition to one in which the Kippôd and "pools of
water" are mentioned in proximity to each other. Now the fact is, that
the sites of Nineveh and Babylon fulfil both prophecies, being both
dry and marshy--dry away from the river, and marshy among the
reed-swamps that now exist on its banks.

So much for the question of locality.

As to the second objection, namely, that the Kippôd was to lodge in
the upper lintels, and therefore must be a bird, and not a quadruped,
it is sufficient to say that the allusion is evidently made to ruins
that are thrown down, and not to buildings that are standing upright.

As to the words, "their voices shall sing in the windows," the reader
may see, on reference to the English Bible, that the word "their" is
printed in italics, showing that it does not exist in the original,
and has been supplied by the translator. Taking the passage as it
really stands, "Both the cormorant and the bittern (Kippôd) shall
lodge in the upper lintels of it; a voice shall sing in the windows,"
it is evident that the voice or sound which sings in the windows does
not necessarily refer to the cormorant and Bittern at all. Dr. Harris
remarks that "the phrase is elliptical, and implies 'the voice of


   Presumed identity of the Kippôd with the Porcupine--The same
   Greek name applied to the Porcupine and Hedgehog--Habits of the
   Porcupine--the common Porcupine found plentifully in Palestine.

Although, like the hedgehog, the Porcupine is not mentioned by name in
the Scriptures, many commentators think that the word Kippôd signifies
both the hedgehog and Porcupine.

That the two animals should be thought to be merely two varieties of
one species is not astonishing, when we remember the character of the
people among whom the Porcupine lives. Not having the least idea of
scientific geology, they look only to the most conspicuous
characteristics, and because the Porcupine and hedgehog are both
covered with an armature of quills, and the quills are far more
conspicuous than the teeth, the inhabitants of Palestine naturally
class the two animals together. In reality, they belong to two very
different orders, the hedgehog being classed with the shrew-mice and
moles, while the Porcupine is a rodent animal, and is classed with the
rats, rabbits, beavers, marmots, and other rodents.

At the present day the inhabitants of the Holy Land believe the
Porcupine to be only a large species of hedgehog, and the same name is
applied to both animals. Such is the case even in the Greek language,
the word Hystrix ([Greek: hystrinx] or [Greek: hysthrix]) being
employed indifferently in either sense.

Its food is different from that of the hedgehog, for whereas the
hedgehog lives entirely on animal food, as has been already mentioned,
the Porcupine is as exclusively a vegetable eater, feeding chiefly on
roots and bark.

It is quite as common in Palestine as the hedgehog, a fact which
increases the probability that the two animals may have been mentioned
under a common title. Being a nocturnal animal, it retires during the
day-time to some crevice in a rock or burrow in the ground, and there
lies sleeping until the sunset awakens it and calls it to action. And
as the hedgehog is also a nocturnal animal, the similarity of habit
serves to strengthen the mutual resemblance.

The Porcupine is peculiarly fitted for living in dry and unwatered
spots, as, like many other animals, of which our common rabbit is a
familiar example, it can exist without water, obtaining the needful
moisture from the succulent roots on which it feeds.

The sharply pointed quills with which its body is covered are solid,
and strengthened in a most beautiful manner by internal ribs, that run
longitudinally along its length, exactly like those of the hollow iron
masts, which are now coming so much into use. As they are, in fact,
greatly developed hairs, they are continually shed and replaced, and
when they are about to fall are so loosely attached that they fall off
if pulled slightly, or even if the animal shakes itself. Consequently
the shed quills that lie about the localities inhabited by the
Porcupine indicate its whereabouts, and so plentiful are these quills
in some places that quite a bundle can be collected in a short time.

There are many species of Porcupines which inhabit different parts of
the world, but that which has been mentioned is the common Porcupine
of Europe, Asia, and Africa (_Hystrix cristata_).


   The two Hebrew words which are translated as Mole--Obscurity of
   the former name--A parallel case in our own language--The second
   name--The Moles and the Bats, why associated together--The real
   Mole of Scripture, its different names, and its place in
   zoology--Description of the Mole-rat and its general
   habits--Curious superstition--Discovery of the species by Mr.
   Tristram--Scripture and science--How the Mole-rat finds its
   food--Distinction between the Mole and the present animal.

There are two words which are translated as Mole in our authorized
version of the Bible. One of them is so obscure that there seems no
possibility of deciding the creature that is represented by it. We
cannot even tell to what class of the animal kingdom it refers,
because in more than one place it is mentioned as one of the unclean
birds that might not be eaten (translated as _swan_ in our version),
whereas, in another place, it is enumerated among the unclean creeping

  [Illustration: THE MOLE-RAT.

  "_These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that
  creep upon the earth ... the lizard, the snail, and the mole._"--LEV.
  xi. 29, 30.]

We may conjecture that the same word might be used to designate two
distinct animals, though we have no clue to their identification. It
is rather a strange coincidence, in corroboration of this theory, that
our word Mole signifies three distinct objects--firstly, an animal;
secondly, a cutaneous growth; and thirdly, a bank of earth. Now,
supposing English to be a dead language, like the Hebrew, it may well
be imagined that a translator of an English book would feel extremely
perplexed when he saw the word Mole used in such widely different

The best Hebraists can do no more than offer a conjecture founded on
the structure of the word _Tinshemeth_, which is thought by some to be
the chameleon. Some think that it is the Mole, some the ibis, some the
salamander, while others consider it to be the centipede; and in
neither case have any decisive arguments been adduced.

We will therefore leave the former of these two names, and proceed to
the second, _Chephor-peroth_.

This word occurs in that passage of Isaiah which has already been
quoted when treating of the bat. "In that day a man shall cast his
idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made each one to
himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the
clefts of the rocks and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of
the Lord and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake
terribly the earth."

It is highly probable that the animal in question is the Mole of
Palestine, which is not the same as our European species, but is much
larger in size, and belongs to a different order of mammalia. The true
Mole is one of the insectivorous and carnivorous animals, and is
allied to the shrews and the hedgehogs; whereas the Mole of Palestine
(_Spalax typhlus_) is one of the rodents, and allied to the rabbits,
mice, marmots, and jerboas. A better term for it is the Mole-rat, by
which name it is familiar to zoologists. It is also known by the names
of Slepez and Nenni.

In length it is about eight inches, and its colour is a pale slate. As
is the case with the true Moles, the eyes are of very minute
dimensions, and are not visible through the thick soft fur with which
the whole head and body are covered. Neither are there any visible
external ears, although the ear is really very large, and extremely
sensitive to sound. This apparent privation of both ears and eyes
gives to the animal a most singular and featureless appearance, its
head being hardly recognisable as such but for the mouth, and the
enormous projecting teeth, which not only look formidable, but really
are so. There is a curious superstition in the Ukraine, that if a man
will dare to grasp a Mole-rat in his bare hand, allow it to bite him,
and then squeeze it to death, the hand that did the deed will ever
afterwards possess the virtue of healing goitre or scrofula.

This animal is spread over a very large tract of country, and is very
common in Palestine. Mr. Tristram gives an interesting account of its
discovery. "We had long tried in vain to capture the Mole of
Palestine. Its mines and its mounds we had seen everywhere, and
reproached ourselves with having omitted the mole-trap among the
items of our outfit. From the size of the mounds and the shallowness
of the subterranean passages, we felt satisfied it could not be the
European species, and our hopes of solving the question were raised
when we found that one of them had taken up its quarters close to our
camp. After several vain attempts to trap it, an Arab one night
brought a live Mole in a jar to the tent. It was no Mole properly so
called, but the Mole-rat, which takes its place throughout Western
Asia. The man, having observed our anxiety to possess a specimen,
refused to part with it for less than a hundred piastres, and
scornfully rejected the twenty piastres I offered. Ultimately, Dr.
Chaplin purchased it for five piastres after our departure, and I kept
it alive for some time in a box, feeding it on sliced onions."

The same gentleman afterwards caught many of the Mole-rats, and kept
them in earthen vessels, as they soon gnawed their way through wood.
They fed chiefly on bulbs, but also ate sopped bread. Like many other
animals, they reposed during the day, and were active throughout the

The author then proceeds to remark on the peculiarly appropriate
character of the prophecy that the idols should be cast to the Moles
and the bats. Had the European Mole been the animal to which reference
was made, there would have been comparatively little significance in
the connexion of the two names, because, although both animals are
lovers of darkness, they do not inhabit similar localities. But the
Mole-rat is fond of frequenting deserted ruins and burial-places, so
that the Moles and the bats are really companions, and as such are
associated together in the sacred narrative. Here, as in many other
instances, we find that closer study of the Scriptures united to more
extended knowledge are by no means the enemies of religion, as some
well-meaning, but narrow-minded persons think. On the contrary, the
Scriptures were never so well understood, and their truth and force so
well recognised, as at the present day; and science has proved to be,
not the destroyer of the Bible, but its interpreter. We shall soon
cease to hear of "Science _versus_ the Bible," and shall substitute
"Science and the Bible _versus_ Ignorance and Prejudice."

The Mole-rat needs not to dig such deep tunnels as the true Moles,
because its food does not lie so deep. The Moles live chiefly upon
earthworms, and are obliged to procure them in the varying depths to
which they burrow. But the Mole-rat lives mostly upon roots,
preferring those of a bulbous nature. Now bulbous roots are, as a
rule, situated near the surface of the ground, and, therefore, any
animal which feeds upon them must be careful not to burrow too deeply,
lest it should pass beneath them. The shallowness of the burrows is
thus accounted for. Gardens are often damaged by this animal, the
root-crops, such as carrots and onions, affording plenty of food
without needing much exertion.

The Mole-rat does not keep itself quite so jealously secluded as does
our common Mole, but occasionally will come out of the burrow and lie
on the ground, enjoying the warm sunshine. Still it is not easily to
be approached; for though its eyes are almost useless, the ears are so
sharp, and the animal is so wary, that at the sound of a footstep it
instantly seeks the protection of its burrow, where it may bid
defiance to its foes.

How it obtains its food is a mystery. There seems to be absolutely no
method of guiding itself to the precise spot where a bulb may be
growing. It is not difficult to conjecture the method by which the
Mole discovers its prey. Its sensitive ears may direct it to the spot
where a worm is driving its way through the earth, and should it come
upon its prey, the very touch of the worm, writhing in terror at the
approach of its enemy, would be sufficient to act as a guide. I have
kept several Moles, and always noticed that, though they would pass
close to a worm without seeming to detect its presence, either by
sight or scent, at the slightest touch they would spring round, dart
on the worm, and in a moment seize it between their jaws. But with the
Mole-rat the case is different. The root can utter no sound, and can
make no movement, nor is it likely that the odour of the bulb should
penetrate through the earth to a very great distance.


   Conjectures as to the right translation of the Hebrew word
   _Akbar_--Signification of the word--The Mice which marred the
   land--Miracles, and their economy of power--The Field-mouse--Its
   destructive habits and prolific nature--The insidious nature of
   its attacks, and its power of escaping observation--The Hamster,
   and its habits--Its custom of storing up provisions for the
   winter--Its fertility and unsociable nature--The Jerboa, its
   activity and destructiveness--Jerboas and Hamsters eaten by
   Arabs and Syrians--Various species of Dormice and Sand-rats.

That the Mouse mentioned in the Old Testament was some species of
rodent animal is tolerably clear, though it is impossible to state any
particular species as being signified by the Hebrew word _Akbar_. The
probable derivation of this name is from two words which signify
"destruction of corn," and it is therefore evident that allusion is
made to some animal which devours the produce of the fields, and which
exists in sufficient numbers to make its voracity formidable.

Some commentators on the Old Testament translate the word Akbar as
jerboa. Now, although the jerboa is common in Syria, it is not nearly
so plentiful as other rodent animals, and would scarcely be selected
as the means by which a terrible disaster is made to befall a whole
country. The student of Scripture is well aware that, in those
exceptional occurrences which are called miracles, a needless
development of the wonder-working power is never employed. We are not
to suppose, for example, that the clouds of locusts that devoured the
harvests of the Egyptians were created for this express purpose, but
that their already existing hosts were concentrated upon a limited
area, instead of being spread over a large surface. Nor need we fancy
that the frogs which rendered their habitations unclean, and
contaminated their food, were brought into existence simply to inflict
a severe punishment on the fastidious and superstitious Egyptians.

Of course, had such an exercise of creative power been needed, it
would have been used, but we can all see that a needless miracle is
never worked. He who would not suffer even a crumb of the miraculously
multiplied bread to be wasted, is not likely to waste that power by
which the miracle was wrought.

If we refer to the early history of the Israelitish nation, as told in
1 Sam. iv.--vi., we shall find that the Israelites made an
unwarrantable use of the ark, by taking it into battle, and that it
was captured and carried off into the country of the Philistines. Then
various signs were sent to warn the captors to send the ark back to
its rightful possessors. Dagon, the great fish-god, was prostrated
before it, painful diseases attacked them, so that many died, and
scarcely any seem to have escaped, while their harvests were ravaged
by numbers of "mice that marred the land."

The question is now simple enough. If the ordinary translation is
accepted, and the word Akbar rendered as Mouse, would the necessary
conditions be fulfilled, _i.e._ would the creature be destructive, and
would it exist in very great numbers? Now we shall find that both
these conditions are fulfilled by the common Field-mouse (_Arvicola

This little creature is, in proportion to its size, one of the most
destructive animals in the world. Let its numbers be increased from
any cause whatever, and it will most effectually "mar the land." It
will devour every cereal that is sown, and kill almost any sapling
that is planted. It does not even wait for the corn to spring up, but
will burrow beneath the surface, and dig out the seed before it has
had time to sprout. In the early part of the year, it will eat the
green blade as soon as it springs out of the ground, and is an adept
at climbing the stalks of corn, and plundering the ripe ears in the

When stacked or laid up in barns, the harvest is by no means safe, for
the Mice will penetrate into any ordinary barn, and find their way
into any carelessly-built stack, from which they can scarcely be
ejected. The rat itself is not so dire a foe to the farmer, as the
less obtrusive, but equally mischievous Field-mouse. The ferret will
drive the rats out of their holes, and if they have taken possession
of a wheat-stack they can be ejected by depriving them of access to
water. But the burrows of the Field-mouse are so small that a ferret
cannot make its way through them, and the nightly dew that falls on
the stack affords an ample supply of water.

  [Illustration: THE FIELD-MOUSE.

  "_Wherefore ye shall make images of your mice that mar the land._"--1
  SAM. vi. 5.]

When the Field-mouse is deprived of the food which it loves best, it
finds a subsistence among the trees. Whenever mice can discover a
newly-planted sapling, they hold great revel upon it, eating away the
tender young bark as high as they can reach, and consequently
destroying the tree as effectually as if it were cut down. Even when
the young trees fail them, and no tender bark is to be had, the
Field-mice can still exert their destructive powers. They will then
betake themselves to the earth, burrow beneath its surface, and devour
the young rootlets of the forest trees. All botanists know that a
healthy tree is continually pushing forward fresh roots below the
ground, in order to gain sufficient nourishment to supply the
increasing growth above. If, therefore, these young roots are
destroyed, the least harm that can happen to the tree is that its
further growth is arrested; while, in many cases, the tree, which
cannot repair the injuries it has received, droops gradually, and
finally dies. Even in this country, the Field-mouse has proved itself
a terrible enemy to the agriculturist, and has devastated considerable
tracts of land.

So much for the destructive powers of the Field-mouse, and the next
point to be considered is its abundance.

Nearly all the rats and mice are singularly prolific animals,
producing a considerable number at a brood, and having several broods
in a season. The Field-mouse is by no means an exception to the
general rule, but produces as many young in a season as any of the

Not only is it formidable from its numbers, but from the insidious
nature of its attacks. Any one can see a rabbit, a hare, or even a
rat; but to see a Field-mouse is not easy, even when the little
creatures are present in thousands. A Field-mouse never shows itself
except from necessity, its instinct teaching it to escape the
observation of its many furred and feathered enemies. Short-legged and
soft-furred, it threads its noiseless way among the herbage with such
gentle suppleness that scarcely a grass-blade is stirred, while, if it
should be forced to pass over a spot of bare ground, the red-brown hue
of its fur prevents it from being detected by an inexperienced eye.
Generally the Field-mouse is safe from human foes, and has only to
dread the piercing eye and swift wings of the hawk, or the silent
flight and sharp talons of the owl.

Although there can be no doubt that the Field-mouse is one of the
animals to which the name of Akbar is given, it is probable that many
species were grouped under this one name. Small rodents of various
kinds are very plentiful in Palestine, and there are several species
closely allied to the Field-mouse itself.

Among them is the Hamster (_Cricetus frumentarius_), so widely known
for the ravages which it makes among the crops. This terribly
destructive animal not only steals the crops for immediate
subsistence, but lays up a large stock of provisions for the winter,
seeming to be actuated by a sort of miserly passion for collecting and
storing away. There seems to be no bounds to the quantity of food
which a Hamster will carry into its subterranean store-house, from
seventy to one hundred pounds' weight being sometimes taken out of
the burrow of a single animal. The fact of the existence of these
large stores shows that the animal must need them, and accordingly we
find that the Hamster is only a partial hibernator, as it is awake
during a considerable portion of the winter months, and is
consequently obliged to live on the stores which it has collected.

It is an exceedingly prolific animal, each pair producing on an
average twenty-five young in the course of a year. The families are
unsociable, and, as soon as they are strong enough to feed themselves,
the young Hamsters leave their home, and make separate burrows for
themselves. Thus we see that the Hamster, as well as the Field-mouse,
fulfils the conditions which are needed in order to class it under the
general title of Akbar.

I have already stated that some translators of the Bible use the word
Jerboa as a rendering of the Hebrew Akbar. As the Jerboa certainly is
found in Palestine, there is some foundation for this idea, and we may
safely conjecture that it also is one of the smaller rodents which are
grouped together under the appellation of Mouse.

The Common Jerboa (_Dipus Ægyptiacus_) is plentiful in Palestine, and
several other species inhabit the same country, known at once by their
long and slender legs, which give them so curious a resemblance to the
kangaroos of Australia. The Jerboas pass over the ground with
astonishing rapidity. Instead of creeping stealthily among the
grass-blades, like the short-limbed field-mouse, the Jerboa flies
along with a succession of wonderful leaps, darting here and there
with such rapidity that the eye can scarcely follow its wayward
movements. When quiet and undisturbed, it hops along gently enough,
but as soon as it takes alarm, it darts off in its peculiar manner,
which is to the ordinary walk of quadrupeds what the devious course of
a frightened snipe is to the steady flight of birds in general.

It prefers hot and dry situations, its feet being defended by a thick
coating of stiff hairs, which serve the double purpose of protecting
it from the heat, and giving it a firm hold on the ground. It is
rather a destructive animal, its sharp and powerful teeth enabling it
to bite its way through obstacles which would effectually stop an
ordinary Mouse. That the Jerboa may be one of the Akbarim is rendered
likely by the prohibition in Lev. xi. 29, forbidding the Mouse to be
eaten. It would be scarcely probable that such a command need have
been issued against eating the common Mouse, whereas the Jerboa, a
much larger and palatable animal, is always eaten by the Arabs. The
Hamster is at the present day eaten in Northern Syria.

Beside these creatures there are the Dormice, several species of which
animal inhabit Palestine at the present day. There are also the
Sand-rats, one species of which is larger than our ordinary rats. The
Sand-rats live more in the deserts than the cultivated lands, making
their burrows at the foot of hills, and among the roots of bushes.


   The prohibitions of the Mosaic law--The chewing of the cud, and
   division of the hoof--Identity of the Hare of
   Scripture--Rumination described--The Hare a rodent and not a
   ruminant--Cowper and his Hares--Structure of the rodent
   tooth--The Mosaic law accommodated to its recipients--The Hares
   of Palestine and their habits.

Among the many provisions of the Mosaic law are several which refer to
the diet of the Israelites, and which prohibit certain kinds of food.
Special stress is laid upon the flesh of animals, and the list of
those which may be lawfully eaten is a singularly restricted one, all
being excluded except those which "divide the hoof and chew the cud."
And, lest there should be any mistake about the matter, examples are
given both of those animals which may and those which may not be

The ox, sheep, goat, and antelopes generally are permitted as lawful
food, because they fulfil both conditions; whereas there is a special
prohibition of the swine, because it divides the hoof but does not
chew the cud, and of the camel, coney, and hare because they chew the
cud, but do not divide the hoof. Our business at present is with the
last of these animals.

Considerable discussion has been raised concerning this animal,
because, as is well known to naturalists, the Hare is not one of the
ruminant animals, but belongs to the same order as the rat, rabbit,
beaver, and other rodents. Neither its teeth nor its stomach are
constructed for the purpose of enabling it to ruminate, i.e. to return
into the mouth the partially-digested food, and then to masticate it
afresh; and therefore it has been thought that either there is some
mistake in the sacred narrative, or that the Hebrew word has been

  [Illustration: THE SYRIAN HARE.

  "_Nevertheless, these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or
  of them that divide the cloven hoof: as the camel, and the hare, and
  the coney._"--DEUT. xiv. 7.]

Taking the latter point first, as being the simplest of the two, we
find that the Hebrew word which is rendered as Hare is Arnebeth, and
that it is rendered in the Septuagint as Dasypus, or the Hare,--a
rendering which the Jewish Bible adopts. That the Arnebeth is really
the Hare may also be conjectured from the fact that the Arabic name
for that animal is Arneb. In consequence of the rather wide sense to
which the Greek word Dasypus (_i.e._ hairy-foot) is used, some
commentators have suggested that the rabbit may have been included in
the same title. This, however, is not at all likely, inasmuch as the
Hare is very plentiful in Palestine, and the rabbit is believed not
to be indigenous to that part of the world. And, even if the two
animals had been classed under the same title, the physiological
difficulty would not be removed.

Before proceeding further, it will be as well to give a brief
description of the curious act called rumination, or "chewing the

There are certain animals, such as the oxen, antelopes, deer, sheep,
goats, camels, &c. which have teeth unfitted for the rapid mastication
of food, and which therefore are supplied with a remarkable apparatus
by which the food can be returned into the mouth when the animal has
leisure, and be re-masticated before it passes into the true digestive

For this purpose they are furnished with four stomachs, which are
arranged in the following order. First comes the paunch or "rumen"
(whence the word "ruminating"), into which passes the food in a very
rough state, just as it is torn, rather than bitten, from the herbage,
and which is analogous to the crop in birds. It thence passes into the
second stomach, or "honeycomb," the walls of which are covered with
small angular cells. Into those cells the food is received from the
first stomach, and compressed into little balls, which can be
voluntarily returned into the mouth for mastication.

After the second mastication has been completed, the food passes at
once into the third stomach, and thence into the fourth, which is the
true digesting cavity. By a peculiar structure of these organs, the
animal is able to convey its food either into the first or third
stomach, at will, _i.e._ into the first when the grass is eaten, and
into the third after rumination. Thus it will be seen that an animal
which chews the cud must have teeth of a certain character, and be
possessed of the fourfold stomach which has just been described.

Two points are conceded which seem to be utterly irreconcilable with
each other. The first is that the Mosaic law distinctly states that
the Hare chews the cud; the second is, that in point of fact the Hare
is not, and cannot be, a ruminating animal, possessing neither the
teeth nor the digestive organs which are indispensable for that
process. Yet, totally opposed as these statements appear to be, they
are in fact, not so irreconcilable as they seem.

Why the flesh of certain animals was prohibited, we do not at the
present time know. That the flesh of swine should be forbidden food is
likely enough, considering the effects which the habitual eating of
swine's flesh is said to produce in hot countries. But it does seem
very strange that the Israelites should have been forbidden to eat the
flesh of the camel, the coney (or hyrax), and the Hare, and that these
animals should have been specified is a proof that the eating or
refraining from their flesh was not a mere sanitary regulation, but
was a matter of importance. The flesh of all these three animals is
quite as good and nutritious as that of the oxen, or goats, which are
eaten in Palestine, and that of the Hare is far superior to them.
Therefore, the people of Israel, who were always apt to take liberties
with the restrictive laws, and were crafty enough to evade them on so
many occasions, would have been likely to pronounce that the flesh of
the Hare was lawful meat, because the animal chewed the cud, or
appeared to do so, and they would discreetly have omitted the passage
which alluded to the division of the hoof.

To a non-scientific observer the Hare really does appear to chew the
cud. When it is reposing at its ease, it continually moves its jaws
about as if eating something, an action which may readily be mistaken
for true rumination. Even Cowper, the poet, who kept some hares for
several years, and had them always before his eyes, was deceived by
this mumbling movement of the jaws. Speaking of his favourite hare,
"Puss," he proceeds as follows: "Finding him exceedingly tractable, I
made it my custom to carry him always after breakfast into the garden,
where he hid himself generally under the leaves of a cucumber vine,
sleeping, _or chewing the cud_, till evening."

The real object of this continual grinding or mumbling movement is
simple enough. The chisel-like incisor teeth of the rodent animals
need to be rubbed against each other, in order to preserve their edge
and shape, and if perchance such friction should be wanting to a
tooth, as, for example, by the breaking of the opposite tooth, it
becomes greatly elongated, and sometimes grows to such a length as to
prevent the animal from eating. Instinctively, therefore, the Hare, as
well as the rabbit and other rodents, always likes to be nibbling at
something, as any one knows who has kept rabbits in wooden hutches,
the object of this nibbling not being to eat the wood, but to keep
the teeth in order.

But we may naturally ask ourselves, why the Mosaic law, an emanation
from heaven, should mention an animal as being a ruminant, when its
very structure shows that such an act was utterly impossible? The
answer is clear enough. The law was suited to the capacity of those
for whom it was intended, and was never meant to be a handbook of
science, as well as a code of religious duties and maxims. The Jews,
like other Orientals, were indifferent to that branch of knowledge
which we designate by the name of physical science, and it was
necessary that the language in which the law was conveyed to them
should be accommodated to their capabilities of receiving it.

It would have been worse than useless to have interrupted the solemn
revelation of Divine will with a lesson in comparative anatomy; the
object of the passage in question being, not to teach the Jews the
distinctive characteristics of a rodent and a ruminant, but to guard
against their mistaking the Hare for one of the ruminants which were
permitted as food. That they would in all probability have fallen into
that mistake is evident from the fact that the Arabs are exceedingly
fond of the flesh of the Hare, and accept it, as well as the camel, as
lawful food, because it chews the cud, the division of the hoof not
being considered by them as an essential.

Hares are very plentiful in Palestine, and at least two species are
found in that country. One of them, which inhabits the more northern
and hilly portion of Palestine, closely resembles our own species, but
has not ears quite so long in proportion, while the head is broader.
The second species, which lives in the south, and in the valley of the
Jordan, is very small, is of a light dun colour, and has very long
ears. In their general habits, these Hares resemble the Hare of


   The cattle of Palestine, and their decadence at the present
   day--Ox-flesh not used for food in modern times--Oxen of the
   stall, and oxen of the pasture--The use of the ox in
   agriculture--The yoke and its structure--The plough and the
   goad--The latter capable of being used as a weapon--Treading out
   the corn--The cart and its wheels--The ox used as a beast of
   burden--Cattle turned loose to graze--The bulls of
   Bashan--Curiosity of the ox-tribe--A season of drought--Branding
   the cattle--An Egyptian field scene--Cattle-keeping an
   honourable post--The ox as used for sacrifice--Ox-worship--The
   bull Apis, and his history--Persistency of the
   bull-worship--Jeroboam's sin--Various names of cattle--The
   Indian buffalo.

Under this head we shall treat of the domesticated oxen of Scripture,
whether mentioned as Bull, Cow, Ox, Calf, Heifer, &c.

Two distinct species of cattle are found in Palestine, namely, the
ordinary domesticated ox, and the Indian buffalo, which lives in the
low-lying and marshy valley of the Jordan. Of this species we shall
treat presently.

The domesticated cattle are very much like our own, but there is not
among them that diversity of breed for which this country is famous;
nor is there even any distinction of long and short horned cattle.
There are some places where the animals are larger than in others, but
this difference is occasioned simply by the better quality and greater
quantity of the food.

As is the case in most parts of the world where civilization has made
any progress, Domesticated Cattle were, and still are, plentiful in
Palestine. Even at the present time the cattle are in common use,
though it is evident, from many passages of Holy Writ, that in the
days of Judæa's prosperity cattle were far more numerous than they are
now, and were treated in a better fashion.

To take their most sacred use first, a constant supply of cattle was
needed for the sacrifices, and, as it was necessary that every animal
which was brought to the altar should be absolutely perfect, it is
evident that great care was required in order that the breed should
not deteriorate, a skill which has long been rendered useless by the
abandonment of the sacrifices.

Another reason for their better nurture in the times of old is that in
those days the ox was largely fed and fatted for the table, just as is
done with ourselves. At the present day, the flesh of the cattle is
practically unused as food, that of the sheep or goat being always
employed, even when a man gives a feast to his friends. But, in the
old times, stalled oxen, _i.e._ oxen kept asunder from those which
were used for agricultural purposes, and expressly fatted for the
table, were in constant use. See for example the well-known passage in
the Prov. xv. 17, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a
stalled ox and hatred therewith." Again, the Prophet Jeremiah makes
use of a curious simile, "Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but
destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north. Also her hired men are
in the midst of her like fatted bullocks [or, bullocks of the stall],
for they also are turned back, and are fled away together." (Jer.
xlvi. 20.) And in 1 Kings iv. 22, 23, when describing the glories of
Solomon's household, the sacred writer draws a distinction between the
oxen which were especially fattened for the table of the king and the
superior officers, and those which were consumed by the lower orders
of his household: "And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty
measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal, ten fat oxen,
and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside
harts, and roebucks, and fallow-deer, and fatted fowl." Again, in the
well-known parable of the king's marriage, there is an allusion to
fatted animals, and a distinction is made between the oxen of the
pasture and those of the stall. "Again, he sent forth other servants,
saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner,
my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready."

Calves--mostly, if not always, bull-calves--were largely used for food
in Palestine, and in the households of the wealthy were fatted for the
table. See, for example, the familiar parable of the prodigal son, in
which the rejoicing father is mentioned as preparing a great feast in
honour of his son's return, and ordering the fatted calf to be
killed--the calf in question being evidently one of the animals that
were kept in good condition against any festive occasion. And, even in
the earliest history of the Bible, the custom of keeping a fatted calf
evidently prevailed, as is shown by the conduct of Abraham, who, when
he was visited by the three heavenly guests, "ran unto the herd, and
fetched a calf, tender and good," and had it killed and dressed at
once, after the still existing fashion of the East.

But, even in the times of Israel's greatest prosperity, the chief use
of the ox was as an agricultural labourer, thus reversing the custom
of this country, where the horse has taken the place of the ox as a
beast of draught, and where cattle are principally fed for food.
Ploughing was, and is, always performed by oxen, and allusions to this
office are scattered plentifully through the Old and New Testaments.

When understood in this sense, oxen are almost always spoken of in
connexion with the word "yoke," and as each yoke comprised two oxen,
it is evident that the word is used as we employ the term "brace," or
pair. The yoke, which is the chief part of the harness, is a very
simple affair. A tolerably stout beam of wood is cut of a sufficient
length to rest upon the necks of the oxen standing side by side, and a
couple of hollows are scooped out to receive the crest of the neck. In
order to hold it in its place, two flexible sticks are bent under
their necks, and the ends fixed into the beam of the yoke. In the
middle of this yoke is fastened the pole of the plough or cart, and
this is all the harness that is used, not even traces being required.

It will be seen that so rude an implement as this would be very likely
to gall the necks of the animals, unless the hollows were carefully
smoothed, and the heavy beam adapted to the necks of the animals. This
galling nature of the yoke, so familiar to the Israelites, is used
repeatedly as a metaphor in many passages of the Old and New
Testaments. These passages are too numerous to be quoted, but I will
give one or two of the most conspicuous among them. The earliest
mention of the yoke in the Scriptures is a metaphor.

After Jacob had deceived his father, in procuring for himself the
blessing which was intended for his elder brother, Isaac comforts Esau
by the prophecy that, although he must serve his brother, yet "it
shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt
break his yoke from off thy neck." Again, in the next passage where
the yoke is mentioned, namely, Lev. xxvi. 13, the word is employed in
the metaphorical sense: "I am the Lord your God, which brought you
forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen,
and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright."

Then, in Deut. xxviii. 48, the word yoke is not only used
metaphorically, but with an addition that forcibly expresses its
weight and galling character: "Therefore shalt thou serve thine
enemies, which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in
thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things, and He shall put
a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until He have destroyed thee."

The word yoke is also used as a metaphor for servitude, even of a
domestic character, as we may see in 1 Tim. vi. 1: "Let as many
servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all
honour." In the Acts of the Apostles, we find St. Peter using the same
metaphor: "Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke on the neck of the
disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" And
the Lord Himself uses the same metaphor in the well-known passage,
"Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden light."

The plough was equally simple, and consisted essentially of a bent
branch, one end of which was armed with an iron point by way of a
share, while the other formed the pole or beam, and was fastened to
the middle of the yoke. It was guided by a handle, which was usually a
smaller branch that grew from the principal one. A nearly similar
instrument is used in Asia Minor to the present day, and is a curious
relic of the most ancient times of history, for we find on the
Egyptian monuments figures of the various agricultural processes, in
which the plough is made after this simple manner.

  [Illustration: "It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his
  youth."--LAM. iii. 27.

  "He maketh them also to skip like a calf."--PSALM xxix. 6.]

Of course such an instrument is a very ineffective one, and can but
scratch, rather than plough the ground, the warmth of the climate and
fertility of the land rendering needless the deep ploughing of our own
country, where the object is to turn up the earth to the greatest
possible depth. One yoke of oxen was generally sufficient to draw a
plough, but occasionally a much greater number were required. We read,
for example, of Elisha, who, when he received his call from Elijah,
was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, i.e. twenty-four. It has been
suggested, that the twelve yoke of oxen were not all attached to the
same plough, but that there were twelve ploughs, each with its single
yoke of oxen. This, however, was scarcely likely to be the case,
as it is definitely stated that Elisha "was ploughing with
twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth," and it
is much more probable that the land was heavy, and that, therefore,
the plough could not be properly worked without the additional force.

The instrument with which the cattle were driven was not a whip, but a
goad. This goad was a long and stout stick, armed with a spike at one
end, and having a kind of spud at the other, with which the earth
could be scraped off the share when it became clogged. Such an
instrument might readily be used as a weapon, and, in the hands of a
powerful man, might be made even more formidable than a spear. As a
weapon, it often was used, as we see from many passages of the
Scriptures. For example, it is said in Judges iii. 31, "that Shamgar
the son of Anath killed six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad."

Afterwards, in the beginning of Saul's reign, when the Israelites
fairly measured themselves against the Philistines, it was found that
only Saul and Jonathan were even tolerably armed. Fearful of the
numbers and spirit of the Israelites, the Philistines had disarmed
them, and were so cautious that they did not even allow them to
possess forges wherewith to make or sharpen the various agricultural
instruments which they possessed, lest they should surreptitiously
provide themselves with weapons. The only smith's tool which they were
allowed to retain was a file with which each man might trim the edges
of the ploughshares, mattocks, axes, and sharpen the points of the
goad. The only weapons which they could muster were made of their
agricultural implements, and among the most formidable of them was the

How the goad came into use in Palestine may easily be seen. The
Egyptians, from among whom the people of Israel passed into the
Promised Land, did not use the goad in ploughing, but the whip, which,
from the representations on the Egyptian monuments, was identical with
the koorbash, or "cow-hide" whip, which is now in use in the same
country. But this terrible whip, which is capable, when wielded by a
skilful hand, of cutting deep grooves through the tough hide of the
ox, could not be obtained by the Jews, because the hippopotamus, of
whose hide it was made, did not live in or near Palestine. They
therefore were forced to use some other instrument wherewith to urge
on the oxen, and the goad was clearly the simplest and most effective
implement for this purpose.

After the land was ploughed and sown, and the harvest was ripened, the
labours of the oxen were again called into requisition, first for
threshing out the corn, and next for carrying or drawing the grain to
the storehouses.

In the earlier days, the process of threshing was very simple. A
circular piece of ground was levelled, and beaten very hard and flat,
its diameter being from fifty to a hundred feet. On this ground the
corn was thrown, and a number of oxen were driven here and there on
it, so that the constant trampling of their feet shook the ripe grain
out of the ears. The corn was gathered together in the middle of the
floor, and as fast as it was scattered by the feet of the oxen, it was
thrown back towards the centre.

Afterwards, an improvement was introduced in the form of a rough
sledge, called "moreg," to which the oxen were harnessed by a yoke,
and on which the driver stood as he guided his team round the
threshing-floor. This instrument is mentioned in Isa. xli. 15:
"Behold, I will make thee anew and sharp threshing instrument having
teeth [or mouths]: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them
small, and shalt make the hills as chaff." Mention is also made of the
same implement in 2 Sam. xxiv. 22, where it is related that Araunah
the Jebusite offered to give David the oxen for a burnt-sacrifice, and
the moregs and other implements as wood with which they could be

The work of treading out the corn was a hard and trying one for the
oxen, and it was probably on this account that the kindly edict was
made, that the oxen who trod out the corn should not be muzzled. As a
rule, the cattle were not fed nearly as carefully as is done with us,
and so the labours of the threshing-floor would find a compensation in
the temporary abundance of which the animals might take their fill.

After the corn was threshed, or rather trodden out, the oxen had to
draw it home in carts. These were but slight improvements on the
threshing-sledge, and were simply trays or shallow boxes on a pair of
wheels. As the wheels were merely slices cut from the trunk of a tree,
and were not furnished with iron tires, they were not remarkable for
roundness, and indeed, after a little time, were worn into rather
irregular ovals, so that the task of dragging a cart over the rough
roads was by no means an easy one. And, as the axle was simply a stout
pole fastened to the bottom of the cart, and having its rounded ends
thrust through holes in the middle of the wheels, the friction was
enormous. As, moreover, oil and grease were far too precious luxuries
to be wasted in lubricating the axles, the creaking and groaning of
the wheels was a singularly disagreeable and ear-piercing sound.

  [Illustration: TREADING OUT CORN.

  "_Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the
  corn._"--(DEUT. xxv. 4.)]

The common hackery of India is a good example of the carts mentioned
in the Scriptures. As with the plough, the cart was drawn by a couple
of oxen, connected by the yoke. The two kinds of cart, namely, the
tray and the box, are clearly indicated in the Scriptures. The new
cart on which the Ark was placed when it was sent back by the
Philistines (see 1 Sam. vi. 7) was evidently one of the former kind,
and so was that which was made twenty years afterwards, for the
purpose of conveying the Ark to Jerusalem.

The second kind of cart is mentioned by the Prophet Amos (ch. ii. 13),
"Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of
sheaves," reference being evidently made to heaping up of the sheaves
in the cart, and pressing them down, as is done at the present day.

That oxen were also employed as beasts of burden is shown by the
passage in 1 Chron. xii. 40, "Moreover, they that were nigh them, even
unto Issachar, and Zebulun, and Napthali, brought bread on asses, and
on camels, and on mules, and on oxen."

Although the cattle were evidently better tended in the olden times
than at present, those animals which were used for agriculture seem to
have passed rather a rough life, especially in the winter time. It is
rather curious that the Jews should have had no idea of preserving the
grass by making it into hay, as is done in Europe. Consequently the
chief food of the cattle was the straw and chaff which remained on the
threshing-floor after the grain had been separated. See Isa. xxx. 23:
"In that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures. The oxen
likewise, and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean
provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan."

This, indeed, was the only use to which the straw could be put, for it
was so crushed and broken by the feet of the oxen and the
threshing-sledge that it was rendered useless. Allusion is made to the
crushing of the straw in many passages of Scripture. See, for example,
Isa. xxv. 10, "Moab shall be trodden down [or threshed] under him,
even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill."

The want of winter forage is the chief reason why cattle are so
irregularly disposed over Palestine, many parts of that country being
entirely without them, and only those districts containing them in
which fresh forage may be found throughout the year.

Except a few yoke of oxen, which are kept in order to draw carts, and
act as beasts of burden, the cattle are turned loose for a
considerable portion of the year, and run about in herds from one
pasturage to another. Thus they regain many of the characteristics of
wild animals, and it is to this habit of theirs that many of the
Scriptural allusions can be traced.

For example, see Ps. xxii. 12, "Many bulls have compassed me, strong
bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped on me with their
mouths [or, their mouths opened against me] as a ravening and a
roaring lion." This passage alludes to the curiosity inherent in
cattle, which have a habit of following objects which they do not
understand or dislike, and surrounding it with looks of grave
wonderment. Even in their domesticated state this habit prevails. When
I was a boy, I sometimes amused myself with going into a field where a
number of cows and oxen were grazing, and lying down in the middle of
it. The cattle would soon become uneasy, toss their heads about, and
gradually draw near on every side, until at last they would be pressed
together closely in a circle, with their heads just above the object
of their astonishment. Their curious, earnest looks have always been
present to my mind when reading the above quoted passage.

The Psalmist does not necessarily mean that the bulls in question were
dangerous animals. On the contrary, the bulls of Palestine are gentle
in comparison with our own animals, which are too often made savage by
confinement and the harsh treatment to which they are subjected by
rough and ignorant labourers. In Palestine a pair of bulls may
constantly be seen attached to the same yoke, a thing that never would
be seen in this country.

The custom of turning the herds of cattle loose to find pasture for
themselves is alluded to in Joel i. 18, "How do the beasts groan! the
herds of cattle are perplexed because they have no pasture." We can
easily imagine to ourselves the terrible time to which the prophet
refers, "when the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath
devoured the pastures of the wilderness," as it is wont to do when a
spark falls upon grass dried up and withered, by reason of the sun's
heat and the lack of water. Over such a country, first withered by
drought, and then desolated by fire, would the cattle wander, vainly
searching on the dusty and blackened surface for the tender young
blades which always spring up on a burnt pasture as soon as the first
rains fall. Moaning and bellowing with thirst and disappointment,
they would vainly seek for food or water in places where the seed lies
still under the clods where it was sown (v. 17), where the vines are
dried up, and the fig, the pomegranate and the palm (v. 12) are all
withered for want of moisture.

Such scenes are still to be witnessed in several parts of the world.
Southern Africa is sometimes sadly conspicuous for them, an
exceptional season of drought keeping back the fresh grass after the
old pastures have been burned (the ordinary mode of cultivating
pasture land). Then the vast herds of cattle, whose milk forms the
staff of life to the inhabitants, wander to and fro, gathering in
masses round any spot where a spring still yields a little water, and
bellowing and moaning with thirst as they press their way towards the
spot where their owners are doling out to each a small measure of the
priceless fluid.

The cattle are branded with the mark of their owners, so that in these
large herds there might be no difficulty in distinguishing them when
they were re-captured for the plough and the cart. On one of the
Egyptian monuments there is a very interesting group, which has
furnished the idea for the plate which illustrates this article. It
occurs in the tombs of the kings at Thebes, and represents a ploughing
scene. The simple two-handled plough is being dragged by a pair of
cows, who have the yoke fastened across the horns instead of lying on
the neck, and a sower is following behind, scattering the grain out of
a basket into the newly-made furrows. In front of the cows is a young
calf, which has run to meet its mother, and is leaping for joy before
her as she steadily plods along her course.

The action of both animals is admirably represented; the steady and
firm gait of the mother contrasting with the light, gambolling step
and arched tail of her offspring. Both are branded with the same mark,
namely, three equal-armed crosses, one on the haunch, another on the
side, and a third on the neck. The driver carries the whip, or
koorbash, which has been already mentioned, and which is familiar to
travellers in Southern Africa under the title of "sjambok."

In the olden times of the Israelitish race, herd-keeping was
considered as an honourable occupation, in which men of the highest
rank might engage without any derogation to their dignity. We find,
for instance, that Saul himself, even after he had been appointed
king, was acting as herdsman when the people saw the mistake they had
made in rejecting him as their monarch, and came to fetch their
divinely-appointed leader from his retirement. (See 1 Sam. xi. 5.)
Doeg, too, the faithful companion of Saul, was made the chief herdsman
of his master's cattle, so that for Saul to confer such an office, and
Doeg to accept it, shows that the post was one of much honour. And
afterwards, when David was in the zenith of his power, he completed
the organization of his kingdom, portioning out not only his army into
battalions, and assigning a commanding officer to each battalion, but
also appointing a ruler to each tribe, and setting officers over his
treasury, over the vineyards, over the olive-trees, over the
storehouses, and over the cattle. And these offices were so important
that the names of their holders are given at length in 1 Chron. xxvii.
those of the various herdsmen being thought as worthy of mention as
those of the treasurers, the military commanders, or the headmen of
the tribes.

Before concluding this necessarily short account of the domesticated
oxen of Palestine, it will be needful to give a few lines to the
animal viewed in a religious aspect. Here we have, in bold contrast to
each other, the divine appointment of certain cattle to be slain as
sacrifices, and the reprobation of worship paid to those very cattle
as living emblems of divinity. This false worship was learned by the
Israelites during their long residence in Egypt, and so deeply had the
customs of the Egyptian religion sunk into their hearts, that they
were not eradicated after the lapse of centuries. It may easily be
imagined that such a superstition, surrounded as it was with every
external circumstance which could make it more imposing, would take a
powerful hold of the Jewish mind.

Chief among the multitude of idols or symbols was the god Apis,
represented by a bull. Many other animals, specially the cat and the
ibis, were deeply honoured among the ancient Egyptians, as we learn
from their own monuments and from the works of the old historians. All
these creatures were symbols as well as idols, symbols to the educated
and idols to the ignorant.

None of them was held in such universal honour as the bull Apis. The
particular animal which represented the deity, and which was lodged
with great state and honour in his temple at Memphis, was thought to
be divinely selected for the purpose, and to be impressed with certain
marks. His colour must be black, except a square spot on the forehead,
a crescent-shaped white spot on the right side, and the figure of an
eagle on his back. Under the tongue must be a knob shaped like the
sacred scarabæus, and the hairs of his tail must be double.

This representative animal was only allowed to live for a certain
time, and when he had reached this allotted period, he was taken in
solemn procession to the Nile, and drowned in its sacred waters. His
body was then embalmed, and placed with great state in the tombs at

After his death, whether natural or not, the whole nation went into
mourning, and exhibited all the conventional signs of sorrow, until
the priests found another bull which possessed the distinctive marks.
The people then threw off their mourning robes, and appeared in their
best attire, and the sacred bull was exhibited in state for forty days
before he was taken to his temple at Memphis. The reader will here
remember the analogous case of the Indian cattle, some of which are
held to be little less than incarnations of divinity.

Even at the very beginning of the exodus, when their minds must have
been filled with the many miracles that had been wrought in their
behalf, and with the cloud and fire of Sinai actually before their
eyes, Aaron himself made an image of a calf in gold, and set it up as
a symbol of the Lord. That the idol in question was intended as a
symbol by Aaron is evident from the words which he used when summoning
the people to worship, "To-morrow is a feast of the Lord" (Gen. xxxii.
5). The people, however, clearly lacked the power of discriminating
between the symbol and that which it represented, and worshipped the
image just as any other idol might be worshipped. And, in spite of the
terrible and swift punishment that followed, and which showed the
profanity of the act, the idea of ox-worship still remained among the

Five hundred years afterwards we find a familiar example of it in the
conduct of Jeroboam, "who made Israel to sin," the peculiar crime
being the open resuscitation of ox-worship. "The king made two calves
of gold and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to
Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of
the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he
in Dan.... And he made an house of high places, and made priests of
the lowest of the people, which were not of the tribe of Levi. And
Jeroboam ordained a feast ... like unto the feast in Judah, and he
offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the
calves that he had made."

Here we have a singular instance of a king of Israel repeating, after
a lapse of five hundred years, the very acts which had drawn down on
the people so severe a punishment, and which were so contrary to the
law that they had incited Moses to fling down and break the sacred
tables on which the commandments had been divinely inscribed. Nothing
is omitted: the shape of the idol, the material of which it is
composed, the offerings, and the very words in which Aaron had so
deeply sinned, "Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out
of the land of Egypt." Successive monarchs followed his example, and,
according to the graphic words of Scripture, they "departed not from
the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin."

As was likely to be the case in a land where cattle were of such
importance, and often formed the principal wealth of the inhabitants,
many words were in use to distinguish the cattle according to sex,
age, and number. Thus, Bakar signifies the adult animal of either sex,
the test of full growth being fitness for the plough. Consequently,
Ben-Baka, or son of the herd, signifies a male calf, and Aiglah-Bakar,
a female calf. The term Bakar is derived from a Hebrew word signifying
to cleave or plough, and hence it is used as to signify those animals
which are old enough to be put to the plough.

Then there is the word Shor, or Tor, to signify a single head of
cattle, of any age, or of either sex. The second form of this word is
familiar to us in the Latin word "taurus," and the English "steer."
There are several other words, such as Par, a young bull, and Parah, a
heifer, which do not need explanation.

Another species of the ox-tribe now inhabits Palestine, though
commentators rather doubt whether it is not a comparatively late
importation. This is the true BUFFALO (_Bubalus buffelus_, Gray),
which is spread over a very large portion of the earth, and is very
plentiful in India. In that country there are two distinct breeds of
the Buffalo, namely, the Arnee, a wild variety, and the Bhainsa, a
tamed variety. The former animal is much larger than the latter, being
sometimes more than ten feet in length from the nose to the root of
the tail, and measuring between six and seven feet in height at the
shoulder. Its horns are of enormous length, the tail is very short,
and tufts of hair grow on the forehead and horns. The tamed variety is
at least one-third smaller, and, unlike the Arnee, never seems to get
into high condition. It is an ugly, ungainly kind of beast, and is
rendered very unprepossessing to the eye by the bald patches which are
mostly found upon its hide.

  [Illustration: THE BUFFALO.]

Being a water-loving animal, the Buffalo always inhabits the low-lying
districts, and is fond of wallowing in the oozy marshes in which it
remains for hours, submerged all but its head, and tranquilly chewing
the cud while enjoying its mud-bath. While thus engaged the animal
depresses its horns so that they are scarcely visible, barely allowing
more than its eyes, ears, and nostrils to remain above the surface, so
that the motionless heads are scarcely distinguishable from the grass
and reed tufts which stud the marshes. Nothing is more startling to an
inexperienced traveller than to pass by a silent and tranquil pool
where the muddy surface is unbroken except by a number of black lumps
and rushy tufts, and then to see these tufts suddenly transformed into
twenty or thirty huge beasts rising out of the still water as if by
magic. Generally, the disturber of their peace had better make the
best of his way out of their reach, as the Buffalo, whether wild or
tame, is of a tetchy and irritable nature, and resents being startled
out of its state of dreamy repose.

In the Jordan valley the Buffalo is found, and is used for
agriculture, being of the Bhainsa, or domesticated variety. Being much
larger and stronger than the ordinary cattle, it is useful in drawing
the plough, but its temper is too uncertain to render it a pleasant
animal to manage. As is the case with all half-wild cattle, its milk
is very scanty, but compensates by the richness of the quality for the
lack of quantity.


   The Tô, Wild Bull of the Old Testament--Passages in which it is
   mentioned--The Wild Bull in the net--Hunting with nets in the
   East--The Oryx supposed to be the Tô of Scripture--Description
   of the Oryx, its locality, appearance, and habits--The points in
   which the Oryx agrees with the Tô--The "snare" in which the foot
   is taken, as distinguished from the net.

In two passages of the Old Testament an animal is mentioned,
respecting which the translators and commentators have been somewhat
perplexed, in one passage being translated as the "Wild Ox," and in
the other as the "Wild Bull." In the Jewish Bible the same rendering
is preserved, but the sign of doubt is added to the word in both
cases, showing that the translation is an uncertain one.

The first of these passages occurs in Deut. xiv. 5, where it is
classed together with the ox, sheep, goats, and other ruminants, as
one of the beasts which were lawful for food. Now, although we cannot
identify it by this passage, we can at all events ascertain two
important points--the first, that it was a true ruminant, and the
second, that it was not the ox, the sheep, or the goat. It was,
therefore, some wild ruminant, and we now have to ask how we are to
find out the species.

If we turn to Isa. li. 20, we shall find a passage which will help us
considerably. Addressing Jerusalem, the prophet uses these words, "By
whom shall I comfort thee? Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head
of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net; they are full of the fury
of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God." We now see that the Tô or Teô
must be an animal which is captured by means of nets, and therefore
must inhabit spots wherein the toils can be used. Moreover, it is
evidently a powerful animal, or the force of the simile would be lost.
The prophet evidently refers to some large and strong beast which has
been entangled in the hunter's nets, and which lies helplessly
struggling in them. We are, therefore, almost perforce driven to
recognise it as some large antelope.

The expression used by the prophet is so characteristic that it needs
a short explanation. In this country, and at the present day, the use
of the net is almost entirely restricted to fishing and bird-catching;
but in the East nets are still employed in the capture of very large

A brief allusion to the hunting-net is made at page 27, but, as the
passage in Isaiah li. requires a more detailed account of this mode of
catching large animals, it will be as well to describe the sport as at
present practised in the East.

When a king or some wealthy man determines to hunt game without taking
much trouble himself, he gives orders to his men to prepare their
nets, which vary in size or strength according to the particular
animal for which they are intended. If, for example, only the wild
boar and similar animals are to be hunted, the nets need not be of
very great width; but for agile creatures, such as the antelope, they
must be exceedingly wide, or the intended prey will leap over them. As
the net is much used in India for the purpose of catching game,
Captain Williamson's description of it will explain many of the
passages of Scripture wherein it is mentioned.

The material of the net is hemp, twisted loosely into a kind of rope,
and the mode in which it is formed is rather peculiar. The meshes are
not knotted together, but only twisted round each other, much after
the fashion of the South American hammocks, so as to obtain
considerable elasticity, and to prevent a powerful animal from
snapping the cord in its struggles. Some of these nets are thirteen
feet or more in width, and even such a net as this has been overleaped
by a herd of antelopes. Their length is variable, but, as they can be
joined in any number when set end to end, the length is not so
important as the width.

The mode of setting the nets is singularly ingenious. When a suitable
spot has been selected, the first care of the hunters is to stretch a
rope as tightly as possible along the ground. For this purpose stout
wooden stakes or truncheons are sunk crosswise in the earth, and
between these the rope is carefully strained. The favourite locality
of the net is a ravine, through which the animals can be driven so as
to run against the net in their efforts to escape, and across the
ravine a whole row of these stakes is sunk. The net is now brought to
the spot, and its lower edge fastened strongly to the ground rope.

The strength of this mode of fastening is astonishing, and, although
the stakes are buried scarcely a foot below the surface, they cannot
be torn up by any force which can be applied to them; and, however
strong the rope may be, it would be broken before the stakes could be
dragged out of the ground.

A smaller rope is now attached to the upper edge of the net, which is
raised upon a series of slight poles. It is not stretched quite
tightly, but droops between each pair of poles, so that a net which is
some thirteen feet in width will only give nine or ten feet of clear
height when the upper edge is supported on the poles. These latter are
not fixed in the ground, but merely held in their places by the weight
of the net resting upon them.

When the nets have been properly set, the beaters make a wide circuit
through the country, gradually advancing towards the fatal spot, and
driving before them all the wild animals that inhabit the
neighbourhood. As soon as any large beast, such, for example, as an
antelope, strikes against the net, the supporting pole falls, and the
net collapses upon the unfortunate animal, whose struggles--especially
if he be one of the horned animals--only entangle him more and more in
the toils.

As soon as the hunters see a portion of the net fall, they run to the
spot, kill the helpless creature that lies enveloped in the elastic
meshes, drag away the body, and set up the net again in readiness for
the next comer. Sometimes the line of nets will extend for half a mile
or more, and give employment to a large staff of hunters, in killing
the entangled animals, and raising afresh those portions of the net
which had fallen.

Allusions to this mode of hunting are plentiful in the Old Testament.
Take, for example, Job xviii. 7: "The steps of his strength shall be
straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down; for he is cast
into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare." And again in
the next chapter, ver. 6, "Know now that God hath overthrown me, and
hath compassed me with His net," in which is depicted forcibly the
helpless state of one on whom the net has fallen, and who is lying on
the ground vainly struggling in the meshes.

See also Ps. lvii. 6, "They have prepared a net for my steps, my soul
is bowed down;" and Ps. lxvi. 11, "Thou broughtest us into the net,
thou laidest affliction upon our loins." In the prophet Ezekiel are
several passages which refer to the hunting net, and make especial
mention of the manner in which it falls over its victim. One of these
occurs in chap. xii. 13, "My net also will I spread upon him, and he
shall be taken in my snare." Again in chap. xix. 8, "Then the nations
set against him on every side from the provinces, and spread their net
over him" In this passage a forcible allusion is made to the manner in
which the wild animal is surrounded by the hunters, who surround and
gradually close in upon them, as they drive their victims into the
toils. The same combination of the hunters is also referred to by the
prophet Micah, vii. 2, "There is none upright among men: they all lie
in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net."

  [Illustration: WILD BULL, OR ORYX.

  "_They lie at the head of all the streets, like a wild bull in a
  net._"--ISAIAH li. 21.]

Accepting the theory that the Tô is one of the large antelopes that
inhabit, or used to inhabit, the Holy Land and its neighbourhood, we
may safely conjecture that it may signify the beautiful animal known
as the ORYX (_Oryx leucoryx_), an animal which has a tolerably wide
range, and is even now found on the borders of the Holy Land. It is a
large and powerful antelope, and is remarkable for its beautiful
horns, which sometimes exceed a yard in length, and sweep in a most
graceful curve over the back.

Sharp as they are, and evidently formidable weapons, the manner in
which they are set on the head renders them apparently unserviceable
for combat. When, however, the Oryx is brought to bay, or wishes to
fight, it stoops its head until the nose is close to the ground, the
points of the horns being thus brought to the front. As the head is
swung from side to side, the curved horns sweep through a considerable
space, and are so formidable that even the lion is chary of attacking
their owner. Indeed, instances are known where the lion has been
transfixed and killed by the horns of the Oryx. Sometimes the animal
is not content with merely standing to repel the attacks of its
adversaries, but suddenly charges forward with astonishing rapidity,
and strikes upwards with its horns as it makes the leap.

But these horns, which can be used with such terrible effect in
battle, are worse than useless when the animal is hampered in the net.
In vain does the Oryx attempt its usual defence: the curved horns get
more and more entangled in the elastic meshes, and become a source of
weakness rather than strength. We see now how singularly appropriate
is the passage, "Thy sons lie at the heads of all the streets, as a
wild bull (or Oryx) in a net," and how completely the force of the
metaphor is lost without a knowledge of the precise mode of fixing the
nets, of driving the animals into them, and of the manner in which
they render even the large and powerful animals helpless.

The height of the Oryx at the shoulder is between three and four feet,
and its colour is greyish white, mottled profusely with black and
brown in bold patches. It is plentiful in Northern Africa, and, like
many other antelopes, lives in herds, so that it is peculiarly suited
to that mode of hunting which consists in surrounding a number of
animals, and driving them into a trap of some kind, whether a fenced
enclosure, a pitfall, or a net.

There is, by the way, the term "snare," which is specially used with
especial reference to catching the foot as distinguished from the net
which enveloped the whole body. For example, in Job xviii. 8, "He is
cast into a net, he walketh on a snare," where a bold distinction is
drawn between the two and their mode of action. And in ver. 10, "The
snare is laid for him in the ground." Though I would not state
definitely that such is the case, I believe that the snare which is
here mentioned is one which is still used in several parts of the

It is simply a hoop, to the inner edge of which are fastened a number
of elastic spikes, the points being directed towards the centre. This
is merely laid in the path which the animal will take, and is tied by
a short cord to a log of wood. As the deer or antelope treads on the
snare, the foot passes easily through the elastic spikes, but, when
the foot is raised, the spikes run into the joint and hold the hoop
upon the limb. Terrified by the check and the sudden pang, the animal
tries to run away, but, by the united influence of sharp spikes and
the heavy log, it is soon forced to halt, and so becomes an easy prey
to its pursuers.


   The Reêm evidently known to the Jews--Various theories
   concerning the Unicorn--Supposed identity with the Indian
   Rhinoceros--Passages of Scripture alluding to the strength,
   violent and intractable temper of the Reêm--The Reêm a
   two-horned animal--Its evident connection with the Ox tribe--Its
   presumed identity with the now extinct Urus--Mr. Dawkins'
   treatise on the Urus--Enormous size and dangerous character of
   the Urus--Rabbinical legend of the Reêm--Identity of the Urus
   with the modern varieties of cattle--The Bull hunts of Nineveh.

There are many animals mentioned in the Scriptures which cannot be
identified with any certainty, partly because their names occur only
once or twice in the sacred writings, and partly because, when they
are mentioned, the context affords no clue to their identity by giving
any hint as to their appearance or habits. In such cases, although the
translators would have done better if they had simply given the Hebrew
word without endeavouring to identify it with any known animal, they
may be excused for committing errors in their nomenclature. There is
one animal, however, for which no such excuse can be found, and this
is the Reêm of Scripture, translated as Unicorn in the authorized

Now the word Reêm is mentioned seven times in the Old Testament, and
is found, not in one, but several books, showing that it was an animal
perfectly well known to those for whom the sacred books were written.
It is twice mentioned in the Pentateuch, several times in the Psalms,
once in the book of Job, once by Isaiah, and reference is once made to
it in the historical books. In these various passages, abundant
details are given of its aspect and habits, so that there is very
little doubt as to the identity of the animal.

The Septuagint translates Reêm by the word Monoceros, or the
One-horned, which has been transferred to the Vulgate by the term
Unicornis, a word having the same signification.

In an age when scientific investigation was utterly neglected, such a
translation would readily be accepted without cavil, and there is no
doubt that the generality of those who read the passages in question
accepted them as referring to the Unicorn of heraldry with which we,
as Englishmen, are so familiar. I may perhaps mention briefly that
such an animal is a physiological impossibility, and that the Unicorn
of the fables was a mere compound of an antelope, a horse, and a
narwhal. The tusks or teeth of the narwhal were in former days
exhibited as horns of the Unicorn, and so precious were they that one
of them was laid up in the cathedral of St. Denis, and two in the
treasury of St. Mark's at Venice, all of which were exhibited in the
year 1658 as veritable Unicorns' horns.

The physiological difficulty above mentioned seems to have troubled
the minds of the old writers, who saw that an ivory horn had no
business to grow upon the junction of the two bones of the skull, and
yet felt themselves bound to acknowledge that such an animal did
really exist. They therefore put themselves to vast trouble in
accounting for such a phenomenon, and, in their determination to
believe in the animal, invented theories nearly as wonderful as the
existence of the Unicorn itself.

One of these theories, arguing that the two horns may be as easily
fused together as the hoofs, is stated as follows. "Because the middle
is equally distant from both the extremes; and the hoof of this beast
may be well said to be cloven and whole, because the horn is of the
substance of the hoof, and the hoof of the substance of the horn, and
therefore the horn is whole and the hoof cloven; for the cleaving
either of the horn or of the hoof cometh from the defect of nature,
and therefore God hath given to horses and asses whole hoofs, because
there is greatest use of their legs, but unto Unicorns a whole and
entire horn, that, as the ease of man is procured by the help of
horses, so the health of them is procured by the horn of the Unicorn."

This last sentence refers to the then universal belief, that the horn
of the Unicorn was a panacea for all illness and an antidote to all
poisons. It was thought to be so sensitive, that if a poisoned cup
were but brought near it a thick moisture would exude from its
surface, and if fragments were thrown into the cup they would cause
the liquid to swell and bubble, and at last to boil over. This
supposed virtue forms the basis of an argument used by one of the
writers on the subject, and, as the passage affords a good example of
theological argument in 1658, it will be given entire.

After enumerating various animals (and, by the way, once actually
hitting upon the "fish called Monoceros," _i.e._ the narwhal), the
writer proceeds as follows, in the quaint and nervous English of his
time: "Now our discourse of the Unicorn is of none of these beasts,
for there is not any virtue attributed to their horns, and therefore
the vulgar sort of infidel people, which scarcely believe any herb but
such as they see in their own gardens, or any beast but such as is in
their own flocks, or any knowledge but such as is bred in their own
brains, or any birds which are not hatched in their own nests, have
never made question of these; but of the true Unicorn, whereof there
were more proofs in the world, because of the nobleness of his horn,
they have ever been in doubt. By which distinction it appeareth unto
me that there is some secret enemy in the inward degenerate nature of
man, which continually blindeth the eyes of God His people, from
beholding and believing the greatness of God His works.

"But to the purpose: that there is such a beast, the Scripture itself
witnesseth, for _David_ thus speaketh in the 92d Psalm, _Et erigetur
cornu meus tanquam Monocerotis_. That is, 'My horn shall be lifted up
like the horn of a Unicorn.' Whereupon all divines that ever wrote
have not only collected that there is a Unicorn, but also affirm the
similitude to be betwixt the kingdom of _David_ and the horn of the
Unicorn, that as the horn of the Unicorn is wholesome to all beasts
and creatures, so should be the kingdom of David to the generation of

"And do we think that _David_ would compare the vertue of his kingdom
and the powerful redemption of the world, unto a thing that is not, or
is uncertain, or is fantastical? God forbid that ever any man should
so do despight to the Holy Ghost. For this cause we read also in
_Suidas_, that good men who worship God and follow His laws are
compared to Unicorns, whose greater parts, as their whole bodies, are
unprofitable and untameable, yet their horn maketh them excellent; so
in good men, although their fleshy parts be good for nothing, and fall
down to the earth, yet their grace and piety exalteth their souls to
the heavens."

In late years, after the true origin of the Unicorn's horn was
discovered, and the belief in its many virtues abandoned, the Reêm, or
Monoceros, was almost unhesitatingly identified with the rhinoceros of
India, and for a long time this theory was the accepted one. It is
now, however, certain that the Reêm was not the rhinoceros, and that
it can be almost certainly identified with an animal which, at the
time when the passages in question were written, was plentiful in
Palestine, although, like the lion, it is now extinct.

We will now take in their order the seven passages in which the animal
is mentioned, substituting the word Reêm for Unicorn.

The first of these passages occurs in Numbers xxiii., where the
remarkable prophecies of Balaam are recorded. "The Lord his God is
with them, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out
of Egypt, he hath as it were the strength of Reêm:" (ver. 21, 22).
From this passage we gain one piece of information, namely, that the
Reêm was an exceptionally powerful animal. Indeed, it was evidently
the strongest animal that was known to the prophet and his hearers, or
it would not have been mentioned as a visible type of Divine power.

Next we come to Deut. xxxiii., wherein another prophecy is revealed,
namely, that of Moses, just before his death and mysterious burial.
Speaking of Joseph and his tribe, the aged prophet uses these words,
"Let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of
the head of him that was separated from his brethren. His glory is
like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of
Reêm: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the
earth; and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the
thousands of Manasseh" (ver. 16, 17).

In this passage we gather more information. In the first place it is
to be noticed that the Reêm is mentioned in connexion with the
domestic cattle, and that the name is used as one that is familiar to
the hearers. Next, as the marginal reading gives the word, Reêm is
used in the singular and not in the plural number, so that the passage
may be read, "his horns are like the horns of a Unicorn." Thus we come
to the important point that the Reêm was not a one-horned, but a
two-horned animal.

It may here be remarked that the Reêm horns were the emblem of the two
tribes that sprung from Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, himself being
typified by the Reêm, and his two powerful sons by the horns.

Next, in the Psalms, we find that the powerful, two-horned Reêm was
also a dangerous and violent animal. (See Psa. xxii. 19, 21.)

"Be not Thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste Thee to help

"Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power (or the
hand) of the dog.

"Save me from the lion's mouth: for Thou hast heard me from the horns
of Reêm."

In Ps. xcii. there is another allusion to the powerful horns of the
Reêm. "For lo, Thine enemies, O Lord, for lo, Thine enemies shall
perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. But my horn
shalt Thou exalt like the horn of Reêm."

From these passages we gather the following important points. First,
the Reêm was an animal familiar to the people of Palestine, as is
evident from the manner in which its name is introduced into the
sacred writings; secondly, it was the most powerful animal known to
the Israelites; thirdly, it was a two-horned animal; fourthly, it was
a savage and dangerous beast; and fifthly, it had some connexion with
the domesticated cattle.

This last-mentioned point is brought out more strongly in the
remaining passages of Scripture. In Job, for example, a parallel is
drawn between the wild and untameable Reêm and the beasts of draught
and burden.

In that magnificent series of passages in which the Lord answers Job
out of the whirlwind, and which indeed are a worthy sequel to Elihu's
impassioned discourse on the text that "God is greater than man," the
wild animals are mentioned in evident contrast to the tame. First come
the wild goats of the rock; then the wild ass, who "scorneth the
multitude of the city, neither regardeth the crying of the driver;"
and then the Reêm, which is clearly contrasted with the tamed ox.

"Will Reêm be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou
bind Reêm with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys
after thee? Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or
wilt thou leave thy labour to him? Wilt thou believe him that he will
bring home thy seed, and gather it in thy barn?" See chap. xxxix.

Now in these passages, the principal duties of the domesticated cattle
are described--the ploughing the furrow, the drawing of the harrow,
and the carrying home of the ripened corn, for all which purposes the
tameless spirit of Reêm renders him useless, in spite of his vast
strength. The prophet Isaiah has a passage in which the Reêm is
evidently classed with the ox tribe. See chap. xxxiv. 6, 7.

"The sword of the Lord is filled with blood; it is made fat with
fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the
kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great
slaughter in the land of Idumea. And Reêm shall come down with them,
and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with
blood, and their dust made fat with fatness."

The last passage in which reference is made to this animal is in Ps.
xxix. 5, 6.

"The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh the
cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon
and Sirion like a young Reêm."

On turning to the Jewish Bible we find that the word Reêm is
translated as buffalo, and there is no doubt that this rendering is
nearly the correct one, and at the present day naturalists are nearly
all agreed that the Reêm of the Old Testament must have been the now
extinct Urus. A smaller animal, the Bonassus or Bison, also existed
in Palestine, and even to the present day continues to maintain itself
in one or two spots, though it will probably be as soon completely
erased from the surface of the earth as its gigantic congener.

That the Reêm was one of the two animals is certain, and that it was
the larger is nearly as certain. The reason for deciding upon the Urus
is, that its horns were of great size and strength, and therefore
agree with the description of the Reêm; whereas those of the Bonassus,
although powerful, are short, and not conspicuous enough to deserve
the notice which is taken of them by the sacred writers.

Of the extinct variety we know but little. We do know, however, that
it was a huge and most formidable animal, as is evident from the
skulls and other bones which have been discovered.

Hitherto there has been considerable difficulty in treating of the
ancient Urus, on account of the great confusion which existed in the
various synonyms that were given to the animal. The tangled skein has,
however, been carefully unravelled by Mr. W. Boyd Dawkins, M.A.,
F.R.S., who has published an exceedingly valuable paper on the subject
in the _Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society_, March 21, 1866.

After describing the general character of the Urus, he proceeds to
remark: "The synonyms of the _Bos Urus_ are in a state of very great
confusion, arising from the fact that the two words denoting two
distinct species, the Urox and the Aurochs, are derived from the same
Sanscrit root, _Ur_, _Aur_, or _Or_, that signifies a forest, or sandy
waste. The root can be traced through many languages, and still
survives in the Greek [Greek: _horos_] (a mountain), the Norwegian
_Ore_, the Icelandic _Ure_ (the stony desert surrounding the base of
the mountains); and is preserved without change in the old German _Ur_
(a forest), and in _Ur_ of the Chaldees. It appears also in the Ural
Mountains, and also in the canton of _Uri_, the crest of which is an
ox-head." It is worthy of mention that, in the last-mentioned place,
when new magistrates are elected, two ancient and gigantic horns,
remarkable for their double curvature, are carried in solemn

The presence of these horns affords a remarkable confirmation to a
well-known passage in Julius Cæsars familiar "Commentaries." "The Uri
are little inferior to elephants in size" ("magnitudine paullo infra
elephantos"); "but are bulls in their nature, colour, and figure.
Great is their strength, and great their swiftness; nor do they spare
man or beast when they have caught sight of them. These, when trapped
in pitfalls, the hunters diligently kill. The youths, exercising
themselves by this sort of hunting, are hardened by the toil; and
those among them who have killed most, bringing with them the horns as
testimonials, acquire great praise. But these Uri cannot be habituated
to man or made tractable, not even when young. The great size of the
horns, as well as the form and quality of them, differ much from the
horns of our oxen. These, when carefully selected, they ring round the
edge with silver, and use them for drinking cups at their ample

The enormous size of the horns of an ox which was in all probability
the Urus is mentioned by another writer, who also alludes to their use
as drinking vessels. He states that some of these horns were so large
as to hold about four gallons, and then proceeds to remark that their
primitive use as drinking-cups was the reason why Bacchus was
represented as wearing horns, and was sometimes worshipped under the
form of a bull.

It is worthy of notice, that the Sanscrit root _Ur_ is retained in the
name of the enormous Indian ox, the Gaur, a term which is formed from
two words, namely, Gau, or Ghoo, a cow, and Ur, so that the name
signifies Wild Cow.

As to the size of the animal Urus, it is evident, by measurement of
certain remains, that it must have well deserved Cæsar's comparison
with the elephant. A skull that is described by Cuvier gave the
following measurements. Width of skull between the bases of the
horn-cores (_i.e._ the bony projections on which the hollow horns are
set), rather more than twelve inches and an half. Circumference of the
cores at the base, twelve inches and nine-tenths. Length of the cores,
twenty-seven inches and nine-tenths; and distances between their tips,
thirty-two inches and a half.

According to the proportions of the domesticated ox, these
measurements indicated that the animal was twelve feet in length, and
six feet and a half in height. Now, if the reader will sketch out on a
wall an ox of these dimensions, he will appreciate the enormous
dimensions of the ancient Urus, far better than can be done by merely
reading figures in a book.

But this animal, gigantic as it was, is not the largest specimen that
has been discovered. A portion of an Urus skull was discovered in the
Avon, at Melksham, near Bath, the horn-cores of which, as described by
Mr. H. Woods, were seventeen inches and a half in circumference,
thirty-six inches and a half in length, and the distance from tip to
tip was thirty-nine inches. Taking the same proportions as those of
the ordinary ox, the author shows that the skull in question belonged
to an animal very much larger than that which was described by Cuvier.
In another specimen the distance between the tips of the horn-cores
was forty-two inches, but their length only thirty-six.

Of course, the size of the horn-cores gives little indication of the
dimensions of the horns themselves, and the principal point to be
noticed is the shape of the core, which in some specimens, though not
in all, instead of presenting the regular double curvature with which
we are so familiar in our domestic oxen, first curves outwards, then
bends backwards or a little downwards and forwards. This peculiarity
in the shape of the horns is specially noted by Cæsar, and we may
therefore receive with more security his account of their enormous

A curious rabbinical legend of the Reêm is given in Lewysohn's
"Zoologie des Talmuds." When the ark was complete, and all the beasts
were commanded to enter, the Reêm was unable to do so, because it was
too large to pass through the door. Noah and his sons therefore were
obliged to tie the animal by a rope to the ark, and to tow it behind;
and, in order to prevent it from being strangled, they tied the rope,
not round its neck, but to its horn.

The same writer very justly remarks that the Scriptural and Talmudical
accounts of the Reêm have one decided distinction. The Scripture
speaks chiefly of its fierceness, its untameable nature, its strength,
and its swiftness, as its principal characteristics, while the Talmud
speaks almost exclusively of its size. It was evidently the largest
animal of which the writers had ever heard, and, according to Oriental
wont, they exaggerated it preposterously. Whenever the Talmudical
writers treat of animals with which they are personally acquainted,
they are simple, straightforward, and accurate. But, as soon as they
come to animals unknown to them except by hearsay, they go off into
the wildest extravagances, such, for example, as asserting that the
leopard is a hybrid between the wild boar and the lioness. The
exaggerated statements concerning the Reêm show therefore that the
animal must have been extinct long before the time of the writers.

The question now arises, What is the distinction between the ancient
Urus and our modern cattle? The answer is simple enough. The
difference in the shape of the horn-cores is, as has been shown, not
characteristic of the animal in general, but only of certain
individuals; while other variations in the shape and length of certain
bones are of too little consequence to be accepted as bases whereon to
found a new genus or even species, and we may therefore assume that
the Urus of Cæsar, the Reêm of Scripture, was nothing more than a very
large variety of the ox, modified of course in aspect and habits by
the locality in which it lived. This assumption is strengthened by the
fact that Mr. Dawkins, in the treatise to which reference has already
been made, has "traced the gigantic Urus from the earliest Pleistocene
times through the pre-historic period at least as far as the twelfth
century after Christ."

The reader may remember that in Cæsar's brief but graphic account of
the Urus, he mentions that it was hunted by those who wished to
distinguish themselves. Now, on many of the sculptures of Nineveh,
there are delineations of bull hunts, which show, as Mr. Layard justly
observes, that the wild bull appears to have been considered scarcely
less formidable and noble game than the lion. The king himself is
shown as attacking it, while the warriors partake of the sport either
mounted or on foot.

The exact variety of the wild bull which is being chased is not very
recognisable. It certainly is not the ordinary domestic animal, the
shape approaching somewhat to that of the antelope. The body is
covered with marks which are evidently intended to represent hair,
though it does not follow that the hair need be thick and shaggy like
that of the bison tribe.


   The Bison tribe and its distinguishing marks--Its former
   existence in Palestine--Its general habits--Origin of its
   name--Its musky odour--Size and speed of the Bison--Its
   dangerous character when brought to bay--Its defence against the
   wolf--Its untameable disposition.

A few words are now needful respecting the second animal which has
been mentioned in connexion with the Reêm; namely, the Bison, or
Bonassus. The Bisons are distinguishable from ordinary cattle by the
thick and heavy mane which covers the neck and shoulders, and which is
more conspicuous in the male than in the female. The general coating
of the body is also rather different, being thick and woolly instead
of lying closely to the skin like that of the other oxen. The Bison
certainly inhabited Palestine, as its bones have been found in that
country. It has, however, been extinct in the Holy Land for many
years, and, not being an animal that is capable of withstanding the
encroachments of man, it has gradually died out from the greater part
of Europe and Asia, and is now to be found only in a very limited
locality, chiefly in a Lithuanian forest, where it is strictly
preserved, and in some parts of the Caucasus. There it still preserves
the habits which made its ancient and gigantic relative so dangerous
an animal. Unlike the buffalo, which loves the low-lying and marshy
lands, the Bison prefers the high wooded localities, where it lives in
small troops.

Its name of Bison is a modification of the word Bisam, or musk, which
was given to it on account of the strong musky odour of its flesh,
which is especially powerful about the head and neck. This odour is
not so unpleasant as might be supposed, and those who have had
personal experience of the animal say that it bears some resemblance
to the perfume of violets. It is developed most strongly in the adult
bulls, the cows and young male calves only possessing it in a slight

  [Illustration: BISON KILLING WOLF.

  "_Will the unicorn he willing to serve thee?_"--JOB xxxix. 9.]

It is a tolerably large animal, being about six feet high at the
shoulder--a stature nearly equivalent to that of the ordinary Asiatic
elephant; and, in spite of its great bulk, is a fleet and active
animal, as indeed is generally the case with those oxen which inhabit
elevated localities. Still, though it can run with considerable speed,
it is not able to keep up the pace for any great distance, and at the
end of a mile or two can be brought to bay.

Like most animals, however large and powerful they may be, it fears
the presence of man, and, if it sees or scents a human being, will try
to slip quietly away; but when it is baffled in this attempt, and
forced to fight, it becomes a fierce and dangerous antagonist,
charging with wonderful quickness, and using its short and powerful
horns with great effect. A wounded Bison, when fairly brought to bay,
is perhaps as awkward an opponent as can be found, and to kill it
without the aid of firearms is no easy matter.

Although the countries in which it lives are infested with wolves, it
seems to have no fear of them when in health; and, even when pressed
by their winter's hunger, the wolves do not venture to attack even a
single Bison, much less a herd of them. Like other wild cattle, it
likes to dabble in muddy pools, and is fond of harbouring in thickets
near such localities; and those who have to travel through the forest
keep clear of such spots, unless they desire to drive out the animal
for the purpose of killing it.

Like the extinct Aurochs, the Bison has never been domesticated, and,
although the calves have been captured while very young, and attempts
have been made to train them to harness, their innate wildness of
disposition has always baffled such efforts.


   The Gazelle identified with the _Tsebi_, i.e. the Roe or Roebuck
   of Scripture--Various passages relating to the Tsebi--Its
   swiftness, its capabilities as a beast of chase, its beauty, and
   the quality of its flesh--The Tsebiyah rendered in Greek as
   Tabitha, and translated as Dorcas, or Gazelle--Different
   varieties of the Gazelle--How the Gazelle defends itself against
   wild beasts--Chase of the Gazelle--The net, the battue, and the
   pitfall--Coursing the Gazelle with greyhounds and falcons--Mr.
   Chasseaud's account of a hunting party--Gentleness of the

We now leave the Ox tribe, and come to the Antelopes, several species
of which are mentioned in the Scriptures. Four kinds of antelope are
found in or near the Holy Land, and there is little doubt that all of
them are mentioned in the sacred volume.

The first that will be described is the well-known GAZELLE, which is
acknowledged to be the animal that is represented by the word _Tsebi_,
or _Tsebiyah_. The Jewish Bible accepts the same rendering. This word
occurs many times, sometimes as a metaphor, and sometimes representing
some animal which was lawful food, and which therefore belonged to the
true ruminants. Moreover, its flesh was not only legally capable of
being eaten, but was held in such estimation that it was provided for
the table of Solomon himself, together with other animals which will
be described in their turn.

We will first take the passages where the word is used metaphorically,
or as a poetical image. That it was exceedingly swift of foot is
evident from several instances in which the animal is mentioned. For
example, in 2 Sam. ii. 18, we are told that Asahel, the brother of
Joab, was "as light of foot as a wild roe," or, as the passage may
also be translated, "one of the roes that is in the field." And in 1
Chron. xii. 8, we find the following description of eleven warriors
who attached themselves to David:--"Of the Gadites there separated
themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might,
and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and
buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift
as the roes upon the mountains."

That it was a beast of chase is as plainly to be gathered from the
sacred writings. See, for example, Prov. vi. 4, 5: "Give not sleep to
thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe
from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the

The same imagery is employed by the prophet Isaiah, xiii. 13, 14:--

"Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of
her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of His
fierce anger. And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that
no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and
flee every one into his own land."

Having now learned that the Tsebi was very fleet of foot and a beast
of chase, we come to another series of passages, which show that it
was an animal of acknowledged beauty. In that most remarkable poem,
the Song of Solomon, or the "Song of Songs," as it is more rightly
named, there are repeated allusions to the Tsebi. In some cases the
name of the Roe is used as a sort of adjuration--"I charge thee by the
roes;" and in others the lover, whether man or woman, is compared to
the Roe. There is one consecutive series of passages in which the word
is repeatedly used. See Cant. ii. 7-9: "I charge you, O ye daughters
of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir
not up, nor awake my love, till he please. The voice of my beloved!
behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a roe or a young hart." And in the last verse of
the poem the same image is repeated--"Make haste, my beloved, and be
thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices."

Allusion is made to the beauty of the Roe, or Gazelle, in a well-known
name, Tabitha, which is, in fact, a slight corruption of the Hebrew
Tsebiyah, and is translated into Greek as Dorcas, or Gazelle. "Now
there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by
interpretation is called Dorcas (_i.e._ the Gazelle). This woman was
full of good works and alms deeds which she did."

As to the flesh of the Gazelle, or Roe, it is mentioned in Deut. xii.
15, xiv. 5, as one of the animals that affords lawful food; and the
same permission is reiterated in xv. 22, with the proviso that the
blood shall be poured out on the earth like water.

Having now glanced at the various passages of Scripture wherein the
Gazelle is mentioned, we will proceed to the animal itself, its
appearance, locality, and general habits, in order to see how they
agree with the Scriptural allusions to the Tsebi.

As to its flesh, it is even now considered a great dainty, although it
is not at all agreeable to European taste, being hard, dry, and
without flavour. Still, as has been well remarked, tastes differ as
well as localities, and an article of food which is a costly luxury in
one land is utterly disdained in another, and will hardly be eaten
except by one who is absolutely dying of starvation.

The Gazelle is very common in Palestine in the present day, and, in
the ancient times, must have been even more plentiful. There are
several varieties of it, which were once thought to be distinct
species, but are now acknowledged to be mere varieties, all of which
are referable to the single species _Gazella Dorcas_. There is, for
example, the Corinna, or Corine Antelope, which is a rather
boldly-spotted female; the Kevella Antelope, in which the horns are
slightly flattened; the small variety called the Ariel, or Cora; the
grey Kevel, which is a rather large variety; and the Long-horned
Gazelle, which owes its name to a rather large development of the

  [Illustration: THE GAZELLE, (_Gazella Dorcus_) OR ROE OF SCRIPTURE

  "_Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the
  hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart._"--CANT. ii. 8, 9.]

Whatever variety may inhabit any given spot, they all have the same
habits. They are gregarious animals, associating together in herds
often of considerable size, and deriving from their numbers an element
of strength which would otherwise be wanting. Against mankind, numbers
are of no avail; but when the agile though feeble Gazelle has to
defend itself against the predatory animals of its own land, it can
only defend itself by the concerted action of the whole herd. Should,
for example, the wolves prowl round a herd of Gazelles, after their
treacherous wont, the Gazelles instantly assume a posture of
self-defence. They form themselves into a compact phalanx, all the
males coming to the front, and the strongest and boldest taking on
themselves the honourable duty of facing the foe. The does and the
young are kept within their ranks, and so formidable is the array of
sharp, menacing horns, that beasts as voracious as the wolf, and far
more powerful, have been known to retire without attempting to charge.

As a rule, however, the Gazelle does not desire to resist, and prefers
its legs to its horns as a mode of insuring safety. So fleet is the
animal, that it seems to fly over the ground as if propelled by
volition alone, and its light, agile frame is so enduring, that a fair
chase has hardly any prospect of success. Hunters, therefore, prefer a
trap of some kind, if they chase the animal merely for food or for the
sake of its skin, and contrive to kill considerable numbers at once.
Sometimes they dig pitfalls, and drive the Gazelles into them by
beating a large tract of country, and gradually narrowing the circle.
Sometimes they use nets, such as have already been described, and
sometimes they line the sides of a ravine with archers and spearmen,
and drive the herd of Gazelles through the treacherous defile.

These modes of slaughter are, however, condemned by the true hunter,
who looks upon those who use them much in the same light as an English
sportsman looks on a man who shoots foxes. The greyhound and the
falcon are both employed in the legitimate capture of the Gazelle, and
in some cases both are trained to work together. Hunting the Gazelle
with the greyhound very much resembles coursing in our own country,
and chasing it with the hawk is exactly like the system of falconry
that was once so popular an English sport, and which even now shows
signs of revival.

It is, however, when the dog and the bird are trained to work together
that the spectacle becomes really novel and interesting to an English

As soon as the Gazelles are fairly in view, the hunter unhoods his
hawk, and holds it up so that it may see the animals. The bird fixes
its eye on one Gazelle, and by that glance the animal's doom is
settled. The falcon darts after the Gazelles, followed by the dog, who
keeps his eye on the hawk, and holds himself in readiness to attack
the animal that his feathered ally may select. Suddenly the falcon,
which has been for some few seconds hovering over the herd of
Gazelles, makes a stoop upon the selected victim, fastening its talons
in its forehead, and, as it tries to shake off its strange foe, flaps
its wings into the Gazelle's eyes so as to blind it. Consequently, the
rapid course of the antelope is arrested, so that the dog is able to
come up and secure the animal while it is struggling to escape from
its feathered enemy. Sometimes, though rarely, a young and
inexperienced hawk swoops down with such reckless force that it misses
the forehead of the Gazelle, and impales itself upon the sharp horns,
just as in England the falcon is apt to be spitted on the bill of the

The most sportsmanlike mode of hunting the Gazelle is to use the
falcon alone; but for this sport a bird must possess exceptional
strength, swiftness, and intelligence. A very spirited account of such
a chase is given by Mr. G. W. Chasseaud, in his "Druses of the

"Whilst reposing here, our old friend with the falcon informs us that
at a short distance from this spot is a khan called Nebbi Youni, from
a supposition that the prophet Jonah was here landed by the whale; but
the old man is very indignant when we identify the place with a fable,
and declare to him that similar sights are to be seen at Gaza and
Scanderoon. But his good humour is speedily recovered by reverting to
the subject of the exploits and cleverness of his falcon. This reminds
him that we have not much time to waste in idle talk, as the greater
heats will drive the gazelles from the plains to the mountain
retreats, and lose us the opportunity of enjoying the most
sportsmanlike amusement in Syria. Accordingly, bestriding our animals
again, we ford the river at that point where a bridge once stood.

"We have barely proceeded twenty minutes before the keen eye of the
falconer has descried a herd of gazelles quietly grazing in the
distance. Immediately he reins in his horse, and enjoining silence,
instead of riding at them, as we might have felt inclined to do, he
skirts along the banks of the river, so as to cut off, if possible,
the retreat of these fleet animals where the banks are narrowest,
though very deep, but which would be cleared at a single leap by the
gazelles. Having successfully accomplished this manoeuvre, he again
removes the hood from the hawk, and indicates to us that precaution
is no longer necessary. Accordingly, first adding a few slugs to the
charges in our barrels, we balance our guns in an easy posture, and,
giving the horses their reins, set off at full gallop, and with a loud
hurrah, right towards the already startled gazelles.

"The timid animals, at first paralysed by our appearance, stand and
gaze for a second terror-stricken at our approach; but their pause is
only momentary; they perceive in an instant that the retreat to their
favourite haunts has been secured, and so they dash wildly forward
with all the fleetness of despair, coursing over the plain with no
fixed refuge in view, and nothing but their fleetness to aid in their
delivery. A stern chase is a long chase, and so, doubtless, on the
present occasion it would prove with ourselves, for there is many and
many a mile of level country before us, and our horses, though swift
of foot, stand no chance in this respect with the gazelles.

"Now, however, the old man has watched for a good opportunity to
display the prowess and skill of his falcon: he has followed us only
at a hand-gallop; but the hawk, long inured to such pastime, stretches
forth its neck eagerly in the direction of the flying prey, and being
loosened from its pinions, sweeps up into the air like a shot, and
passes overhead with incredible velocity. Five minutes more, and the
bird has outstripped even the speed of the light-footed gazelle; we
see him through the dust and haze that our own speed throws around us,
hovering but an instant over the terrified herd; he has singled out
his prey, and, diving with unerring aim, fixes his iron talons into
the head of the terrified animal.

"This is the signal for the others to break up their orderly retreat,
and to speed over the plain in every direction. Some, despite the
danger that hovers on their track, make straight for their old and
familiar haunts, and passing within twenty yards of where we ride,
afford us an opportunity of displaying our skill as amateur huntsmen
on horseback; nor does it require but little nerve and dexterity to
fix our aim whilst our horses are tearing over the ground. However,
the moment presents itself, the loud report of barrel after barrel
startles the unaccustomed inmates of that unfrequented waste; one
gazelle leaps twice its own height into the air, and then rolls over,
shot through the heart; another bounds on yet a dozen paces, but,
wounded mortally, staggering, halts, and then falls to the ground.

"This is no time for us to pull in and see what is the amount of
damage done, for the falcon, heedless of all surrounding incidents,
clings firmly to the head of its terrified victim, flapping its strong
wings awhile before the poor brute's terrified eyes, half blinding it
and rendering its head dizzy; till, after tearing round and round with
incredible speed, the poor creature stops, panting for breath, and,
overcome with excessive terror, drops down fainting upon the earth.
Now the air resounds with the acclamations and hootings of the
ruthless victors.

"The old man is wild in his transports of delight. More certain of the
prowess of his bird than ourselves, he has stopped awhile to gather
together the fruits of our booty, and, with these suspended to his
saddle bow, he canters up leisurely, shouting lustily the while the
praises of his infallible hawk; then getting down, and hoodwinking the
bird again, he first of all takes the precaution of fastening together
the legs of the fallen gazelle, and then he humanely blows up into its
nostrils. Gradually the natural brilliancy returns to the dimmed eyes
of the gazelle, then it struggles valiantly, but vainly, to
disentangle itself from its fetters.

"Pitying its efforts, the falconer throws a handkerchief over its
head, and, securing this prize, claims it as his own, declaring that
he will bear it home to his house in the mountains, where, after a few
weeks' kind treatment and care, it will become as domesticated and
affectionate as a spaniel. Meanwhile, Abou Shein gathers together the
fallen booty, and, tying them securely with cords, fastens them behind
his own saddle, declaring, with a triumphant laugh, that we shall
return that evening to the city of Beyrout with such game as few
sportsmen can boast of having carried thither in one day."

The gentle nature of the Gazelle is as proverbial as its grace and
swiftness, and is well expressed in the large, soft, liquid eye, which
has formed from time immemorial the stock comparison of Oriental poets
when describing the eyes of beauty.


   The Dishon or Dyshon--Signification of the word
   Pygarg--Certainty that the Dishon is an antelope, and that it
   must be one of a few species--Former and present range of the
   Addax--Description of the Addax--The Strepsiceros of Pliny.

There is a species of animal mentioned once in the Scriptures under
the name of Dishon which the Jewish Bible leaves untranslated, and
merely gives as Dyshon, and which is rendered in the Septuagint by
Pugargos, or PYGARG, as one version gives it. Now, the meaning of the
word Pygarg is white-crouped, and for that reason the Pygarg of the
Scriptures is usually held to be one of the white-crouped antelopes,
of which several species are known. Perhaps it may be one of them--it
may possibly be neither, and it may probably refer to all of them.

But that an antelope of some kind is meant by the word Dishon is
evident enough, and it is also evident that the Dishon must have been
one of the antelopes which could be obtained by the Jews. Now as the
species of antelope which could have furnished food for that nation
are very few in number, it is clear that, even if we do not hit upon
the exact species, we may be sure of selecting an animal that was
closely allied to it. Moreover, as the nomenclature is exceedingly
loose, it is probable that more than one species might have been
included in the word Dishon.

Modern commentators have agreed that there is every probability that
the Dishon of the Pentateuch was the antelope known by the name of

This handsome antelope is a native of Northern Africa. It has a very
wide range, and, even at the present day, is found in the vicinity of
Palestine, so that it evidently was one of the antelopes which could
be killed by Jewish hunters. From its large size, and long twisted
horns, it bears a strong resemblance to the Koodoo of Southern Africa.
The horns, however, are not so long, nor so boldly twisted, the curve
being comparatively slight, and not possessing the bold spiral shape
which distinguishes those of the koodoo.


  "_These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, ... the
  pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois._"--DEUT. xiv. 4, 5.]

The ordinary height of the Addax is three feet seven or eight inches,
and the horns are almost exactly alike in the two sexes. Their length,
from the head to the tips, is rather more than two feet. Its colour is
mostly white, but a thick mane of dark black hair falls from the
throat, a patch of similar hair grows on the forehead, and the back
and shoulders are greyish brown. There is no mane on the back of the
neck, as is the case with the koodoo.

The Addax is a sand-loving animal, as is shown by the wide and
spreading hoofs, which afford it a firm footing on the yielding soil.
In all probability, this is one of the animals which would be taken,
like the wild bull, in a net, being surrounded and driven into the
toils by a number of hunters. It is not, however, one of the
gregarious species, and is not found in those vast herds in which some
of the antelopes love to assemble.

Some writers reject the Addax as the Dishon, and are inclined to
consider that the real representative of the word is to be found in
the Ariel or Isabella gazelles. Of these, however, we have already
treated, and enough has been said about them to show that these
gazelles are in all probability comprised under the name Tsebi.

It has been suggested, in contradiction to the opinion that the Dishon
is the Addax, that the word Strepsiceros, or Twisted Horn, is given to
it by Pliny, who also mentions that one of the native names for the
animal is Adas, or Akas, and that he distinguishes it from the Pygarg.
Still, the weight of evidence is so great in favour of the identity of
the Dishon and the Pygarg, that we may accept the interpretation with


   The word Jachmur evidently represents a species of
   antelope--Probability that the Jachmur is identical with the
   Bubale, or Bekk'r-el-Wash--Resemblance of the animal to the ox
   tribe--Its ox-like horns and mode of attack--Its capability of
   domestication--Former and present range of the Bubale--Its
   representation on the monuments of ancient Egypt--Delicacy of
   its flesh--Size and general appearance of the animal.

It has already been mentioned that in the Old Testament there occur
the names of three or four animals, which clearly belong to one or
other of three or four antelopes. Only one of these names now remains
to be identified. This is the Jachmur, or Yachmur, a word which has
been rendered in the Septuagint as Boubalos, and has been translated
in our Authorized Version as FALLOW DEER.

We shall presently see that the Fallow Deer is to be identified with
another animal, and that the word Jachmur must find another
interpretation. If we follow the Septuagint, and call it the BUBALE,
we shall identify it with a well-known antelope, called by the Arabs
the "Bekk'r-el-Wash," and known to zoologists as the BUBALE
(_Acronotus bubalis_).

This fine antelope would scarcely be recognised as such by an
unskilled observer, as in its general appearance it much more
resembles the ox tribe than the antelope. Indeed, the Arabic title,
"Bekk'r-el-Wash," or Wild Cow, shows how close must be the resemblance
to the oxen. The Arabs, and indeed all the Orientals in whose
countries it lives, believe it not to be an antelope, but one of the
oxen, and class it accordingly.

How much the appearance of the Bubale justifies them in this opinion
may be judged by reference to the figure on page 145. The horns are
thick, short, and heavy, and are first inclined forwards, and then
rather suddenly bent backwards. This formation of the horns causes the
Bubale to use his weapons after the manner of the bull, thereby
increasing the resemblance between them. When it attacks, the Bubale
lowers its head to the ground, and as soon as its antagonist is within
reach, tosses its head violently upwards, or swings it with a sidelong
upward blow. In either case, the sharp curved horns, impelled by the
powerful neck of the animal, and assisted by the weight of the large
head, become most formidable weapons.

It is said that in some places, where the Bubales have learned to
endure the presence of man, they will mix with his herds for the sake
of feeding with them, and by degrees become so accustomed to the
companionship of their domesticated friends, that they live with the
herd as if they had belonged to it all their lives. This fact shows
that the animal possesses a gentle disposition, and it is said to be
as easily tamed as the gazelle itself.

Even at the present day the Bubale has a very wide range, and formerly
had in all probability a much wider. It is indigenous to Barbary, and
has continued to spread itself over the greater part of Northern
Africa, including the borders of the Sahara, the edges of the
cultivated districts, and up the Nile for no small distance. In former
days it was evidently a tolerably common animal of chase in Upper
Egypt, as there are representations of it on the monuments, drawn
with the quaint truthfulness which distinguishes the monumental
sculpture of that period.


  "_And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine
  flour, and threescore measure of meal; ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen
  out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep; beside harts and roebucks,
  and fallow-deer, and fatted fowl._"--1 KINGS iv. 22, 23.]

It is probable that in and about Palestine it was equally common, so
that there is good reason why it should be specially named as one of
the animals that were lawful food. Not only was its flesh permitted to
be eaten, but it was evidently considered as a great dainty, inasmuch
as the Jachmur is mentioned in 1 Kings iv. 23 as one of the animals
which were brought to the royal table. See the passage quoted in full
below the illustration.

Even at the present day it is seen near the Red Sea; and as within the
memory of man it had a much larger range than can now be assigned to
it, we may safely conjecture that it resided in Palestine in
sufficient numbers to afford a constant supply of food to the royal

In size the Bubale is about equal to that of a heifer, and its general
colour is reddish brown. The head is long and narrow, so that the
heavy and deeply-ridged horns seem to stand out with peculiar
boldness. The shoulders are rather high, the neck is very ox-like, and
from the end of the tail hangs a tuft of long black hair. It is a
gregarious animal, and is found in herds, though not of very great

The Bubale is closely allied to the hartebeest, the well-known
antelope of Southern Africa.


   Importance of Sheep in the Bible--The Sheep the chief wealth of
   the pastoral tribes--Tenure of land--Value of good
   pasture-land--Arab shepherds of the present day--Difference
   between the shepherds of Palestine and England--Wanderings of
   the flocks in search of food--Value of the wells--How the Sheep
   are watered--Duties of the shepherd--The shepherd a kind of
   irregular soldier--His use of the sling--Sheep following their
   shepherd--Calling the Sheep by name--The shepherd usually a part
   owner of the flocks--Structure of the sheepfolds--The rock
   caverns of Palestine--David's adventure with Saul--Penning of
   the Sheep by night--Use of the dogs--Sheep sometimes brought up
   by hand--How Sheep are fattened in the Lebanon district--The two
   breeds of Sheep in Palestine--The broad-tailed Sheep, and its
   peculiarities--Reference to this peculiarity in the Bible--The
   Talmudical writers, and their directions to sheep-owners.

We now come to a subject which will necessarily occupy us for some
little time.

There is, perhaps, no animal which occupies a larger space in the
Scriptures than the SHEEP. Whether in religious, civil, or domestic
life, we find that the Sheep is bound up with the Jewish nation in a
way that would seem almost incomprehensible, did we not recall the
light which the New Testament throws upon the Old, and the many
allusions to the coming Messiah under the figure of the Lamb that
taketh away the sins of the world.

In treating of the Sheep, it will be perhaps advisable to begin the
account by taking the animal simply as one of those creatures which
have been domesticated from time immemorial, dwelling slightly on
those points on which the sheep-owners of the old days differed from
those of our own time.

In the first place, the tenure of land was--and is still--entirely
different from anything that can be found in our own country. With us,
the comparatively large amount of population, placed on a
comparatively small area of ground, prohibits the mode of
sheep-keeping as practised in the East, where the pasture-lands are of
vast extent, and common to all who choose to take their flocks to
them. We have at present the Downs and the Highlands as examples of
such pasturage, but they are of small extent when compared with the
vast plains which are used for this purpose in the East.

The only claim to the land seems, in the old times of the Scriptures,
to have lain in cultivation, or perhaps in the land immediately
surrounding a well. But any one appears to have taken a piece of
ground and cultivated it, or to have dug a well wherever he chose, and
thereby to have acquired a sort of right to the soil. The same custom
prevails at the present day among the cattle-breeding races of
Southern Africa. The banks of rivers, on account of their superior
fertility, were considered as the property of the chiefs who lived
along their course, but the inland soil was free to all.

Had it not been for this freedom of the land, it would have been
impossible for the great men to have nourished the enormous flocks and
herds of which their wealth consisted; but, on account of the lack of
ownership of the soil, a flock could be moved to one district after
another as fast as it exhausted the herbage, the shepherds thus
unconsciously imitating the habits of the gregarious animals, which
are always on the move from one spot to another.

Pasturage being thus free to all, Sheep had a higher comparative value
than is the case with ourselves, who have to pay in some way for their
keep. There is a proverb in the Talmud which may be curtly translated,
"Land sell, sheep buy."

The value of a good pasture-ground for the flocks is so great, that
its possession is well worth a battle, the shepherds being saved from
a most weary and harassing life, and being moreover fewer in number
than is needed when the pasturage is scanty. Sir S. Baker, in his work
on Abyssinia, makes some very interesting remarks upon the Arab
herdsmen, who are placed in conditions very similar to those of the
Israelitish shepherds in a bad pasture-land.

"The Arabs are creatures of necessity; their nomadic life is
compulsory, as the existence of their flocks and herds depends upon
the pasturage. Thus, with the change of seasons they must change their
localities according to the presence of fodder for their cattle....
The Arab cannot halt in one spot longer than the pasturage will
support his flocks. The object of his life being fodder, he must
wander in search of the ever-changing supply. His wants must be few,
as the constant change of encampment necessitates the transport of all
his household goods; thus he reduces to a minimum his domestic
furniture and utensils....

"This striking similarity to the descriptions of the Old Testament is
exceedingly interesting to a traveller when residing among these
curious and original people. With the Bible in one's hand, and these
unchanged tribes before the eyes, there is a thrilling illustration of
the sacred record; the past becomes the present, the veil of three
thousand years is raised, and the living picture is a witness to the
exactness of the historical description. At the same time there is a
light thrown upon many obscure passages in the Old Testament by the
experience of the present customs and figures of speech of the Arabs,
which are precisely those that were practised at the periods

"Should the present history of the country be written by an Arab
scribe, the style of the description would be precisely that of the
Old Testament. There is a fascination in the unchangeable features of
the Nile regions. There are the vast pyramids that have defied time,
the river upon which Moses was cradled in infancy, the same sandy
desert through which he led his people, and the watering-places where
their flocks were led to drink. The wild and wandering Arabs, who
thousands of years ago dug out the wells in the wilderness, are
represented by their descendants, unchanged, who now draw water from
the deep wells of their forefathers, with the skins that have never
altered their fashion.

"The Arabs, gathering with their goats and sheep around the wells
to-day, recall the recollection of that distant time when 'Jacob went
on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east. And
he looked, and behold a well in the field, and lo! there were three
flocks of sheep lying by it,' &c. The picture of that scene would be
an illustration of Arab daily life in the Nubian deserts, where the
present is a mirror of the past."

Owing to the great number of Sheep which they have to tend, and the
peculiar state of the country, the life of the shepherd in Palestine
is even now very different from that of an English shepherd, and in
the days of the early Scriptures the distinction was even more
distinctly marked.

Sheep had to be tended much more carefully than we generally think. In
the first place, a thoughtful shepherd had always one idea before his
mind,--namely, the possibility of obtaining sufficient water for his
flocks. Even pasturage is less important than water, and, however
tempting a district might be, no shepherd would venture to take his
charge there if he were not sure of obtaining water. In a climate such
as ours, this ever-pressing anxiety respecting water can scarcely be
appreciated, for in hot climates not only is water scarce, but it is
needed far more than in a temperate and moist climate. Thirst does its
work with terrible quickness, and there are instances recorded where
men have sat down and died of thirst in sight of the river which they
had not strength to reach.

In places therefore through which no stream runs, the wells are the
great centres of pasturage, around which are to be seen vast flocks
extending far in every direction. These wells are kept carefully
closed by their owners, and are only opened for the use of those who
are entitled to water their flocks at them.

Noontide is the general time for watering the Sheep, and towards that
hour all the flocks may be seen converging towards their respective
wells, the shepherd at the head of each flock, and the Sheep following
him. See how forcible becomes the imagery of David, the shepherd poet,
"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down
in green pastures (or, in pastures of tender grass): He leadeth me
beside the still waters" Ps. xxiii. 1, 2). Here we have two of the
principal duties of the good shepherd brought prominently before
us,--namely, the guiding of the Sheep to green pastures and leading
them to fresh water. Very many references are made in the Scriptures
to the pasturage of sheep, both in a technical and a metaphorical
sense; but as our space is limited, and these passages are very
numerous, only one or two of each will be taken.

In the story of Joseph, we find that when his father and brothers were
suffering from the famine, they seem to have cared as much for their
Sheep and cattle as for themselves, inasmuch as among a pastoral
people the flocks and herds constitute the only wealth. So, when
Joseph at last discovered himself, and his family were admitted to the
favour of Pharaoh, the first request which they made was for their
flocks. "Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And
they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also
our fathers.

"They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we
come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the
famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let
thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen."

This one incident, so slightly remarked in the sacred history, gives a
wonderfully clear notion of the sort of life led by Jacob and his
sons. Forming, according to custom, a small tribe of their own, of
which the father was the chief, they led a pastoral life, taking their
continually increasing herds and flocks from place to place as they
could find food for them. For example, at the memorable time when the
story of Joseph begins, he was sent by his father to his brothers, who
were feeding the flocks, and he wandered about for some time, not
knowing where to find them. It may seem strange that he should be
unable to discover such very conspicuous objects as large flocks of
sheep and goats, but the fact is that they had been driven from one
pasture-land to another, and had travelled in search of food all the
way from Shechem to Dothan.

In 1 Chron. iv. 39, 40, we read of the still pastoral Israelites that
"they went to the entrance of Gedor, even unto the east side of the
valley, to seek pasture for their flocks. And they found fat pasture
and good, and the land was wide, and quiet, and peaceable."

How it came to be quiet and peaceable is told in the context. It was
peaceable simply because the Israelites were attracted by the good
pasturage, attacked the original inhabitants, and exterminated them so
effectually that none were left to offer resistance to the usurpers.
And we find from this passage that the value of good pasture-land
where the Sheep could feed continually without being forced to wander
from one spot to another was so considerable, that the owners of the
flocks engaged in war, and exposed their own lives, in order to obtain
so valuable a possession.

As to the figurative passages, they are far too numerous to be quoted,
and are found throughout the whole of the Old and New Testaments. For
example, see Psalm lxxix. 13, "So we Thy people and the sheep of Thy
pasture will give Thee thanks for ever." And again, "I will feed them
upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited
places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon
the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie
in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the
mountains of Israel" (Ezek. xxxiv. 13, 14).

We will now look at one or two of the passages that mention watering
the Sheep--a duty so imperative on an Oriental shepherd, and so
needless to our own.

In the first place we find that most graphic narrative which occurs in
Gen xxix. to which a passing reference has already been made. When
Jacob was on his way from his parents to the home of Laban in
Padan-aram, he came upon the very well which belonged to his uncle,
and there saw three flocks of Sheep lying around the well, waiting
until the proper hour arrived. According to custom, a large stone was
laid over the well, so as to perform the double office of keeping out
the sand and dust, and of guarding the precious water against those
who had no right to it. And when he saw his cousin Rachel arrive with
the flock of which she had the management, he, according to the
courtesy of the country and the time, rolled away the ponderous
barrier, and poured out water into the troughs for the Sheep which
Rachel tended.

About two hundred years afterwards, we find Moses performing a similar
act. When he was obliged to escape into Midian on account of his fatal
quarrel with a tyrannical Egyptian, he sat down by a well, waiting for
the time when the stone might be rolled away, and the water be
distributed. Now it happened that this well belonged to Jethro, the
chief priest of the country, whose wealth consisted principally of
Sheep. He entrusted his flock to the care of his seven daughters, who
led their Sheep to the well and drew water as usual into the troughs.
Presuming on their weakness, other shepherds came and tried to drive
them away, but were opposed by Moses, who drove them away, and with
his own hands watered the flock.

Now in both these examples we find that the men who performed the
courteous office of drawing the water and pouring it into the
sheep-troughs married afterwards the girl to whose charge the flocks
had been committed. This brings us to the Oriental custom which has
been preserved to the present day.

The wells at which the cattle are watered at noon-day are the
meeting-places of the tribe, and it is chiefly at the well that the
young men and women meet each other. As each successive flock arrives
at the well, the number of the people increases, and while the sheep
and goats lie patiently round the water, waiting for the time when the
last flock shall arrive, and the stone be rolled off the mouth of the
well, the gossip of the tribe is discussed, and the young people have
ample opportunity for the pleasing business of courtship.

As to the passages in which the wells, rivers, brooks, water-springs,
are spoken of in a metaphorical sense, they are too numerous to be

And here I may observe, that in reality the whole of Scripture has its
symbolical as well as its outward signification; and that, until we
have learned to read the Bible strictly according to the spirit, we
cannot understand one-thousandth part of the mysteries which it
conceals behind its veil of language; nor can we appreciate
one-thousandth part of the treasures of wisdom which lie hidden in its
pages from those who have eyes and cannot see, ears and cannot hear.

Another duty of the shepherd of ancient Palestine was to guard his
flock from depredators, whether man or beast. Therefore the shepherd
was forced to carry arms; to act as a sentry during the night; and, in
fact, to be a sort of irregular soldier. A fully-armed shepherd had
with him his bow, his spear, and his sword, and not even a shepherd
lad was without his sling and the great quarter-staff which is even
now universally carried by the tribes along the Nile--a staff as thick
as a man's wrist, and six or seven feet in length. He was skilled in
the use of all these weapons, especially in that of the sling.

In England, in these days, the sling is only considered as a mere toy,
whereas, before the introduction of fire-arms, it was one of the most
formidable weapons that could be wielded by light troops. Round and
smooth stones weighing three or four ounces were the usual
projectiles, and, by dint of constant practice from childhood, the
slingers could aim with a marvellous precision. Of this fact we have a
notable instance in David, who knew that the sling and the five stones
in the hand of an active youth unencumbered by armour, and wearing
merely the shepherd's simple tunic, were more than a match for all the
ponderous weapons of the gigantic Philistine.

It has sometimes been the fashion to attribute the successful aim of
David to a special miracle, whereas those who are acquainted with
ancient weapons know well that no miracle was wrought, because none
was needed; a good slinger at that time being as sure of his aim as a
good rifleman of our days.

The sling was in constant requisition, being used both in directing
the Sheep and in repelling enemies: a stone skilfully thrown in front
of a straying Sheep being a well-understood signal that the animal had
better retrace its steps if it did not want to feel the next stone on
its back.

Passing his whole life with his flock, the shepherd was identified
with his Sheep far more than is the case in this country. He knew all
his Sheep by sight, he called them all by their names, and they all
knew him and recognised his voice. He did not drive them, but he led
them, walking in their front, and they following him. Sometimes he
would play with them, pretending to run away while they pursued him,
exactly as an infant-school teacher plays with the children.

Consequently, they looked upon him as their protector as well as their
feeder, and were sure to follow wherever he led them.

We must all remember how David, who had passed all his early years as
a shepherd, speaks of God as the Shepherd of Israel, and the people as
Sheep; never mentioning the Sheep as being driven, but always as being
led. "Thou leddest Thy people like a flock, by the hands of Moses and
Aaron" (Ps. lxxvii. 20); "The Lord is my Shepherd.... He leadeth me
beside the still waters" (Ps. xxiii. 1, 2); "Lead me in a plain path,
because of mine enemies" (Ps. xxvii. 11); together with many other
passages too numerous to be quoted.


  "_He calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out._"--JOHN
  x. 3.]

Our Lord Himself makes a familiar use of the same image: "He calleth
his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth
his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for
they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will
flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers" (John x.
3-5). And again at verse 26: "Ye believe not, because ye are not of my
sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them,
and they follow me."

Although the shepherds of our own country know their Sheep by sight,
and say that there is as much difference in the faces of Sheep as of
men, they have not, as a rule, attained the art of teaching their
Sheep to recognise their names. This custom, however, is still
retained, as may be seen from a well-known passage in Hartley's
"Researches in Greece and the Levant:"--

"Having had my attention directed last night to the words in John x.
3, I asked my man if it were usual in Greece to give names to the
sheep. He informed me that it was, and that the sheep obeyed the
shepherd when he called them by their names. This morning I had an
opportunity of verifying the truth of this remark. Passing by a flock
of sheep, I asked the shepherd the same question which I had put to
the servant, and he gave me the same answer. I then bade him call one
of his sheep. He did so, and it instantly left its pasturage and its
companions, and ran up to the hands of the shepherd, with signs of
pleasure, and with a prompt obedience which I had never before
observed in any other animal.

"It is also true that in this country, 'a stranger will they not
follow, but will flee from him.' The shepherd told me that many of his
sheep were still wild, that they had not learned their names, but that
by teaching them they would all learn them."

Generally, the shepherd was either the proprietor of the flock, or had
at all events a share in it, of which latter arrangement we find a
well-known example in the bargain which Jacob made with Laban, all the
white Sheep belonging to his father-in-law, and all the dark and
spotted Sheep being his wages as shepherd. Such a man was far more
likely to take care of the Sheep than if he were merely a paid
labourer; especially in a country where the life of a shepherd was a
life of actual danger, and he might at any time be obliged to fight
against armed robbers, or to oppose the wolf, the lion, or the bear.
The combat of the shepherd David with the last-mentioned animals has
already been noticed.

In allusion to the continual risks run by the Oriental shepherd, our
Lord makes use of the following well-known words:--"The thief cometh
not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they
might have life, and have it more abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd:
the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an
hireling, ... whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and
leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and
scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling,
and careth not for the sheep."

Owing to the continual moving of the Sheep, the shepherd had very hard
work during the lambing time, and was obliged to carry in his arms the
young lambs which were too feeble to accompany their parents, and to
keep close to him those Sheep who were expected soon to become
mothers. At that time of year the shepherd might constantly be seen at
the head of his flock, carrying one or two lambs in his arms,
accompanied by their mothers.

In allusion to this fact Isaiah writes: "His reward is with Him, and
His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall
gather the lambs with His arms and carry them in His bosom, and shall
gently lead them that are with young" (or, "that give suck," according
to the marginal reading). Here we have presented at once before us the
good shepherd who is no hireling, but owns the Sheep; and who
therefore has "his reward with him, and his work before him;" who
bears the tender lambs in his arms, or lays them in the folds of his
mantle, and so carries them in his bosom, and leads by his side their
yet feeble mothers.

Frequent mention is made of the folds in which the Sheep are penned;
and as these folds differed--and still differ--materially from those
of our own land, we shall miss the force of several passages of
Scripture if we do not understand their form, and the materials of
which they were built. Our folds consist merely of hurdles, moveable
at pleasure, and so low that a man can easily jump over them, and so
fragile that he can easily pull them down. Moreover, the Sheep are
frequently enclosed within the fold while they are at pasture.

  [Illustration: THE SHEEP.

  "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures."--PSALM xxiii. 2.]

If any one should entertain such an idea of the Oriental fold, he
would not see the force of the well-known passage in which our Lord
compares the Church to a sheep fold, and Himself to the door. "He that
entereth not by the door into the sheep fold, but climbeth up some
other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in
by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth,
and the sheep hear his voice.... All that ever came before me
are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I
am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall
go in and out, and find pasture."

Had the fold here mentioned been a simple enclosure of hurdles, such
an image could not have been used. It is evident that the fold to
which allusion was made, and which was probably in sight at the time
when Jesus was disputing with the Pharisees, was a structure of some
pretensions; that it had walls which a thief could only enter by
climbing over them--not by "breaking through" them, as in the case of
a mud-walled private house; and that it had a gate, which was guarded
by a watchman.

In fact, the fold was a solid and enduring building, made of stone.
Thus in Numbers xxxii. it is related that the tribes of Reuben and
Gad, who had great quantities of Sheep and other cattle, asked for the
eastward side of Jordan as a pasture-ground, promising to go and fight
for the people, but previously to build fortified cities for their
families, and folds for their cattle, the folds being evidently, like
the cities, buildings of an enduring nature.

If the reader will refer to the upper left-hand corner of the large
illustration, he will see in the distance the fold into which the
sheep are gathered at nightfall, and will perceive that it is a strong
stone building, with walls of a considerable height. In some places
the folds are simply rock caverns, partly natural and partly
artificial, often enlarged by a stone wall built outside it. It was
the absence of these rock caverns on the east side of Jordan that
compelled the Reubenites and Gadites to build folds for themselves,
whereas on the opposite side places of refuge were comparatively

See, for example, the well-known history related in 1 Sam. xxiii.
xxiv. David and his miscellaneous band of warriors, some six hundred
in number, were driven out of the cities by the fear of Saul, and were
obliged to pass their time in the wilderness, living in the "strong
holds" (xxiii. 14, 19), which we find immediately afterwards to be
rock caves (ver. 25). These caves were of large extent, being able to
shelter these six hundred warriors, and, on one memorable occasion, to
conceal them so completely as they stood along the sides, that Saul,
who had just come out of the open air, was not able to discern them
in the dim light, and David even managed to approach him unseen, and
cut off a portion of his outer robe.

That this particular cave was a sheepfold we learn from xxiv. 2-4:
"Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went
to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. And he
came to the sheepcotes by the way." Into these strongholds the Sheep
are driven towards nightfall, and, as the flocks converge towards
their resting-place, the bleatings of the sheep are almost deafening.

The shepherds as well as their flocks found shelter in these caves,
making them their resting-places while they were living the strange,
wild, pastoral life among the hills; and at the present day many of
the smaller caves and "holes of the rock" exhibit the vestiges of
human habitation in the shape of straw, hay, and other dried herbage,
which has been used for beds, just as we now find the rude couches of
the coast-guard men in the cliff caves of our shores.

The dogs which are attached to the sheepfolds were, as they are now,
the faithful servants of man, although, as has already been related,
they are not made the companions of man as is the case with ourselves.
Lean, gaunt, hungry, and treated with but scant kindness, they are yet
faithful guardians against the attack of enemies. They do not, as do
our sheepdogs, assist in driving the flocks, because the Sheep are not
driven, but led, but they are invaluable as nocturnal sentries.
Crouching together outside the fold, in little knots of six or seven
together, they detect the approach of wild animals, and at the first
sign of the wolf or the jackal they bark out a defiance, and scare
away the invaders. It is strange that the old superstitious idea of
their uncleanness should have held its ground through so many tens of
centuries; but, down to the present day, the shepherd of Palestine,
though making use of the dog as a guardian of his flock, treats the
animal with utter contempt, not to say cruelty, beating and kicking
the faithful creature on the least provocation, and scarcely giving it
sufficient food to keep it alive.

Sometimes the Sheep are brought up by hand at home. "House-lamb," as
we call it, is even now common, and the practice of house-feeding
peculiar in the old Scriptural times.

We have an allusion to this custom in the well-known parable of the
prophet Nathan: "The poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb,
which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with
him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of
his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter" (2
Sam. xii. 3). A further, though less distinct, allusion is made to
this practice in Isaiah vii. 21: "It shall come to pass in that day,
that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep."

How the Sheep thus brought up by hand were fattened may be conjectured
from the following passage in Mr. D. Urquhart's valuable work on the

"In the month of June, they buy from the shepherds, when pasturage has
become scarce and sheep are cheap, two or three sheep; these they feed
by hand. After they have eaten up the old grass and the provender
about the doors, they get vine leaves, and, after the silkworms have
begun to spin, mulberry leaves. They purchase them on trial, and the
test is appetite. If a sheep does not feed well, they return it after
three days. To increase their appetite they wash them twice a day,
morning and evening, a care they never bestow on their own bodies.

"If the sheep's appetite does not come up to their standard, they use
a little gentle violence, folding for them forced leaf-balls and
introducing them into their mouths. The mulberry has the property of
making them fat and tender. At the end of four months the sheep they
had bought at eighty piastres will sell for one hundred and forty, or
will realize one hundred and fifty.

"The sheep is killed, skinned, and hung up. The fat is then removed;
the flesh is cut from the bones, and hung up in the sun. Meanwhile,
the fat has been put in a cauldron on the fire, and as soon as it has
come to boil, the meat is laid on. The proportion of the fat to the
lean is as four to ten, eight 'okes' fat and twenty lean. A little
salt is added, it is simmered for an hour, and then placed in jars for
the use of the family during the year.

"The large joints are separated and used first, as not fit for keeping
long. The fat, with a portion of the lean, chopped fine, is what
serves for cooking the 'bourgoul,' and is called _Dehen_. The sheep
are of the fat-tailed variety, and the tails are the great delicacy."

This last sentence reminds us that there are two breeds of Sheep in
Palestine. One much resembles our ordinary English Sheep, while the
other is a very different animal, being to the ordinary Sheep what the
greyhound is to the rough terrier. It is much taller on its legs,
larger-boned, and long-nosed. Only the rams have horns, and they are
not twisted spirally like those of our own Sheep, but come backwards,
and then curl round so that the point comes under the ear. The great
peculiarity of this Sheep is the tail, which is simply prodigious in
point of size, and is an enormous mass of fat. Indeed, the long-legged
and otherwise lean animal seems to concentrate all its fat in the
tail, which, as has been well observed, appears to abstract both flesh
and fat from the rest of the body. So great is this strange
development, that the tail alone will sometimes weigh one-fifth as
much as the entire animal. A similar breed of Sheep is found in
Southern Africa and other parts of the world. In some places, the tail
grows to such an enormous size that, in order to keep so valuable a
part of the animal from injury, it is fastened to a small board,
supported by a couple of wheels, so that the Sheep literally wheels
its own tail in a cart. It has been thought by some systematic
naturalists that this variety is a distinct species, and the
broad-tailed breeds of Sheep have, in consequence, been distinguished
by several names. For example, the present variety is called _Ovis
laticaudatus_ by several authors, _Ovis laticauda platyceros_ by
another, and _Ovis cauda obesa_ by another. The broad-tailed Sheep of
Tartary is called _Ovis steatopyga_. Another author calls it _Ovis
macrocercus_; and the broad-tailed Sheep of Southern Africa is called
_Ovis Capensis_. Yet they are in reality one and the same variety of
the common domesticated Sheep, differing in some particulars according
to the conditions in which they are placed, but having really no
specific distinction. It is, by the way, from the wool of the unborn
broad-tailed Sheep that the much-prized Astrachan fur is made.

The various Scriptural writers seem never to have noticed the
difference between the breeds of Sheep; the names that are employed
denoting the different ages and sexes of the Sheep, but having no
reference to the breed.

For example, the word "Tâleh" signifies a very young sucking lamb,
such as is mentioned in 1 Sam. vii. 9: "And Samuel took a sucking lamb
(Tâleh), and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord."
The same word is used in Isa. lxv. 25:

"The wolf and the lamb (tâleh) shall feed together;" the force of this
well-known passage being much increased by the correct rendering of
the word "tâleh." The Jewish Bible renders the word as "a lamb of

The word "kebes," or "keves," (the e being pronounced like the same
letter in the word "seven") signifies a male lamb of a year or so old,
the feminine being "kebesah." When the young lamb was weaned, and was
sent to pasture, it was called by another name, _i.e._ "kar," this
word being evidently derived from the Hebrew verb which signifies to
skip. The adult ram is signified by the word "ayil," or "ail," and the
ewe by "rakal."

Frequent reference to the fat of the tail is made in the Authorized
Version of the Scriptures, though in terms which would not be
understood did we not know that the Sheep which is mentioned in those
passages is the long-tailed Sheep of Syria. See, for example, the
history narrated in Exod. xxix. 22, where special details are given as
to the ceremony by which Aaron and his sons were consecrated to the
priesthood. "Thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the
fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the
two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them." In the Jewish Bible the
passage is given with much more precision, "Thou shalt take of the ram
the fat, _and the fat tail_," &c. The same rendering is used in Lev.
iii. 9: "And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the feast offering a
fire offering unto the Eternal; the fat thereof, and the whole fat
tail shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth
the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards."

But though this particular breed is not very distinctly mentioned in
the Bible, the Talmudical writers have many allusions to it. In the
Mischna these broad-tailed Sheep are not allowed to leave their folds
on the Sabbath-day, because by wheeling their little tail-waggons
behind them they would break the Sabbath. The writers describe the
tail very graphically, comparing its shape to that of a saddle, and
saying that it is fat, without bones, heavy and long, and looks as if
the whole body were continued beyond the hind-legs, and thence hung
down in place of a tail.

The Rabbinical writers treat rather fully of the Sheep, and give some
very amusing advice respecting their management. If the ewes cannot be
fattened in the ordinary manner, that end may be achieved by tying up
the udder so that the milk cannot flow, and the elements which would
have furnished milk are forced to produce fat. If the weather should
be chilly at the shearing time, and there is danger of taking cold
after the wool is removed, the shepherd should dip a sponge in oil and
tie it on the forehead of the newly-shorn animal. Or, if he should not
have a sponge by him, a woollen rag will do as well. The same potent
remedy is also efficacious if the Sheep should be ill in lambing time.

That the Sheep is liable to the attack of the gadfly, which deposits
its eggs in the nostrils of the unfortunate animal, was as well known
in the ancient as in modern times. It is scarcely necessary to mention
that the insect in question is the _Æstrus ovis_. Instinctively aware
of the presence of this insidious and dreaded enemy, which, though so
apparently insignificant, is as formidable a foe as any of the beasts
of prey, the Sheep display the greatest terror at the sharp, menacing
sound produced by the gadfly's wings as the insect sweeps through the
air towards its destination. They congregate together, placing their
heads almost in contact with each other, snort and paw the ground in
their terror, and use all means in their power to prevent the fly from
accomplishing its purpose.

When a gadfly succeeds in attaining its aim, it rapidly deposits an
egg or two in the nostril, and then leaves them. The tiny eggs are
soon hatched by the natural heat of the animal, and the young larvæ
crawl up the nostril towards the frontal sinus. There they remain
until they are full-grown, when they crawl through the nostrils, fall
on the ground, burrow therein, and in the earth undergo their changes
into the pupal and perfect stages.

It need hardly be said that an intelligent shepherd would devote
himself to the task of killing every gadfly which he could find, and,
as these insects are fond of basking on sunny rocks or tree-trunks,
this is no very difficult matter.

The Rabbinical writers, however, being totally ignorant of practical
entomology, do not seem to have recognised the insect until it had
reached its full larval growth. They say that the rams manage to shake
the grubs out of their nostrils by butting at one another in mimic
warfare, and that the ewes, which are hornless, and are therefore
incapable of relieving themselves by such means, ought to be supplied
with plants which will make them sneeze, so that they may shake out
the grubs by the convulsive jerkings of the head caused by inhaling
the irritating substance.

The same writers also recommend that the rams should be furnished with
strong leathern collars.

When the flock is on the march, the rams always go in the van, and,
being instinctively afraid of their ancient enemy the wolf, they
continually raise their heads and look about them. This line of
conduct irritates the wolves, who attack the foremost rams and seize
them by the throat. If, therefore, a piece of stout leather be
fastened round the ram's neck, the wolf is baffled, and runs off in
sullen despair.

Generally, the oldest ram is distinguished by a bell, and, when the
flock moves over the hilly slopes, the Sheep walk in file after the
leader, making narrow paths, which are very distinct from a distance,
but are scarcely perceptible when the foot of the traveller is
actually upon them. From this habit has arisen an ancient proverb, "As
the sheep after the sheep, so the daughter after the mother," a saying
which is another form of our own familiar proverb, "What is bred in
the bone will not come out of the flesh."

We now come to the Sheep considered with reference to its uses. First
and foremost the Sheep was, and still is, one of the chief means of
subsistence, being to the pastoral inhabitants of Palestine what the
oxen are to the pastoral inhabitants of Southern Africa.

To ordinary persons the flesh of the Sheep was a seldom-tasted luxury;
great men might eat it habitually, "faring sumptuously every day," and
we find that, among the glories of Solomon's reign, the sacred
chronicler has thought it worth while to mention that part of the
daily provision for his household included one hundred Sheep. No
particular pains seem to have been taken about the cooking of the
animal, which seems generally to have been boiled. As, however, in
such a climate the flesh could not be kept for the purpose of making
it tender, as is the case in this part of the world, it was cooked as
soon as the animal was killed, the fibres not having time to settle
into the rigidity of death.

Generally, when ordinary people had the opportunity of tasting the
flesh of the Sheep, it was on the occasion of some rejoicing,--such,
for example, as a marriage feast, or the advent of a guest, for whom a
lamb or a kid was slain and cooked on the spot, a young male lamb
being almost invariably chosen as less injurious than the ewe to the
future prospects of the flock. Roasting over a fire was sometimes
adopted, as was baking in an oven sunk in the ground, a remarkable
instance of which we shall see when we come to the Jewish sacrifices.
Boiling, however, was the principal mode; so much so, indeed, that the
Hebrew word which signifies boiling is used to signify any kind of
cooking, even when the meat was roasted.

The process of cooking and eating the Sheep was as follows.

The animal having been killed according to the legal form, the skin
was stripped off, and the body separated joint from joint, the right
shoulder being first removed. This, it will be remembered, was the
priest's portion; see Lev. vii. 32: "The right shoulder shall ye give
unto the priest for an heave offering of the sacrifices of your peace
offerings." The whole of the flesh was then separated from the bones,
and chopped small, and even the bones themselves broken up, so that
the marrow might not be lost.

A reference to this custom is found in Micah iii. 2, 3, "Who pluck off
their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; who
also eat the flesh of my people ... and they break their bones, and
chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron."
The reader will now understand more fully the force of the prophecy,
"He keepeth all His bones: not one of them is broken" (Psa. xxxiv.

The mixed mass of bones and flesh was then put into the caldron, which
was generally filled with water, but sometimes with milk, as is the
custom with the Bedouins of the present day, whose manners are in many
respects identical with those of the early Jews. It has been thought
by some commentators that the injunction not to "seethe a kid in his
mother's milk" (Deut. xiv. 21) referred to this custom. I believe,
however, that the expression "in his mother's milk" does not signify
that the flesh of the kid might not be boiled in its mother's milk,
but that a kid might not be taken which was still in its mother's
milk, _i.e._ unweaned.

Salt and spices were generally added to it; see Ezek. xxiv. 10: "Heap
on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well." The
surface was carefully skimmed, and, when the meat was thoroughly
cooked, it and the broth were served up separately. The latter was
used as a sort of sauce, into which unleavened bread was dipped. So in
Judges vi. 19 we read that when Gideon was visited by the angel,
according to the hospitable custom of the land, he "made ready a kid,
and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a
basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him
under the oak, and presented it to him."

Valuable, however, as was the Sheep for this purpose, there has always
existed a great reluctance to kill the animal, the very sight of the
flocks being an intense gratification to a pastoral Oriental. The
principal part of the food supplied by the Sheep was, and is still,
the milk; which afforded abundant food without thinning the number of
the flock. As all know who have tasted it, the milk of the Sheep is
peculiarly rich, and in the East is valued much more highly than that
of cattle. The milk was seldom drunk in a fresh state, as is usually
the case with ourselves, but was suffered to become sour, curdled, and

This custom exists at the present day, the curdled milk being known by
the name of "leben." It is worthy of notice that all the Kaffir tribes
of Southern Africa, who live almost entirely on milk, also use it
curdled, under the name of "amasi," and utterly refuse to drink it in
its fresh state, looking upon new milk much as we should look upon
unfermented ale. It is curdled by being placed in a vessel together
with some of the already curdled milk, and the usual plan is to
preserve for this special purpose a vessel which is never wholly
emptied, and which is found to curdle the milk with great rapidity.

"Leben" is exceedingly nutritious, and especially adapted for
children, who, when accustomed to it, will very much prefer it to the
milk in a fresh state. Two separate words are used in the Old
Testament to distinguish fresh from curdled milk, the former being
called Châlâb, and the latter Chemhah.

For butter (if we may accept the rendering of the word) the milk of
the cow or the goat seems to have been preferred, although that of the
Sheep also furnishes it. This distinction is drawn even in the
earliest days of Jewish history, and in the Song of Moses (Deut.
xxxii. 13, 14) we find this passage, "He made him to suck honey out of
the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; butter of kine and milk of
sheep, with fat of lambs."

There is, however, a little uncertainty about the word which is
translated as butter, and as this word is only used in a very few
passages, we will refer briefly to them. The first mention of butter
occurs in Gen. xviii. 8, where we are told that Abraham "took butter,
and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them."
In this passage we find the words "chemhah" and "châlâh" are used, the
former being translated in the Jewish Bible as "clotted cream."
Abraham therefore gave his angelic guests their choice of milk, both
fresh and curdled. In the passage from Deut. xxxii. 14, which has
already been mentioned, the same words are used, as they are in the
well-known passage in the history of Jael and Sisera (Judges v. 25):
"He asked water, and she gave him milk (châlâb); she brought forth
butter (chemhah) in a lordly dish."

Again, the butter which Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai brought to David,
together with honey, was the chemhah (2 Sam. xvii. 29). In the
familiar passage, "Butter and honey shall He eat" (Isa. vii. 15), the
same word is used; and so it is in Job xx. 17, "He shall not see the
rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter."

But in Prov. xxx. 33, "Surely the churning (mitz) of milk (châlâb)
bringeth forth butter" (chemhah), we have a proof that the chemhah,
whatever it may be, is produced by the churning or pressure of the
fresh milk. As to the exact force of the word "mitz" there is a little
doubt, some persons translating it as pressure, and others as
agitating or shaking, a movement which, when applied to milk, would be
rightly translated as churning. This latter interpretation is
strengthened by the context, "Surely the churning (mitz) of milk
bringeth forth butter, and the wringing (mitz) of the nose bringeth
forth blood."

It is most probable that the chemhah may signify both clotted cream
and butter, just as many words in our language have two or more
significations. Some commentators have thought that the ancient Jews
were not acquainted with butter. This theory, however, is scarcely
tenable. Butter is used largely at the present day, and is made after
the simple fashion of the East, by shaking the cream in a vessel,
exactly as it is made among the black tribes of Southern Africa and
other parts of the world. And, considering the unchanging character of
institutions in the East, we may assume as certain that the ancient
inhabitants of Palestine were, like their modern successors,
acquainted both with the clotted cream and true butter.

Moreover, two substances, butter and honey, which are mentioned in
Samuel, in Job, and in Isaiah, as connected with each other, are still
eaten together in the East.

A reference to the milk of Sheep is to be found in the New Testament:
"Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who
feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?" (1 Cor. ix.

In this country the milk of the Sheep is scarcely ever used, but in
Scotland, especially in the great Sheep-feeding districts, its milk is
valued as it deserves, and is specially employed for the manufacture
of cheese.

The mention of cheese brings us to another branch of the subject.
Gesenius thinks that the chemhah mentioned in Prov. xxx. must be a
kind of cheese, on account of the word "mitz," _i.e._ pressure. Thus
the word "cheese" occurs three times in the Authorized Version of the
Bible, and in all these passages a different word is used. We will
take them in their order. The first mention occurs in 1 Sam. xvii. 17,
18, "And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an
ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp
to thy brethren; and carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their
thousand." In this passage the word which is rendered "cheeses" in the
Authorized Version is "charitz," a term which is translated in the
Jewish Bible as "slices of cheeses," on account of the etymology of
the word, which is derived from a root signifying slicing or cutting.

Another word is used in 2 Sam. xvii. 29, where, among the provisions
that Barzillai brought to David, is mentioned "cheese of kine." The
Hebrew word "shaphôth," which is translated as cheese, derives its
origin from a root signifying to scrape.

The third term translated as cheese is to be found in Job x. 10, "Hast
thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?" The word
"gebînah," which is here translated as "cheese" both in the Authorized
Version and the Jewish Bible, is derived from a root signifying to

Here, then, we have three passages, in each of which a different word
is mentioned, and yet these words have been translated in a precisely
similar manner, both in our own version and in the Jewish Bible. The
subject is so well summed up by the Rev. W. L. Bevan, in Smith's
"Dictionary of the Bible," that we may insert here the passage:--

"It is difficult to decide how far these terms correspond with our
notion of _cheese_, for they simply imply various degrees of
coagulation. It may be observed that cheese is not at the present day
common among the Bedouin Arabs, butter being decidedly preferred. But
there is a substance closely corresponding to those mentioned in 1
Sam. xvii., 2 Sam. xvii., consisting of coagulated buttermilk, which
is dried until it becomes quite hard, and is then ground. The Arabs
eat it with butter. (Burckhardt, 'Notes on the Bedouins,' i. 60.)

"In reference to this subject, it is noticeable that the ancients seem
generally to have used either butter or cheese, but not both. Thus the
Greeks had in reality but one expression for the two; for [Greek:
boúteron] = [Greek: boûs-turós] ('cheese of kine'). The Romans used
cheese extensively, while all nomad tribes preferred butter. The
distinction between cheese proper and coagulated milk seems to be
referred to in Pliny xi. 96."

The reader will observe that this opinion exactly coincides with that
which was expressed a few lines above, namely, that the Hebrews used
one word to express both butter and cheese. The coagulated and dried
buttermilk--_i.e._ the "leben" of the Bedouins, and the "amasi" of the
Kaffir tribe--may well be the "shaphôth bâkâr," or "scrapings of the
kine," as being necessarily scraped off the stone or metal plate on
which it was dried.

We now come to a portion of the Sheep scarcely less important than the
flesh and the milk, _i.e._ the fleece, or wool.

In the ancient times nearly the whole of the clothing was made of
wool, especially the most valuable part of it, namely the large
mantle, or "haick," in which the whole person could be folded, and
which was the usual covering during sleep. The wool, therefore, would
be an article of great national value; and so we find that when the
king of Moab paid his tribute in kind to the king of Israel, it was
carefully specified that the Sheep should not be shorn. "And Mesha
king of Moab was a sheep-master, and rendered unto the king of Israel
an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the

The wool of the Sheep of Palestine differed extremely in value; some
kinds being course and rough, while others were long, fine, and soft.

The wool was dressed in those times much as it is at present, being
carded and then spun with the spindle, the distaff being apparently
unused, and the wool simply drawn out by the hand. The shape of the
spindle was much like that of the well-known flat spinning-tops that
come from Japan--namely, a disc through which passes an axle. A smart
twirl given by the fingers to the axle makes the disc revolve very
rapidly, and its weight causes the rotation to continue for a
considerable time. Spinning the wool was exclusively the task of the
women, a custom which prevailed in this country up to a very recent
time, and which still traditionally survives in the term "spinster,"
and in the metaphorical use of the word "distaff" as synonymous with a
woman's proper work.

Only a few passages occur in the Scriptures in which spinning is
mentioned. In Exod. xxxv. 25 we are told that, when the people were
preparing the materials for the Tabernacle, "all the women that were
wise-hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they
had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine
linen." It is true that in Prov. xxxi. 19 there is mention both of the
distaff and spindle: "She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her
hand holds the distaff;" but the word which is translated as "distaff"
is more probably the flat disc which gave to the spindle its whirling
movement. Buxtorf's "Hebrew Lexicon" favours this interpretation,
translating the word as "verticulum, quasi fusi directorium," the word
being derived from a root signifying straight, or to keep something
else straight.

The only other reference to spinning is the well-known passage,
"Consider the lilies, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they
spin: and yet I say unto you, That Solomon in all his glory was not
arrayed like one of these."

When spun into threads, the wool was woven in the simple loom which
has existed up to our own day, and which is identical in its general
principles throughout a very large portion of the world. It consisted
of a framework of wood, at one end of which was placed the "beam" to
which the warp was attached; and at the other end was the "pin" on
which the cloth was rolled as it was finished.

The reader may remember that when Delilah was cajoling Samson to tell
her the secret of his strength, he said, "If thou weavest the seven
locks of my head with the web." So, as he slept, she interwove his
long hair with the fabric which was on her loom, and, to make sure,
"fastened it with the pin," _i.e._ wove it completely into the cloth
which was rolled round the pin. So firmly had she done so, that when
he awoke he could not disentangle his hair, but left the house with
the whole of the loom, the beam and the pin, and the web hanging to
his head.

The threads of the warp were separated by slight rods, and the woof
was passed between them with a shuttle shaped something like a sword,
which answered the double purpose of conducting the thread, and of
striking it with the edge so as to make it lie regularly in its place.

The loom may either have been upright or horizontal, but was probably
the former, the weaver standing at his work, beginning at the top, and
so weaving down. The seamless coat or tunic of our Lord was thus made,
being "woven from the top throughout," like the Roman garments of a
similar character, called _rectæ_, signifying that they were woven in
an upright loom. According to the Jewish traditions, the sacerdotal
garments were thus made in one piece.

Allusion is made to the speed with which the weaver throws his shuttle
in Job vii. 6, "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are
passed without hope." When the fabric was finished, the weaver cut it
away from the thrum, an operation which is noticed in the following
passage of Isa. xxxviii. 12, "Mine age is departed, and is removed
from me like a shepherd's tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life:
He will cut me off with pining sickness." The latter sentence is
translated in the Jewish Bible "He will cut me off from the thrum,"
and the same rendering is in the marginal note of the Authorized

The reader may remember a remarkable prohibition in Deut. xxii. 11,
"Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as woollen and linen
together," a prohibition which was sufficiently important to be
repeated in Lev. xix. 19. Now the word which is rendered as "divers
sorts" in one passage and as "mingled" in the other has been variously
interpreted, some persons rendering it as motley, some as spurious or
counterfeit, and some as spotted like a leopard. It is probable,
however, that our Authorized Version is the correct one, and that we
may accept the exposition of Josephus on the subject. He states that
such garments, _i.e._ of linen warp and woollen woof, were intended
wholly for sacerdotal use, and were in consequence prohibited to the

Wool when taken from the Sheep was of various colours, according to
the animal from which it was shorn; but the most valuable was
necessarily the white variety, which might either be used without
dyeing, or stained of any favourite hue. Several allusions to the
whiteness of such wool are made in the Scriptures. See for example Ps.
cxlvii. 16, "He giveth snow like wool, and scattereth the hoarfrost
like ashes." Also Isa. i. 18, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they
shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall
be as wool." In the prophet Daniel the Ancient of Days is described as
having "His garments as white as snow, and the hair of His head like
the pure wool." And in Rev. i. 14 the same image is repeated, "His
head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow."

The reader will not fail to observe that in all these passages wool
and snow are mentioned as of equal whiteness. The reference is
probably made to the newly-carded wool, which is peculiarly white and

Wool was often dyed of various colours; blue, purple, and scarlet
being those which were generally employed. The rams' skins which
formed part of the covering of the Tabernacle were ordered to be dyed
scarlet, partly on account of the significance of the colour, and
partly because none but the best and purest fleeces would be chosen
for so rare and costly a dye. How the colour was produced we shall
learn towards the end of the volume.

As with us, sheep-shearing was always a time of great rejoicing and
revelry, which seem often to have been carried beyond the bounds of
sobriety. Thus when Nabal had gathered together his three thousand
Sheep in Carmel, and held a shearing festival, David sent to ask for
some provisions for his band, and was refused in accordance with the
disposition of the man, who had inflamed his naturally churlish nature
with wine. "He held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king:
and Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken" (1
Sam. xxv. 36).

The same was probably the case when Laban was shearing his Sheep (Gen.
xxxi. 19). Otherwise it would scarcely have been possible for Jacob to
have gone away unknown to Laban, taking with him his wives and
children, his servants, his camels, and his flocks, the rapid increase
of which had excited the jealousy of his uncle, and which were so
numerous that, in fear of his brother Esau, he divided them into two
bands, and yet was able to select from them a present to his brother,
consisting in all of nearly six hundred sheep, camels, oxen, goats,
and asses.

Sometimes the shepherds and others who lived in pastoral districts
made themselves coats of the skins of the Sheep, with the wool still
adhering to it. The custom extends to the present day, and even in
many parts of Europe the sheep-skin dress of the shepherds is a
familiar sight to the traveller. The skin was sometimes tanned and
used as leather, but was considered as inferior to that of the goat.
Mr. Tristram conjectures that the leathern "girdle" worn by St. John
the Baptist was probably the untanned sheep-skin coat which has been
just mentioned. So it is said of the early Christians, that "they
wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute,
afflicted, tormented," the sheep-skins in question being evidently the
rude shepherd's coats.

Next to the wool come the horns.

In our country we have done our best to produce a hornless breed of
Sheep, thinking the nutriment which produces the horns can be better
expended on the body and fleece, but in the East the horns form an
important commodity, and are valued in proportion to their size.

The chief use of the ram's horn was as a vessel in which to carry
liquids, especially those which, like oil, were poured out in small
quantities. For this purpose a wooden plug was driven tightly into
the larger end, so as to close it completely, and frequently covered,
in addition, with raw hide, in order to hold it firmly in its place,
while the small part of the pointed end was cut off, and the aperture
closed with a small stopper. The old powder-horns which were formerly
much used in England, and which even now are employed in Palestine and
many other countries, were good examples of this form of vessel.

That the horn was the favourite vessel for carrying oil is seen in
many passages of the Scriptures. For example, when Saul was to be
superseded by David, Samuel was ordered to fill his horn with oil and
go to Jesse's house, 1 Sam. i. 39. The allusion was evidently to a
vessel whose ordinary use was the holding of oil. Again, when David
named Solomon his son (see 1 Kings i. 39), "Zadok the priest took an
horn of oil out of the Tabernacle, and anointed Solomon," the oil
being that which was kept in the Tabernacle for sacred purposes, and
the ingredients of which were so carefully chosen, for it was to be an
"oil of holy ointment, an ointment compounded after the art of the
apothecary (or perfumer), which shall be an holy anointing oil" (Ex.
xxx. 25).

The horn of the ram had also a national value, as from it were made
the sacred trumpets which played so important a part in the history of
the Jewish nation. There is no doubt that the primitive trumpets were
originally formed either from the horn of an animal, such as the ox,
the large-horned antelopes, the sheep, and the goat, and that in
process of time they were made of metal, generally copper or silver.

References are frequently made in the Bible to these trumpets, for
which there were different names, probably on account of their
different forms. These names are, however, very loosely rendered in
our version, the same word being sometimes translated the "cornet" and
sometimes the "trumpet." Putting aside, however, these points of
difference, we have chiefly to remark the fact that trumpets made of
rams' horns were ordered by the Mosaic law to be sounded at certain
times, and that their notes formed an important part of the ritual.

Each jubilee year, for example, was ushered in by the blasts of the
sacred trumpets. "Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to
sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement
shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land" (Lev. xxv.
9). Then there was the festival known as the Feast of Trumpets. "In
the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an
holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing
the trumpets unto you" (Numb. xxix. 1).

Perhaps the most prominent instance of the blowing of the sacred
trumpet may be found in the familiar passage in the book of Joshua
(ch. vi.) in which is described the fall of Jericho. "Ye shall compass
the city, all ye men of war, and go about the city once. This ye shall
do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven
trumpets of rams' horns (or jubilee cornets); and the seventh day ye
shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with
the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, when they make a long blast
with the rams' horns, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all
the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city
shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man
straight before him."

Trumpets were also used as signals to the people. "Declare ye in
Judah, and publish in Jerusalem, and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the
land: cry, gather together and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go
into the defenced cities" (Jer. iv. 5). And on that great and solemn
day when the law was given from Mount Sinai the signal to the people
was the sound of the trumpet (or cornet, as the word is translated in
the margin). "And it came to pass on the third day in the morning,
that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the
mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the
people that was in the camp trembled" (Exod. xix. 16).

The Hebrew word which is here translated as "trumpet" is "shofar,"
which signifies also a horn, and is therefore very rightly translated
in the margin and in the Jewish Bible as "cornet." What may have been
the shape of the shofar is evident from the fact that the same
instrument is used even at the present day in certain parts of the
Jewish ritual. One of these trumpets is now before me, and is shown in
the accompanying illustration.

In length it measures eighteen inches, _i.e._ a cubit, and it is
formed entirely in one piece. As far as I can judge, it is made from
the left horn of the broad-tailed Sheep, which, as has already been
remarked, is not spiral, but flattish, curved backwards, and forming
nearly a circle, the point passing under the ear. This structure,
added to the large size of the horn, adapts it well for its purpose.
In order to bring it to the proper shape, the horn is softened by
heat, and is then modelled into the very form which was used by the
Jewish priests who blew the trumpet before the ark.

  [Illustration: RAM'S HORN TRUMPET.]

At the present day one such trumpet, at least, is found in every
Jewish community, and is kept by the man who has the privilege of
blowing it. On the New Year's festival and the Day of Atonement the
trumpet is used in the Jewish ritual, and as the ceremonies connected
with blowing it are extremely interesting, they will be briefly

The trumpeter, who is not necessarily a priest, but may be any pious
man selected from the congregation, prepares himself by bathing, and
at the appointed time puts on the white shirt or shroud in which Jews
are buried. Before the trumpet is blown, a prayer is said, containing
many cabalistic names of angels and _malachim_, or powers. These names
may not be pronounced.

The Rabbi then stands, and gives out the names of the sacred tones in
their succession. By the kindness of Dr. Herman Beigel, I have been
enabled to hear the tones, and to put them into musical notes,--I
believe for the first time since they have been used. The tones are
four in number, and are called as follows: Tekeeah (the blowing),
Shebârim (the repeated notes), Terooah (the note of joy), and
Tekeeah-gedôlah (the lengthened blowing). It is not very easy exactly
to express on paper these ancient tones, but the following notes will
give a good idea of them.

  [Illustration: Tekeeah. Shebârim. Terooah. Tekeeah-gedôlah.]

These tones are blown in three partitions, in the following order:--

           PARTITION I.                     PARTITION II.

    Tekeeah. Shebârim. Tekeeah.      Tekeeah. Terooah. Tekeeah.

    Tekeeah. Shebârim. Tekeeah.      Tekeeah. Terooah. Tekeeah.

    Tekeeah. Shebârim. Tekeeah.      Tekeeah. Terooah. Tekeeah.

                          PARTITION III.

                Tekeeah. Shebârim. Terooah. Tekeeah.

                Tekeeah. Shebârim. Terooah. Tekeeah.

                Tekeeah. Shebârim. Terooah. Tekeeah-gedôlah.

Between each partition a pause is made, during which the congregation
join in a prayer which is full of cabalistic names of the angels who
have charge over the sacred tones. And, according to a beautiful
Hebrew tradition, when the trumpet is blown with the proper rites,
each tone is transformed into an angel, who ascends to join his
heavenly colleagues, and with them forms a crown before the throne of
God. So that, ever since the Jewish ritual was established, every New
Year's festival and Day of Atonement send forth their own angels, as
additional jewels to the heavenly crown.

These tones are the same all over the world, and have been unchanged
for countless generations, so that we may be nearly certain that the
blast before which the walls of Jericho fell were the four sacred
tones which have just been described. The reader will perceive that
all the tones are simply octaves, blown with more or less rapidity,
the short notes of Terooah being taken as quickly as the trumpeter can
blow them, and the concluding note well swelled out, until "the voice
of the cornet waxes exceeding loud." Sometimes fifths are used instead
of octaves.

The sounds of the shofar are very peculiar and harsh, quite unlike the
notes of any modern instrument. In spite, however, of the wild and
almost discordant harshness of the instrument, and the abrupt and even
startling character of the Shebârim and Terooah, the sound of the
shofar has a strangely solemn effect, carrying back the mind of the
hearer to the time when the priests bore their rams'-horn trumpets
before the ark, and blew the same sacred blasts under the shadow of

Dr. Beigel has made a most singular discovery concerning the tones of
the shofar. If the reader will blow them on a flute in the exact order
in which they stand, he will find that he is playing a portion of the
nightingale's song. This remarkable fact has been communicated to the
Chief Rabbi and other Rabbim, who are unanimous in expressing their
satisfaction at it. We cannot, of course, venture to say whether the
sacred tones were in the first instance copied from the notes of a
singing bird, but it is not unlikely that, whether consciously or not,
the mind of the ancient composer might have been influenced by tones
which he had often heard, and which could be reproduced in the limited
compass of the ram's horn trumpet.

The old Rabbinical writers have a curious saying about the ram: "The
ram in life has one tone, in death seven." This they explain in the
following way. When the animal is living the only sound which it can
produce is the bleat, but when it is dead it is made into musical

   1. Of the horns are made trumpets.

   2. Of the leg-bones are made flutes.

   3. Of the large intestines are made lute-strings.

   4. Of the small intestines are made harp-strings.

   5. Of the skin is made the drum-head.

   6. Of the wool are made the pomegranates which hang between the
   golden bells of the High Priest's garment.

This latter sentence explains a passage in Exodus xxviii. 33, which is
not very easy of comprehension. When describing the ephod of the High
Priest, the sacred writer proceeds to say, "And beneath upon the hem
of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of
scarlet, round about the hem thereof, and bells of gold between them
round about." Both the material and the use of the blue and purple and
scarlet pomegranates are here left uncertain, but this old Rabbinical
saying explains both. They were made of the dyed wool of the sheep,
and their use was to prevent the bells from clashing harshly together,
and to keep up a sort of gentle chime as the High Priest went about
his sacred duties.

It is very true that only six tones instead of seven are enumerated,
but we must not be too critical in dissecting an aphorism.

We now come to the important subject, the use of the Sheep in sacrifice.
No animal was used so frequently for this purpose as the Sheep, and
in many passages of the Mosaic law are specified the precise age as
well as the sex of the Sheep which was to be sacrificed in certain
circumstances. Sometimes the Sheep was sacrificed as an offering of
thanksgiving, sometimes as an expiation for sin, and sometimes as a
redemption for some more valuable animal. The young male lamb was the
usual sacrifice; and almost the only sacrifice for which a Sheep might
not be offered was that of the two goats on the great Day of
Atonement. To mention all the passages in which the Sheep is ordered
for sacrifice would occupy too much of our space, and we will
therefore restrict ourselves to the one central rite of the Jewish
nation, the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb, the precursor of the Lamb
of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.

Without examining in full the various ceremonies of the Paschal
sacrifice, we will glance over the salient points which distinguish it
from any other sacrifice.

The lamb must be a male, which is selected and examined with the
minutest care, that it may be free from all blemish, and must be of
the first year. It must be killed on the fourteenth of the month Abib
as the sun is setting, and the blood must be sprinkled with hyssop. In
the first or Egyptian Passover the blood was sprinkled on the lintels
and doorposts of the houses, but afterwards on the altar. It must be
roasted with fire, and not boiled, after the usual custom in the East;
not a bone must be broken. It must be eaten by the household in haste,
as if they were just starting on a journey, and if any of it should be
left, it must be consumed in the fire, and not eaten on the following

Such are the chief points in connexion with the Paschal rite, at once
a sacrifice and a feast. The original directions not being
sufficiently minute to meet all the practical difficulties which might
hinder the correct performance of the rite, a vast number of
directions are given by the Rabbinical writers. In order, for example,
to guard against the destruction of any part of the animal by careless
cooking over a fire, or the possible fracture of a bone by a sudden
jet of flame, the Paschal lamb was rather baked than roasted, being
placed in an earthen oven from which the ashes had been removed. In
order to prevent it from being burned or blackened against the sides
of the oven, (in which case it would be cooked with earthenware and
not with fire), it was transfixed with a wooden stake, made from the
pomegranate-tree, and a transverse spit was thrust through the
shoulders. These spits were made of wood, because a metal spit would
become heated in the oven, and would cause all the flesh which it
touched to be roasted with metal, and not with fire; and the wood of
the pomegranate was chosen, because that wood was supposed not to emit
any sap when heated. If a drop of water had fallen on the flesh, the
law would have been broken, as that part of the flesh would be
considered as boiled, and not roasted.

As to the eating of unleavened bread and bitter herbs with the lamb,
the custom does not bear on the present subject. In shape the oven
seems to have resembled a straw beehive, having an opening at the side
by which the fuel could be removed and the lamb inserted.

It is most interesting to compare with the ancient Paschal sacrifice
the mode of conducting the Passover as still practised on Mount
Gerizim by the Samaritans, who still "worship in this mountain," as
their fathers had done. The Samaritans, a turbulent nation, or rather
an aggregation of tribes who had adopted their own modification of the
Jewish religion, considered Mount Gerizim as the most sacred spot on
the earth, and made it a principle of their faith to worship there.
They hallowed the mountain with various traditions, some perhaps true,
others clearly erroneous. They said that on the summit of Mount
Gerizim, and not on the comparatively little hill of Moriah, Abraham's
marvellous faith was so fearfully tested. They even now point out the
very spot on which it took place--a small smoothed plot of ground on
the summit of the mountain, remarkable for the contrast which its
level plateau presents to the rough, rugged sides of the mountain,
broken by clefts and strewn with great angular stones, as if a rocky
mountain had been blown to pieces and the fragments showered on

On Gerizim are the "twelve stones" of Joshua, placed by him in
commemoration of the passage of the Jordan. There are the great,
massive stones placed closely together in a row, and apparently
forming part of the rocky mountain itself.

On Gerizim are the seven steps made by Adam when he was driven out of
Paradise, and in Gerizim is the cave in which the Tabernacle was
built. On Gerizim the Passover was celebrated in the time of Christ,
and on Gerizim it is celebrated still. The Samaritans have often been
prevented from doing so by the Moslems, and even so late as 1842 the
Mahometan Ulema threatened to murder the whole of the little
community, under two hundred in number, on the ground that they had no

The Samaritans believe themselves to be children of Ephraim and
Manasseh, and that their present priest is lineally descended from a
branch of the tribe of Levi, and have accordingly a great pride in
their descent. They observe the ceremonial law with exceeding care,
and, even through the many years of persecution to which they have
been subjected, they have never failed to go thrice in the year to the
top of their holy mountain, repeating parts of the Law as they ascend.
A great loss has lately fallen upon them. They had at one time a
priesthood of the house of Aaron, but the family gradually dwindled
away, and at last utterly perished.

The ceremony of the Passover has been described by several persons,
such as the late Consul Rogers and the Dean of Westminster, the latter
of whom has given a most striking and vivid account of the rite in his
"Lectures on the Jewish Church."

The place which is now employed in the celebration of this rite is a
level spot about two hundred yards from the summit of the mountain, a
place which is apparently selected on account of its comparative quiet
and seclusion. Dean Stanley thinks that in former times, when the
Samaritans were the masters of the country, they celebrated the
sacrifice on the sacred plateau on the very summit of the mountain, so
that the rite could be seen for a vast distance on every side. Now,
however, the less conspicuous place is preferred. By the kindness of
the Palestine Exploration Society, I am enabled to present the reader
with a view of this sacred spot, taken from a photograph made an hour
or two before the time of sacrifice. The rough, rugged character of
the mountain is shown by this illustration, though not so well as in
several other photographs of Gerizim, in which the entire surface
seems to be loosely covered with stones like those of which the low
wall is built. Near the centre of the illustration may be seen a pile
of sticks and the tops of two caldrons, on each of which a stone is
laid to keep the cover from being blown off by the wind. These sticks
nearly fill a trench in which the caldrons are sunk, and their use
will be presently seen on reading Dean Stanley's narrative. In the far
distance are the plains of Samaria, and the long-drawn shadows of the
priest and his nephew, and probable successor, show that the time of
sacrifice is rapidly approaching.

  [Illustration: THE PLACE OF SACRIFICE.]

On the previous day the whole of the community had pitched their tents
on the mountain, and as the time of sunset approached the women
retired to the tents, and all the males, except those who were unclean
according to the provisions of the Mosaic law, assembled near a long
deep trench that had been dug in the ground. The men are clothed in
long white garments, and the six young men who are selected as the
actual sacrificers are dressed in white drawers and shirts. These
youths are trained to the duty, but whether they hold any sacred
office could not be ascertained.

Then, according to the narrative of Dean Stanley, "the priest,
ascending a large rough stone in front of the congregation, recited in
a loud chant or scream, in which the others joined, prayers or praises
chiefly turning on the glories of Abraham and Isaac. Their attitude
was that of all Orientals in prayer; standing, occasionally
diversified by the stretching out of the hands, and more rarely by
kneeling or crouching, with their knees wrapped in their clothes and
bent to the ground, towards the Holy Place on the summit of Gerizim.
The priest recited his prayers by heart; the others had mostly books
in Hebrew and Arabic.

"Presently, suddenly there appeared amongst the worshippers six sheep,
driven up by the side of the youths before mentioned. The unconscious
innocence with which they wandered to and fro amongst the bystanders,
and the simplicity in aspect and manner of the young men who tended
them, more recalled a pastoral scene in Arcadia, or one of those
inimitable patriarchal _tableaux_ represented in the Ammergau Mystery,
than a religious ceremonial.

"The sun, meanwhile, which had hitherto burnished up the Mediterranean
in the distance, now sank very nearly to the farthest western ridge
overhanging the plain of Sharon. The recitation became more vehement.
The priest turned about, facing his brethren, and the whole history of
the Exodus from the beginning of the plagues of Egypt was rapidly,
almost furiously, chanted. The sheep, still innocently playful, were
driven more closely together.

"The setting sun now touched the ridge. The youths burst into a wild
murmur of their own, drew forth their long bright knives, and
brandished them aloft. In a moment the sheep were thrown on their
backs, and the flashing knives rapidly drawn across their throats.
Then a few convulsive but silent struggles--'as a sheep ... dumb ...
that openeth not his mouth,'--and the six forms lay lifeless on the
ground, the blood streaming from them; the one only Jewish sacrifice
lingering in the world. In the blood the young men dipped their
fingers, and a small spot was marked on the foreheads and noses of the
children. A few years ago the red stain was placed on all. But this
had now dwindled away into the present practice, preserved, we were
told, as a relic or emblem of the whole. Then, as if in congratulation
at the completion of the ceremony, they all kissed each other, in the
Oriental fashion, on each side of the head.

"The next process was that of the fleecing and roasting of the
slaughtered animals, for which the ancient temple furnished such ample
provisions. Two holes on the mountain side had been dug; one at some
distance, of considerable depth, the other, close to the scene of the
sacrifice, comparatively shallow. In this latter cavity, after a short
prayer, a fire was kindled, out of the mass of dry heath, juniper, and
briers, such as furnished the materials for the conflagration in
Jotham's parable, delivered not far from this spot.

"Over the fire were placed two caldrons full of water. Whilst the
water boiled, the congregation again stood around, and (as if for
economy of time) continued the recitation of the Book of Exodus, and
bitter herbs were handed round wrapped in a strip of unleavened
bread--'with unleavened bread and bitter herbs shall they eat it.'
Then was chanted another short prayer; after which the six youths
again appeared, poured the boiling water over the sheep, and plucked
off their fleeces. The right forelegs of the sheep, with the entrails,
were thrown aside and burnt. The liver was carefully put back. Long
poles were brought, on which the animals were spitted; near the bottom
of each pole was a transverse peg or stick, to prevent the body from
slipping off."

This cross-piece does not, however, penetrate the body, which in most
cases scarcely touches it, so that there is little or no resemblance
to a crucifixion. The writer lays especial stress on this point,
because the early Christians saw in the transverse spit an emblem of
the cross. In the Jewish Passover this emblem would have been more
appropriate, as in that ceremony the cross-piece was passed through
the shoulders, and the forefeet tied to it.

The Sheep being now prepared, they were carried to the oven, which on
this occasion was a deep, circular pit, in which a fire had been
previously kindled. Into this the victims were carefully lowered, the
stakes on which they were impaled guarding their bodies from touching
the sides of the oven, and the cross-piece at the end preventing them
from slipping off the stake to the bottom of the pit among the ashes.
A hurdle was then laid on the mouth of the pit, and wet earth was
heaped upon it so as to close it completely. The greater part of the
community then retired to rest. In about five hours, the Paschal moon
being high in the heavens, announcement was made that the feast was
about to begin. Then, to resume Dean Stanley's narrative,

"Suddenly the covering of the hole was torn off, and up rose into the
still moonlit sky a vast column of smoke and steam; recalling, with a
shock of surprise, that, even by an accidental coincidence, Reginald
Heber should have so well caught this striking feature of so remote
and unknown a ritual:

   'Smokes on Gerizim's mount Samaria's sacrifice.'

"Out of the pit were dragged successively the six sheep, on their long
spits, black from the oven. The outlines of their heads, their ears,
their legs, were still visible--'his head, with his legs, and with the
inward parts thereof.' They were hoisted aloft, and then thrown on
large square brown mats, previously prepared for their reception, on
which we were carefully prevented from treading, as also from touching
even the extremities of the spit.

"The bodies thus wrapped in the mats were hurried down to the trench
where the sacrifice had taken place, and laid out upon them in a line
between two files of the Samaritans. Those who had before been dressed
in white robes still retained them, with the addition now of shoes on
their feet and staves in their hands, and ropes round their
waists--'thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on
your feet, your staff in your hand.' The recitation of prayers or of
the Pentateuch recommenced, and continued till it suddenly terminated
in their all sitting down on their haunches, after the Arab fashion at
meals, and beginning to eat. This, too, is a deviation from the
practice of only a few years since, when they retained the Mosaic
ritual of standing whilst they ate. The actual feast was conducted in
rapid silence, as of men in hunger, as no doubt most of them were, and
so as soon to consume every portion of the blackened masses, which
they tore away piecemeal with their fingers--'ye shall eat in haste.'
There was a general merriment, as of a hearty and welcome meal.

"In ten minutes all was gone but a few remnants. To the priest and to
the women, who, all but two (probably his two wives), remained in the
tents, separate morsels were carried round. The remnants were gathered
into the mats, and put on a wooden grate, or hurdle, over the hole
where the water had been originally boiled; the fire was again lit,
and a huge bonfire was kindled. By its blaze, and by candles lighted
for the purpose, the ground was searched in every direction, as for
the consecrated particles of sacramental elements; and these fragments
of flesh and bone were thrown upon the burning mass--'ye shall let
nothing remain until the morning; and that which remaineth until the
morning ye shall burn with fire;' 'there shall not anything of the
flesh which thou sacrificest the first day at even remain all night
until the morning;' 'thou shalt not carry forth aught of the flesh
abroad out of the house.' The flames blazed up once more, and then
gradually sank away.

"Perhaps in another century the fire on Mount Gerizim will be the only
relic left of this most interesting and ancient rite."


   The Zemer or Chamois only once mentioned in the
   Bible--Signification of the word Zemer--Probability that the
   Zemer is the Aoudad--Appearance of the Aoudad--Its strength and
   activity--Fierce temper of the adult male--Horns of the
   Aoudad--Their probable use as musical instruments--Habits of the
   Aoudad--The Mouflon probably classed with the Aoudad under the
   name of Zemer--Appearance and habits of the Mouflon.

Among the animals which may be used for food is mentioned one which in
our version is rendered Chamois. See Deut. xiv. 5, a passage which has
several times been quoted.

It is evident to any one acquainted with zoology that, whatever may be
the Hebrew word, "Chamois" cannot be the correct rendering, inasmuch
as the real Chamois does not inhabit Palestine, nor are there any
proofs that it ever did so. We must, therefore, look for some other

Then, the Hebrew word, which only occurs once in the Bible, is Zamar,
or Zemer, _i.e._ the leaper, and therefore an animal which is
conspicuous for its agility. Zoologists have now agreed in the opinion
that the Zamer of Deuteronomy is the handsome wild sheep which we know
under the name of Aoudad (_Ammotragus Tragelaphus_). This splendid
sheep is known by various names. It is the Jaela of some authors, and
the Bearded Sheep of others. It is also called the Fichtall, or
Lerwea; and the French zoologists describe it under the name of
_Mouflon à manchettes_, in allusion to the fringe of long hair that
ornaments the fore limbs.

The Aoudad is a large and powerful animal, exceedingly active, and has
the habits of the goat rather than of the sheep, on which account it
is reckoned among the goats by the Arabs of the present day, and
doubtless was similarly classed by the ancient inhabitants of
Palestine. The height of the adult Aoudad is about three feet, and its
general colour is pale dun, relieved by the dark masses of long hair
that fall from the neck and the tufts of similar hair which decorate
the knees of the male. The female is also bearded and tufted, but the
hair, which in the male looks like the mane of the lion, in the female
is but slightly developed.

It is so powerful and active an animal, that an adult male which lived
for some time in the Zoological Gardens was much dreaded by the
keepers, not even the man who fed it liking to enter the enclosure if
he could help himself. The animal was given to making unexpected
charges, and would do so with astonishing quickness, springing round
and leaping at the object of his hate with tremendous force, and with
such rapidity that even the experienced keeper, who knew all the ways
of the animals under his charge, had often some difficulty in slipping
behind the door, against which the horns of the Aoudad would clatter
as if they would break the door to pieces. So fond was he of attacking
something that he would often butt repeatedly at the wooden side of
the shed, hurling himself against it with eager fury.

The horns of the Aoudad are about two feet in length, and are of
considerable diameter. They curve boldly and gracefully backwards,
their points diverging considerably from each other, so that when the
animal throws its head up, the points of the horns come on either
side of the back. This divergence of the horns has another object.
They cover a considerable space, so that when the animal makes its
charge the object of its anger has much more difficulty in escaping
the blow than if the horns were closer together.

  [Illustration: THE AOUDAD CHASED.

  "_These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat
  ... and the chamois._"--DEUT. xiv. 4, 5.]

Whether these horns were used as musical instruments is doubtful,
simply because we are not absolutely sure that the Zamar and the
Aoudad are identical, however great may be the probability. But
inasmuch as the horn-trumpets were evidently of various sizes, it is
certain that the Jewish musicians would never have neglected to take
advantage of such magnificent materials as they would obtain from the
horns of this animal. Perhaps the Chaldaic "keren" may have been the
horn of the Aoudad, or of the animal which will next be mentioned.

The Aoudad is wonderfully active, and even the young ones bound to an
astonishing height. I have seen the marks of their hoofs eight feet
from the ground.

In its wild state the Aoudad lives in little flocks or herds, and
prefers the high and rocky ground, over which it leaps with a
sure-footed agility equal to that of the Chamois itself. These flocks
are chased by hunters, who try to get it upon the lowest and least
broken ground, where it is at a disadvantage, and then run it down
with their horses, as seen in the illustration on page 187.

The Aoudad was formerly plentiful in Egypt, and even now is found
along the Atlas mountain-range. It is seen on the Egyptian monuments,
and, owing to its evident profusion, we have every reason to
conjecture that it was one of those animals which were specially
indicated as chewing the cud and cleaving the hoof.

PERHAPS THE MOUFLON (_Caprovis Musimon_) may be the animal which is
meant by the Hebrew word Zamar, and it is not unlikely that both
animals may have been included in one name.

This animal, which is nearly allied to the Aoudad, is also very
goatlike in general aspect. It is indeed to this resemblance that the
name Caprovis, or goat-sheep, has been given to it. The name
Ammotragus, which, as mentioned above, belongs to the Aoudad, has a
similar signification.

The horns of the Mouflon belong only to the male animal, and are of
enormous size, so that if trumpets of deep tone and great power were
needed, they could be obtained from the horns of this animal. Those of
the Aoudad are very large, and would be well adapted for the same
purpose, but they would not furnish such instruments as the horns of
the Mouflon, which are so large that they seem almost unwieldy for an
animal of twice the Mouflon's size, and give visible proofs of the
strength and agility of an animal which can carry them so lightly and
leap about under their weight so easily as does the Mouflon.

At the present time the Mouflon is only to be found in Cyprus,
Sardinia, and Corsica, but formerly it was known to inhabit many
other parts of the earth, and was almost certainly one of the many
animals which then haunted the Lebanon, but which have in later days
been extirpated.


   Value of the Goat--Its use in furnishing food--The male kid the
   usual animal of slaughter--Excellence of the flesh and deception
   of Isaac--Milk of the Goat--An Oriental milking scene--The hair
   of the goat, and the uses to which it is put--The Goat's skin
   used for leather--The "bottle" of Scripture--Mode of making and
   repairing the bottles--Ruse of the Gibeonites--The "bottle in
   the smoke"--The sacks and the kneading troughs--The Goat as used
   for sacrifice--General habits of the Goat--Separation of the
   Goats from the sheep--Performing Goats--Different breeds of
   Goats in Palestine.

Whether considered in reference to food, to clothing, or to sacrifice,
the GOAT was scarcely a less important animal than the sheep. It was
especially valuable in such a country as Palestine, in which the soil
and the climate vary so much according to the locality. Upon the large
fertile plains the sheep are bred in vast flocks, the rich and
succulent grass being exactly to their taste; while in the hilly and
craggy districts the Goats abound, and delight in browsing upon the
scanty herbage that grows upon the mountain-side.

For food the Goat was even more extensively used than the sheep. The
adult male was, of course, not eaten, being very tough, and having an
odour which would repel any but an actually starving man. Neither were
the females generally eaten, as they were needed for the future
increase of the flocks. The young male kid formed the principal
material of a feast, and as soon as a stranger claimed the hospitality
of a man in good circumstances, the first thing that was done was to
take a young male kid and dress it for him.

For example, when the angel visited Gideon in the guise of a stranger,
Gideon "went in and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah
of flour," and brought them to his guest (Judges vi. 19). And when
Isaac was on his death-bed, and asked Esau to take his bow and arrows
and hunt for "venison," which was probably the flesh of one of the
antelopes which have already been mentioned, a ready substitute was
found in the two kids, from whose flesh Rebekah made the dish for
which he longed. The imposition might easily pass without detection,
because the flesh of the kid is peculiarly tender, and can scarcely be
distinguished from lamb, even when simply roasted. Isaac, therefore,
with his senses dulled by his great age, was the less likely to
discover the imposture, when the flesh of the kids was stewed into
"savoury meat such as he loved."

A curious illustration of the prevalence of kid's flesh as food is
given in the parable of the prodigal son, for whom his father had
killed the fatted calf. "And he answering said to his father, Lo,
these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time
thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make
merry with my friends" (Luke xv. 29). The force of the reproval cannot
be properly understood unless we are acquainted with the customs of
the East. The kid was the least valuable animal that could have been
given, less valuable than a lamb, and infinitely inferior to the
fatted calf, which was kept in wealthy households for some feast of
more than ordinary magnificence.

The kid was cooked exactly in the same manner as the sheep, namely, by
cutting to pieces and stewing in a caldron, the meat and broth being
served separately. See, for example, the case of Gideon, to whom a
reference has already been made. When he brought the banquet to his
guest, "the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot,
and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it. And the
angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes,
and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth."

The same custom exists at the present day. When an Arab chief receives
a guest, a kid is immediately killed and given to the women to be
cooked in a separate tent, and the guest is pressed to stay until it
is ready, in the very words used by Gideon three thousand years ago.
"Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring
forth my present, and set it before thee." And the angelic guest
answered him just as a modern Arab traveller would answer his host, "I
will tarry until thou come again." For the refusal of proffered
hospitality would be and still is considered to be, either a studied
insult, or a proof of bad manners, and no one with any claims to
breeding would commit such an action without urgent cause and much

Like the sheep, the Goat is extremely valuable as a milk-producer, and
at the present day the milk of the Goat is used as largely as that of
the sheep. "At Rasheiya, under Mount Hermon," writes Mr. Tristram, "we
saw some hundreds of goats gathering for the night in the wide open
market-place beneath the castle. It was no easy matter to thread our
way among them, as they had no idea of moving for such belated
intruders on their rest. All the she-goats of the neighbouring hills
are driven in every evening, and remain for their morning's milking,
after which they set forth on their day's excursion.

"Each house possesses several, and all know their owners. The evening
milking is a picturesque scene. Every street and open space is filled
with the goats; and women, boys, and girls are everywhere milking with
their small pewter pots, while the goats are anxiously awaiting their
turn, or lying down to chew the cud as soon as it is over. As no kids
or he-goats are admitted, the scene is very orderly, and there is none
of the deafening bleating which usually characterises large flocks.

"These mountain goats are a solemn set, and by the gravity of their
demeanour excite a suspicion that they have had no youth, and never
were kids. They need no herdsman to bring them home in the evening,
for, fully sensible of the danger of remaining unprotected, they hurry
homewards of their own accord as soon as the sun begins to decline."

Like the wool of the sheep, the hair of the Goat is used for the
manufacture of clothing; and, as is the case with wool, its quality
differs according to the particular breed of the animal, which assumes
almost as many varieties as the sheep or the dog. The hair of some
varieties is thick and rough, and can only be made into coarse cloths,
while others, of which the mohair Goat and Cashmere Goat are familiar
examples, furnish a staple of surpassing delicacy and fineness. It is
most likely that the covering and curtains of the Tabernacle mentioned
in Exod. xxvi. 7 were of the latter kind, as otherwise they would have
been out of character with the fine linen, and blue and scarlet, their
golden clasps, and the profuse magnificence which distinguished every
part of the sacred building. Moreover, the hair of the Goat is classed
among the costly offerings which were made when the Tabernacle was
built. "And they came forth, men and women, as many as were willing
hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets,
all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of
gold unto the Lord. And every man, with whom was found blue, and
purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, and red skins of
rams, and badgers' skins, brought them" to be used in the structure of
that wonderful building, in which nothing might be used except the
finest and costliest that could be procured.

One of the principal uses to which the goat-skin was applied was the
manufacture of leather, for which purpose it is still used, and is
considered far better than that of the sheep. Perhaps the most common
form in which this leather is used is the well-known water-vessel, or
"bottle" of the Bible.

These so-called bottles are made from the entire skin of the animal,
which is prepared in slightly different methods according to the
locality in which the manufacture is carried on. In Palestine they are
soaked for some little time in the tanning mixture, and are then
filled with water, after the seams have been pitched. In this state
they are kept for some time, and are kept exposed to the sun, covered
entirely with the tanning fluid, and filled up with water to supply
the loss caused by evaporation and leakage.

The hair is allowed to remain on the skins, because it acts as a
preservative against the rough usage to which they are subject at the
hard hands of the water-carriers. By degrees the hairy covering wears
off, first in patches, and then over the entire surface, so that a new
bottle can be recognised at a glance, and any one who wished to sell
an old bottle at the price of a new one would be at once detected.

Vessels made in this rude manner are absolutely necessary in the
countries wherein they are used. Wooden or metal vessels would be too
heavy, and, besides, the slight though constant evaporation that
always takes place through the pores of the leather keeps down the
temperature of the water, even under a burning sun, the slight loss
which is caused by the porousness of the skin being more than
counterbalanced by the coolness of the water. It is true that the
goat-skin communicates to the liquid a flavour far from pleasant, but
in those countries the quality of the water is of little consequence,
provided that it is plentiful in quantity, and tolerably cool.

Even in our own country, leathern drinking-cups are sometimes used,
and all who have taken any interest in antiquarian manners are
familiar with the "leather bottle" and the "black-jack," the former
only surviving in museums and as signs to public-houses, though the
latter has within the memory of the present generation been in common
use. Leathern bottles are still used in the Turkish army, and I have
in my collection one of these water-bottles, which is practically the
same article as the "bottle" of Scripture, though it is of
comparatively small size, and is made with some attempt at elegance of

In all parts of the world where the skin is used for this purpose the
mode of manufacture is practically identical. An account of the art of
preparing the goat-skin as practised in Abyssinia is given by Mr. C.
Johnston, in his "Travels in Southern Abyssinia:"--

"To be of any value it must be taken off uncut, except around the
neck, and in those situations necessary to enable the butchers to draw
the legs out of the skin; also, of course, where the first incision is
made to commence the process, and which is a circular cut carried
around both haunches, not many inches from and having the tail for a
centre. The hide is then stripped over the thighs, and two smaller
incisions being made round the middle joint of the hind-legs enable
them to be drawn out.

"A stick is now placed to extend these extremities, and by this, for
the convenience of the operators, the whole carcase is suspended from
the branch of a tree, and, by some easy pulls around the body, the
skin is gradually withdrawn over the fore-legs, which are incised
around the knees, to admit of their being taken out; after which, the
head being removed, the whole business concludes by the skin being
pulled inside out over the decollated neck. One of the parties now
takes a rough stone and well rubs the inside surface, to divest it of
a few fibres of the subcutaneous muscle which are inserted into the
skin, and after this operation it is laid aside until the next day;
the more interesting business of attending to the meat calling for
immediate attention.

"These entire skins are afterwards made into sacks by the apertures
around the neck and legs being secured by a double fold of the skin
being sewed upon each other, by means of a slender but very tough
thong. These small seams are rendered quite air-tight, and the larger
orifice around the haunches being gathered together by the hands, the
yet raw skin is distended with air; and the orifice being then tied
up, the swollen bag is left in that state for a few days, until slight
putrefaction has commenced, when the application of the rough stone
soon divests its surface of the hair. After this has been effected, a
deal of labour, during at least one day, is required to soften the
distended skin by beating it with heavy sticks, or trampling upon it
for hours together, the labourer supporting himself by clinging to the
bough of a tree overhead, or holding on by the wall of the house.

"In this manner, whilst the skin is drying, it is prevented from
getting stiff, and, still further to secure it from this evil
condition, it is frequently rubbed with small quantities of butter.
When it is supposed that there is no chance of the skin becoming hard
and easily broken, the orifice is opened, the air escapes, and a very
soft, flaccid leather bag is produced, but which, for several days
after, affords an amusement to the owner, when otherwise unemployed,
by well rubbing it all over with his hands."

The reader will see that the two processes are practically identical,
the chief difference being that in one country the skins are distended
with water and in the other with air.

As these bottles are rather apt to be damaged by the thorns, branches,
rocks, and similar objects with which they come in contact, and are
much too valuable to be thrown away as useless, their owners have
discovered methods of patching and repairing them, which enable them
to be used for some time longer. Patches of considerable size are
sometimes inserted, if the rent should be of importance, while the
wound caused by a thorn is mended by a simple and efficacious
expedient. The skin is first emptied, and a round flat piece of wood,
or even a stone of suitable shape, is put into it. The skin is then
held with the wounded part downwards, and the stone shaken about until
it comes exactly upon the hole. It is then grasped, the still wet hide
gathered tightly under it, so as to pucker up the skin, and a ligature
is tied firmly round it. Perhaps some of my readers may have
practised the same method of mending a punctured football.

Allusion to this mode of mending the skin bottles is made in Josh. ix.
4, 13. The Gibeonites "did work wilily, and went and made as if they
had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine
bottles, old, and rent, and bound up ... and said ... these bottles of
wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent."

If these skin bottles be allowed to become dry, as is sometimes the
case when they are hung up in the smoky tents, they shrivel up, and
become rotten and weak, and are no longer enabled to bear the pressure
caused by the fermentation of new wine. So, in Ps. cxix. 81-83: "My
soul fainteth for Thy salvation: but I hope in Thy word.

"Mine eyes fail for Thy word, saying, When wilt Thou comfort me?

"For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget Thy

How forcible does not this image become, when we realize the early
life of the shepherd poet, his dwelling in tents wherein are no
windows nor chimneys, and in which the smoke rolls to and fro until it
settles in the form of soot upon the leathern bottles and other rude
articles of furniture that are hung from the poles!

In the New Testament there is a well-known allusion to the weakness of
old bottles: "Neither do men put new wine into old bottles, or the
bottles break and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish; but
they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." It would
be impossible to understand the meaning of this passage unless we knew
that the "bottles" in question were not vessels of glass or
earthenware, but merely the partly-tanned skins of goats.

Another allusion to the use of the goat-skin is made in that part of
the Book of Joshua which has already been mentioned. If the reader
will refer to Josh. ix. 4, he will see that the Gibeonites took with
them not only old bottles, but old sacks. Now, these sacks bore no
resemblance to the hempen bags with which we are so familiar, but were
nothing more than the same goat-skins that were employed in the
manufacture of bottles, but with the opening at the neck left open.
They were, in fact, skin-bottles for holding solids instead of
liquids. The sacks which Joseph's brethren took with them, and in the
mouths of which they found their money, were simply goat-skin bags,
made as described.

Yet another use for the goat-skin. It is almost certain that the
"kneading-troughs" of the ancient Israelites were simply circular
pieces of goat-skin, which could be laid on the ground when wanted,
and rolled up and carried away when out of use. Thus, the fact that
"the people took their dough before it was leavened, their
kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothing upon their
shoulders," need cause no surprise.

Nothing could be more in accordance with probability. The women were
all hard at work, preparing the bread for the expected journey, when
the terrified Pharaoh "called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said,
Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the
children of Israel, and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said.... And
the Egyptians were urgent upon the people that they might send them
out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men."

So the women, being disturbed at their work, and being driven out of
the country before they had leavened, much less baked, their bread,
had no alternative but to roll up the dough in the leathern
"kneading-troughs," tie them up in a bundle with their spare clothing,
and carry them on their shoulders; whereas, if we connect the
kneading-troughs with the large heavy wooden implements used in this
country, we shall form an entirely erroneous idea of the proceeding.
As soon as they came to their first halting-place at Succoth, they
took the leathern kneading-troughs out of their clothes, unrolled
them, took the dough which had not even been leavened, so unexpectedly
had the order for marching arrived, made it into flat cakes, and baked
them as they best could. The same kind of "kneading-trough" is still
in use in many parts of the world.

Stone as well as earthenware jars were also used by the inhabitants of
ancient Palestine; but they were only employed for the storage of wine
in houses, whereas the bottles that were used in carrying wine from
one place to another were invariably made of leather. Water also was
stored in stone or earthenware jars. See, for example, John ii. 6:
"And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of
the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece."
Whereas, when it was carried about, it was poured into bottles made of
skin. Such was probably the "bottle of water" that Abraham put on
Hagar's shoulder, when she was driven away by the jealousy of Sarah.
Such was the "bottle of wine" that Hannah brought as her offering when
she dedicated Samuel to the service of God; and such was the "bottle
of milk" that Jael opened for Sisera when he came to her tent. Even
oil is carried in these bottles, which are certainly better adapted to
the backs of mules, which are the usual beasts of burden, than they
would be if they were made of glass or earthenware.

The Rabbinical writers have much to say upon the Goat; but as the
greater part of their observations and directions are without any
general interest, only a few will be selected from them.

Knowing the great strength of the Goat of their own days, they
exaggerate the power of those which belonged to the ancients. Job's
he-goats, for example, are said to have been so strong and fierce that
they could conquer wolves, while some were so powerful that they
carried bears upon their horns. They also were accustomed to climb
rocks, dig up roots, and bring them down in their mouths.

The milk of the white Goat is useful medicinally for affections of the
lungs, and the spleen of a female kid for diseases of the spleen. But
if Goats are allowed to drink of the water in which blacksmiths cool
their iron, the spleen gradually withers away, and at last disappears
altogether. If the owner should desire to fatten a she-goat, he ought
to tie up the udders so tightly that the milk cannot come into them,
and the nourishment is therefore converted into fat instead of milk.
Also, he should take care to keep his Goats away from the place where
bread is being made, as they are very fond of the unbaked dough, and
always die if they eat it.

In sacrifices, the Goat was in nearly as much requisition as the lamb,
and in one--namely, that which was celebrated on the Great Day of
Atonement--the Goat was specially mentioned as the only animal which
could be sacrificed. The reader will, perhaps, remember that for this
peculiar sacrifice two Goats were required, on which two lots were
cast, one for the Lord, _i.e._ with the word "Jehovah" upon it, and
the other for the scapegoat, _i.e._ inscribed with the word "Azazel."
The latter term is derived from two Hebrew words, the former being
"Az," which is the general name for the Goat, and the second "azel,"
signifying "he departed." The former, which belonged to Jehovah, was
sacrificed, and its blood sprinkled upon the mercy-seat and the altar
of incense; and the Goat Azazel was led away into the wilderness,
bearing upon its head the sins of the people, and there let loose.

These being the uses of the Goat, it may naturally be imagined that
the animal is one of extreme importance, and that it is watched as
carefully by its owners as the sheep. Indeed, both sheep and Goats
belong to the same master, and are tended by the same shepherd, who
exercises the same sway over them that he does over the sheep.

They are, however, erratic animals, and, although they will follow the
shepherd wherever he may lead them, they will not mix with the sheep.
The latter will walk in a compact flock along the valley, the shepherd
leading the way, and the sheep following him, led in their turn by the
sound of the bell tied round the neck of the master-ram of the flock.
The Goats, however, will not submit to walk in so quiet a manner, but
prefer to climb along the sides of the rocks that skirt the valleys,
skipping and jumping as they go, and seeming to take delight in
getting themselves into dangerous places, where a man could not
venture to set his foot.

In the evening, when the shepherds call their flocks to repose, they
often make use of the caverns which exist at some height in the
precipitous side of the hills, as being safe strongholds, where the
jackal and the hyæna will not venture to attack them. When such is the
case, the shepherds take their station by the mouth of the cave, and
assist the sheep as they come sedately up the narrow path that leads
to the cavern. The Goats, however, need no assistance, but come
scrambling along by paths where no foot but a Goat's could tread,
mostly descending from a considerable height above the cave, and, as
if in exultation at their superior agility, jumping over the backs of
the sheep as they slowly file into the accustomed fold.

Friendly as they are, the Goats and sheep never mingle together. There
may be large flocks of them feeding in the same pasturage, but the
Goats always take the highest spots on which verdure grows, while the
sheep graze quietly below. Goats are specially fond of the tender
shoots of trees, which they find in plenty upon the mountain side;
and, according to Mr. Tristram, by their continual browsing, they have
extirpated many species of trees which were once common on the hills
of Palestine, and which now can only be found in Lebanon on the east
of the Jordan.

  [Illustration: GOATS ON THE MARCH.

  "_As a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats._"--MATT. xxv. 32.]

Even when folded together in the same enclosure, the Goats never mix
with the sheep, but gather together by themselves, and they
instinctively take the same order when assembled round the wells at

This instinctive separation of the sheep and the goats naturally
recalls to our minds the well-known saying of our Lord that "before
Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from
another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall
set the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left."

The image thus used was one that was familiar to all the hearers, who
were accustomed daily to see the herds of sheep and Goats under one
shepherd, yet totally distinct from each other. At feeding-time the
Goats will be browsing in long lines on the mountain sides, while the
sheep are grazing in the plain or valley; at mid-day, when the flocks
are gathered round the wells to await the rolling away of the stone
that guards the water, the Goats assemble on one side and the sheep on
the other. And at night, when they are all gathered into one fold by
one shepherd, they are still separated from each other. The same image
is employed by the prophet Ezekiel: "As for you, O my flock, thus said
the Lord God, Behold I judge between cattle and cattle, between rams
and the he-goats."

Generally, the leading Goat was distinguished by a bell as well as the
leading sheep, and in reference to this custom there was an old
proverb, "If the shepherd takes the lead, he blinds the bell-goat,"
while another proverb is based upon the inferior docility of the
animal--"If the shepherd be lame, the Goats will run away."

Yet the Goat can be tamed very effectively, and can even be
taught to perform many tricks. "We saw just below us, on the
rudely-constructed 'parade,' a crowd of men and children, surrounding
a fantastically-dressed man exhibiting a Goat, which had been tutored to
perform some cunning trick. It stood with its four feet close together
on the top of a very long pole, and allowed the man to lift it up and
carry it round and round within the circle; then the Goat was perched
on four sticks, and again carried about. A little band of music-pipes,
drums, and tambourines--called together the people from all parts of
the town to witness this performance.

"The Goat danced and balanced himself obediently and perfectly, in
very unnatural-looking positions, as if thoroughly understanding the
words and commands of his master. The men who watched the actions of
the Goat looked as grave and serious as if they were attending a
philosophical or scientific lecture." ("Domestic Life in Palestine,"
by Miss Rogers.)

Another feat is a favourite with the proprietors of trained Goats. The
man takes a stool and plants it carefully on the ground, so as to be
perfectly level, and then orders the Goat to stand upon it. A piece of
wood about six inches in length, and shaped something like a dice-box,
is then placed on the stool, and the Goat manages to stand on it, all
his sharp, hard hoofs being pressed closely together on the tiny
surface. The man then takes another piece of wood and holds it to the
Goat's feet. The animal gently removes first one foot and then
another, and, by careful shifting of the feet, enables its master to
place the second piece of wood on the first. Successive additions are
made, until at the last the Goat is perched on the topmost of some
nine or ten pieces of wood balanced on each other, the whole looking
like a stout reed marked off with joints.

The stately steps and bold bearing of the old he-goat is mentioned in
the Proverbs: "There be three things which go well, yea, four are
comely in going:

"A lion, which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for

"A greyhound; an he-goat also; and a king, against whom there is no
rising up." (Prov. xxx. 29-31.) The word which is here rendered as
he-goat signifies literally the "Butter," and is given to the animal
on account of the mode in which it uses its formidable horns. The word
is not common in the Bible, but it is used even at the present day
among the Arabs.

Several herds of goats exist in Palestine, the most valuable of which
is the Mohair Goat, and the most common the Syrian Goat. These,
however dissimilar they may be in appearance, are only varieties of
the ordinary domestic animal, the former being produced artificially
by carefully selecting those specimens for breeding which have the
longest and finest hair. It was from the hair of this breed that the
costly fabrics used in the Tabernacle were woven, and it is probably
to this breed that reference is made in Solomon's Song, iv. 1, 2:
"Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast
doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that
appear from Mount Gilead.

"Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came
up from the washing." In this passage the careful reader will also
note another reference to the habits of the Goats and sheep, the hair
being compared to the dark-haired Goats that wander on the tops of the
hills, while the teeth are compared to sheep that are ranged in
regular order below. The Mohair Goat is known scientifically as _Capra
Angorensis_. The same image is used again in chap. vi. 5.

The second breed is that which is commonest throughout the country. It
is known by the name of the Syrian Goat, and is remarkable for the
enormous length of its ears, which sometimes exceed a foot from root
to tip. This variety has been described as a separate species under
the name of _Capra Mambrica_, or _C. Syriaca_, but, like the Mohair
Goat, and twenty-three other so-called species, is simply a variety of
the common Goat, _Hircus ægragus_.

Reference is made to the long ears of the Syrian Goat in Amos iii. 12:
"Thus saith the Lord: As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the
lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel
be taken out that dwell in Samaria." Such a scene, which was familiar
to Amos, the shepherd as well as the prophet, is represented in the
illustration. In the foreground is the goat on which the lion has
sprung, and from which one of the long ears has been torn away. Its
companions are gathering round it in sympathy, while its kid is trying
to discover the cause of its mother's uneasiness. In the background is
a group of armed shepherds, standing round the lion which they have
just killed, while one of them is holding up the torn ear which he has
taken out of the lion's mouth.

  [Illustration: THE GOAT.

  "As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion a piece of an
  ear."--AMOS iii. 12.]


   The Azelim or Wild Goats of Scripture identical with the Beden
   or Arabian Ibex--Different names of the Beden--Its appearance
   and general habits--En-gedi, or Goats' Fountain--The Beden
   formerly very plentiful in Palestine, and now tolerably
   common--Its agility--Difficulty of catching or killing it--How
   the young are captured--Flesh of the Beden--Use of the horns at
   the present day--The Ako of Deuteronomy.

In three passages of the Old Testament occurs a word, "Azelim," which
is variously translated in our Authorized Version.

It is first seen in 1 Sam. xxiv. 2, in which it is rendered as "Wild
Goats." "It was told Saul, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness
of En-gedi [_i.e._ the Fountain of the Goat]. Then Saul took three
thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his
men upon the rocks of the wild goats (_azelim_)." The same word occurs
in Job xxxix. 1: "Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the
rock bring forth?" It is also found in Ps. civ. 18: "The high hills
are a refuge for the wild goats." In all these passages it is rendered
as "wild goats." But, in Prov. v. 19, it is translated as roe:
"Rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and
pleasant roe (_azelah_)." The Jewish Bible follows the same diverse

We now have to discover the animal which was signified by the word
Azel. According to its etymology, it is the Climber, just as the adult
he-goat is called the Butter.

That it was a climbing animal is evident from its name, and that it
loved to clamber among precipices is equally evident from the repeated
connexion of the word rock with the name of the animal. We also see,
from the passage in Job, that it is a wild animal whose habits were
not known. There is scarcely any doubt that the Azel of the Old
Testament is the ARABIAN IBEX or BEDEN (_Capra Nubiana_). This animal
is very closely allied to the well-known Ibex of the Alps, or
Steinbock, but may be distinguished from it by one or two slight
differences, such as the black beard and the slighter make of the
horns, which moreover have three angles instead of four, as is the
case with the Alpine Ibex.

The Beden is known by several names. It is sometimes called the Jaela,
sometimes the Nubian Wild Goat, and is also known as the Wild Goat of
Sinai. The general colour of the Beden is grey, becoming brownish in
winter, and being whitish grey beneath. The feet are spotted with
black and white, and the beard of the male is black, differing from
that of the Alpine Ibex, which is brown. The female is beardless. The
lines along the back and the sides of the tail are black, and there
are three streaks on each ear.

The Beden generally lives in little herds of eight or ten, and is even
now to be found in Palestine. At the strange, wild, weird-looking
En-gedi (Ain Jiddy), or Fountain of the Goats, the Beden is still to
be seen. Mr. Tristram suggests that David and his followers took up
their residence at En-gedi for the sake of the Wild Goats that were
plentiful upon the spot, and which would furnish food for himself and
his hardy band of outlaws. "In the neighbourhood of En-gedi," remarks
this traveller, "while encamped by the Dead Sea shore, we obtained
several fine specimens, and very interesting it was to find the
graceful creature by the very fountain to which it gave name.

"When clambering over the heights above En-gedi, I often, by the help
of my glass, saw the Ibex from a distance, and once, when near
Mar-saba, only a few miles from Jerusalem, started one at a distance
of four hundred yards. At the south end of the Dead Sea they were
common, and I have picked up a horn both near Jericho on the hills and
also on the hills of Moab on the eastern side. At Jericho, too, I
obtained a young one which I hoped to rear, but which died after I had
had it for ten days, owing, I believe, to the milk with which it was
fed being sour. Further north and west we did not find it, though I
have reason to believe that a few linger on the mountains between
Samaria and the Jordan, and perhaps also on some of the spurs of
Lebanon. We found its teeth in the breccia of bone occurring in the
Lebanon, proving its former abundance there."

As the Beden was found so plentifully even in these days when
fire-arms have rendered many wild animals scarce and wary, so that
they will not show themselves within range of a bullet, it is evident
that in the time when David lived at En-gedi and drank of the Goats'
Fountain they were far more numerous, and could afford nourishment to
him and his soldiers. Travellers, moreover, who do not happen to be
experienced hunters, will often fail in seeing the Beden, even in
places where it is tolerably plentiful. The colour of its coat
resembles so nearly that of the rocks, that an inexperienced eye would
see nothing but bare stones and sticks where a practised hunter would
see numbers of Beden, conspicuous by their beautifully curved horns.

The agility of the Beden is extraordinary. Loving the highest and most
craggy parts of the mountain ridge, it flings itself from spot to spot
with a recklessness that startles one who has not been accustomed to
the animal, and the wonderful certainty of its foot. It will, for
example, dash at the face of a perpendicular precipice that looks as
smooth as a brick wall, for the purpose of reaching a tiny ledge which
is hardly perceptible, and which is some fifteen feet or so above the
spot whence the animal sprang. Its eye, however, has marked certain
little cracks and projections on the face of the rock, and as the
animal makes its leap, it takes these little points of vantage in
rapid succession, just touching them as it passes upwards, and by the
slight stroke of its foot keeping up the original impulse of its leap.
Similarly, the Ibex comes sliding and leaping down precipitous sides
of the mountains, sometimes halting with all the four feet drawn
together, on a little projection scarcely larger than a penny, and
sometimes springing boldly over a wide crevasse, and alighting with
exact precision upon a projecting piece of rock that seems scarcely
large enough to sustain a rat comfortably.

The young of the Ibex are sometimes captured and tamed. They are,
however, difficult to rear, and give much more trouble than the young
gazelles when taken in a similar manner. The natives can generally
procure the kids at the proper time of year, and sell them at a very
cheap rate. They seldom, however, can be reared, and even those who
live in the country experience the greatest difficulty in keeping the
young Beden alive until it attains maturity.

Were it not for the curious habits of the Beden, the young could
scarcely ever be obtained alive, as they are so agile that they could
easily leap away from their slow two-legged pursuers. But the mother
Ibex has a habit of leading a very independent life, wandering to
considerable distances, and leaving her kid snugly hidden in some
rock-cleft. The hunters watch the mother as she starts off in the
morning, clamber up to the spot where the kid is concealed, and secure
it without difficulty. The Arabs say that there are always two kids at
a birth, but there is considerable discrepancy of evidence on this
point, which, after all, is of very little importance.


  "_The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats._"--PSALM cxiv. 18.]

The flesh of the Beden is really excellent. It is far superior to that
of the gazelle, which is comparatively dry and hard, and it has been
happily suggested that the Beden was the animal in search of which
Esau was sent to hunt with his quiver and his bow, and which furnished
the "savoury meat" which Isaac loved. None but a true hunter can hope
to secure the Beden, and even all the knowledge, patience, and energy
of the best hunters are tried before they can kill their prey. It was
therefore no matter of wonder that Isaac should be surprised when he
thought that he heard Esau return so soon from the hunting-grounds.
"How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son?"

There are few animals more wary than the Beden, and even the chamois
of the Alps does not exercise the finest qualities of a hunter more
than does the Beden of Palestine. It is gifted with very keen eyes,
which can discern the approach of an enemy long before its grey coat
and curved horns can be distinguished from the stones and gnarled
boughs of the mountain side. And, even if the enemy be not within
range of the animal's sight, its nostrils are so keen that it can
detect a man by scent alone at a considerable distance. Like all
gregarious animals, the Beden insures the safety of the flock by
stationing sentries, which are posted on places that command the whole
surrounding country, and to deceive the watchful senses of these wary
guardians tests all the qualities of the hunter.

The dawn of day is the time that is generally chosen for approaching a
herd, because the animals are then feeding, and if the hunter can
manage to approach them against the wind, he may chance to come within
range. Should however the wind change its direction, he may quietly
walk home again, for at the first breath of the tainted gale the
sentinels utter their shrill whistle of alarm, and the whole party
dash off with a speed that renders pursuit useless.

The horns of the Beden are of very great size, and from their bold
curves, with the large rings and ridges which cover their front, are
remarkably handsome objects. In their own country they are in great
request as handles to knives, and even in England they may be
occasionally seen serving as handles to carving-knives and forks.

As to the word Ako, which occurs in Deut. xiv. 5, together with other
animals, and is rendered as "Wild Goat," there is so much doubt about
the correct translation that I can do no more than mention that the
Jewish Bible follows our authorized edition in translating Ako as Wild
Goat, but adds the doubtful mark to the word.


   The Hart and Hind of Scripture--Species of Deer existing in
   Palestine--Earliest mention of the Hind--The Hart classed among
   the clean animals--Passages alluding to its speed--Care of the
   mother for her young, and her custom of secreting it--Tameable
   character of the Deer--The Rabbinical writers and their
   theories--Shedding of the Deer's horns--Its fabled mode of
   sleeping--The gall in the tail--Curious traditions of the enmity
   between Deer and serpents--Virtues of a Deer-skin coat.

We now come to the DEER which are mentioned in Scripture. There are
not many passages in which they are mentioned, and one of them is
rather doubtful, as we shall see when we come to it.

There is no doubt that the two words HART and HIND (in the Hebrew
_Ayzal_ and _Ayzalah_) represent Deer of some kind, and the question
is to find out what kind of Deer is signified by these words. I think
that we may safely determine that no particular species is meant, but
that under the word Ayzal are comprehended any kinds of Deer that
inhabit Palestine, and were likely to be known to those to whom the
earlier Scriptures were addressed. That some kind of Deer was
plentiful is evident from the references which are made to it, and
specially by the familiar word Ajala or Ayala, as it is pronounced,
which signifies the Deer-ground or pasture. But the attempt to
discriminate between one species and another is simply impossible, and
the more careful the search the more impracticable the task appears.

As far as can be ascertained, at least two kinds of Deer inhabited
Palestine in the earlier days of the Jewish history, one belonging to
the division which is known by its branched horns, and the other to
that in which the horns are flat or palmated over the tips. Examples
of both kinds are familiar to us under the titles of the RED DEER and
the FALLOW DEER, and it is tolerably certain that both these animals
were formerly found in Palestine, or that at all events the Deer
which did exist there were so closely allied to them as to be mere
varieties occasioned by the different conditions in which they were

We will now proceed to the various passages in which the Hart and Hind
are mentioned in the Bible.


  "_I charge you ... by the hinds of the field._"--CANT. ii. 7.]

As might be expected, we come upon it among the number of the beasts
which divided the hoof and chewed the cud, and were specially
indicated as fit for food; see Deut. xii. 15: "Notwithstanding thou
mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, ... the unclean and the
clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart."

There is, however, an earlier mention of the word in Gen. xlix. 21. It
occurs in that splendid series of imagery in which Jacob blesses his
sons, and prophesies their future, each image serving ever afterwards
as the emblem of the tribe: "Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth
goodly words;"--or, according to the Jewish Bible, "Naphtali is a hind
sent forth: he giveth sayings of pleasantness." Now, such an image as
this would never have been used, had not the spectacle of the "hind
let loose" been perfectly familiar to the eyes both of the dying
patriarch and his hearers, and equally so with the lion, the ass, the
vine, the serpent, and other objects used emblematically in the same
prophetic poem.

The excellence of the Hart's flesh is shown by its occurrence among
the animals used for King Solomon's table; see 1 Kings iv. 23, a
passage which has been quoted several times, and therefore need only
be mentioned.

Allusion is made to the speed and agility of the Deer in several
passages. See, for example, Isa. xxxv. 6: "Then shall the lame man
leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing." Again, in 2 Sam.
xxii. 33, 34: "God is my strength and power: and He maketh my way

"He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high

Nearly four hundred years afterwards we find Habakkuk using precisely
the same image, evidently quoting David's Psalm of Thanksgiving:--"Yet
I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

"The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds'
feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places." (iii. 18,

A passage of a similar character may be found in Solomon's Song, ii.
8, 9: "The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the
mountains, skipping upon the hills.

"My beloved is like a roe or a young hart."

There is one passage in the Psalms which is familiar to us in many
ways, and not the least in that it has been chosen as the text for so
many well-known anthems. "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks,
so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.

"My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and
appear before God?" (Ps. xlii. 1, 2.)

Beautiful as this passage is, it cannot be fully understood without
the context.

David wrote this psalm before he had risen to royal power, and while
he was fleeing from his enemies from place to place, and seeking an
uncertain shelter in the rock-caves. In verse 6 he enumerates some of
the spots in which he has been forced to reside, far away from the
altar, the priests, and the sacrifice. He has been hunted about from
place to place by his enemies as a stag is hunted by the hounds, and
his very soul thirsted for the distant Tabernacle, in which the
Shekinah, the visible presence of God, rested on the mercy-seat
between the golden cherubim.

Wild and unsettled as was the early life of David, this was ever the
reigning thought in his mind, and there is scarcely a psalm that he
wrote in which we do not find some allusion to the visible presence of
God among men. No matter what might be the troubles through which he
had to pass, even though he trod the valley of the shadow of death,
the thought of his God was soothing as water to the hunted stag, and
in that thought he ever found repose. Through all his many trials and
adversities, through his deep remorse for his sins, through his
wounded paternal affections, through his success and prosperity, that
one thought is the ruling power. He begins his career with it when he
opposed Goliath: "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear,
and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of
hosts, the God of the armies of Israel." He closes his career with the
same thought, and, in the "last words" that are recorded, he charged
his son to keep the commandments of the Lord, that he might do wisely
all that he did.

We now come to another point in the Deer's character; namely, the
watchful care of the mother over her young. She always retires to some
secret place when she instinctively knows that the birth is at hand,
and she hides it from all eyes until it is able to take care of
itself. By some strange instinct, the little one, almost as soon as it
is born, is able to comprehend the signals of its mother, and there is
an instance, well known to naturalists, where, a newly-born Deer,
hardly an hour old, crouched low to the earth in obedience to a light
tap on its shoulder from its mother's hoof. She, with the intense
watchfulness of her kind, had seen a possible danger, and so warned
her young one to hide itself.

There is scarcely any animal so watchful as the female Deer, as all
hunters know by practical experience. It is comparatively easy to
deceive the stag who leads the herd, but to evade the eyes and ears of
the hinds is a very different business, and taxes all the resources of
a practised hunter. If they take such care of the herd in general, it
may be imagined that their watchfulness would be multiplied tenfold
when the object of their anxiety is their own young.

It is in allusion to this well-known characteristic that a passage in
the Book of Job refers: "Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of
the rock bring forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?"
(xxxix. 1.) A similar image is used in Psa. xxix. 9. After enumerating
the wonders that are done by the voice of the Lord, the thunders and
rain torrents, the devastating tempests, the forked lightning, and the
earthquake "that shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh," the Psalmist
proceeds: "The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and
discovereth the forests,"--this being as mysterious to the writer as
the more conspicuous wonders which he had previously mentioned.

So familiar to the Hebrews was the watchful care which the female Deer
exercised over her young, that it forms the subject of a powerful
image in one of Jeremiah's mournful prophecies: "Yea, the hind also
calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass."
(xiv. 5.) To those who understand the habits of the animal, this is a
most telling and picturesque image. In the first place, the Hind, a
wild animal that could find food where less active creatures would
starve, was reduced to such straits that she was obliged to remain in
the fields at the time when her young was born, instead of retiring to
some sheltered spot, according to her custom. And when it was born,
instead of nurturing it carefully, according to the natural maternal
instinct, she was forced from sheer hunger to abandon it in order to
find a sufficiency of food for herself.

That the Deer could be tamed, and its naturally affectionate
disposition cultivated, is evident from a passage in the Proverbs (v.
18, 19): "Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of
thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe."

  [Illustration: THE RED DEER.

  "Canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?"--JOB xxxix. 1.]

We might naturally expect that the Rabbinical writers would have
much to say on the subject of the Hart and Hind. Among much that
is irrelevant to the object of the present work there are a few
passages that deserve mention. Alluding to the annual shedding of
the Deer's horns, there is a proverb respecting one who ventures his
money too freely in trade, that "he has hung it on the stag's horns,"
meaning thereby that he will never see it again. It is remarkable that
in Western Africa there is a proverb of a similar character, the
imprudent merchant being told to look for his money in the place where
Deer shed their horns.

They firmly believed that goats and Deer associate freely with each
other, and that a mixed progeny was the result, but some of them
modify this statement by saying that this only holds good with the
smaller kinds of Deer, _i.e._ the gazelles and other antelopes. This
absurd notion has evidently taken its rise from the line of long
bristly hair that decorates the throat of the adult male, and which
these unscientific writers took to be derived from the beard of the

On account of its watchfulness it was said always to sleep with one
eye open, "which is well known to be the case with the hare." The
ancient Jews used to catch it with nets, and then domesticate it,
feeding it principally with a plant which has a very long and straight
root, which was used by Joshua as a wand of office when he pointed out
to the Israelites the portion of ground on which each tribe had to
encamp. What the plant might have been they cannot precisely
ascertain, and the looseness of their natural history may be imagined
from the fact that some consider the plant in question to be the ivy
and others the sugar-cane.

Some of the Deer, says these old writers, join the herds of cattle,
and even accompany them to their stalls for the night. The reason of
this gentleness of disposition seems to be found in the position of
the gall-bladder, which is said to be, not in the liver, but near the
tail. It is remarkable, by the way, that Aristotle places it actually
in the tail: "The Achaian harts have their gall in their tails;" while
Pliny thinks that the gall is placed in the ears.

The curious superstitions respecting the enmity between the Deer and
the serpent are of very old date, and have travelled all over the
world. They probably took their rise from the esoteric teachings
which were hidden under the symbolism of animal life, and were
transmitted from country to country and from age to age, after the
manner of superstitions generally. According to one form of the
superstition, the Deer can draw serpents out of their holes by
breathing into them, and then devour them; while, according to another
form, there is such an enmity between the Deer and the serpent, that
if even a portion of the Deer's horns be burned, all snakes that come
within its influence are driven away.

Topsell, in referring to this subject, although he feels himself bound
to believe the tradition, accounts for it in his own quaint fashion.
"A Hart by his nose draweth a Serpent out of her hole, and therefore
the grammarians derived _Elaphas_, or Hart, from _elaunein tous
opheis_, that is, of driving away serpents.

"I cannot consent to the opinion of _Ælianus_, that affirmeth the
Serpents to follow the breath of a Hart like some philter, or amorous
cup: for, seeing that all authors hold a hostility in natures betwixt
them, it is not probable that the Serpent loveth the breath of a beast
unto whose whole body he is an enemy with a perpetual antipathy. And
if any reply that the warm breath of an Hart is acceptable to the cold
Serpent, and that therefore she followeth it as a dog creepeth to the
fire, or as other beasts to the beams of the sun, I will not greatly
gainsay it, seeing by that means it is most clear that the breath doth
not by any secret force or vertue extract and draw her out of the den,
but rather the concomitant quality of heat, which is not from the
secret fire in the bones of the Hart's throat (as _Pliny_ hath
taught), but rather from her ordinary expiration, inspiration, and
respiration. For it cannot be, that seeing all the parts of a Serpent
are opposite to a Hart, that there should be any love to that which
killeth her.

"For my opinion, I think that the manner of the Hart's drawing the
Serpent out of her den is not, as _Ælianus_ and _Pliny_ affirmeth, by
sending into the cave a warm breath, which burneth and scorcheth the
beast out of her den, but rather, when the Hart hath found the
Serpent's nest, she draweth the air by secret and violent attraction
out from the Serpent, who, to save her life, followeth the air out of
her den. As where a vessel is broached or wrecked, the wine followeth
the flying air; and as a cupping-glass draweth blood out of a
scarified place of the body, so the Serpent is drawn unwillingly to
follow her destroyer, and not willingly, as _Ælianus_ affirmeth. The
Serpent being thus drawn forth, addeth greater force to her poyson,
whereupon the proverbial admonition did arise, 'Beware thou meet not
with a Serpent drawn out of her hole by the breath of a Hart, for at
that time, by reason of her wrath, her poyson is more vehement.' After
the self-same manner do the Sea-rams draw the Sea-calves hid in the
subterranean rocks, for by smelling they prevent the air that should
come into them for refrigeration."

In consequence of this antipathy, travellers were accustomed to wear
dresses made of deer-skin, because no serpent would dare to bite any
one who wore such armour. The timidity of the Deer was attributed by
these strange old authors to the great size of its heart, in which
they thought was a bone shaped like a cross.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that in one passage the
word which is translated as "Hart" is rendered differently in some
versions. This passage occurs in Lam. i. 6: "And from the daughter of
Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts
that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the
pursuer." In some editions of the Hebrew Bible, the word Ayilim,
_i.e._ "rams," is used instead of Ayzalim, or "Harts," and this
reading is followed both by the Septuagint and the Vulgate. In two
editions of the Hebrew Bible, however, the word is Ayzalim; and, as
the Jewish Bible retains that reading, we cannot do wrong in accepting
it as the correct one.



   The two species of Camel, and the mode of distinguishing
   them--Value of the Camel in the East--Camels mentioned as
   elements of wealth--Uses of the Camel--The Jews forbidden to eat
   its flesh--The milk of the Camel--Thirst-enduring
   capability--The internal reservoir--The hump, and its use to the
   animal--The Camel as a beast of draught and burden--How the
   Camel is laden--Knowledge of its own powers--Camels for
   riding--Difficulty of sitting a Camel--A rough-paced
   steed--Method of guiding the Camel--The mesh'ab, or Camel-stick
   of office--The women's saddle--Rachel's stratagem--Ornaments of
   the Camel--The swift dromedary, Heirie, or Deloul--Its ungainly
   aspect--Speed and endurance of the Deloul--The Camel-posts of
   Bornu--Camel-drivers and their conduct--The driver's song--Young
   Camels and their appearance--The deserted Camel.

Before treating of the Scriptural references to the Camel, it will be
as well to clear the ground by noticing that two distinct species of
Camel are known to zoologists; namely, the common Camel (_Camelus
dromedarius_), which has one hump, and the Bactrian Camel (_Camelus
Bactrianus_), which has two of these curious projections. There is a
popular but erroneous idea that the dromedary and the Camel are two
distinct animals, the latter being distinguished by its huge hump,
whereas the fact is, that the dromedary is simply a lighter and more
valuable breed of the one-humped Camel of Arabia, the two-humped
Bactrian Camel being altogether a different animal, inhabiting Central
Asia, Thibet, and China.

The Camel is still one of the most valued animals that inhabit
Palestine, and in former times it played a part in Jewish history
scarcely inferior to that of the ox or sheep. We shall, therefore,
devote some space to it.

In some parts of the land it even exceeded in value the sheep, and was
infinitely more useful than the goat. At the very beginning of Jewish
history we read of this animal, and it is mentioned in the New
Testament nearly two thousand years after we meet with it in the Book
of Genesis. The earliest mention of the Camel occurs in Gen. xii. 16,
where is related the journey of Abram: "He had sheep, and oxen, and
he-asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and

Belonging, as he did, to the nomad race which lives almost wholly on
the produce of their herds, Abram needed Camels, not only for their
milk, and, for all we know, for their flesh, but for their extreme use
as beasts of burden, without which he could never have travelled over
that wild and pathless land. The whole of Abram's outer life was
exactly that of a Bedouin sheikh of the present day, in whom we find
reproduced the habits, the tone of thought, and the very verbiage of
the ancient Scriptures.

Many years afterwards, when the son of his old age was desirous of
marrying a wife of his own kindred, we find that he sent his trusted
servants with ten of his Camels to Mesopotamia, and it was by the
offering of water to these Camels, that Rebekah was selected as
Isaac's wife (see Gen. xxiv. 10, 19). In after days, when Jacob was
about to leave Laban, these animals are mentioned as an important part
of his wealth: "And the man increased exceedingly, and had much
cattle, and maid-servants, and men-servants, and camels, and asses"
(Gen. xxx. 43). Then, in Exod. ix. 3, one of the severest plagues with
which Egypt was afflicted was the disease which fell upon the Camels
in common with the other cattle.

It is thought worthy of mention in the sacred narrative that Job had
three thousand, and afterwards six thousand Camels (Job i. 3, and
xlii. 12); that the Midianites and Amalekites possessed "camels
without number, as the sand by the seaside for multitude" (Judg. vii.
12); and that the Reubenites, when making war against the Hagarites,
took from them fifty thousand camels--exactly the very object of such
wars in the same land at the present time.

They were valuable enough to be sent as presents from one potentate to
another. For example, when Jacob went to meet Esau, he gave as his
present two hundred and twenty sheep, the same number of goats, fifty
oxen, thirty asses, and sixty camels, _i.e._ thirty mothers, each with
her calf. They were important enough to be guarded by men of position.
In 1 Chron. xxvii. 30, we find that the charge of David's Camels was
confided to one of his officers, Obil the Ishmaelite, who, from his
origin, might be supposed to be skilful in the management of these
animals. Bochart however, conjectures that the word Obil ought to be
read as Abal, _i.e._ the camel-keeper, and that the passage would
therefore read as follows: "Over the camels was an Ishmaelitish

We will now proceed to the uses of the Camel, and first take it in the
light of food.

By the Mosaic law, the Camel was a forbidden animal, because it did
not divide the hoof, although it chewed the cud. Yet, although the
Jews might not eat its flesh, they probably used the milk for food, as
they do at the present day. No distinct Scriptural reference is made
to the milk of the Camel; but, as the Jews of the present day are
quite as fastidious as their ancestors in keeping the Mosaic law, we
are justified in concluding that, although they would not eat the
flesh of the animal, they drank its milk. At the present time, the
milk is used, like that of the sheep, goat, and cow, both in a fresh
and curdled state, the latter being generally preferred to the former.
A kind of cheese is made from it, but is not much to the taste of the
European traveller, on account of the quantity of salt which is put in
it. Butter is churned in a very simple manner, the fresh milk being
poured into a skin bag, and the bag beaten with a stick until the
butter makes its appearance.

That it was really used in the patriarchal times is evident by the
passage which has already been mentioned, where Jacob is related to
have brought as a present to his brother Esau thirty milch Camels,
together with their young. So decided a stress would certainly not
have been laid upon the fact that the animals were milch Camels unless
the milk were intended for use.

Perhaps the use of the Camel's milk might be justified by saying that
the prohibition extended only to eating and not to drinking, and that
therefore the milk might be used though the flesh was prohibited.

There was another mode in which the Camel might be used by travellers
to sustain life.

The reader is probably aware that, even in the burning climate in
which it dwells, the Camel is able to go for a long time without
drinking,--not that it requires less liquid nourishment than other
animals, but that it is able, by means of its internal construction,
to imbibe at one draught a quantity of water which will last for a
considerable time. It is furnished with a series of cells, into which
the water runs as fast as it is drunk, and in which it can be kept for
some time without losing its life-preserving qualities. As much as
twenty gallons have been imbibed by a Camel at one draught, and this
amount will serve it for several days, as it has the power of
consuming by degrees the water which it has drunk in a few minutes.

This curious power of the Camel has often proved to be the salvation
of its owner. It has often happened that, when travellers have been
passing over the desert, their supply of water has been exhausted,
partly by the travellers and partly by the burning heat which causes
it to evaporate through the pores of the goat-skin bottle in which it
was carried. Then the next well, where they had intended to refill
their skins and refresh themselves, has proved dry, and the whole
party seemed doomed to die of thirst.

Under these circumstances, only one chance of escape is left them.
They kill a Camel, and from its stomach they procure water enough to
sustain life for a little longer, and perhaps to enable them to reach
a well or fountain in which water still remains. The water which is
thus obtained is unaltered, except by a greenish hue, the result of
mixing with the remains of herbage in the cells. It is, of course,
very disagreeable, but those who are dying from thirst cannot afford
to be fastidious, and to them the water is a most delicious draught.

It is rather curious that, if any of the water which is taken out of a
dead Camel can be kept for a few days, both the green hue and the
unpleasant flavour disappear, and the water becomes fresh, clear, and
limpid. So wonderfully well do the internal cells preserve the water,
that after a Camel has been dead for ten days--and in that hot climate
ten days after death are equal to a month in England--the water within
it has been quite pure and drinkable.

Many persons believe in the popular though erroneous idea that the
Camel does not require as much water as ordinary animals. He will see,
however, from the foregoing account that it needs quite as much water
as the horse or the ox, but that it possesses the capability of taking
in at one time as much as either of these animals would drink in
several days. So far from being independent of water, there is no
animal that requires it more, or displays a stronger desire for it. A
thirsty Camel possesses the power of scenting water at a very great
distance, and, when it does so, its instincts conquer its education,
and it goes off at full speed towards the spot, wholly ignoring its
rider or driver. Many a desert spring has been discovered, and many a
life saved, by this wonderful instinct, the animal having scented the
distant water when its rider had lost all hope, and was resigning
himself to that terrible end, the death by thirst. The sacred Zemzem
fountain at Mecca was discovered by two thirsty Camels.

Except by the Jews, the flesh of the Camel is eaten throughout
Palestine and the neighbouring countries, and is looked upon as a
great luxury. The Arab, for example, can scarcely have a greater treat
than a Camel-feast, and looks forward to it in a state of wonderful
excitement. He is so impatient, that scarcely is the animal dead
before it is skinned, cut up, and the various parts prepared for

To European palates the flesh of the Camel is rather unpleasant, being
tough, stringy, and without much flavour. The fatty hump is
universally considered as the best part of the animal, and is always
offered to the chief among the guests, just as the North American
Indian offers the hump of the bison to the most important man in the
assembly. The heart and the tongue, however, are always eatable, and,
however old a Camel may be, these parts can be cooked and eaten
without fear.

The hump, or "bunch" as it is called in the Bible, has no connexion
with the spine, and is a supplementary growth, which varies in size,
not only in the species, but in the individual. It is analogous to the
hump upon the shoulders of the American bison and the Indian zebra,
and in the best-bred Camels it is the smallest though the finest and
most elastic.

This hump, by the way, affords one of the points by which the value of
the Camel is decided. When it is well fed and properly cared for, the
hump projects boldly, and is firm and elastic to the touch. But if the
Camel be ill, or if it be badly fed or overworked, the hump becomes
soft and flaccid, and in bad cases hangs down on one side like a thick
flap of skin. Consequently, the dealers in Camels always try to
produce their animals in the market with their humps well developed;
and, if they find that this important part does not look satisfactory,
they use various means to give it the required fulness, inflating it
with air being the most common. In fact, there is as much deception
among Camel-dealers in Palestine as with dog or pigeon fanciers in

Here perhaps I may remark that the hump has given rise to some strange
but prevalent views respecting the Camel. Many persons think that the
dromedary has one hump and the Camel two--in fact, that they are two
totally distinct animals. Now the fact is that the Camel of Palestine
is of one species only, the dromedary being a lighter and swifter
breed, and differing from the ordinary Camel just as a hunter or racer
differs from a cart-horse. The two-humped Camel is a different species
altogether, which will be briefly described at the end of the present

The Camel is also used as a beast of draught, and, as we find, not
only from the Scriptures, but from ancient monuments, was employed to
draw chariots and drag the plough. Thus in Isa. xxi. 7: "And he saw a
chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot
of camels." It is evident that in this passage some chariots were
drawn by Camels and some by asses. It is, however, remarkable that in
Kennard's "Eastern Experiences," these two very useful animals are
mentioned as being yoked together: "We passed through a fertile
country, watching the fellaheen at their agricultural labours, and not
a little amused at sometimes remarking a very tall camel and a very
small donkey yoked together in double harness, dragging a plough
through the rich brown soil." Camels drawing chariots are still to be
seen in the Assyrian sculptures. In Palestine--at all events at the
present time--the Camel is seldom if ever used as a beast of draught,
being exclusively employed for bearing burdens and carrying riders.

Taking it first as a beast of burden, we find several references in
different parts of the Scriptures. For example, see 2 Kings viii. 9:
"So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of
every good thing of Damascus, forty camels' burden." Again, in 1
Chron. xii. 40: "Moreover they that were nigh them, even unto Issachar
and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and
on mules, and on oxen." Another allusion to the same custom is made in
Isaiah: "They will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young
asses, and their treasures upon the bunches (or humps) of camels."

The Camel can carry a considerable load, though not so much as is
generally fancied. A sort of a pack-saddle of a very simple
description is used, in order to keep the burden upon so
strangely-shaped an animal. A narrow bag about eight feet long is
made, and rather loosely stuffed with straw or similar material. It is
then doubled, and the ends firmly sewn together, so as to form a great
ring, which is placed over the hump, and forms a tolerably flat
surface. A wooden framework is tied on the pack-saddle, and is kept in
its place by a girth and a crupper. The packages which the Camel is to
carry are fastened together by cords, and slung over the saddle. They
are only connected by those semi-knots called "hitches," so that, when
the Camel is to be unloaded, all that is needed is to pull the lower
end of the rope, and the packages fall on either side of the animal.
So quickly is the operation of loading performed, that a couple of
experienced men can load a Camel in very little more than a minute.

As is the case with the horse in England, the Camels that are used as
beasts of burden are of a heavier, slower, and altogether inferior
breed to those which are employed to carry riders, and all their
accoutrements are of a ruder and meaner order, devoid of the fantastic
ornaments with which Oriental riders are fond of decorating their
favourite animals.

  [Illustration: CAMEL.

  "They will carry their treasures upon the bunches of camels."--ISA.
  xxx. 6.]

In the large illustration are represented two of the ordinary Camels
of burden, as they appear when laden with boughs for the Feast of
Tabernacles. The branches are those of the Hebrew pine, and, as may be
seen, the animals are so heavily laden with them that their forms are
quite hidden under their leafy burdens. The weight which a Camel will
carry varies much, according to the strength of the individual, which
has given rise to the Oriental proverb, "As the camel, so the load."
But an animal of ordinary strength is supposed to be able to carry
from five to six hundred pounds for a short journey, and half as much
for a long one,--a quantity which, as the reader will see, is not so
very great when the bulk of the animal is taken into consideration.
It is remarkable that the Camel knows its own powers, and
instinctively refuses to move if its correct load be exceeded. But,
when it is properly loaded, it will carry its burden for hours
together at exactly the same pace, and without seeming more fatigued
than it was when it started.

The riding Camels are always of a better breed than those which are
used for burden, and may be divided into two classes; namely, those
which are meant for ordinary purposes, and those which are specially
bred for speed and endurance. There is as much difference between the
ordinary riding Camel and the swift Camel as there is between the road
hack and the race-horse. We will first begin with the description of
the common riding Camel and its accoutrements.

The saddle which is intended for a rider is very different from the
pack-saddle on which burdens are carried, and has a long upright
projection in front, to which the rider can hold if he wishes it.

The art of riding the Camel is nearly as difficult of accomplishment
as that of riding the horse, and the preliminary operation of mounting
is not the least difficult portion of it. Of course, to mount a Camel
while the animal is standing is impossible, and accordingly it is
taught to kneel until the rider is seated. Kneeling is a natural
position with the Camel, which is furnished with large callosities or
warts on the legs and breast, which act as cushions on which it may
rest its great weight without abrading the skin. These callosities are
not formed, as some have imagined, by the constant kneeling to which
the Camel is subjected, but are born with it, though of course less
developed than they are after they have been hardened by frequent
pressure against the hot sand.

When the Camel kneels, it first drops on its knees, and then on the
joints of the hind legs. Next it drops on its breast, and then again
on the bent hind legs. In rising it reverses the process, so that a
novice is first pitched forward, then backward, then forward, and then
backward again, to the very great disarrangement of his garments, and
the probable loss of his seat altogether. Then when the animal kneels
he is in danger of being thrown over its head by the first movement,
and jerked over its tail by the second; but after a time he learns to
keep his seat mechanically.

As to the movement of the animal, it is at first almost as unpleasant
as can be conceived, and has been described by several travellers,
some of whose accounts will be here given. First comes Albert Smith,
who declares that any one who wants to practise Camel-riding in
England can do so by taking a music-stool, screwing it up as high as
possible, putting it into a cart without springs, sitting on the top
of it cross-legged, and having the cart driven at full speed
transversely over a newly ploughed field.

There is, however, as great a difference in the gait of Camels as of
horses, some animals having a quiet, regular, easy movement, while
others are rough and high-stepping, harassing their riders grievously
in the saddle. Even the smooth-going Camel is, however, very trying at
first, on account of its long swinging strides, which are taken with
the legs of each side alternately, causing the body of the rider to
swing backwards and forwards as if he were rowing in a boat.

Those who suffer from sea-sickness are generally attacked with the
same malady when they make their first attempts at Camel-riding, while
even those who are proof against this particular form of discomfort
soon begin to find that their backs are aching, and that the pain
becomes steadily worse. Change of attitude is but little use, and the
wretched traveller derives but scant comfort from the advice of his
guide, who tells him to allow his body to swing freely, and that in a
short time he will become used to it. Some days, however, are
generally consumed before he succeeds in training his spine to the
continual unaccustomed movement, and he finds that, when he wakes on
the morning that succeeds his first essay, his back is so stiff that
he can scarcely move without screaming with pain, and that the
prospect of mounting the Camel afresh is anything but a pleasant one.

"I tried to sit erect without moving," writes Mr. Kennard, when
describing his experience of Camel-riding. "This proved a relief for a
few minutes, but, finding the effort too great to continue long in
this position, I attempted to recline with my head resting upon my
hand. This last manoeuvre I found would not do, for the motion of the
camel's hind legs was so utterly at variance with the motion of his
fore-legs that I was jerked upwards, and forwards, and sideways, and
finally ended in nearly rolling off altogether.

"Without going into the details of all that I suffered for the next
two or three days--how that on several occasions I slid from the
camel's back to the ground, in despair of ever accustoming my
half-dislocated joints to the ceaseless jerking and swaying to and
fro, and how that I often determined to trudge on foot over the hot
desert sand all the way to Jerusalem rather than endure it longer--I
shall merely say that the day did at last arrive when I descended from
my camel, after many hours' riding, in as happy and comfortable a
state of mind as if I had been lolling in the easiest of arm-chairs."

A very similar description of the transition from acute and constant
suffering to perfect ease is given by Albert Smith, who states that
more than once he has dozed on the back of his Camel, in spite of the
swaying backwards and forwards to which his body was subjected.

If such be the discomfort of riding a smooth-going and good-tempered
Camel, it may be imagined that to ride a hard-going and cross-grained
animal must be a very severe trial to an inexperienced rider. A very
amusing account of a ride on such a Camel, and of a fall from its
back, is given by Mr. Hamilton in his "Sinai, the Hedjaz, and

"A dromedary I had obtained at Suk Abu Sin for my own riding did not
answer my expectations, or rather the saddle was badly put on--not an
easy thing to do well, by the way--and one of my servants, who saw how
out of patience I was at the many times I had had to dismount to have
it arranged, persuaded me to try the one he was riding, the Sheik's
present. I had my large saddle transferred to his beast, and, nothing
doubting, mounted it.

"He had not only no nose-string, but was besides a vicious brute,
rising with a violent jerk before I was well in the saddle, and
anxious to gain the caravan, which was a little way ahead, he set off
at his roughest gallop. Carpets, kufieh, tarbush, all went off in the
jolting; at every step I was thrown a foot into the air, glad to come
down again, bump, bump, on the saddle, by dint of holding on to the
front pommel with the left hand, while the right was engaged with the
bridle, which in the violence of the exercise it was impossible to
change to its proper hand. I had almost reached the caravan, and had
no doubt my humpbacked Pegasus would relax his exertions, when a
camel-driver, one of the sons of iniquity, seeing me come up at full
speed, and evidently quite run away with, took it into his head to
come to my assistance.

"I saw what he was at, and called out to him to get out of the way,
but instead of this he stuck himself straight before me, stretching
himself out like a St. Andrew's cross, with one hand armed with a huge
club, and making most diabolical grimaces. Of course the camel was
frightened, it was enough to frighten a much more reasonable being;
so, wheeling quickly round, it upset my unstable equilibrium. Down I
came head foremost to the ground, and when I looked up, my forehead
streaming with blood, the first thing I saw was my Arab with the
camel, which he seemed mightily pleased with himself for having so
cleverly captured, while the servant who had suggested the unlucky
experiment came ambling along on my easy-paced dromedary, and consoled
me by saying that he knew it was a runaway beast, which there was no
riding without a nose-string.

"I now began to study the way of keeping one's seat in such an
emergency. An Arab, when he gallops his dromedary with one of these
saddles, holds hard on with the right hand to the back part of the
seat, not to the pommel, and grasps the bridle tightly in the other.
The movement of the camel in galloping throws one violently forward,
and without holding on, excepting on the naked back, when the rider
sits behind the hump, it is impossible to retain one's seat. I
afterwards thought myself lucky in not having studied this point
sooner, as, from the greater resistance I should have offered, my
tumble, since it was _fated_ I should have one, would probably have
been much more severe. It is true I might also have escaped it, but in
the chapter of probabilities I always think a mishap the most

It may be imagined that a fall from a Camel's back is not a trifle,
and, even if the unskilful rider be fortunate enough to fall on soft
sand instead of hard rock, he receives a tolerably severe shock, and
runs no little risk of breaking a limb. For the average height of a
Camel's back is rather more than six feet, while some animals measure
seven feet from the ground to the top of the hump. Add to this a foot
or two caused by the saddle and its cushions, and a height is gained
equal to that of the ceiling of many rooms--say, eighteen inches above
the top of an ordinary door.

This height, however, is of material advantage to the traveller. In
the first place it lifts him above the waves of heated air that are
continually rolling over the sand on which the burning rays of the sun
are poured throughout the day; and in the second place it brings him
within reach of the slightest breeze that passes above the stratum of
hot air, and which comes to the traveller like the breath of life.
Moreover, his elevated position enables him to see for a very great
distance, which is an invaluable advantage in a land where every
stranger may be a robber, and is probably a murderer besides.

The best mode of avoiding a fall is to follow the Arab mode of
riding,--namely, to pass one leg over the upright pommel, which, as
has been mentioned, is a mere wooden peg or stake, and hitching the
other leg over the dangling foot. Perhaps the safest, though not the
most comfortable, mode of sitting is by crossing the legs in front,
and merely grasping the pommel with the hands.

Yet, fatiguing as is the seat on the Camel's back to the beginner, it
is less so than that on the horse's saddle, inasmuch as in the latter
case one position is preserved, while in the former an infinite
variety of seat is attainable when the rider has fairly mastered the
art of riding.

The Camel is not held by the bit and bridle like the horse, but by a
rope tied like a halter round the muzzle, and having a knot on the
left or "near" side. This is held in the left hand, and is used
chiefly for the purpose of stopping the animal. The Camel is guided
partly by the voice of its rider, and partly by a driving-stick, with
which the neck is lightly touched on the opposite side to that which
its rider wishes it to take. A pressure of the heel on the
shoulder-bone tells it to quicken its pace, and a little tap on the
head followed by a touch on the short ears are the signals for full

There are three different kinds of stick with which the Camel is
driven; one of them, a mere almond branch with the bark, and an
oblique head, is the sceptre or emblem of sovereignty of the Prince of
Mecca. Mr. Hamilton suggests that this stick, called the "_mesh'ab_,"
is the original of the jackal-headed stick with which so many of the
Egyptian deities are represented; and that Aaron's rod that "brought
forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds," was the
_mesh'ab_, the almond-branch sceptre, the emblem of his almost regal
rank and authority.

The women mostly ride in a different manner from the men. Sometimes
they are hardy enough to sit the animal in the same way as their
husbands, but as a rule they are carried by the animal rather than
ride it, sitting in great basket-like appendages which are slung on
either side of the Camel. These constitute the "furniture" which is
mentioned in Gen. xxxi. 34. When Jacob left the house of Laban, to
lead an independent life, Rachel stole her father's images, or
"teraphim," and carried them away with her, true to her affectionate
though deceptive nature, which impelled her to incur the guilt of
robbery for the sake of enriching her husband with the cherished
teraphim of her father. From the most careful researches we learn that
these teraphim were used for divining the future, and that they were
made in the human form. That they were of considerable size is evident
from the fact that, when Saul was hunting after David, his wife Michal
contrived to convey him out of the house, and for a time to conceal
her fraud by putting an image (or teraph) into the bed as a
representative of her husband. Had not, therefore, the camel-furniture
been of considerable dimensions, images of such a size could not be
hidden, but they could well be stowed away in the great panniers, as
long as their mistress sat upon them, after the custom of Oriental
travellers, and declined to rise on the ready plea of indisposition.

This sort of carriage is still used for the women and children. "The
wife and child came by in the string of camels, the former reclining
in an immense circular box, stuffed and padded, covered with red
cotton, and dressed with yellow worsted ornaments. This family nest
was mounted on a large camel. It seemed a most commodious and
well-arranged travelling carriage, and very superior as a mode of
camel-riding to that which our Sitteen rejoiced in (_i.e._ riding upon
a saddle). The Arab wife could change her position at pleasure, and
the child had room to walk about and could not fall out, the sides of
the box just reaching to its shoulders. Various jugs and skins and
articles of domestic use hung suspended about it, and trappings of
fringe and finery ornamented it."

This last sentence brings us to another point which is several times
mentioned in the Bible; namely, the ornaments with which the
proprietors of Camels are fond of bedizening their favourite animals.

Their leathern collars are covered with cowrie shells sewn on them in
various fantastic patterns. Crescent-shaped ornaments are made of
shells sewn on red cloth, and hung so abundantly upon the harness of
the animal that they jingle at every step which it takes. Sheiks and
other men of rank often have these ornaments made of silver, so that
the cost of the entire trappings is very great. Allusion is made to
these costly ornaments in Judges viii. When Gideon warred against
Succoth, he captured the two chiefs or kings of Midian, Zebah and
Zalmunna, and, after putting them to death, he "took away the
ornaments that were on their camels' necks,"--or, as the marginal
translation has it, their "ornaments like the moon," _i.e._
crescent-shaped; this form having been retained unchanged for three
thousand years. (Judges viii. 21.) The value of such ornaments is
evident from the fact that they are mentioned so conspicuously in Holy
Writ; and, as if to show that the Camel trappings were of very
considerable value, a further reference is made to them in the
following passage. After the battle, Gideon made a request to his
soldiers "that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey.
(For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)

"And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a
garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. And
the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and
seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and
purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains
that were about their camels' necks." Here we see that the ornaments
to the Camels were sufficiently costly to be classed with the golden
jewellery and the royal apparel that were worn by the kings of Midian.

We now come to the Swift Camel, sometimes called the Heirie, the
Maharik, or the Deloul, the last of these terms being that by which it
will be mentioned in these pages.

The limbs of the Deloul are long and wiry, having not an ounce of
superfluous fat upon them, the shoulders are very broad, and the hump,
though firm and hard, is very small.

A thoroughbred Deloul, in good travelling condition, is not at all a
pleasing animal to an ordinary eye, being a lank, gaunt, and
ungainly-looking creature, the very conformation which insures its
swiftness and endurance being that which detracts from its beauty. An
Arab of the desert, however, thinks a good Deloul one of the finest
sights in the world. As the talk of the pastoral tribes is of sheep
and oxen, so is the talk of the nomads about Camels. It is a subject
which is for ever on their lips, and a true Bedouin may be seen to
contemplate the beauties of one of these favourite animals for hours
at a time,--if his own, with the rapture of a possessor, or, if
another's, with the determination of stealing it when he can find an

Instead of plodding along at the rate of three miles an hour, which is
the average speed of the common Camel, the Deloul can cover, if
lightly loaded, nine or ten miles an hour, and go on at the same pace
for a wonderful time, its long legs swinging, and its body swaying, as
if it were but an animated machine. Delouls have been reported to have
journeyed for nearly fifty hours without a single stop for rest,
during which time the animals must have traversed nearly five hundred
miles. Such examples must, however, be exceptional, implying, as they
do, an amount of endurance on the part of the rider equal to that of
the animal; and even a journey of half that distance is scarcely
possible to ordinary men on Delouls.

For the movements of the Deloul are very rough, and the rider is
obliged to prepare himself for a long journey by belting himself
tightly with two leathern bands, one just under the arms, and the
other round the pit of the stomach. Without these precautions, the
rider would be likely to suffer serious injuries, and, even with them,
the exercise is so severe, that an Arab makes it a matter of special
boast that he can ride a Deloul for a whole day.

A courier belonging to the Sherif of Mecca told Mr. Hamilton that he
often went on the same dromedary from Mecca to Medina in forty-eight
hours, the distance being two hundred and forty miles. And a
thoroughbred Deloul will travel for seven or eight weeks with only
four or five days of rest.

Even at the present time, these Camels are used for the conveyance of
special messages, and in the remarkable Bornu kingdom a regular
service of these animals is established, two couriers always
travelling in company, so that if one rider or Camel should fail or
be captured by the Arabs, who are always on the alert for so valuable
a prey, the other may post on and carry the message to its

  [Illustration: THE CAMEL POST.]

The swift dromedary, or Deloul, is mentioned several times in the Old
Testament. One of them occurs in Isa. lx. 6: "The multitude of camels
shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah." In this
passage a distinction is drawn between the ordinary Camel and the
swift dromedary, the former being the word "gamel," and the latter the
word "beker," which is again used in Jer. ii. 23: "See thy way in the
valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary."

There is a passage in the Book of Esther which looks as if it referred
to the ordinary Camel and the swift dromedary, but there is
considerable uncertainty about the proper rendering. It runs as
follows: "And he wrote in king Ahasuerus' name, and sealed it with the
king's ring, and sent letters and posts on horseback, and riders on
mules, camels, and young dromedaries."

The Jewish Bible, however, translates this passage as follows: "And
sent letters by the runners on the horses, and riders on the racers,
mules, and young mares." Now, the word _rekesh_, which is translated
as "racer," is rendered by Buxtorf as "a swift horse or mule," and the
word _beni-rammachim_, which is translated as "young mares," literally
signifies "those born of mares."

The Camel-drivers behave towards their animals with the curious
inconsistency which forms so large a part of the Oriental character.

Prizing them above nearly all earthly things, proud of them, and
loving them after their own fashion, the drivers will talk to them,
cheer them, and sing interminable songs for their benefit. Towards the
afternoon the singing generally begins, and it goes on without
cessation in a sort of monotonous hum, as Dr. Bonar calls it. The same
traveller calls attention to a passage in Caussinus' "Polyhistor
Symbolicus," in which the learned and didactic author symbolizes the
maxim that more can be done by kindness than by blows. "The Camel is
greatly taken with music and melody. So much so, indeed, that if it
halts through weariness, the driver does not urge it with stripes and
blows, but soothes it by his songs."

Several travellers have mentioned these songs. See, for example, Miss
Rogers' account of some Bedouins: "Their songs were already subdued to
harmonize with their monotonous swinging pace, and chimed softly and
plaintively with the tinkling of camel-bells, thus--

    "'Dear unto me as the sight of mine eyes,
        Art thou, O my Camel!
      Precious to me as the health of my life,
        Art thou, O my Camel!
      Sweet to my ears is the sound
        Of thy tinkling bells, O my Camel!
      And sweet to thy listening ears
        Is the sound of my evening song.'

And so on, _ad libitum_."

Sometimes a female Camel gives birth to a colt on the journey. In such
a case, a brief pause is made, and then the train proceeds on its
journey, the owner of the Camel carrying the young one in his arms
until the evening halt. He then gives it to its mother, and on the
following day it is able to follow her without further assistance. The
young Camels are almost pretty, their hair being paler than that of
the adult animal, and their limbs more slender.

Although the young Camel is better-looking than its parents, it is not
one whit more playful. Unlike almost all other animals, the Camel
seems to have no idea of play, and even the young Camel of a month or
two old follows its mother with the same steady, regular pace which
she herself maintains.

In spite of all the kindness with which a driver treats his Camels, he
can at times be exceedingly cruel to them, persisting in over-loading
and over-driving them, and then, if a Camel fall exhausted, removing
its load, and distributing it among the other Camels. As soon as this
is done, he gives the signal to proceed, and goes on his way,
abandoning the wretched animal to its fate--_i.e._ to thirst and the
vultures. He will not even have the humanity to kill it, but simply
leaves it on the ground, muttering that it is "his fate!"



   The Camel and its master--Occasional fury of the animal--A boy
   killed by a Camel--Another instance of an infuriated
   Camel--Theory respecting the Arab and his Camel--Apparent
   stupidity of the Camel--Its hatred of a load, and mode of
   expressing its disapprobation--Riding a Camel through the
   streets--A narrow escape--Ceremony of weaning a young Camel--The
   Camel's favourite food--Structure of the foot and adaptation to
   locality--Difficulty in provisioning--Camel's hair and skin--Sal
   ammoniac and Desert fuel--The Camel and the needle's
   eye--Straining at a gnat and swallowing a Camel.

We now come to the general characteristics of the Camel.

The Camels know their master well, some of them being much more
affectionate than others. But they are liable to fits of strange
fury, in which case even their own masters are not safe from them.
They are also of a revengeful nature, and have an unpleasant faculty
of treasuring up an injury until they can find a time of repaying it.
Signor Pierotti gives a curious example of this trait of character. As
he was going to the Jordan, he found a dead Camel lying on the
roadside, the head nearly separated from the body. On inquiry he found
that the animal had a master who ill-treated it, and had several times
tried to bite him. One evening, after the Camels had been unloaded,
the drivers lay down to sleep as usual.

The Camel made its way to its master, and stamped on him as he slept.
The man uttered one startled cry, but had no time for another. The
infuriated Camel followed up its attack by grasping his throat in its
powerful jaws, and shaking him to death. The whole scene passed so
rapidly, that before the other drivers could come to the man's
assistance he was hanging dead from the jaws of the Camel, who was
shaking him as a dog shakes a rat, and would not release its victim
until its head had been nearly severed from its body by sword-cuts.

A similar anecdote is told by Mr. Palgrave, in his "Central and
Eastern Arabia:"--

"One passion alone he possesses, namely, revenge, of which he gives
many a hideous example; while, in carrying it out, he shows an
unexpected degree of forethoughted malice, united meanwhile with all
the cold stupidity of his usual character. One instance of this I well
remember--it occurred hard by a small town in the plain of Baalbec,
where I was at the time residing.

"A lad of about fourteen had conducted a large camel, laden with wood,
from that very village to another at half an hour's distance or so. As
the animal loitered or turned out of the way, its conductor struck it
repeatedly, and harder than it seems to have thought he had a right to
do. But, not finding the occasion favourable for taking immediate
quits, it 'bided its time,' nor was that time long in coming.

"A few days later, the same lad had to re-conduct the beast, but
unladen, to his own village. When they were about half way on the
road, and at some distance from any habitation, the camel suddenly
stopped, looked deliberately round in every direction to assure itself
that no one was in sight, and, finding the road clear of passers-by,
made a step forward, seized the unlucky boy's head in its monstrous
mouth, and, lifting him up in the air, flung him down again on the
earth, with the upper part of his head completely torn off, and his
brains scattered on the ground. Having thus satisfied its revenge, the
brute quietly resumed its pace towards the village, as though nothing
were the matter, till some men, who had observed the whole, though
unfortunately at too great a distance to be able to afford timely
help, came up and killed it.

"Indeed, so marked is this unamiable propensity, that some
philosophers have ascribed the revengeful character of the Arabs to
the great share which the flesh and milk of the camel have in their
sustenance, and which are supposed to communicate, to those who
partake of them over-largely, the moral or immoral qualities of the
animal to which they belonged. I do not feel myself capable of
pronouncing an opinion on so intricate a question, but thus much I can
say, that the camel and its Bedouin master do afford so many and such
divers points of resemblance, that I do not think our Arab of Shomer
far in the wrong, when I once on a time heard him say, 'God created
the Bedouin for the camel, and the camel for the Bedouin.'"

The reader will observe that Mr. Palgrave in this anecdote makes
reference to the stupidity of the Camel. There is no doubt that the
Camel is by no means an intellectual animal; but it is very possible
that its stupidity may in a great measure be owing to the fact that no
one has tried to cultivate its intellectual powers. The preceding
anecdotes show clearly that the Camel must possess a strong memory,
and be capable of exercising considerable ingenuity.

Still it is not a clever animal. If its master should fall off its
back, it never dreams of stopping, as a well-trained horse would do,
but proceeds at the same plodding pace, leaving his master to catch it
if he can. Should it turn out of the way to crop some green
thorn-bush, it will go on in the same direction, never thinking of
turning back into the right road unless directed by its rider. Should
the Camel stray, "it is a thousand to one that he will never find his
way back to his accustomed home or pasture, and the first man who
picks him up will have no particular shyness to get over; ... and the
losing of his old master and of his former cameline companions gives
him no regret, and occasions no endeavour to find them again."

He has the strongest objection to being laden at all, no matter how
light may be the burden, and expresses his disapprobation by growling
and groaning, and attempting to bite. So habitual is this conduct that
if a kneeling Camel be only approached, and a stone as large as a
walnut laid on its back, it begins to remonstrate in its usual manner,
groaning as if it were crushed to the earth with its load.

The Camel never makes way for any one, its instinct leading it to plod
onward in its direct course. What may have been its habits in a state
of nature no one can tell, for such a phenomenon as a wild Camel has
never been known in the memory of man. There are wild oxen, wild
goats, wild sheep, wild horses, and wild asses, but there is no spot
on the face of the earth where the Camel is found except as the
servant of man. Through innate stupidity, according to Mr. Palgrave,
it goes straight forwards in the direction to which its head happens
to be pointed, and is too foolish even to think of stopping unless it
hears the signal for halt.

As it passes through the narrow streets of an Oriental city, laden
with goods that project on either side, and nearly fill up the
thoroughfare, it causes singular inconvenience, forcing every one who
is in front of it to press himself closely to the wall, and to make
way for the enormous beast as it plods along. The driver or rider
generally gives notice by continually calling to the pedestrians to
get out of the way, but a laden Camel rarely passes through a long
street without having knocked down a man or two, or driven before it a
few riders on asses who cannot pass between the Camel and the wall.

One source of danger to its rider is to be found in the low archways
which span so many of the streets. They are just high enough to permit
a laden Camel to pass under them, but are so low that they leave no
room for a rider. The natives, who are accustomed to this style of
architecture, are always ready for an archway, and, when the rider
sees an archway which will not allow him to retain his seat, he slips
to the ground, and remounts on the other side of the obstacle.

Mr. Kennard had a very narrow escape with one of these archways. "I
had passed beneath one or two in perfect safety, without being obliged
to do more than just bend my head forward, and was in the act of
conversing with one of my companions behind, and was therefore in a
happy state of ignorance as to what was immediately before me, when
the shouting and running together of the people in the street on
either side made me turn my head quickly, but only just in time to
feel my breath thrown back on my face against the keystone of a
gateway, beneath which my camel, with too much way on him to be
stopped immediately, had already commenced to pass.

"With a sort of feeling that it was all over with me, I threw myself
back as far as I could, and was carried through in an almost
breathless state, my shirt-studs actually scraping along against the
stonework. On emerging again into the open street, I could hardly
realize my escape, for if there had been a single projecting stone to
stop my progress, the camel would have struggled to get free, and my
chest must have been crushed in."

It will be seen from these instances that the charge of stupidity is
not an undeserved one. Still the animal has enough intellect to
receive all the education which it needs for the service of man, and
which it receives at a very early age. The ordinary Camel of burden is
merely taught to follow its conductor, to obey the various words and
gestures of command, and to endure a load. The Deloul, however, is
more carefully trained. It is allowed to follow its mother for a whole
year in perfect liberty. Towards the expiration of that time the young
animal is gradually stinted in its supply of milk, and forced to
browse for its nourishment. On the anniversary of its birth, the young
Deloul is turned with its head towards Canopus, and its ears solemnly
boxed, its master saying at the same time, "Henceforth drinkest thou
no drop of milk." For this reason the newly-weaned Camel is called
Lathim, or the "ear-boxed." It is then prevented from sucking by a
simple though cruel experiment. A wooden peg is sharpened at both
ends, and one end thrust into the young animal's nose. When it tries
to suck, it pricks its mother with the projecting end, and at the same
time forces the other end more deeply into the wound, so that the
mother drives away her offspring, and the young soon ceases to make
the attempt.

The food of the Camel is very simple, being, in fact, anything that it
can get. As it proceeds on its journey, it manages to browse as it
goes along, bending its long neck to the ground, and cropping the
scanty herbage without a pause. Camels have been known to travel for
twenty successive days, passing over some eight hundred miles of
ground, without receiving any food except that which they gathered for
themselves by the way. The favourite food of the Camel is a shrub
called the ghada, growing to six feet or so in height, and forming a
feathery tuft of innumerable little green twigs, very slender and
flexible. It is so fond of this shrub that a Camel can scarcely ever
pass a bush without turning aside to crop it; and even though it be
beaten severely for its misconduct, it will repeat the process at the
next shrub that comes in sight.

It also feeds abundantly on the thorn-bushes which grow so plentifully
in that part of the world; and though the thorns are an inch or two in
length, very strong, and as sharp as needles, the hard, horny palate
of the animal enables it to devour them with perfect ease.

There are several species of these thorn-shrubs, which are scattered
profusely over the ground, and are, in fact, the commonest growth of
the place. After they die, being under the fierce sun of that climate,
they dry up so completely, that if a light be set to them they blaze
up in a moment, with a sharp cracking sound and a roar of flame, and
in a moment or two are nothing but a heap of light ashes. No wonder
was it that when Moses saw the thorn-bush burning without being
consumed he was struck with awe at the miracle. These withered bushes
are the common fuel of the desert, giving out a fierce but brief heat,
and then suddenly sinking into ashes. "For as the crackling of thorns
under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool" (Eccl. vii. 6).

The dried and withered twigs of these bushes are also eaten by the
Camel, which seems to have a power of extracting nutriment from every
sort of vegetable substance. It has been fed on charcoal, and, as has
been happily remarked, could thrive on the shavings of a carpenter's

Still, when food is plentiful, it is fed as regularly as can be
managed, and generally after a rather peculiar manner. "Our guide,"
writes Mr. Hamilton, in the work which has already been mentioned, "is
an elderly man, the least uncouth of our camel-drivers. He has three
camels in the caravan, and it was amusing to see his preparations for
their evening's entertainment. The table-cloth, a circular piece of
leather, was duly spread on the ground; on this he poured the quantity
of dourrah destined for their meal, and calling his camels, they came
and took each its place at the feast. It is quaint to see how each in
his turn eats, so gravely and so quietly, stretching his long neck
into the middle of the heap, then raising his head to masticate each
mouthful; all so slowly and with such gusto, that we could swear it
was a party of epicures sitting in judgment on one of Vachette's
_chefs d'oeuvre_."

The foregoing passages will show the reader how wonderfully adapted is
the constitution of the Camel for the country in which it lives, and
how indispensable it is to the inhabitants. It has been called "the
ship of the desert," for without the Camel the desert would be as
impassable as the sea without ships. No water being found for several
days' journey together, the animal is able to carry within itself a
supply of water which will last it for several days, and, as no green
thing grows far from the presence of water, the Camel is able to feed
upon the brief-lived thorn-shrubs which have sprung up and died, and
which, from their hard and sharp prickles, are safe from every animal
except the hard-mouthed Camel.

But these advantages would be useless without another--i.e. the foot.
The mixed stones and sand of the desert would ruin the feet of almost
any animal, and it is necessary that the Camel should be furnished
with a foot that cannot be split by heat like the hoof of a horse,
that is broad enough to prevent the creature from sinking into the
sand, and is tough enough to withstand the action of the rough and
burning soil.

Such a foot does the Camel possess. It consists of two long toes
resting upon a hard elastic cushion with a tough and horny sole. This
cushion is so soft that the tread of the huge animal is as noiseless
as that of a cat, and, owing to the division of the toes, it spreads
as the weight comes upon it, and thus gives a firm footing on loose
ground. The foot of the moose-deer has a similar property, in order to
enable the animal to walk upon the snow.

In consequence of this structure, the Camel sinks less deeply into the
ground than any other animal; but yet it does sink in it, and dislikes
a deep and loose sand, groaning at every step, and being wearied by
the exertion of dragging its hard foot out of the holes into which
they sink. It is popularly thought that hills are impracticable to the
Camel; but it is able to climb even rocky ground from which a horse
would recoil. Mr. Marsh, an American traveller, was much surprised by
seeing a caravan of fifty camels pass over a long ascent in Arabia
Petræa. The rock was as smooth as polished marble, and the angle was
on an average fifteen degrees; but the whole caravan passed over it
without an accident.

The soil that a Camel most hates is a wet and muddy ground, on which
it is nearly sure to slip. If the reader will look at a Camel from
behind, he will see that the hinder legs are close together until the
ankle-joint, when they separate so widely that the feet are set on the
ground at a considerable distance from each other. On dry ground this
structure increases the stability of the animal by increasing its
base; but on wet ground the effect is singularly unpleasant. The soft,
padded feet have no hold, and slip sideways at every step, often with
such violence as to dislocate a joint and cause the death of the
animal. When such ground has to be traversed, the driver generally
passes a bandage round the hind legs just below the ankle-joint, so as
to prevent them from diverging too far.

It must be remarked, however, that the country in which the animal
lives is essentially a dry one, and that moist and muddy ground is so
exceptional that the generality of Camels never see it in their lives.
Camels do not object to mud an inch or two deep, provided that there
is firm ground below; and they have been seen to walk with confident
safety over pavements covered with mud and half-frozen snow.

The animals can ford rivers well enough, provided that the bed be
stony or gravelly; but they are bad swimmers, their round bodies and
long necks being scarcely balanced by their legs, so that they are apt
to roll over on their sides, and in such a case they are sure to be
drowned. When swimming is a necessity, the head is generally tied to
the stern of a boat, or guided by the driver swimming in front, while
another often clings to the tail, so as to depress the rump and
elevate the head. It is rather curious that the Camels of the Sahara
cannot be safely entrusted to the water. They will swim the river
readily enough; but they are apt to be seized with illness afterwards,
and to die in a few hours.

We now come to some other uses of the Camel.

Its hair is of the greatest importance, as it is used for many
purposes. In this country, all that we know practically of the Camel's
hair is that it is employed in making brushes for painters; but in its
own land the hair plays a really important part. At the proper season
it is removed from the animal, usually by being pulled away in tufts,
but sometimes by being shorn like the wool of sheep, and it is then
spun by the women into strong thread.

From this thread are made sundry fabrics where strength is required
and coarseness is not an objection. The "black tents" of the Bedouin
Arabs, similar to those in which Abraham lived, are made of Camel's
hair, and so are the rugs, carpets, and cordage used by the nomad
tribes. Even mantles for rainy or cold weather are made of Camel's
hair, and it was in a dress of this coarse and rough material that St.
John the Baptist was clad. The best part of the Camel's hair is that
which grows in tufts on the back and about the hump, the fibre being
much longer than that which covers the body. There is also a little
very fine under-wool which is carefully gathered, and, when a
sufficient quantity is procured, it is spun and woven into garments.
Shawls of this material are even now as valuable as those which are
made from the Cachmire goat.

The skin of the Camel is made into a sort of leather. It is simply
tanned by being pegged out in the sun and rubbed with salt.

Sandals and leggings are made of this leather, and in some places
water-bottles are manufactured from it, the leather being thicker and
less porous than that of the goat, and therefore wasting less of the
water by evaporation. The bones are utilized, being made into various
articles of commerce.

So universally valuable is the Camel that even its dung is important
to its owners. Owing to the substances on which the animal feeds, it
consists of little but macerated fragments of aromatic shrubs. It is
much used as poultices in case of bruises or rheumatic pains, and is
even applied with some success to simple fractures. It is largely
employed for fuel, and the desert couriers use nothing else, their
Camels being furnished with a net, so that none of this useful
substance shall be lost. For this purpose it is carefully collected,
mixed with bits of straw, and made into little rolls, which are dried
in the sun, and can then be laid by for any time until they are

Mixed with clay and straw, it is most valuable as a kind of mortar or
cement with which the walls of huts are rendered weather-proof, and
the same material is used in the better-class houses to make a sort of
terrace on the flat roof. This must be waterproof in order to
withstand the wet of the rainy season, and no material answers the
purpose so well as that which has been mentioned. So strangely hard
and firm is this composition, that stoves are made of it. These stoves
are made like jars, and have the faculty of resisting the power of the
inclosed fire. Even after it is burned it has its uses, the ashes
being employed in the manufacture of sal-ammoniac.

There are two passages in the New Testament which mention the Camel in
an allegorical sense. The first of these is the proverbial saying of
our Lord, "A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye
of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God"
(Matt. xix. 23, 24).

Now, this well-known but scarcely understood passage requires some
little dissection. If the reader will refer to the context, he will
see that this saying was spoken in allusion to the young and wealthy
man who desired to be one of the disciples, but clung too tightly to
his wealth to accept the only conditions on which he could be
received. His possessions were a snare to him, as was proved by his
refusal to part with them at Christ's command. On his retiring, the
expression was used, "that a rich man shall hardly (or, with
difficulty) enter the kingdom of heaven," followed by the simile of
the Camel and the needle's eye.

Now, if we are to take this passage literally, we can but draw one
conclusion from it, that a rich man can no more enter heaven than a
camel pass through the eye of a needle, _i.e._ that it is impossible
for him to do so. Whereas, in the previous sentence, Christ says not
that it is impossible, but difficult ([Greek: dyskolôs]) for him to do
so. It is difficult for a man to use his money for the service of God,
the only purpose for which it was given him, and the difficulty
increases in proportion to its amount. But wealth in itself is no more
a bar to heaven than intellect, health, strength, or any other gift,
and, if it be rightly used, is one of the most powerful tools that can
be used in the service of God. Our Lord did not condemn all wealthy
men alike. He knew many; but there was only one whom He advised to
sell his possessions and give them to the poor as the condition of
being admitted among the disciples.


  "_It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for
  a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God._"--MATT. xix. 24.]

We will now turn to the metaphor of the Camel and the needle's eye. Of
course it can be taken merely as a very bold metaphor, but it may also
be understood in a simpler sense, the sense in which it was probably
understood by those who heard it. In Oriental cities, there are in the
large gates small and very low apertures called metaphorically
"needle's-eyes," just as we talk of certain windows as "bull's-eyes."
These entrances are too narrow for a Camel to pass through them in the
ordinary manner, or even if loaded. When a laden Camel has to pass
through one of these entrances, it kneels down, its load is removed,
and then it shuffles through on its knees. "Yesterday," writes Lady
Duff-Gordon from Cairo, "I saw a camel go through the eye of a needle,
_i.e._ the low-arched door of an enclosure. He must kneel, and bow his
head to creep through; and thus the rich man must humble himself."

There is another passage in which the Camel is used by our Lord in a
metaphorical sense. This is the well-known sentence: "Ye blind guides,
which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel" (Matt. xxiii. 24). It is
remarkable that an accidental misprint has robbed this passage of its
true force. The real translation is: "which strain _out_ the gnat, and
swallow the camel." The Greek word is [Greek: diulizô], which
signifies to filter thoroughly; and the allusion is made to the
pharisaical custom of filtering liquids before drinking them, lest by
chance a gnat or some such insect which was forbidden as food might be
accidentally swallowed.


   General description of the animal--Its use in mountain
   roads--Peculiar formation of the foot--Uses of a mixed
   breed--Its power of enduring cold--Used chiefly as a beast of
   draught--Unfitness for the plough--The cart and mode of
   harnessing--The load which it can draw--Camel-skin ropes--A
   Rabbinical legend.

The second kind of Camel--namely, the Bactrian species--was probably
unknown to the Jews until a comparatively late portion of their
history. This species was employed by the Assyrians, as we find by the
sculptures upon the ruins, and if in no other way the Jews would
become acquainted with them through the nation by whom they were
conquered, and in whose land they abode for so long.

The Bactrian Camel is at once to be distinguished from that which has
already been described by the two humps and the clumsier and sturdier
form. Still the skeletons of the Bactrian and Arabian species are so
similar that none but a very skilful anatomist can distinguish between
them, and several learned zoologists have expressed an opinion, in
which I entirely coincide, that the Bactrian and Arabian Camels are
but simple varieties of one and the same species, not nearly so
dissimilar as the greyhound and the bulldog.

Unlike the one-humped Camel, the Bactrian species is quite at home in
a cold climate, and walks over ice as easily as its congener does over
smooth stone. It is an admirable rock-climber, and is said even to
surpass the mule in the sureness of its tread. This quality is
probably occasioned by the peculiar structure of the foot, which has
an elongated toe projecting beyond the soft pad, and forming a sort of
claw. In the winter time the riders much prefer them to horses,
because their long legs enable them to walk easily through snow, in
which a horse could only plunge helplessly, and would in all
probability sink and perish.

A mixed breed of the one-humped and the Bactrian animals is thought to
be the best for hill work in winter time, and General Harlan actually
took two thousand of these animals in winter time for a distance of
three hundred and sixty miles over the snowy tops of the Indian
Caucasus; and though the campaign lasted for seven months, he only
lost one Camel, and that was accidentally killed. Owing to its use
among the hills, the Bactrian species is sometimes called the Mountain

It very much dislikes the commencement of spring, because the warm
mid-day sun slightly melts the surface of the snow, and the frost of
night converts it into a thin plate of ice. When the Camel walks upon
this semi-frozen snow, its feet plunge into the soft substratum
through the icy crust, against which its legs are severely cut. The
beginning of the winter is liable to the same objection.

The mixed breed which has just been mentioned must be procured from a
male Bactrian and a female Arabian Camel. If the parentage be
reversed, the offspring is useless, being weak, ill-tempered, and

The Bactrian Camel is, as has been mentioned, tolerant of cold, and is
indeed so hardy an animal that it bears the severest winters without
seeming to suffer distress, and has been seen quietly feeding when the
thermometer has reached a temperature several degrees below zero.
Sometimes, when the cold is more than usually sharp, the owners sew a
thick cloth round its body, but even in such extreme cases the animal
is left to find its own food as it best can. And, however severe the
weather may be, the Bactrian Camel never sleeps under a roof.

This Camel is sometimes employed as a beast of burden, but its general
use is for draught. It is not used for the plough, because it has an
uncertain and jerking mode of pulling, and does not possess the steady
dragging movement which is obtained by the use of the horse or ox.

  [Illustration: BACTRIAN CAMEL.

  "_He saw a chariot of camels._"--ISAIAH xxi. 7.]

It is almost invariably harnessed to carts, and always in pairs. The
mode of yoking the animals is as simple as can well be conceived. A
pole runs between them from the front of the vehicle, and the Camels
are attached to it by means of a pole which passes over their necks.
Oxen were harnessed in a similar manner. It was probably one of these
cars or chariots that was mentioned by Isaiah in his prophecy
respecting Assyria:--"And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen,
a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels" (Isa. xxi. 7). The cars
themselves are as simple as the mode of harnessing them, being almost
exactly like the ox carts which have already been described.

The weight which can be drawn by a pair of these Camels is really
considerable. On a tolerably made road a good pair of Camels are
expected to draw from twenty-six to twenty-eight hundred weight, and
to continue their labours for twenty or thirty successive days,
traversing each day an average of thirty miles. It is much slower than
the Arabian Camel, seldom going at more than two and a half miles per
hour. If, however, the vehicle to which a pair of Bactrians are
harnessed were well made, the wheels truly circular, and the axles
kept greased so as to diminish the friction, there is no doubt that
the animals could draw a still greater load to longer distances, and
with less trouble to themselves. As it is, the wheels are wretchedly
fitted, and their ungreased axles keep up a continual creaking that is
most painful to an unaccustomed ear, and totally unheeded by the

The hair of the Bactrian Camel is long, coarse, and strong; and, like
that of the Arabian animal, is made into rough cloth. It is plucked
off by hand in the summer time, when it naturally becomes loose in
readiness for its annual renewal, and the weight of the entire crop of
hair ought to be about ten pounds. The skin is not much valued, and is
seldom used for any purpose except for making ropes, straps, and
thongs, and is not thought worth the trouble of tanning. The milk,
like that of the Arabian animal, is much used for food, but the
quantity is very trifling, barely two quarts per diem being procured
from each Camel.

There is but little that is generally interesting in the Rabbinical
writers on the Camel. They have one proverbial saying upon the
shortness of its ears. When any one makes a request that is likely to
be refused, they quote the instance of the Camel, who, it seems, was
dissatisfied with its appearance, and asked for horns to match its
long ears. The result of the request was, that it was deprived of its
ears, and got no horns.


   The Hebrew words which signify the Horse--The Horse introduced
   into Palestine from Egypt--Similarity of the war-horse of
   Scripture and the Arab horse of the present day--Characteristics
   of the Horse--Courage and endurance of the Horse--Hardness of
   its unshod hoofs--Love of the Arab for his Horse--Difficulty of
   purchasing the animal--The Horse prohibited to the
   Israelites--Solomon's disregard of the edict--The war-chariot,
   its form and use--Probable construction of the iron chariot--The
   cavalry Horse--Lack of personal interest in the animal.

Several Hebrew words are used by the various Scriptural writers to
signify the Horse, and, like our own terms of horse, mare, pony,
charger, &c., are used to express the different qualities of the
animal. The chief distinction of the Horse seemed to lie in its use
for riding or driving, the larger and heavier animals being naturally
required for drawing the weighty springless chariots. The chariot
horse was represented by the word Sus, and the cavalry horse by the
word _Parash_, and in several passages both these words occur in bold
contrast to each other. See, for example, 1 Kings iv. 26, &c.

Among the many passages of Scripture in which the Horse is mentioned,
there are few which do not treat of it as an adjunct of war, and
therefore it is chiefly in that light that we must regard it.

The Horse of the Scriptures was evidently a similar animal to the Arab
Horse of the present day, as we find not only from internal evidence,
but from the sculptures and paintings which still remain to tell us of
the vanished glories of Egypt and Assyria. It is remarkable, by the
way, that the first mention of the Horse in the Scriptures alludes to
it as an Egyptian animal. During the terrible famine which Joseph had
foretold, the Egyptians and the inhabitants of neighbouring countries
were unable to find food for themselves or fodder for their cattle,
and, accordingly, they sold all their beasts for bread. "And they
brought their cattle unto Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in
exchange for horses and the flocks, and for the cattle of herds, and
for the asses, and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for
that year."

This particular breed of Horses is peculiarly fitted for the purposes
of war, and is much less apt for peaceful duties than the heavier and
more powerful breeds, which are found in different parts of the world.
It is remarkable for the flexible agility of its movements, which
enable it to adapt itself to every movement of the rider, whose
intentions it seems to divine by a sort of instinct, and who guides it
not so much by the bridle as by the pressure of the knees and the
voice. Examples of a similar mode of guidance may be seen on the
well-known frieze of the Parthenon, where, in the Procession of
Horsemen, the riders may be seen directing their steeds by touching
the side of the neck with one finger, thus showing their own skill and
the well-trained quality of the animals which they ride.

Its endurance is really wonderful, and a horse of the Kochlani breed
will go through an amount of work which is almost incredible. Even the
trial by which a Horse is tested is so severe, that any other animal
would be either killed on the spot or ruined for life. When a young
mare is tried for the first time, her owner rides her for some fifty
or sixty miles at full speed, always finishing by swimming her through
a river. After this trial she is expected to feed freely; and should
she refuse her food, she is rejected as an animal unworthy of the name
of Kochlani.

Partly from native qualities, and partly from constant association
with mankind, the Arab Horse is a singularly intelligent animal. In
Europe we scarcely give the Horse credit for the sensitive
intelligence with which it is endowed, and look upon it rather as a
machine for draught and carriage than a companion to man. The Arab,
however, lives with his horse, and finds in it the docility and
intelligence which we are accustomed to associate with the dog rather
than the Horse. It will follow him about and come at his call. It will
stand for any length of time and await its rider without moving.
Should he fall from its back, it will stop and stand patiently by him
until he can remount; and there is a well-authenticated instance of an
Arab Horse whose master had been wounded in battle, taking him up by
his clothes and carrying him away to a place of safety.

Even in the very heat and turmoil of the combat, the true Arab Horse
seems to be in his true element, and fully deserves the splendid
eulogium in the Book of Job (xxxix. 19-25): "Hast thou given the horse
strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?

"Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his
nostrils is terror.

"He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on
to meet the armed men.

"He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back
from the sword.

"The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield.

"He walketh the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he
that it is the sound of the trumpet.

"He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar
off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting."

In another passage an allusion is made to the courage of the Horse,
and its love for the battle. "I hearkened and heard, but they spake
not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I
done? Every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the
battle." (Jer. viii. 6.) Even in the mimic battle of the djereed the
Horse seems to exult in the conflict as much as his rider, and wheels
or halts almost without the slightest intimation.

The hoofs of the Arab Horses are never shod, their owners thinking
that that act is not likely to improve nature, and even among the
burning sands and hard rocks the Horse treads with unbroken hoof. In
such a climate, indeed, an iron shoe would be worse than useless, as
it would only scorch the hoof by day, and in consequence of the rapid
change of temperature by day or night, the continual expansion and
contraction of the metal would soon work the nails loose, and cause
the shoe to fall off.

  [Illustration: WAR HORSE.

  "He saith among the trumpets, Ha, Ha; and he smelleth the battle afar
  off, the thunder of the captains and the shouting."--JOB xxxix. 25.]

A tender-footed Horse would be of little value, and so we often find
in the Scriptures that the hardness of the hoof is reckoned among one
of the best qualities of a Horse. See, for example, Isa. v. 28:
"Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses'
hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a
whirlwind." Again, in Micah iv. 13: "Arise and thresh, O daughter of
Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs
brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people." Allusion is here
made to one mode of threshing, in which a number of Horses were turned
into the threshing-floor, and driven about at random among the wheat,
instead of walking steadily like the oxen.

In Judges v. 22 there is a curious allusion to the hoofs of the Horse.
It occurs in the Psalm of Thanksgiving sung by Deborah and Barak after
the death of Sisera: "Then were the horse-hoofs broken by the means of
the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones." It is easy now to
see that these words infer a scornful allusion to the inferiority of
the enemy's Horses, inasmuch as the hoofs of the best Horses would be
"counted as flint," and would not be broken by the prancings.

Horses possessed of the qualities of courage, endurance, and sureness
of foot are naturally invaluable; and even at the present day the Arab
warrior esteems above all things a Horse of the purest breed, and,
whether he buys or sells one, takes care to have its genealogy made
out and hung on the animal's neck.

As to the mare, scarcely any inducement is strong enough to make an
Arab part with it, even to a countryman, and the sale of the animal is
hindered by a number of impediments which in point of fact are almost
prohibitory. Signor Pierotti, whose long residence in Palestine has
given him a deep insight into the character of the people, speaks in
the most glowing terms of the pure Arab Horse, and of its inestimable
value to its owner. Of the difficulties with which the sale of the
animal is surrounded, he gives a very amusing account:--

"After this enumeration of the merits of the horse, I will describe
the manner in which a sale is conducted, choosing the case of the
mare, as that is the more valuable animal. The price varies with the
purity of blood of the steed, and the fortunes of its owner. When he
is requested to fix a value, his first reply is, 'It is yours, and
belongs to you, I am your servant;' because, perhaps, he does not
think that the question is asked with any real design of purchasing;
when the demand is repeated, he either makes no answer or puts the
question by; at the third demand he generally responds rudely with a
sardonic smile, which is not a pleasant thing to see, as it is a sign
of anger; and then says that he would sooner sell his family than his
mare. This remark is not meant as a mere jest; for it is no uncommon
thing for a Bedawy to give his parents as hostages rather than
separate himself from his friend.

"If, however, owing to some misfortune, he determines on selling his
mare, it is very doubtful whether he or his parents will allow her to
leave their country without taking the precaution to render her unfit
for breeding.

"There are many methods of arranging the sale, all of which I should
like to describe particularly; however, I will confine myself to a
general statement. Before the purchaser enters upon the question of
the price to be paid, he must ascertain that the parents, friends, and
allies of the owners give their consent to the sale, without which
some difficulty or other may arise, or perhaps the mare may be stolen
from her new master. He must also obtain an unquestionable warranty
that she is fit for breeding purposes, and that no other has a prior
claim to any part of her body. This last precaution may seem rather
strange, but it arises from the following custom. It sometimes happens
that, when a Bedawy is greatly in want of money, he raises it most
easily by selling a member of his horse; so that very frequently a
horse belongs to a number of owners, one of whom has purchased the
right fore-leg, another the left, another the hind-leg, or the tail,
or an ear, or the like; and the proprietors have each a proportionate
interest in the profits of its labour or sale.

"So also the offspring are sold in a similar manner; sometimes only
the first-born, sometimes the first three; and then it occasionally
happens that two or three members of the foal are, as it were,
mortgaged. Consequently, any one who is ignorant of this custom may
find that, after he has paid the price of the mare to her supposed
owner, a third person arises who demands to be paid the value of his
part; and, if the purchaser refuse to comply, he may find himself in a
very unpleasant situation, without any possibility of obtaining help
from the local government. Whoever sells his mare entirely, without
reserving to himself one or two parts, must be on good terms with the
confederate chiefs in the neighbourhood, and must have obtained their
formal sanction, otherwise they would universally despise him, and
perhaps lie in wait to kill him, so that his only hope of escape would
be a disgraceful flight, just as if he had committed some great
crime. It is an easier matter to purchase a stallion; but even in this
case the above formalities must be observed.

"These remarks only apply to buying horses of the purest blood; those
of inferior race are obtained without difficulty, and at fair prices."

For some reason, perhaps the total severance of the Israelites from
the people among whom they had lived so long in captivity, the use of
the Horse, or, at all events, the breeding of it, was forbidden to the
Israelites; see Deut. xvi. 16. After prophesying that the Israelites,
when they had settled themselves in the Promised Land, would want a
king, the inspired writer next ordains that the new king must be
chosen by Divine command, and must belong to one of the twelve tribes.
He then proceeds as follows:--"But he shall not multiply horses to
himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he
should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye
shall henceforth return no more that way."

The foresight of this prophetical writer was afterwards shown by the
fact that many kings of Israel did send to Egypt for Horses, Egypt
being the chief source from which these animals were obtained. And,
judging from the monuments to which reference has been made, the Horse
of Egypt was precisely the same animal as the Arab Horse of the
present day, and was probably obtained from nomad breeders.

In spite of the prohibitory edict, both David and Solomon used Horses
in battle, and the latter supplied himself largely from Egypt,
disregarding as utterly the interdict against plurality of Horses as
that against plurality of wives, which immediately follows.

David seems to have been the first king who established a force of
chariots, and this he evidently did for the purpose of action on the
flat grounds of Palestine, where infantry were at a great disadvantage
when attacked by the dreaded chariots; yet he did not controvert the
law by multiplying to himself Horses, or even by importing them from
Egypt; and when he had an opportunity of adding to his army an
enormous force of chariots, he only employed as many as he thought
were sufficient for his purpose. After he defeated Hadadezer, and had
taken from him a thousand chariots with their Horses together with
seven hundred cavalry, he houghed all the Horses except those which
were needed for one hundred chariots.

Solomon, however, was more lax, and systematically broke the ancient
law by multiplying Horses exceedingly, and sending to Egypt for them.
We learn from 1 Kings iv. 26 of the enormous establishment which he
kept up both for chariots and cavalry. Besides those which were given
to him as tribute, he purchased both chariots and their Horses from
Egypt and Syria, the chariots being delivered at the rate of six
hundred shekels of silver, and the Horses for an hundred and fifty

Chariots were far more valued in battle than horsemen, probably
because their weight made their onset irresistible against infantry,
who had no better weapons than bows and spears. The slingers
themselves could make little impression on the chariots; and even if
the driver, or the warrior who fought in the chariot, or his
attendant, happened to be killed, the weighty machine, with its two
Horses, still went on its destructive way.

Of their use in battle we find very early mention. For example, in
Exod. xiv. 6 it is mentioned that Pharaoh made ready his chariot to
pursue the Israelites; and in a subsequent part of the same chapter we
find that six hundred of the Egyptian chariot force accompanied their
master in the pursuit, and that the whole army was delayed because the
loss of the chariot wheels made them drive heavily.

Then in the familiar story of Sisera and Jael the vanquished general
is mentioned as alighting from his chariot, in which he would be
conspicuous, and taking flight on foot; and, after his death, his
mother is represented as awaiting his arrival, and saying to the women
of the household, "Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the
wheels of his chariot?"

During the war of conquest which Joshua led, the chariot plays a
somewhat important part. As long as the war was carried on in the
rugged mountainous parts of the land, no mention of the chariot is
made; but when the battles had to be fought on level ground, the enemy
brought the dreaded chariots to bear upon the Israelites. In spite of
these adjuncts, Joshua won the battles, and, unlike David, destroyed
the whole of the Horses and burned the chariots.

Many years afterwards, a still more dreadful weapon, the iron chariot,
was used against the Israelites by Jabin. This new instrument of war
seems to have cowed the people completely; for we find that by means
of his nine hundred chariots of iron Jabin "mightily oppressed the
children of Israel" for twenty years. It has been well suggested that
the possession of the war chariot gave rise to the saying of
Benhadad's councillors, that the gods of Israel were gods of the
hills, and so their army had been defeated; but that if the battle
were fought in the plain, where the chariots and Horses could act,
they would be victorious.

So dreaded were these weapons, even by those who were familiar with
them and were accustomed to use them, that when the Syrians had
besieged Samaria, and had nearly reduced it by starvation, the fancied
sound of a host of chariots and Horses that they heard in the night
caused them all to flee and evacuate the camp, leaving their booty and
all their property in the hands of the Israelites.

Whether the Jews ever employed the terrible scythe chariots is not
quite certain, though it is probable that they may have done so; and
this conjecture is strengthened by the fact that they were employed
against the Jews by Antiochus, who had "footmen an hundred and ten
thousand, and horsemen five thousand and three hundred, and elephants
two and twenty, and three hundred chariots armed with hooks" (2 Macc.
xiii. 2). Some commentators think that by the iron chariots mentioned
above were signified ordinary chariots armed with iron scythes
projecting from the sides.

By degrees the chariot came to be one of the recognised forces in war,
and we find it mentioned throughout the books of the Scriptures, not
only in its literal sense, but as a metaphor which every one could
understand. In the Psalms, for example, are several allusions to the
war-chariot. "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He
breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the
chariot in the fire" (Ps. xlvi. 9). Again: "At Thy rebuke, O God of
Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep" (Ps.
lxxvi. 6). And: "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we
will remember the name of the Lord our God" (Ps. xx. 7). Now, the
force of these passages cannot be properly appreciated unless we
realize to ourselves the dread in which the war-chariot was held by
the foot-soldiers. Even cavalry were much feared; but the chariots
were objects of almost superstitious fear, and the rushing sound of
their wheels, the noise of the Horses' hoofs, and the shaking of the
ground as the "prancing horses and jumping chariots" (Nab. iii. 2)
thundered along, are repeatedly mentioned.

See, for example, Ezek. xxvi. 10: "By reason of the abundance of his
horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise
of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots." Also, Jer.
xlvii. 3: "At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong
horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his
wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for
feebleness of hands." See also Joel ii. 4, 5: "The appearance of them
is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.

"Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap,
like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a
strong people set in battle array."

In several passages the chariot and Horse are used in bold imagery as
expressions of Divine power: "The chariots of God are twenty thousand,
even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the
holy place" (Ps. lxviii. 17). A similar image is employed in Ps. civ.
3: "Who maketh the clouds His chariot: who walketh upon the wings of
the wind." In connexion with these passages, we cannot but call to
mind that wonderful day when the unseen power of the Almighty was made
manifest to the servant of Elisha, whose eyes were suddenly opened,
and he saw that the mountain was full of Horses and chariots of fire
round about Elisha.

The chariot and horses of fire by which Elijah was taken from earth
are also familiar to us, and in connexion with the passage which
describes that wonderful event, we may mention one which occurs in the
splendid prayer of Habakkuk (iii. 8): "Was the Lord displeased against
the rivers? was Thine anger against the rivers? was Thy wrath against
the sea, that Thou didst ride upon Thine horses and Thy chariots of

By degrees the chariot came to be used for peaceful purposes, and was
employed as our carriages of the present day, in carrying persons of
wealth. That this was the case in Egypt from very early times is
evident from Gen. xli. 43, in which we are told that after Pharaoh had
taken Joseph out of prison and raised him to be next in rank to
himself, the king caused him to ride in the second chariot which he
had, and so to be proclaimed ruler over Egypt. Many years afterwards
we find him travelling in his chariot to the land of Goshen, whither
he went to meet Jacob and to conduct him to the presence of Pharaoh.

At first the chariot seems to have been too valuable to the Israelites
to have been used for any purpose except war, and it is not until a
comparatively late time that we find it employed as a carriage, and
even then it is only used by the noble and wealthy. Absalom had such
chariots, but it is evident that he used them for purposes of state,
and as appendages of his regal rank. Chariots or carriages were,
however, afterwards employed by the Israelites as freely as by the
Egyptians, from whom they were originally procured; and accordingly we
find Rehoboam mounting his chariot and fleeing to Jerusalem, Ahab
riding in his chariot from Samaria to Jezreel, with Elijah running
before him; and in the New Testament we read of the chariot in which
sat the chief eunuch of Ethiopia whom Philip baptized (Acts viii. 28).

As to the precise form and character of these chariots, they are made
familiar to us by the sculptures and paintings of Egypt and Assyria,
from both of which countries the Jews procured the vehicles. Differing
very slightly in shape, the principle of the chariot was the same; and
it strikes us with some surprise that the Assyrians, the Egyptians,
and the Jews, the three wealthiest and most powerful nations of the
world, should not have invented a better carriage. They lavished the
costliest materials and the most artistic skill in decorating the
chariots, but had no idea of making them comfortable for the

They were nothing but semicircular boxes on wheels, and of very small
size. They were hung very low, so that the occupants could step in and
out without trouble, though they do not seem to have had the sloping
floor of the Greek or Roman chariot. They had no springs, but, in
order to render the jolting of the carriage less disagreeable, the
floor was made of a sort of network of leathern ropes, very tightly
stretched so as to be elastic. The wheels were always two in number,
and generally had six spokes.

To the side of the chariot was attached the case which contained the
bow and quiver of arrows, and in the case of a rich man these
bow-cases were covered with gold and silver, and adorned with figures
of lions and other animals. Should the chariot be intended for two
persons, two bow-cases were fastened to it, the one crossing the
other. The spear had also its tubular case, in which it was kept
upright, like the whip of a modern carriage.

Two Horses were generally used with each chariot, though three were
sometimes employed. They were harnessed very simply, having no traces,
and being attached to the central pole by a breast-band, a very slight
saddle, and a loose girth. On their heads were generally fixed
ornaments, such as tufts of feathers, and similar decorations, and
tassels hung to the harness served to drive away the flies. Round the
neck of each Horse passed a strap, to the end of which was attached a
bell. This ornament is mentioned in Zech. xiv. 20: "In that day shall
there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord"--_i.e._
the greeting of peace shall be on the bells of the animals once used
in war.

Sometimes the owner drove his own chariot, even when going into
battle, but the usual plan was to have a driver, who managed the
Horses while the owner or occupant could fight with both his hands at
liberty. In case he drove his own Horse, the reins passed round his
waist, and the whip was fastened to the wrist by a thong, so that when
the charioteer used the bow, his principal weapon, he could do so
without danger of losing his whip.

Thus much for the use of the chariot in war; we have now the Horse as
the animal ridden by the cavalry.

As was the case with the chariot, the war-horse was not employed by
the Jews until a comparatively late period of their history. They had
been familiarized with cavalry during their long sojourn in Egypt, and
in the course of their war of conquest had often suffered defeat from
the horsemen of the enemy. But we do not find any mention of a mounted
force as forming part of the Jewish army until the days of David,
although after that time the successive kings possessed large forces
of cavalry.

Many references to mounted soldiers are made by the prophets,
sometimes allegorically, sometimes metaphorically. See, for example,
Jer. vi. 23: "They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel,
and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride
upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of
Zion." The same prophet has a similar passage in chap. l. 42, couched
in almost precisely the same words. And in chap. xlvi. 4, there is a
further reference to the cavalry, which is specially valuable as
mentioning the weapons used by them. The first call of the prophet is
to the infantry: "Order ye the buckler and shield, and draw near to
battle" (verse 3); and then follows the command to the cavalry,
"Harness the horses; and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth with
your helmets; furbish the spears, and put on the brigandines." The
chief arms of the Jewish soldier were therefore the cuirass, the
helmet, and the lance, the weapons which in all ages, and in all
countries, have been found to be peculiarly suitable to the

Being desirous of affording the reader a pictorial representation of
the war and state chariots, I have selected Egypt as the typical
country of the former, and Assyria of the latter. Both drawings have
been executed with the greatest care in details, every one of which,
even to the harness of the Horses, the mode of holding the reins, the
form of the whip, and the offensive and defensive armour, has been
copied from the ancient records of Egypt and Nineveh.

We will first take the war-chariot of Egypt.

This form has been selected as the type of the war-chariot, because
the earliest account of such a force mentions the war-chariots of
Egypt, and because, after the Israelites had adopted chariots as an
acknowledged part of their army, the vehicles, as well as the trained
Horses, and probably their occupants, were procured from Egypt.

The scene represents a battle between the imperial forces and a
revolted province, so that the reader may have the opportunity of
seeing the various kinds of weapons and armour which were in use in
Egypt at the time of Joseph. In the foreground is the chariot of the
general, driven at headlong speed, the Horses at full gallop, and the
springless chariot leaping off the ground as the Horses bound along.
The royal rank of the general in question is shown by the feather fan
which denotes his high birth, and which is fixed in a socket at the
back of his chariot, much as a coachman fixes his whip. The rank of
the rider is further shown by the feather plumes on the heads of his


  "_Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; and let the mighty men
  come forth._"--JER. xlvi. 9.

  "_The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels,
  and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots._"--NAHUM iii.

  "_Like the noise of chariots ... shall they leap._"--JOEL ii. 5.]

By the side of the chariot are seen the quiver and bow-case, the
former being covered with decorations, and having the figure of a
recumbent lion along its sides. The simple but effective harness of
the Horses is especially worthy of notice, as showing how the ancients
knew, better than the moderns, that to cover a Horse with a
complicated apparatus of straps and metal only deteriorates from the
powers of the animal, and that a Horse is more likely to behave well
if he can see freely on all sides, than if all lateral vision be cut
off by the use of blinkers.

Just behind the general is the chariot of another officer, one of
whose Horses has been struck, and is lying struggling on the ground.
The general is hastily giving his orders as he dashes past the fallen
animal. On the ground are lying the bodies of some slain enemies, and
the Horses are snorting and shaking their heads, significative of
their unwillingness to trample on a human being. By the side of the
dead man are his shield, bow, and quiver, and it is worthy of notice
that the form of these weapons, as depicted upon the ancient Egyptian
monuments, is identical with that which is still found among several
half-savage tribes of Africa.

In the background is seen the fight raging round the standards. One
chief has been killed, and while the infantry are pressing round the
body of the rebel leader and his banner on one side, on the other the
imperial chariots are thundering along to support the attack, and are
driving their enemies before them. In the distance are seen the clouds
of dust whirled into the air by the hoofs and wheels, and circling in
clouds by the eddies caused by the fierce rush of the vehicles, thus
illustrating the passage in Jer. iv. 13: "Behold, he shall come up as
clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are
swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled." The reader will
see, by reference to the illustration, how wonderfully true and
forcible is this statement, the writer evidently having been an
eye-witness of the scene which he so powerfully depicts.

The second scene is intentionally chosen as affording a strong
contrast to the former. Here, instead of the furious rush, the
galloping Horses, the chariots leaping off the ground, the archers
bending their bows, and all imbued with the fierce ardour of battle,
we have a scene of quiet grandeur, the Assyrian king making a solemn
progress in his chariot after a victory, accompanied by his
attendants, and surrounded by his troops, in all the placid splendour
of Eastern state.

Chief object in the illustration stands the great king in his chariot,
wearing the regal crown, or mitre, and sheltered from the sun by the
umbrella, which in ancient Nineveh, as in more modern times, was the
emblem of royalty. By his side is his charioteer, evidently a man of
high rank, holding the reins in a business-like manner; and in front
marches the shield-bearer. In one of the sculptures from which this
Illustration was composed, the shield-bearer was clearly a man of
rank, fat, fussy, full of importance, and evidently a portrait of some
well-known individual.


  "_Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes
  sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots._"--JER. xvii.

The Horses are harnessed with remarkable lightness, but they bear the
gorgeous trappings which befit the rank of the rider, their heads
being decorated with the curious successive plumes with which the
Assyrian princes distinguished their chariot Horses, and the
breast-straps being adorned with tassels, repeated in successive rows
like the plumes of the head.

The reader will probably notice the peculiar high action of the
Horses. This accomplishment seems to have been even more valued among
the ancients than by ourselves, and some of the sculptures show the
Horses with their knees almost touching their noses. Of course the
artist exaggerated the effect that he wanted to produce; but the very
fact of the exaggeration shows the value that was set on a high and
showy action in a Horse that was attached to a chariot of state. The
old Assyrian sculptors knew the Horse well, and delineated it in a
most spirited and graphic style, though they treated it rather
conventionally. The variety of attitude is really wonderful,
considering that all the figures are profile views, as indeed seemed
to have been a law of the historical sculptures.

Before closing this account of the Horse, it may be as well to remark
the singular absence of detail in the Scriptural accounts. Of the
other domesticated animals many such details are given, but of the
Horse we hear but little, except in connexion with war. There are few
exceptions to this rule, and even the oft-quoted passage in Job, which
goes deeper into the character of the Horse than any other portion of
the Scriptures, only considers the Horse as an auxiliary in battle. We
miss the personal interest in the animal which distinguishes the many
references to the ox, the sheep, and the goat; and it is remarkable
that even in the Book of Proverbs, which is so rich in references to
various animals, very little is said of the Horse.


   Importance of the Ass in the East--Its general use for the
   saddle--Riding the Ass not a mark of humility--The triumphal
   entry--White Asses--Character of the Scriptural Ass--Saddling
   the Ass--The Ass used in agriculture--The Ass's millstone--The
   water-wheel and the plough--Reminiscences of the Ass in the
   Scriptural narrative--Its value as property--The flesh of the
   Ass--The siege of Samaria and its horrors--Various legends
   respecting the Ass--The impostor and his fate--Samson and

In the Scriptures we read of two breeds of Ass, namely, the
Domesticated and the Wild Ass. As the former is the more important of
the two, we will give it precedence.

In the East, the Ass has always played a much more important part than
among us Westerns, and on that account we find it so frequently
mentioned in the Bible. In the first place, it is the universal
saddle-animal of the East. Among us the Ass has ceased to be regularly
used for the purposes of the saddle, and is only casually employed by
holiday-makers and the like. Some persons certainly ride it
habitually, but they almost invariably belong to the lower orders, and
are content to ride without a saddle, balancing themselves in some
extraordinary manner just over the animal's tail. In the East,
however, it is ridden by persons of the highest rank, and is decorated
with saddle and harness as rich as those of the horse.

In England we should be very much surprised to see a royal prince, a
judge, or a bishop travelling habitually on a donkey, but in Palestine
it is just the animal which would be considered most appropriate for
the purpose. For example, we find that Abraham, an exceptionally
wealthy man, and a chief of high position, made use of the Ass for the
saddle. It was on an Ass that he travelled when he made his three
days' journey from Beersheba to Moriah, when he was called to prove
his faith by sacrificing Isaac (see Gen. xxii. 3).

Then in Judges x. 3, 4, we find that riding upon the Ass is actually
mentioned as a mark of high rank.

"And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and
two years.

"And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had
thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair unto this day, which are in
the land of Gilead." So here we have the curious fact, that the sacred
historian thinks it worth while to mention that great men, the sons of
the chief man of Israel, each of them being ruler over a city, rode upon
Ass colts. In the same book, xii. 13, 14, we have a similar record of
Abdon, the judge who preceded Samson.

"After him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel.

"And he had forty sons and thirty nephews" (or grandsons according to
some translators) "that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he
judged Israel eight years."

Thus we see that, so far from the use of the Ass as a saddle-animal
being a mark of humility, it ought to be viewed in precisely the
opposite light. In consequence of the very natural habit of reading,
according to Western ideas, the Scriptures, which are books
essentially Oriental in all their allusions and tone of thought, many
persons have entirely perverted the sense of one very familiar
passage, the prophecy of Zechariah concerning the future Messiah.
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem:
behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation;
lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass"
(Zech. ix. 9).

Now this passage, as well as the one which describes its fulfilment so
many years afterwards, has often been seized upon as a proof of the
meekness and lowliness of our Saviour, in riding upon so humble an
animal when He made His entry into Jerusalem. The fact is, that there
was no humility in the case, neither was the act so understood by the
people. He rode upon an Ass as any prince or ruler would have done who
was engaged on a peaceful journey, the horse being reserved for war
purposes. He rode on the Ass, and not on the horse, because He was the
Prince of Peace and not of war, as indeed is shown very clearly in the
context. For, after writing the words which have just been quoted,
Zechariah proceeds as follows (ver. 10): "And I will cut off the
chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow
shall be cut off: and He shall speak peace unto the heathen: and His
dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the
ends of the earth."

Meek and lowly was He, as became the new character, hitherto unknown
to the warlike and restless Jews, a Prince, not of war, as had been
all other celebrated kings, but of peace. Had He come as the Jews
expected--despite so many prophecies--their Messiah to come, as a
great king and conqueror, He might have ridden the war-horse, and been
surrounded with countless legions of armed men. But He came as the
herald of peace, and not of war; and, though meek and lowly, yet a
Prince, riding as became a prince, on an Ass colt which had borne no
inferior burden.

That the act was not considered as one of lowliness is evident from
the manner in which it was received by the people, accepting Him as
the Son of David, coming in the name of the Highest, and greeting Him
with the cry of "Hosanna!" ("Save us now,") quoted from verses 25, 26
of Ps. cxviii.: "Save now, I beseech Thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech
Thee, send now prosperity."

"Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord."

The palm-branches which they strewed upon the road were not chosen by
the attendant crowd merely as a means of doing honour to Him whom they
acknowledged as the Son of David. They were necessarily connected with
the cry of "Hosanna!" At the Feast of Tabernacles, it was customary
for the people to assemble with branches of palms and willows in their
hands, and for one of the priests to recite the Great Hallel, i.e. Ps.
cxiii. and cxviii. At certain intervals, the people responded with the
cry of "Hosanna!" waving at the same time their palm-branches. For the
whole of the seven days through which the feast lasted they repeated
their Hosannas, always accompanying the shout with the waving of
palm-branches, and setting them towards the altar as they went in
procession round it.

Every child who could hold a palm-branch was expected to take part in
the solemnity, just as did the children on the occasion of the
triumphal entry. By degrees, the name of Hosanna was transferred to
the palm-branches themselves, as well as to the feast, the last day
being called the Great Hosanna.

The reader will now see the importance of this carrying of
palm-branches, accompanied with Hosannas, and that those who used
them in honour of Him whom they followed into Jerusalem had no idea
that He was acting any lowly part.

Again, the action of the disciples in putting their mantles on the
Ass, and setting their Master upon them, was one that signified their
acknowledgment of Him as their Prince; and the same idea was typified
by the laying of the clothes upon the road, together with the
palm-branches. Compare also the passage in 2 Kings ix. 13. When Elisha
sent the young prophet to call Jehu from among the council, and to
anoint him King of Israel, the act of anointing was performed in a
private chamber. Jehu, scarcely realizing the import of the act,
seemed to think it a trick played upon him by some of his companions,
the commanding officers of the army. When, however, they heard his
account of the interview with the prophet, they at once accepted him
as their king, and, as token thereof, "they hasted, and took every man
his garment, and put it under him at the top of the stairs, and blew
with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king."

White Asses were selected for persons of high rank, especially for
those who exercised the office of judges. See Judges v. 10: "Speak, ye
that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the
way." Such Asses are still in use for similar purposes, and are bred
expressly for the use of persons of rank. They are larger, and are
thought to be swifter, than the ordinary breeds; but they are by no
means hardy animals, and are said to be unsuitable for places near the

Both sexes used the Ass for riding, as they do now in the East. See
for example Judges i. 14, where we find that Achsah, the daughter of
Caleb, rode on an Ass when she went to ask her father to give her some
springs of water, in addition to the land which he had previously
given her as a dowry. Later in the Scriptural history we read that
Abigail, the wife of the wealthy churl Nabal, rode to meet David on an
Ass, when she went to deprecate his anger against her husband (1 Sam.
xxv. 23). And, still later, the woman of Shunem, who acted so
hospitably towards Elisha, rode on an Ass to meet him when her child
had died from sunstroke in the field (see 2 Kings iv. 24).

Now all these women were of high rank, and certainly neither of them
would have considered that riding on an Ass was an act of humility. We
will cite them in succession, and begin with Achsah. She was the
daughter of one of the most illustrious of the Israelites, a man of
whom we read as being almost the equal of Joshua, one of the
illustrious two who were included in the special exemption from the
punishment of rebellion. Moreover, Caleb was a man of enormous
territorial possessions, as we find from several passages in the Old
Testament; a man who was able to give to his daughter not only a large
amount of land as a dowry, but also the wells or springs which
multiplied its value tenfold.

Next we come to the case of Abigail, the wife of Nabal, who himself
belonged to the family of Caleb, and probably owed his wealth simply
to the accident of his birth. It is related of Nabal, that his
"possessions were in Carmel, and the man was very great, and he had
three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats." Yet his wife, who
undoubtedly ruled her household as a housewife should do, and who was
thought worthy of becoming David's wife after the death of her
cowardly husband, rode on an Ass when she went on a mission in which
life and death were involved.

And lastly, the woman of Shunem, who rode on an Ass to meet Elisha,
engaged in a mission in which the life of her only child was involved,
was a woman of great wealth (2 Kings iv. 8), who was able not only to
receive the prophet, but to build a chamber, and furnish it for him.

Not to multiply examples, we see from these passages that the Ass of
the East was held in comparatively high estimation, being used for the
purposes of the saddle, just as would a high-bred horse among

Consequently, the Ass is really a different animal. In this country he
is repressed, and seldom has an opportunity for displaying the
intellectual powers which he possesses, and which are of a much higher
order than is generally imagined. It is rather remarkable, that when
we wish to speak slightingly of intellect we liken the individual to
an Ass or a goose, not knowing that we have selected just the
quadruped and the bird which are least worthy of such a distinction.

Putting aside the bird, as being at present out of place, we shall
find that the Ass is one of the cleverest of our domesticated animals.
We are apt to speak of the horse with a sort of reverence, and of the
Ass with contemptuous pity, not knowing that, of the two animals, the
Ass is by far the superior in point of intellect. It has been well
remarked by a keen observer of nature, that if four or five horses are
in a field, together with one Ass, and there be an assailable point in
the fence, the Ass is sure to be the animal that discovers it, and
leads the way through it.

  [Illustration: SYRIAN ASSES.

  _"A bridle for the ass._"--PROV. xxvi.]

Take even one of our own toil-worn animals, turned out in a common to
graze, and see the ingenuity which it displays when persecuted by the
idle boys who generally frequent such places, and who try to ride
every beast that is within their reach. It seems to divine at once the
object of the boy as he steals up to it, and he takes a pleasure in
baffling him just as he fancies that he has succeeded in his attempt.

Should the Ass be kindly treated, there is not an animal that proves
more docile, or even affectionate. Stripes and kicks it resents, and
sets itself distinctly against them; and, being nothing but a slave,
it follows the slavish principle of doing no work that it can possibly

Now, in the East the Ass takes so much higher rank than our own
animal, that its whole demeanour and gait are different from those
displayed by the generality of its brethren in England. "Why, the very
slave of slaves," writes Mr. Lowth, in his "Wanderer in Arabia," "the
crushed and grief-stricken, is so no more in Egypt: the battered
drudge has become the willing servant. Is that active little fellow,
who, with race-horse coat and full flanks, moves under his rider with
the light step and the action of a pony--is he the same animal as that
starved and head-bowed object of the North, subject for all pity and
cruelty, and clothed with rags and insult?

"Look at him now. On he goes, rapid and free, with his small head well
up, and as gay as a crimson saddle and a bridle of light chains and
red leather can make him. It was a gladdening sight to see the
unfortunate as a new animal in Egypt."

Hardy animal as is the Ass, it is not well adapted for tolerance of
cold, and seems to degenerate in size, strength, speed, and spirit in
proportion as the climate becomes colder. Whether it might equal the
horse in its endurance of cold provided that it were as carefully
treated, is perhaps a doubtful point; but it is a well-known fact that
the horse does not necessarily degenerate by moving towards a colder
climate, though the Ass has always been found to do so.

There is, of course, a variety in the treatment which the Ass receives
even in the East. Signor Pierotti, whose work on the customs and
traditions of Palestine has already been mentioned, writes in very
glowing terms of the animal. He states that he formed a very high
opinion of the Ass while he was in Egypt, not only from its spirited
aspect and its speed, but because it was employed even by the Viceroy
and the great Court officers, who may be said to use Asses of more or
less intelligence for every occasion. He even goes so far as to say
that, if all the Asses were taken away from Egypt, not a man would be

The same traveller gives an admirable summary of the character of the
Ass, as it exists in Egypt and Palestine. "What, then, are the
characteristics of the ass? Much the same as those which adorn it in
other parts of the East--namely, it is useful for riding and for
carrying burdens; it is sensible of kindness, and shows gratitude; it
is very steady, and is larger, stronger, and more tractable than its
European congener; its pace is easy and pleasant; and it will shrink
from no labour, if only its poor daily feed of straw and barley is
fairly given.

"If well and liberally supplied, it is capable of any enterprise, and
wears an altered and dignified mien, apparently forgetful of its
extraction, except when undeservedly beaten by its masters, who,
however, are not so much to be blamed, because, having learned to live
among sticks, thongs, and rods, they follow the same system of
education with their miserable dependants.

"The wealthy feed him well, deck him with fine harness and silver
trappings, and cover him, when his work is done, with rich Persian
carpets. The poor do the best they can for him, steal for his benefit,
give him a corner at their fireside, and in cold weather sleep with
him for more warmth. In Palestine, all the rich men, whether monarchs
or chiefs of villages, possess a number of asses, keeping them with
their flocks, like the patriarchs of old. No one can travel in that
country, and observe how the ass is employed for all purposes, without
being struck with the exactness with which the Arabs retain the Hebrew

The result of this treatment is, that the Eastern Ass is an enduring
and tolerably swift animal, vying with the camel itself in its powers
of long-continued travel, its usual pace being a sort of easy canter.
On rough ground, or up an ascent, it is said even to gain on the
horse, probably because its little sharp hoofs give it a firm footing
where the larger hoof of the horse is liable to slip.

The familiar term "saddling the Ass" requires some little explanation.

The saddle is not in the least like the article which we know by that
name, but is very large and complicated in structure. Over the
animal's back is first spread a cloth, made of thick woollen stuff,
and folded several times. The saddle itself is a very thick pad of
straw, covered with carpet, and flat at the top, instead of being
rounded as is the case with our saddles. The pommel is very high, and
when the rider is seated on it, he is perched high above the back of
the animal. Over the saddle is thrown a cloth or carpet, always of
bright colours, and varying in costliness of material and ornament
according to the wealth of the possessor. It is mostly edged with a
fringe and tassels.

The bridle is decorated, like that of the horse, with bells,
embroidery, tassels, shells, and other ornaments. An example of the
headstall worn by an Ass belonging to a wealthy man may be seen in the

As we may see from 2 Kings iv. 24, the Ass was generally guided by a
driver who ran behind it, just as is the custom with the hired Asses
in this country. Owing to the unchanging character of the East, there
is no doubt that the "riders on asses" of the Scriptures rode exactly
after the mode which is adopted at the present day. What that mode is,
we may learn from Mr. Bayard Taylor's amusing and vivid description of
a ride through the streets of Cairo:--

"To see Cairo thoroughly, one must first accustom himself to the ways
of these long-eared cabs, without the use of which I would advise no
one to trust himself in the bazaars. Donkey-riding is universal, and
no one thinks of going beyond the Frank quarters on foot. If he does,
he must submit to be followed by not less than six donkeys with their
drivers. A friend of mine who was attended by such a cavalcade for two
hours, was obliged to yield at last, and made no second attempt. When
we first appeared in the gateway of an hotel, equipped for an
excursion, the rush of men and animals was so great that we were
forced to retreat until our servant and the porter whipped us a path
through the yelling and braying mob. After one or two trials I found
an intelligent Arab boy named Kish, who for five piastres a day
furnished strong and ambitious donkeys, which he kept ready at the
door from morning till night. The other drivers respected Kish's
privilege, and henceforth I had no trouble.

"The donkeys are so small that my feet nearly touched the ground, but
there is no end to their strength and endurance. Their gait, whether
in pace or in gallop, is so easy and light that fatigue is impossible.
The drivers take great pride in having high-cushioned red saddles, and
in hanging bits of jingling brass to the bridles. They keep their
donkeys close shorn, and frequently beautify them by painting them
various colours. The first animal I rode had legs barred like a
zebra's, and my friend's rejoiced in purple flanks and a yellow belly.
The drivers ran behind them with a short stick, punching them from
time to time, or giving them a sharp pinch on the rump. Very few of
them own their donkeys, and I understood their pertinacity when I
learned that they frequently received a beating on returning home

"The passage of the bazaars seems at first quite as hazardous on
donkey-back as on foot; but it is the difference between knocking
somebody down and being knocked down yourself, and one certainly
prefers the former alternative. There is no use in attempting to guide
the donkey, for he won't be guided. The driver shouts behind, and you
are dashed at full speed into a confusion of other donkeys, camels,
horses, carts, water-carriers, and footmen. In vain you cry out
'_Bess_' (enough), '_Piacco_,' and other desperate adjurations; the
driver's only reply is: 'Let the bridle hang loose!' You dodge your
head under a camel-load of planks; your leg brushes the wheel of a
dust-cart; you strike a fat Turk plump in the back; you miraculously
escape upsetting a fruit-stand; you scatter a company of spectral,
white-masked women; and at last reach some more quiet street, with the
sensations of a man who has stormed a battery.

"At first this sort of riding made me very nervous, but presently I
let the donkey go his own way, and took a curious interest in seeing
how near a chance I ran of striking or being struck. Sometimes there
seemed no hope of avoiding a violent collision; but, by a series of
the most remarkable dodges, he generally carried you through in
safety. The cries of the driver running behind gave me no little
amusement. 'The hawadji comes! Take care on the right hand! Take care
on the left hand! O man, take care! O maiden, take care! O boy, get
out of the way! The hawadji comes!' Kish had strong lungs, and his
donkey would let nothing pass him; and so wherever we went we
contributed our full share to the universal noise and confusion."

This description explains several allusions which are made in the
Scriptures to treading down the enemies in the streets, and to the
chariots raging and jostling against each other in the ways.

The Ass was used in the olden time for carrying burdens, as it is at
present, and, in all probability, carried them in the same way. Sacks
and bundles are tied firmly to the pack-saddle; but poles, planks, and
objects of similar shape are tied in a sloping direction on the side
of the saddle, the longer ends trailing on the ground, and the shorter
projecting at either side of the animal's head. The North American
Indians carry the poles of their huts, or wigwams, in precisely the
same way, tying them on either side of their horses, and making them
into rude sledges, upon which are fastened the skins that form the
walls of their huts. The same system of carriage is also found among
the Esquimaux, and the hunters of the extreme North, who harness their
dogs in precisely the same manner. The Ass, thus laden, becomes a very
unpleasant passenger through the narrow and crowded streets of an
Oriental city; and many an unwary traveller has found reason to
remember the description of Issachar as the strong Ass between two

The Ass was also used for agriculture, and was employed in the plough,
as we find from many passages. See for example, "Blessed are ye that
sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and
the ass" (Isa. xxxii. 20). Sowing beside the waters is a custom that
still prevails in all hot countries, the margins of rivers being
tilled, while outside this cultivated belt there is nothing but desert

The ox and the Ass were used in the first place for irrigation,
turning the machines by which water was lifted from the river, and
poured into the trenches which conveyed it to all parts of the tilled
land. If, as is nearly certain, the rude machinery of the East is at
the present day identical with those which were used in the old
Scriptural times, they were yoked to the machine in rather an
ingenious manner. The machine consists of an upright pivot, and to it
is attached the horizontal pole to which the ox or Ass is harnessed. A
machine exactly similar in principle may be seen in almost any
brick-field in England; but the ingenious part of the Eastern
water-machine is the mode in which the animal is made to believe that
it is being driven by its keeper, whereas the man in question might be
at a distance, or fast asleep.

The animal is first blindfolded, and then yoked to the end of the
horizontal bar. Fixed to the pivot, and rather in front of the bar, is
one end of a slight and elastic strip of wood. The projecting end,
being drawn forward and tied to the bridle of the animal, keeps up a
continual pull, and makes the blinded animal believe that it is being
drawn forward by the hand of a driver. Some ingenious but lazy
attendants have even invented a sort of self-acting whip, i.e. a stick
which is lifted and allowed to fall on the animal's back by the action
of the wheel once every round.

The field being properly supplied with water, the Ass is used for
ploughing it. It is worthy of mention that at the present day the
prohibition against yoking an ox and an Ass together is often
disregarded. The practice, however, is not a judicious one, as the
slow and heavy ox does not act well with the lighter and more active
animal, and, moreover, is apt to butt at its companion with its horns
in order to stimulate it to do more than its fair proportion of the

That the Ass was put to a similar use in turning the large millstones
may be seen from Matt. xviii. 6. In the Authorized Version, the
passage is rendered thus: "But whoso shall offend one of these little
ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were
hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the

Now if we turn to the Greek Testament we find that the passage reads
rather differently, a force being giving to it which it does not
possess in the translation: "But whosoever shall scandalize [_i.e._ be
a stumbling-block to] one of these little ones that believe in Me, it
were better for him that an ass's millstone were hung about his neck,
and he were sunk in the depth of the sea." The chief force of this
saying lies in the word which is omitted in our translation. Our Lord
specially selected the Ass's millstone on account of its size and
weight, in contradistinction to the ordinary millstone, which was
turned backwards and forwards by the hands of women.

There is a custom now in Palestine which probably existed in the days
of the Scriptures, though I have not been able to find any reference
to it. Whenever an Ass is disobedient and strays from its master, the
man who captures the trespasser on his grounds clips a piece out of
its ear before he returns it to its owner. Each time that the animal
is caught on forbidden grounds it receives a fresh clip of the ear. By
looking at the ears of an Ass, therefore, any one can tell whether it
has ever been a straggler; and if so, he knows the number of times
that it has strayed, by merely counting the clip-marks, which always
begin at the tip of the ear, and extend along the edges. Any Ass, no
matter how handsome it may be, that has many of those clips, is always
rejected by experienced travellers, as it is sure to be a dull as well
as a disobedient beast.

Signor Pierotti remarks that if the owners of the Asses were treated
similarly for similar offences, the greater number would be marked as
soon as they begin to walk, and of the adults there would be scarcely
one who had any ear on his head.

The Ass being so universally useful, we need not be surprised at the
prominence which it takes in the Scriptural narrative, and the
frequency with which its name occurs. The wealthy personages of the
olden time seemed to have esteemed the Ass as highly as the camel, the
ox, the sheep, or the goat. Abraham, for example, is described as
being a rich man, and possessing "sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and
men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and camels" (Gen. xii.
16). In a succeeding chapter (xxx. 43) the prosperity of Jacob is
mentioned in almost exactly the same terms.

So, before Job's trials came upon him, "his substance was seven
thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of
oxen [_i.e._ 1,000], and five hundred she-asses, and a very great
household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the
east" (Job i. 3). And after his trials, when his wealth was restored
to him twofold, the thousand she-asses are mentioned as prominently as
the thousand yoke of oxen.

That the care of the Asses was an honourable post we learn from
several passages. Take for example Gen. xxxvi. 24: "And these are the
children of Zibeon; both Ajah, and Anah: this was that Anah that found
the mules in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon his
father." The charge of the Asses was, as the reader must see, a post
of sufficient honour and importance to be trusted to the son of the
owner. A similar case is recorded in the well-known instance of Saul,
whose father had lost his herd of Asses, and who at once sent his son
upon the important mission of recovering them. And it was during the
fulfilment of this mission that he was anointed the first king of

Later in the sacred history we find that when David consolidated his
power, and organized the affairs of his new kingdom, he divided the
people in general, the army, the land, the produce, and the cattle,
into departments, and appointed over each department some eminent man
whose name is carefully given. After mentioning that the people and
the army were divided into "courses," and that certain officers were
set over each course, the sacred historian proceeds to state that one
officer was appointed as overseer of the treasury, another of the
granaries, another of the field-labourers, another over the vineyards,
and so forth. He then mentions that even the cattle were divided into
their several departments, the care of the hill-cattle being given to
one man, and of the cattle of the plain to another, of the camels to a
third, and of the Asses to a fourth.

It is scarcely necessary to mention that the flesh of the Ass was
forbidden to the Jews, because the animal neither chewed the cud nor
divided the hoof. How repulsive to them must have been the flesh of
the Ass we may infer from the terrible description of the siege of
Samaria by Benhadad. The sacred historian describes with painful
fidelity the horrors of the siege, and of the dreadful extremity to
which the people were reduced. No circumstance could be more terrible
than the quarrel between the two mothers, who had mutually agreed to
kill and eat their children, and yet on a par with that dreadful
statement is mentioned the fact that even the flesh of the Ass was
eaten, and that an Ass's head cost eighty pieces of silver.

Whether the milk of the she Ass were used or not is rather a doubtful
point, but, in all probability, the milk was considered as lawful
food, though the flesh might not be eaten.

As to the legends respecting the Ass, they are innumerable, and I
shall only mention one or two of them.

The first is an old Rabbinical legend respecting the Flood and the
admission of the creatures into the ark. It appears that no being
could enter the ark unless specially invited to do so by Noah. Now
when the Flood came, and overwhelmed the world, the devil, who was at
that time wandering upon the earth, saw that he was about to be cut
off from contact from mankind, and that his dominion would be for ever
gone. The ark being at last completed, and the beasts called to enter
it in their proper order, the turn of the Ass came in due course.

Unfortunately for the welfare of mankind, the Ass was taken with a fit
of obstinacy, and refused to enter the vessel according to orders.
After wasting much time over the obstinate animal, Noah at last lost
patience, and struck the Ass sharply, crying at the same time to it,
"Enter, thou devil!" Of course the invitation was at once accepted,
the devil entered the ark, and on the subsiding of the water issued
out to take his place in the newly begun world.

Since the Christian era, many curious legends have sprung up
respecting the Ass. One of the most familiar of these legends refers
to the black stripe along the spine and the cross-bar over the
shoulder. This black cross is really believed by many persons to have
been given to the animal in consequence of its connexion with our
Lord. I need hardly tell the reader that it is the remnant of the
stripes which in the zebra cover the animal from head to foot, which
in the quagga cover the head, body, and part of the limbs, and which
in one species of Wild Ass are not seen at all in the adult animal.

There is another Christian legend respecting the Ass of Palestine,
which is thought to owe its superiority in size, swiftness, and
strength to the fact that it helped to warm the infant Saviour in the
manger, that it carried Him and His mother into Egypt and back again,
and that it was used by the Lord himself and His disciples. Any one
who ventures to hint that the Ass of Palestine owes its superiority
over its European brother to the warmer climate, is thought to be a
heretic by the pious but ignorant men who believe and disseminate such

Signor Pierotti tells a story of a certain Russian monk who happened
to visit Palestine, and in the course of his travels found the
leg-bone of an Ass, which he took back with him and publicly exhibited
as part of the identical animal on which the Virgin Mary and infant
Saviour rode. (I need scarcely mention that there is no mention in the
Scriptures of the fact that the Holy Family rode upon an Ass; though
such a mode of travel was certainly the one which they would adopt.)
For some time, this deception drew for the impostor many gifts from
the superstitious but pious people, but the affair at last reached the
ears of his superiors, and he paid the deserved penalty of his

There are recorded in the Scriptures two remarkable circumstances
connected with the Ass, which, however, need but a few words. The
first is the journey of Balaam from Pethor to Moab, in the course of
which there occurred that singular incident of the Ass speaking in
human language (see Numb. xxii. 21, 35). The second is the well-known
episode in the story of Samson, where he is recorded as breaking the
cords with which his enemies had bound him, and killing a thousand
Philistines with the fresh jaw-bone of an Ass.


   The Arod and Pere of Scripture--Various allusions to the Wild
   Ass--Its swiftness and wildness--The Wild Ass of Asia and
   Africa--Knowledge of the animal displayed by the sacred
   writers--How the Wild Ass is hunted--Excellence of its
   flesh--Sir R. K. Porter's meeting with a Wild Ass--Origin of the
   domestic Ass--The Wild Asses of Quito.

There are several passages of Scripture in which the Wild Ass is
distinguished from the domesticated animal, and in all of them there
is some reference made to its swiftness, its intractable nature, and
love of freedom.

In the Hebrew Scriptures there are two words which are given in the
Authorized Translation as Wild Ass, namely, Arod and Pere, and it is
rather remarkable that both words occur in the same passage. If the
reader will refer to Job xxxix. 5, he will see the following passage:
"Who hath sent out the wild ass (Pere) free? or who hath loosed the
bands of the wild ass (Arod)?" Now there are only two places in the
whole Hebrew Scriptures in which the word Arod occurs, and there are
many doubts whether the word Arod is rightly translated. The first is
that which has just been quoted, and the second occurs in Dan. v. 21:
"And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like
the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses."

The Jewish Bible translates the word differently in the two passages.
That in Job it renders as follows: "Who hath sent forth the wild ass
free? or who hath loosed the bands of the untamed?" In the other
passage, however, it follows the rendering of the Authorized Version,
and gives the word as "wild asses." It is thought by several scholars
that the two words refer to two different species of Wild Ass. It may
be so, but as the ancient writers had the loosest possible ideas
regarding distinction of species, and as, moreover, it is very
doubtful whether there be any real distinction of species at all, we
may allow the subject to rest, merely remembering that the rendering
of the Jewish Bible, "the untamed," is a correct translation of the
word Arod, though the particular animal to which it is applied may be

We will now pass to the word about which there is no doubt whatever,
namely, the Pere. This animal is clearly the species which is
scientifically known as _Asinus hemippus_. During the summer time it
has a distinct reddish tinge on the grey coat, which disappears in the
winter, and the cross-streak is black. There are several kinds of Wild
Ass known to science, all of which have different names. Some of our
best zoologists, however, have come to the conclusion that they all
really belong to the same species, differing only in slight points of
structure which are insufficient to constitute separate species.

The habits of the Wild Ass are the same, whether it be the Asiatic or
the African animal, and a description of one will answer equally well
for the other. It is an astonishingly swift animal, so that on the
level ground even the best horse has scarcely a chance of overtaking
it. It is exceedingly wary, its sight, hearing, and sense of scent
being equally keen, so that to approach it by craft is a most
difficult task.

Like many other wild animals, it has a custom of ascending hills or
rising grounds, and thence surveying the country, and even in the
plains it will generally contrive to discover some earth-mound or heap
of sand from which it may act as sentinel and give the alarm in case
of danger. It is a gregarious animal, always assembling in herds,
varying from two or three to several hundred in number, and has a
habit of partial migration in search of green food, traversing large
tracts of country in its passage.

It has a curiously intractable disposition, and, even when captured
very young, can scarcely ever be brought to bear a burden or draw a
vehicle. Attempts have been often made to domesticate the young that
have been born in captivity, but with very slight success, the wild
nature of the animal constantly breaking out, even when it appears to
have become moderately tractable.

Although the Wild Ass does not seem to have lived within the limits of
the Holy Land, it was common enough in the surrounding country, and,
from the frequent references made to it in Scriptures, was well known
to the ancient Jews. We will now look at the various passages in which
the Wild Ass is mentioned, and begin with the splendid description in
Job xxxix. 5-8:

"Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of
the wild ass?

"Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren lands (or salt
places) his dwellings.

"He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the
crying of the driver.

"The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after
every green thing."

Here we have the animal described with the minuteness and truth of
detail that can only be found in personal knowledge; its love of
freedom, its avoidance of mankind, and its migration in search of
pasture. Another allusion to the pasture-seeking habits of the animal
is to be found in chapter vi. of the same book, verse 5: "Doth the
wild ass bray when he hath grass?" or, according to the version of the
Jewish Bible, "over tender grass?"

The same author has several other allusions to the Wild Ass. See, for
example, chap. xi. 12: "For vain man would be wise, though man be born
like a wild ass's colt." And in chap. xxiv. 5, in speaking of the
wicked and their doings, he uses the following metaphor: "Behold, as
wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes
for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and their children,"
or for the young, as the passage may be more literally rendered. The
same migratory habit is also mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah (chap.
xiv. 6): "And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they
snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there
was no grass." There is another allusion to it in Hosea viii. 9: "For
they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself."

Even in the earliest times of Jewish history we find a reference to
the peculiar nature of this animal. In Gen. xvi. 12 it is prophesied
of Ishmael, that "he will be a wild man; his hand will be against
every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the
presence of all his brethren." Now the real force of this passage is
quite missed in the Authorized Version, the correct rendering being
given in the Jewish Bible: "And he will be a wild ass (Pere) among
men; his hand will be against all, and the hand of all against him,
and in the face of all his brethren he shall dwell."

Allusion is made to the speed of the animal in Jer. ii. 24: "A wild
ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure;
in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not
weary themselves; in her month they shall find her." The fondness of
the Wild Ass for the desert is mentioned by the prophet Isaiah.
Foretelling the desolation that was to come upon the land, he uses
these words: "Because the palaces shall be forsaken, the multitude of
the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens (or
caves) for ever, and a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks."

These various qualities of speed, wariness, and dread of man cause the
animal to be exceedingly prized by hunters, who find their utmost
skill taxed in approaching it. Men of the highest rank give whole days
to the hunt of the Wild Ass, and vie with each other for the honour of
inflicting the first wound on so fleet an animal. With the exception
of the Jews, the inhabitants of the countries where the Wild Ass lives
eat its flesh, and consider it as the greatest dainty which can be

A very vivid account of the appearance of the animal in its wild state
is given by Sir R. Kerr Porter, who was allowed by a Wild Ass to
approach within a moderate distance, the animal evidently seeing that
he was not one of the people to whom it was accustomed, and being
curious enough to allow the stranger to approach him.

  [Illustration: THE WILD ASS.

  "As wild asses in the desert go they forth."--JOB xxiv. 5.]

"The sun was just rising over the summit of the eastern mountains,
when my greyhound started off in pursuit of an animal which, my
Persians said, from the glimpse they had of it, was an antelope.
I instantly put spurs to my horse, and with my attendants gave
chase. After an unrelaxed gallop of three miles, we came up with
the dog, who was then within a short stretch of the creature he
pursued; and to my surprise, and at first vexation, I saw it to be an

"Upon reflection, however, judging from its fleetness that it must be
a wild one, a creature little known in Europe, but which the Persians
prize above all other animals as an object of chase, I determined to
approach as near to it as the very swift Arab I was on could carry me.
But the single instant of checking my horse to consider had given our
game such a head of us that, notwithstanding our speed, we could not
recover our ground on him.

"I, however, happened to be considerably before my companions, when,
at a certain distance, the animal in its turn made a pause, and
allowed me to approach within pistol-shot of him. He then darted off
again with the quickness of thought, capering, kicking, and sporting
in his flight, as if he were not blown in the least, and the chase was
his pastime. When my followers of the country came up, they regretted
that I had not shot the creature when he was within my aim, telling me
that his flesh is one of the greatest delicacies in Persia.

"The prodigious swiftness and the peculiar manner in which he fled
across the plain coincided exactly with the description that Xenophon
gives of the same animal in Arabia. But above all, it reminded me of
the striking portrait drawn by the author of the Book of Job. I was
informed by the Mehnander, who had been in the desert when making a
pilgrimage to the shrine of Ali, that the wild ass of Irak Arabi
differs in nothing from the one I had just seen. He had observed them
often for a short time in the possession of the Arabs, who told him
the creature was perfectly untameable.

"A few days after this discussion, we saw another of these animals,
and, pursuing it determinately, had the good fortune to kill it."

It has been suggested by many zoologists that the Wild Ass is the
progenitor of the domesticated species. The origin of the domesticated
animal, however, is so very ancient, that we have no data whereon
even a theory can be built. It is true that the Wild and the
Domesticated Ass are exactly similar in appearance, and that an
_Asinus hemippus_, or Wild Ass, looks so like an Asiatic _Asinus
vulgaris_, or Domesticated Ass, that by the eye alone the two are
hardly distinguishable from each other. But with their appearance the
resemblance ends, the domestic animal being quiet, docile, and fond of
man, while the wild animal is savage, intractable, and has an
invincible repugnance to human beings.

This diversity of spirit in similar forms is very curious, and is
strongly exemplified by the semi-wild Asses of Quito. They are the
descendants of the animals that were imported by the Spaniards, and
live in herds, just as do the horses. They combine the habits of the
Wild Ass with the disposition of the tame animal. They are as swift of
foot as the Wild Ass of Syria or Africa, and have the same habit of
frequenting lofty situations, leaping about among rocks and ravines,
which seem only fitted for the wild goat, and into which no horse can
follow them.

Nominally, they are private property, but practically they may be
taken by any one who chooses to capture them. The lasso is employed
for the purpose, and when the animals are caught they bite, and kick,
and plunge, and behave exactly like their wild relations of the Old
World, giving their captors infinite trouble in avoiding the teeth and
hoofs which they wield so skilfully. But, as soon as a load has once
been bound on the back of one of these furious creatures, the wild
spirit dies out of it, the head droops, the gait becomes steady, and
the animal behaves as if it had led a domesticated life all its days.


   Ancient use of the Mules--Various breeds of Mule--Supposed date
   of its introduction into Palestine--Mule-breeding forbidden to
   the Jews--The Mule as a saddle-animal--Its use on occasions of
   state--The king's Mule--Mules brought from Babylon after the
   captivity--Obstinacy of the Mule--The Mule as a beast of
   burden--The "Mule's burden" of earth--Mules imported by the
   Phoenicians--Legends respecting the Mule.

There are several references to the Mule in the Holy Scriptures, but
it is remarkable that the animal is not mentioned at all until the
time of David, and that in the New Testament the name does not occur
at all.

The origin of the MULE is unknown, but that the mixed breed between
the horse and the ass has been employed in many countries from very
ancient times is a familiar fact. It is a very strange circumstance
that the offspring of these two animals should be, for some purposes,
far superior to either of the parents, a well-bred Mule having the
lightness, surefootedness, and hardy endurance of the ass, together
with the increased size and muscular development of the horse. Thus it
is peculiarly adapted either for the saddle or for the conveyance of
burdens over a rough or desert country.

The Mules that are most generally serviceable are bred from the male
ass and the mare, those which have the horse as the father and the ass
as the mother being small, and comparatively valueless. At the present
day, Mules are largely employed in Spain and the Spanish dependencies,
and there are some breeds which are of very great size and singular
beauty, those of Andalusia being especially celebrated. In the Andes,
the Mule has actually superseded the llama as a beast of burden.

Its appearance in the sacred narrative is quite sudden. In Gen. xxxvi.
24, there is a passage which seems as if it referred to the Mule:
"This was that Anah that found the mules in the wilderness." Now the
word which is here rendered as Mules is "Yemim," a word which is not
found elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures. The best Hebraists are
agreed that, whatever interpretation may be put upon the word, it
cannot possibly have the signification that is here assigned to it.
Some translate the word as "hot springs," while the editors of the
Jewish Bible prefer to leave it untranslated, thus signifying that
they are not satisfied with any rendering.

  [Illustration: MULES OF THE EAST

  "_Be ye not as the horse and mule, which have no under
  standing._"--PSALM xxxii. 9.]

The word which is properly translated as Mule is "Pered;" and the
first place where it occurs is 2 Sam. xiii. 29. Absalom had taken
advantage of a sheep-shearing feast to kill his brother Amnon in
revenge for the insult offered to Tamar: "And the servants of Absalom
did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons
arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled." It is
evident from this passage that the Mule must have been in use for a
considerable time, as the sacred writer mentions, as a matter of
course, that the king's sons had each his own riding mule.

Farther on, chap. xviii. 9 records the event which led to the death of
Absalom by the hand of Joab. "And Absalom met the servants of David.
And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs
of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken
up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him
went away."

We see by these passages that the Mule was held in such high
estimation that it was used by the royal princes for the saddle, and
had indeed superseded the ass. In another passage we shall find that
the Mule was ridden by the king himself when he travelled in state,
and that to ride upon the king's Mule was considered as equivalent to
sitting upon the king's throne. See, for example, 1 Kings i. in which
there are several passages illustrative of this curious fact. See
first, ver. 33, in which David gives to Zadok the priest, Nathan the
prophet, and Benaiah the captain of the hosts, instructions for
bringing his son Solomon to Gihon, and anointing him king in the stead
of his father: "Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause
Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to

Then, in ver. 38, we are told that David's orders were obeyed, that
Solomon was set on the king's Mule, was anointed by Zadok, and
proclaimed as king to the people. In ver. 44 we are told how Adonijah,
who had attempted to usurp the throne, and was at the very time
holding a coronation feast, heard the sound of the trumpets and the
shouting in honour of Solomon, and on inquiring was told that Solomon
had been crowned king by Zadok, recognised by Nathan, accepted by
Benaiah, and had ridden on the king's Mule. These tidings alarmed him,
and caused him to flee for protection to the altar. Now it is very
remarkable that in each of these three passages the fact that Solomon
rode upon the king's Mule is brought prominently forward, and it was
adduced to Adonijah as a proof that Solomon had been made the new king
of Israel.

That the Mule should have become so important an animal seems most
remarkable. In Levit. xix. 19 there is an express injunction against
the breeding of Mules, and it is unlikely, therefore, that they were
bred in Palestine. But, although the Jews were forbidden to breed
Mules, they evidently thought that the prohibition did not extend to
the use of these animals, and from the time of David we find that they
were very largely employed both for the saddle and as beasts of
burden. In all probability, the Mules were imported from Egypt and
other countries, and that such importation was one of the means for
furnishing Palestine with these animals we learn from 1 Kings x. 24,
25, in which the sacred writer enumerates the various tribute which
was paid to Solomon: "All the earth sought to Solomon, to hear the
wisdom which God had put in his heart.

"And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and
vessels of gold, and garments, and armour, and spices, horses, and
mules, a rate year by year." The same fact is recorded in 2 Chron. ix.

In the time of Isaiah the Mule was evidently in common use as a riding
animal for persons of distinction. See chap. lxvi. 20: "And they shall
bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord, out of all
nations, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules,
and upon swift beasts, to My holy mountain Jerusalem." Another
allusion to the Mule as one of the recognised domesticated animals is
found in Zech. xiv. 15: "So shall be the plague of the horse, of the
mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall
be in these tents, as this plague."

The value of these animals may be inferred from the anxiety of Ahab to
preserve his Mules during the long drought that had destroyed all the
pasturage. "Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all
fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find
grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the

Now this Obadiah was a very great man. He was governor of the king's
palace, an office which has been compared to that of our Lord High
Chamberlain. He possessed such influence that, although he was known
to be a worshipper of Jehovah, and to have saved a hundred prophets
during Jezebel's persecution, he retained his position, either because
no one dared to inform against him, or because he was too powerful to
be attacked. Yet to Obadiah was assigned the joint office of seeking
for pasturage for the Mules, the king himself sharing the task with
his chamberlain, thus showing the exceeding value which must have been
set on these appanages of royal state.

Their importance may be gathered from a passage in the Book of Ezra,
in which, after enumerating with curious minuteness the number of the
Jews who returned home from their Babylonish captivity, the sacred
chronicler proceeds to remark that "their horses were seven hundred
thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five; their camels,
four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred
and twenty" (Ezra ii. 66, 67). There is a parallel passage in Neh.
vii. 68, 69.

Seeing that the Mule was in such constant use as a riding animal, it
is somewhat remarkable that we never find in the Scripture any mention
of the obstinate disposition which is proverbially associated with the
animal. There is only one passage which can be thought even to bear
upon such a subject, and that is the familiar sentence from Ps. xxxii.
9: "Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no
understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest
they come near unto thee;" and, as the reader will see, no particular
obstinacy or frowardness is attributed to the Mule which is not
ascribed to the horse also.

Still, that the Mule was as obstinate and contentious an animal in
Palestine as it is in Europe is evident from the fact that the Eastern
mules of the present day are quite as troublesome as their European
brethren. They are very apt to shy at anything, or nothing at all;
they bite fiercely, and every now and then they indulge in a violent
kicking fit, flinging out their heels with wonderful force and
rapidity, and turning round and round on their fore-feet so quickly
that it is hardly possible to approach them. There is scarcely a
traveller in the Holy Land who has not some story to tell about the
Mule and its perverse disposition; but, as these anecdotes have but
very slight bearing on the subject of the Mule as mentioned in the
Scriptures, they will not be given in these pages.

That the Mule was employed as a beast of burden as well as for riding,
we gather from several passages in the Old Testament. See, for
example, 1 Chron. xii. 40: "Moreover they that were nigh them, even
unto Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on
camels, and on mules, and on oxen." We have also the well-known
passage in which is recorded the reply of Naaman to Elisha after the
latter had cured him of his leprosy: "And Naaman said, Shall there not
then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of
earth?" It does not necessarily follow that two of Naaman's Mules were
to be laden with earth, but the probability is, that Naaman used the
term "a Mule's burden" to express a certain quantity, just as we talk
of a "load" of hay or gravel.

As Mules are animals of such value, we may feel some little surprise
that they were employed as beasts of burden. It is possible, however,
that a special and costly breed of large and handsome Mules, like
those of Andalusia, were reserved for the saddle, and that the smaller
and less showy animals were employed in the carriage of burdens.

Before parting entirely with the Mule, it will be well to examine the
only remaining passage in which the animal is mentioned. It occurs in
Ezek. xxvii. 14: "They of the house of Togarmah traded in thy fairs
with horses and horsemen and mules." The chapter in which this passage
occurs is a sustained lamentation over Tyre, in which the writer first
enumerates the wealth and greatness of the city, and then bewails its
downfall. Beginning with the words, "O Tyrus, thou hast said, I am of
perfect beauty," the prophet proceeds to mention the various details
of its magnificence, the number and beauty of its ships built with
firs from Senir, having oars made of the oaks of Bashan, masts of the
cedars of Lebanon, benches of ivory, sails of "fine linen with
broidered work from Egypt," and coverings of purple and scarlet from
the isles of Elishah. The rowers were from Zidon and Arvad, while Tyre
itself furnished their pilots or steersmen.

After a passing allusion to the magnificent army of Tyre, the sacred
writer proceeds to mention the extent of the merchandise that was
brought to this queen of ancient seaports: silver and other metals
were from Tarshish, slaves and brass from Meshech, ivory and ebony
from Dedan, jewellery and fine linen from Syria; wheat, honey, and oil
from Judæa; wine and white wool from Damascus, and so forth. And,
among all these riches, are prominently mentioned the horses and Mules
from Togarmah. Now, it has been settled by the best bibliographers
that the Togarmah of Ezekiel is Armenia, and so we have the fact that
the Phoenicians supplied themselves with Mules and horses by importing
them from Armenia instead of breeding those animals themselves, just
as Palestine imported its horses, and probably its Mules also, from

It is rather remarkable that the Arabs of Palestine very seldom breed
the Mule for themselves, but, like the ancient Jews, import them from
adjacent countries, mostly from the Lebanon district. Those from
Cyprus are, however, much valued, as they are very strong, diligent,
and steady, their pace being nearly equal to that of the horse. Mules
are seldom used for agricultural purposes, though they are extensively
employed for riding and for carrying burdens, especially over rocky

The Mule is not without its legend. One of the oddest of these
accounts for its obstinacy and its incapacity for breeding.

When the Holy Family was about to travel into Egypt, St. Joseph chose
a Mule to carry them. He was in the act of saddling the animal, when
it kicked him after the fashion of Mules. Angry with it for such
misconduct, St. Joseph substituted an ass for the Mule, thus giving
the former the honour of conveying the family into Egypt, and laid a
curse upon it that it should never have parents nor descendants of its
own kind, and that it should be so disliked as never to be admitted
into its master's house, as is the case with the horse and other
domesticated animals. This is one of the multitudinous legends which
are told to the crowds of pilgrims who come annually to see the
miraculous kindling of the holy fire, and to visit the tree on which
Judas hanged himself.


   The Mosaic prohibition of the pig--Hatred of Swine by Jews and
   Mahometans--A strange use of bacon--The prodigal son--Resistance
   to the persecution of Antiochus--Swine hated by the early
   Egyptians--Supposed connexion between Swine and diseases of the
   skin--Destruction of the herd of Swine--The locality of the
   event discovered--Pigs bred for the monasteries--The jewel of
   gold in a Swine's snout--The wild boar of the woods, and the
   beast of the reeds--The damage which it does to the
   vines--General account of the wild boar of Palestine--Excellence
   of its flesh.

Many are the animals which are specially mentioned in the Mosaic law
as unfit for food, beside those that come under the general head of
being unclean because they do not divide the hoof and chew the cud.
There is none, however, that excited such abhorrence as the hog, or
that was more utterly detested.

It is utterly impossible for a European, especially one of the present
day, to form even an idea of the utter horror and loathing with which
the hog was regarded by the ancient Jews. Even at the present day, a
zealous Jew or Mahometan looks upon the hog, or anything that belongs
to the hog, with an abhorrence too deep for words. The older and
stricter Jews felt so deeply on this subject, that they would never
even mention the name of the hog, but always substituted for the
objectionable word the term "the abomination."

Several references are made in the Scriptures to the exceeding disgust
felt by the Jews towards the Swine. The portion of the Mosaic law on
which a Jew would ground his antipathy to the flesh of Swine is that
passage which occurs in Lev. xi. 7: "And the swine, though he divide
the hoof, and be cloven-footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is
unclean to you." But the very same paragraph, of which this passage
forms the termination, treats of other unclean beasts, such as the
coney (or hyrax) and the hare, neither of which animals are held in
such abhorrence as the Swine.

This enactment could not therefore have produced the singular feeling
with which the Swine were regarded by the Jews, and in all probability
the antipathy was of far greater antiquity than the time of Moses.

How hateful to the Jewish mind was the hog we may infer from many
passages, several of which occur in the Book of Isaiah. See, for
example, lxv. 3, 4: "A people that provoketh me to anger continually
to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon
altars of brick;

"Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat
swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels."
Here we have the people heaping one abomination upon another--the
sacrifice to idols in the gardens, the burning of incense upon a
forbidden altar and with strange fire, the living among the tombs,
where none but madmen and evil spirits were supposed to reside, and,
as the culminating point of iniquity, eating Swine's flesh, and
drinking the broth in which it was boiled.

In the next chapter, verse 3, we have another reference to the Swine.
Speaking of the wickedness of the people, and the uselessness of their
sacrifices, the prophet proceeds to say: "He that killeth an ox is as
if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he had cut off a
dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's
blood." We see here how the prophet proceeds from one image to
another: the murder of a man, the offering of a dog instead of a lamb,
and the pouring out of Swine's blood upon the altar instead of
wine--the last-mentioned crime being evidently held as the worst of
the three. Another reference to the Swine occurs in the same chapter,
verse 17: "They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the
gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the
abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the

Not only did the Jews refuse to eat the flesh of the hog, but they
held in utter abomination everything that belonged to it, and would
have thought themselves polluted had they been even touched with a
hog's bristle. Even at the present day this feeling has not
diminished, and both by Jews and Mahometans the hog is held in utter

Some recent travellers have made great use of this feeling. Signor
Pierotti, for example, during his long sojourn in Palestine, found the
flesh of the hog extremely beneficial to him. "How often has the flesh
of this animal supported me, especially during the earlier part of my
stay in Palestine, before I had learned to like the mutton and the
goats' flesh! I give the preference to this meat because it has often
saved me time by rendering a fire unnecessary, and freed me from
importunate, dirty, and unsavoury guests, who used their hands for
spoons, knives, and forks.

"A little piece of bacon laid conspicuously upon the cloth that served
me for a table was always my best friend. Without this talisman I
should never have freed myself from unwelcome company, at least
without breaking all the laws of hospitality by not inviting the
chiefs of my escort or the guides to share my meal; a thing neither
prudent nor safe in the open country. Therefore, on the contrary, when
thus provided I pressed them with the utmost earnestness to eat with
me, but of course never succeeded in persuading them; and so dined in
peace, keeping on good terms with them, although they did call me
behind my back a 'dog of a Frank' for eating pork.

"Besides, I had then no fear of my stores failing, as I always took
care to carry a stock large enough to supply the real wants of my
party. So a piece of bacon was more service to me than a revolver, a
rifle, or a sword; and I recommend all travellers in Palestine to
carry bacon rather than arms, for the latter are often stolen, the
former is never."

Such being the feelings of the Jews, we may conceive the abject
degradation to which the Prodigal Son of the parable must have
descended, when he was compelled to become a swine-herd for a living,
and would have been glad even to have eaten the very husks on which
the Swine fed. These husks, by the way, were evidently the pods of the
locust-tree, or carob, of which we shall have more to say in a future
page. We have in our language no words to express the depths of
ignominy into which this young man must have fallen, nor can we
conceive any office which in our estimation would be so degrading as
would be that of swine-herd to a Jew.

How deeply rooted was the abhorrence of the Swine's flesh we can see
from a passage in 2 Maccabees, in which is related a series of insults
offered to the religion of the Jews. The temple at Jerusalem was to be
called the Temple of Jupiter Olympus, and that on Gerizim was to be
dedicated to Jupiter, the defender of strangers. The altars were
defiled by forbidden things, and the celebration of the Sabbath, or of
any Jewish ceremony, was punishable with death.

Severe as were all these afflictions, there was one which the Jews
seem, from the stress laid upon it, to have felt more keenly than any
other. This was the compulsory eating of Swine's flesh, an act which
was so abhorrent to the Jews that in attempting to enforce it,
Antiochus found that he was foiled by the passive resistance offered
to him. The Jews had allowed their temples to be dedicated to the
worship of heathen deities, they had submitted to the deprivation of
their sacred rites, they had even consented to walk in procession on
the Feast of Bacchus, carrying ivy like the rest of the worshippers in
that most licentious festival. It might be thought that any people who
submit to such degradation would suffer any similar indignity. But
even their forbearance had reached its limits, and nothing could
induce them to eat the flesh of Swine.

Several examples of the resistance offered by them are recorded in the
book just mentioned. Eleazar, for example, a man ninety years old,
sternly refused to partake of the abominable food. Some of the
officials, in compassion for his great age, advised him to take lawful
meat with him and to exchange it for the Swine's flesh. This he
refused to do, saying that his age was only a reason for particular
care on his part, lest the young should be led away by his example.
His persecutors then forced the meat into his mouth, but he rejected
it, and died under the lash.

Another example of similar, but far greater heroism, is given by the
same chronicler. A mother and her seven sons were urged with blows to
eat the forbidden food, and refused to do so. Thinking that the mother
would not be able to endure the sight of her sons' sufferings, the
officers took them in succession, and inflicted a series of horrible
tortures upon them, beginning by cutting off their tongues, hands, and
feet, and ending by roasting them while still alive. Their mother, far
from counselling her sons to yield, even though they were bribed by
promises of wealth and rank, only encouraged them to persevere, and,
when the last of her sons was dead, passed herself through the same
fiery trial.

Even among the ancient Egyptians this repugnance to the Swine
prevailed, though there was a sort of Pariah caste among them who bred
the animal and ate its flesh.

This we learn from Herodotus ("Euterpe," xlvii.):--"The Egyptians
consider the pig to be an impure animal, and if therefore a man in
passing near a pig should but touch it with his clothes, he goes at
once to the river and plunges into it. In the next place, swine-herds,
although they be native Egyptians, are the only men who are not
allowed to enter into any of their temples, neither will any man give
his daughter in marriage to one of them, nor take a wife from among
them, but the swine-herds only marry among themselves.

"The Egyptians therefore do not think it right to sacrifice swine to
any other deities, but to the moon and Bacchus they sacrifice them at
the same time; that is to say, at the same full moon, and then they
eat the flesh.... This sacrifice of pigs to the moon is performed in
the following manner. When the sacrificer has killed the victims, he
puts the tip of the tail, the spleen, and the caul together, covers
them with the fat found in the belly of the animal, and then consumes
it with fire. The rest of the flesh they eat during the full moon in
which they offer the sacrifices, but on no other day would any man
ever taste it. The poor among them, through want of money, make pigs
out of dough; and, after baking them, offer them in sacrifice.

"On the eve of the festival of Bacchus, every one slays a pig before
his door, and then restores it to the swine-herd that sold it, that he
may carry it away. The rest of this festival to Bacchus, except as
regards the pigs, the Egyptians celebrate much in the same manner as
the Greeks do."

It has been conjectured, and with plausibility, that the pig was
prohibited by Moses on account of the unwholesomeness of its flesh in
a hot country, and that its almost universal repudiation in such lands
is a proof of its unfitness for food. In countries where diseases of
the skin are so common, and where the dreaded leprosy still maintains
its hold, the flesh of the pig is thought, whether rightly or wrongly,
to increase the tendency to such diseases, and on that account alone
would be avoided.

It has, however, been shown that the flesh of Swine can be habitually
consumed in hot countries without producing any evil results; and,
moreover, that the prohibition of Moses was not confined to the Swine,
but included many other animals whose flesh is used without scruple by
those very persons who reject that of the pig.

Knowing the deep hatred of the Jews towards this animal, we may
naturally wonder how we come to hear of herds of Swine kept in Jewish

Of this custom there is a familiar example in the herd of Swine that
was drowned in the sea (Matt. viii. 28-34). It is an open question
whether those who possessed the Swine were Jews of lax principles, who
disregarded the Law for the sake of gain, or whether they were
Gentiles, who, of course, were not bound by the Law. The former seems
the likelier interpretation, the destruction of the Swine being a
fitting punishment for their owners. It must be here remarked, that
our Lord did not, as is often said, destroy the Swine, neither did He
send the devils into them, so that the death of these animals cannot
be reckoned as one of the divine miracles. Ejecting the evil spirits
from the maniacs was an exercise of His divine authority; the
destruction of the Swine was a manifestation of diabolical anger,
permitted, but not dictated.

The scene of so remarkable an event is naturally of great interest,
especially as the statements of the Evangelists who mention it do not
precisely agree. This subject is so well treated by Mr. Tristram in
his "Land of Israel," that it must be given in his own words:--

"The field of the tombs at Gadara presents a vivid illustration of the
circumstances connected with the healing of the demoniac in the
country of the Gadarenes, or Gergesenes. With one exception, all the
concomitant events of the miracle are exactly illustrated. We have
beyond the city the field of tombs, these tombs suited for the refuge
of demoniac outcasts, occupied as dwellings to the present day. We
have a plain suited for the feeding of swine, with its roots and
acorns, and we have a steep place hard by, of several hundred feet
high, [Greek: krêmnon]. But then, it does not run down to the sea, but
to the little river. This objection is, I think, fatal to the
identification of Um Keis with the scene of the miracle.

"St. Mark (v. 2) tells us that our Lord was met _immediately_ on His
coming out of the ship. This place is three and a half hours distant
from its shores. It is important also to observe that St. Matthew
(viii. 28) reads not Gadarenes, but Gergesenes, and St. Luke states
that the coast of the Gadarenes was over against Galilee (viii. 26). I
should feel thereupon disposed fully to endorse the suggestion of Dr.
Thomson, that St. Matthew, writing for those intimately acquainted
with the topography of the country in detail, names the obscure and
exact locality, _Gergesa_; while SS. Mark and Luke, writing for those
at a distance, simply name the country of Gadara, as being a place of
importance, and the acknowledged capital of the district. This is
borne out by the statement of Josephus ('Bell. Jud.' 1, viii. 35).

"Dr. Thomson visited, at the mouth of the Wady Semakh, directly
opposite Gennesaret, some ruins called by his guide _Kerza_, or
_Gerza_, which he identifies with the Gergesa of St. Matthew. The
discovery is most interesting and important. I visited the place
myself from a boat, and observed the remains of a valley and a khan;
but, unfortunately, I was not aware at the time of the interest
attaching to the place, and did not ascertain, or at least note down,
the name given to it by my boatmen.

"The statement of Origen exactly bears out the discovery of Dr.
Thomson. After stating that Gadara was not the scene of the miracle,
for these was thence no steep place into the sea, he states that
Gergesa is an ancient city on the shores of the lake, by which is a
steep place which runs down to it. In one important particular my
memory corroborates the statement of Dr. Thomson, viz. that while
there is here no precipice running sheer to the shore, but a narrow
belt of land, the cliff behind is steep, and the sea so narrow, that a
herd of swine, rushing frantically down, must certainly have been
overwhelmed in the sea before they could recover themselves.

"While the tombs at Gadara are peculiarly interesting and remarkable,
yet the whole region is so perforated everywhere by rock-chambers of
the dead that we may be quite certain that a home for the demoniac
will not be wanting whatever locality be assigned for the events
recorded by the Evangelists."

Although that part of the country is well suited for feeding Swine,
the animals are no longer kept. In the first place, there is a great
want of spirit in matters of commerce; and in the second, the country
is so unsettled that the merchants would probably be robbed. The
woods, moreover, furnish nowadays but a scanty supply of acorns, and
those are eaten by the Arabs instead of being given to pigs.

These animals are at the present day much neglected, because the
Mahometans and Jews may not eat the flesh, and the Christians, as a
rule, abstain from it, so that they may not hurt the feelings of their
neighbours. Pigs are however reared in the various monasteries, and by
the Arabs attached to them; the former eating the hog, and the latter
only breeding it for sale. Signor Pierotti states that the pigs become
as part of the family, who live and grow fat together with them.
Though, he remarks, they are not so intelligent as those that listened
to St. Anthony preaching in the Thebaid, they play with the children,
understand the language of their masters, and do not disdain to play
with the fowls, dogs, cats, asses, and horses, and are much more
nimble than their European brethren, although they are smaller in size
and not so spirited.

Although the pig was so detested by the Jews, they were evidently well
acquainted with it. St. Peter, for example, in his Second Epistle,
chap. ii. 22, refers to the habit of wallowing in the mire, a custom
which is common to all the pachydermatous animals, which, in spite of
their thick hide, are very sensitive to the attacks of flies, and
cover themselves with mud in order to defend themselves against their
tiny but dreaded enemies.

In connexion with the Swine, there is a passage in the Proverbs which
requires a slight comment. It occurs in chap. xi. 22: "As a jewel (or
pendant) of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is
without discretion." The sacred writer refers here to the custom
adopted by Oriental women of wearing a ring in the nostril--a custom
which has existed to the present day, and is familiar to all those who
have travelled in the East. The plan which is generally adopted is
that of boring a hole through the nostril, passing a ring through it,
and, when the wound has healed, hanging various jewels and other
ornaments upon the ring, so as to constitute the "pendant of gold"
mentioned in the proverb.

The image used by our Lord of casting pearls before Swine needs no

We now come to the wild animal. Their is only one passage in the
Scriptures in which the WILD BOAR is definitely mentioned, and another
in which a reference is made to it in a paraphrase.

The former of these is the well-known verse of the Psalms: "Why hast
thou broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do
pluck her?

"The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the
field doth devour it" (Ps. lxxx. 12, 13). The second passage is to be
found in Ps. lxviii. 30. In the Authorized Version it is thus
rendered: "Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of bulls,
with the calves of the people." If the reader will refer to the
marginal translation (which, it must be remarked, is of equal
authority with the text), the passage runs thus: "Rebuke the beasts of
the reeds," &c. Now, this is undoubtedly the correct rendering, and is
accepted in the Jewish Bible.

Having quoted these two passages, we will proceed to the description
and character of the animal.

In the former times, the Wild Boar was necessarily much more plentiful
than is the case in these days, owing to the greater abundance of
woods, many of which have disappeared by degrees, and others been
greatly thinned by the encroachments of mankind. Woods and reed-beds
are always the habitations of the Wild Boar, which resides in these
fastnesses, and seems always to prefer the reed-bed to the wood,
probably because it can find plenty of mud, in which it wallows after
the fashion of its kind. There is no doubt whatever that the "beast of
the reeds" is simply a poetical phrase for the Wild Boar.

If there should be any cultivated ground in the neighbourhood, the
Boar is sure to sally out and do enormous damage to the crops. It is
perhaps more dreaded in the vineyards than in any other ground, as it
not only devours the grapes, but tears down and destroys the vines,
trampling them under foot, and destroying a hundredfold as much as it

  [Illustration: WILD BOAR OF PALESTINE.

  "The Boar out of the wood doth waste it."--PS. lxxx. 13.]

If the reader will refer again to Ps. lxxx. he will see that the
Jewish nation is described under the image of a vine: "Thou hast
brought a vine out of Egypt: Thou hast cast out the heathen and
planted it," &c. No image of a destructive enemy could therefore
be more appropriate than that which is used. We have read of
the little foxes that spoil the vines, but the Wild Boar is a much
more destructive enemy, breaking its way through the fences, rooting
up the ground, tearing down the vines themselves, and treading them
under its feet. A single party of these animals will sometimes destroy
an entire vineyard in a single night.

We can well imagine the damage that would be done to a vineyard even
by the domesticated Swine, but the Wild Boar is infinitely more
destructive. It is of very great size, often resembling a donkey
rather than a boar, and is swift and active beyond conception. The
Wild Boar is scarcely recognisable as the very near relation of the
domestic species. It runs with such speed, that a high-bred horse
finds some difficulty in overtaking it, while an indifferent steed
would be left hopelessly behind. Even on level ground the hunter has
hard work to overtake it; and if it can get upon broken or hilly
ground, no horse can catch it. The Wild Boar can leap to a
considerable distance, and can wheel and turn when at full speed, with
an agility that makes it a singularly dangerous foe. Indeed, the
inhabitants of countries where the Wild Boar flourishes would as soon
face a lion as one of these animals, the stroke of whose razor-like
tusks is made with lightning swiftness, and which is sufficient to rip
up a horse, and cut a dog nearly asunder.

Although the Wild Boar is not as plentiful in Palestine as used to be
the case, it is still found in considerable numbers. Whenever the
inhabitants can contrive to cut off the retreat of marauding parties
among the crops, they turn out for a general hunt, and kill as many as
they can manage to slay. After one of these hunts, the bodies are
mostly exposed for sale, but, as the demand for them is very small,
they can be purchased at a very cheap rate. Signor Pierotti bought one
in the plains of Jericho for five shillings. For the few who may eat
the hog, this is a fortunate circumstance, the flesh being very
excellent, and as superior to ordinary pork as is a pheasant to a
barn-door fowl, or venison to mutton.


   The Elephant indirectly mentioned in the Authorized
   Version--Solomon's ivory throne--Ivory used in Egypt--Horns of
   ivory--The ivory palaces--Beds of ivory--The Tyrian ships--Ivory
   mentioned by Homer--Vessels of ivory--The Elephant as an engine
   of war--Antiochus and his Elephants--Oriental
   exaggeration--Self-devotion of Eleazar--Attacking the Elephants,
   and their gradual abandonment in war--The Talmudical writers on
   the Elephant--A funeral and an omen.

Except indirectly, the Elephant is never mentioned in the Authorized
Version of the Canonical Scriptures, although frequent references are
made to ivory, the product of that animal.

The earliest mention of ivory in the Scriptures is to be found in 1
Kings x. 18: "Moreover the king (_i.e._ Solomon) made a great throne
of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold." This passage forms a
portion of the description given by the sacred historian of the
glories of Solomon's palace, of which this celebrated throne, with the
six steps and the twelve lions on the steps, was the central and most
magnificent object. It is named together with the three hundred golden
shields, the golden vessel of the royal palace, and the wonderful
arched viaduct crossing the valley of the Tyropoeon, "the ascent by
which he went up unto the house of the Lord," all of which glories so
overcame the Queen of Sheba that "there was no more spirit in her."

We see, therefore, that in the time of Solomon ivory was so precious
an article that it was named among the chief of the wonders to be seen
in the palace of Solomon, the wealthiest and most magnificent monarch
of sacred or profane history.

That it should not have been previously mentioned is very singular.
Five hundred years had elapsed since the Israelites escaped from the
power of Egypt, and during the whole of that time, though gold and
silver and precious stones and costly raiment are repeatedly
mentioned, we do not find a single passage in which any allusion is
made to ivory. Had we not known that ivory was largely used among the
Egyptians, such an omission would cause no surprise. But the
researches of modern travellers have brought to light many articles of
ivory that were in actual use in Egypt, and we therefore cannot but
wonder that a material so valued and so beautiful does not seem to
have been reckoned among the treasures which were brought by the
Israelites from the land of their captivity, and which were so
abundant that the Tabernacle was entirely formed of them.

In the various collections of Europe are many specimens of ivory used
by the ancient Egyptians, among the chief of which may be mentioned an
ivory box in the Louvre, having on its lid the name of the dynasty in
which it was carved, and the ivory-tipped lynch-pins of the splendid
war-chariot in Florence, from which the illustration on page 260 has
been drawn.

The ivory used by the Egyptians was, of course, that of the African
Elephant; and was obtained chiefly from Ethiopia, as we find in
Herodotus ("Thalia," 114):--"Where the meridian declines towards the
setting sun, the Ethiopian territory reaches, being the extreme part
of the habitable world. It produces much gold, huge elephants, wild
trees of all kinds, ebony, and men of large stature, very handsome and

Solomon may have procured from the same source part of the ivory which
he used so lavishly, but it is evident that he was also supplied from
India. In 1 Kings x. 22 we read: "For the king had at sea a navy of
Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of
Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks."
The reader will remark that an opinion has already been expressed that
the country whence these articles were brought must be India, and this
conjecture is strengthened by the Hebrew names given to the apes, the
peacocks, and the ivory, which are almost identical with the words
employed in the Cingalese language of the present day.

The usual Hebrew word for ivory is _shen_, i.e. a tooth, the
Israelites being perfectly aware that it was the product of a tooth,
and not of a horn. It is true that in one passage the word "horn" is
used in connexion with the term "ivory," or "tooth," in such a manner
that a reader of the English Version might imagine the sacred writers
to think that ivory was obtained from the horn of some animal. This
passage occurs in the prophet Ezekiel, xxvii. 15. Speaking of Tyre and
her greatness, the prophet uses the following terms: "The men of Dedan
were thy merchants; many isles were the merchandise of thine hand:
they brought thee for a present horns of ivory and ebony."

If we refer to the Hebrew Bible, we shall find that the literal
translation of this passage runs as follows: "The men of Dedan were
thy traders; many maritime settlements were the merchandise of thine
hand: they offered thee as a price horns of teeth and ebony." It is
evident that the word _kerenoth_, or horns, is used to represent the
horn-like shape of the Elephant's tusk, as it appears when imported
into the country, the use of the term _shen_, or tooth, showing that
the shape and not material is to be implied by the term.

Now if the reader will look at a passage which has already been quoted
(1 Kings x. 22), he will see that the marginal reading translates the
word "ivory" as "elephants' teeth." This rendering is undoubtedly the
correct one. The Hebrew word is _shen-habbim_, and there is little, if
any, doubt that the term _habbim_ is rightly translated as
"elephants." A similar word, _Habba_, is found in the Assyrian
inscriptions, and is thought by Sir H. Rawlinson to have the same

It will be as well to mention here a curious version of Gen. 1. 1, in
which Joseph is said to have placed the body of his father upon a bier
of _shin-daphin_, or ivory.

After the passage in 1 Kings, ivory is repeatedly mentioned, sometimes
in allusion to its smoothness and whiteness, and sometimes to its use
as a luxurious appendage of the palace. For its use in the former
sense, we may take the well-known passage in the Song of Solomon: "His
hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright
ivory overlaid with sapphires" (Cant. v. 14). Also vii. 4, "Thy neck
is as a tower of ivory."

For its use in the second of these senses we may take several
passages. See, for example, Ps. xlv. 8: "All thy garments smell of
myrrh, aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have
made thee glad." It has been suggested that the words "ivory palaces"
may signify boxes or chests inlaid with ivory, in which were deposited
the royal garments, together with perfumes. Whether or not this be the
case, it is evident that the ivory is here mentioned as a costly
adjunct of royal luxury.

There are, however, passages in which ivory is distinctly mentioned as
forming part of the adornment of houses. For example, see 1 Kings
xxii. 39: "Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and
the ivory house which he made, are they not written in the book of the
chronicles of the kings of Israel?" The "ivory house" could not, of
course, be built wholly of ivory, and it is evident that by the term
is signified a palace, the rooms of which were inlaid with ivory.
Another mention of such houses is made in Amos iii. 15: "And I will
smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory
shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the Lord."

Chambers thus decorated are to be seen at the present day, and it is
remarkable that ivory is still used, together with ebony, in panelling
the walls of rooms--a combination which is mentioned in several of the
passages which have already been quoted.

The use of ivory as an article of luxury is also mentioned in Amos vi.
4: "Woe to them ... that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch
themselves upon their couches." And in Ezekiel xxvii. 6, the
overwhelming wealth and luxury of Tyre are pictured by the costly
materials of which the Assyrians built their ships--the planks of
Senir fir, the masts of cedar, the oars of Bashan oak, the sails of
fine linen, and the very benches on which the rowers sat, inlaid with
ivory. How accurate was the prophet in the details of his bodings, is
shown by the research of Mr. Layard, who found among the buried ruins
of Nineveh great quantities of ivory, some manufactured, and some in
its original state as imported--the uncut tusks, or "horns of ivory,"
to which reference has already been made.

The classical reader need scarcely be reminded of the parallel between
passages of Scripture and those of profane authors, in which ivory is
mentioned as a costly ornament. See, for example, the Iliad, book v.

    "From his numbed hands the iv'ry studded reins,
    Dropped in the dust, are trailed along the plains."

    (_Lines_ 712, 713, POPE'S _Version_.)

In ancient Greece, as well as in Assyria, the beds of the wealthy were
adorned with ivory. Ulysses, for example (see Odyssey, book xxi.),
king as he was, made his own bridal bed of hide thongs interlaced, and
inlaid the posts with gold, ivory, and silver. And, in the beginning
of the same book, we find that the key of the royal armoury was made
of brass inlaid with ivory.

There is only one passage in the New Testament in which ivory is
mentioned: "And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over
her, for no man buyeth their merchandise any more; the merchandise of
gold, and silver, and precious stones, ... and all manner vessels of
ivory." (Rev. xviii. 11, 12.)

Having now examined the passages in which ivory is mentioned, we turn
to those in which the Elephant itself is named. These are only to be
found in the Apocrypha, and in all of them the Elephant is described
as an engine of war. If the reader will refer to the First Book of the
Maccabees, he will find that the Elephant is mentioned at the very
commencement of the book. "Now when the kingdom was established before
Antiochus, he thought to reign over Egypt, that he might have the
dominion of two realms.

"Wherefore he entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with
chariots, and elephants, and horsemen, and a great navy." (i. 16, 17.)

Here we see that the Elephant was considered as a most potent engine
of war, and, as we may perceive by the context, the King of Egypt was
so alarmed by the invading force, that he ran away, and allowed
Antiochus to take possession of the country.

After this, Antiochus Eupator marched against Jerusalem with a vast
army, which is thus described in detail:--"The number of his army was
one hundred thousand footmen, and twenty thousand horsemen, and two
and thirty elephants exercised in battle.

"And to the end that they might provoke the elephants to fight, they
showed them the blood of grapes and mulberries.

"Moreover, they divided the beasts among the armies, and for every
elephant they appointed a thousand men, armed with coats of mail, and
with helmets of brass on their heads; and, besides this, for every
beast were ordained five hundred horsemen of the best.

"These were ready at every occasion wheresoever the beast was; and
whithersoever the beast went they went also, neither departed they
from him.

"And upon the beasts were there strong towers of wood, which covered
every one of them, and were girt fast unto them with devices; there
were also upon every one two and thirty strong men that fought upon
them, beside the Indian that ruled him.

"As for the remnant of the horsemen, they set them on this side and
that side at the two fronts of the host, giving them signs what to do,
and being harnessed all over amidst the ranks." (1 Macc. vi. 30, &c.)

It is evident from this description that, in the opinion of the
writer, the Elephants formed the principal arms of the opposing force,
these animals being prominently mentioned, and the rest of the army
being reckoned as merely subsidiaries of the terrible beasts. The
thirty-two Elephants appear to have taken such a hold of the
narrator's mind, that he evidently looked upon them in the same light
that the ancient Jews regarded chariots of war, or as at the present
day savages regard artillery. According to his ideas, the thirty-two
Elephants constituted the real army, the hundred thousand infantry and
twenty thousand cavalry being only in attendance upon these animals.

Taken as a whole, the description of the war Elephant is a good one,
though slightly exaggerated, and is evidently written by an
eye-witness. The mention of the native mahout, or "Indian that guided
him," is characteristic enough, as is the account of the howdah, or
wooden carriage on the back of the animal.

The number of warriors, however, is evidently exaggerated, though not
to such an extent as the account of Julius Cæsar's Elephants, which
are said to have carried on their backs sixty soldiers, beside the
wooden tower in which they fought. It is evident that, in the first
place, no Elephant could carry a tower large enough to hold so many
fighting men, much less one which would afford space for them to use
their weapons.

A good account of the fighting Elephant is given by Topsel (p.
157):--"There were certain officers and guides of the Elephants, who
were called _Elephantarchæ_, who were the governors of sixteen
Elephants, and they which did institute and teach them martial
discipline were called _Elephantagogi_.

"The Military Elephant did carry four persons on his bare back, one
fighting on the right hand, another fighting on the left hand, a
third, which stood fighting backwards from the Elephant's head, and a
fourth in the middle of these, holding the rains, and guiding the
Beast to the discretion of the Souldiers, even as the Pilot in a ship
guideth the stem, wherein was required an equall knowledge and
dexterity; for when the Indian which ruled them said, Strike here on
the right hand, or else on the left, or refrain and stand still, no
reasonable man could yield readier obedience."

This description is really a very accurate as well as spirited one,
and conveys a good idea of the fighting Elephant as it appeared when
brought into action.

Strangely enough, after giving this temperate and really excellent
account of the war Elephant, the writer seems to have been unable to
resist the fascination of his theme, and proceeds to describe, with
great truth and spirit, the mode of fighting adopted by the animal,
intermixed with a considerable amount of the exaggeration from which
the former part of his account is free.

"They did fasten iron chains, first of all, upon the Elephant that was
to bear ten, fifteen, twenty, or thirty men, on either side two
panniers of iron bound underneath their belly, and upon them the like
panniers of wood, hollow, wherein they placed their men at armes, and
covered them over with small boards (for the trunck of the Elephant
was covered with a mail for defence, and upon that a broadsword, two
cubits long); this (as also the wooden Castle, or pannier aforesaid)
were fastened first to the neck and then to the rump of the Elephant.

"Being thus armed, they entered the battel, and they shewed unto the
Beasts, to make them more fierce, wine, liquor made of Rice, and white
cloth, for at the sight of any of these his courage and rage
increaseth above all measure. Then at the sound of the Trumpet, he
beginneth with teeth to strike, tear, beat, spoil, take up into the
air, cast down again, stamp upon men under feet, overthrow with his
trunck, and make way for his riders to pierce with Spear, Shield, and
Sword; so that his horrible voice, his wonderful body, his terrible
force, his admirable skill, his ready and inestimable obedience, and
his strange and seldom-seen shape, produced in a main battel no mean
accidents and overturns."

In this account there is a curious mixture of truth and exaggeration.
As we have already seen, the number of soldiers which the animal was
supposed to carry is greatly exaggerated, and it is rather amusing to
note how the "towers" in which they fought are modified into
"panniers." Then the method by which the animal is incited to the
combat is partly true, and partly false. Of course an Elephant is not
angered by seeing a piece of white cloth, or by looking at wine, or a
liquor made of rice.

But that the wine, or the "liquor made of rice," _i.e._ arrack, was
administered to the Elephant before it was brought into the
battle-field, is likely enough. Elephants are wonderfully fond of
strong drink. They can be incited to perform any task within their
powers by a provision of arrack, and when stimulated by a plentiful
supply of their favourite drink they would be in good fighting

Next we find the writer describing the Elephant as being furnished
with a coating of mail armour on its proboscis, the end of which was
armed with a sword a yard in length. Now any one who is acquainted
with the Elephant will see at once that such offensive and defensive
armour would deprive the animal of the full use of the proboscis, and
would, therefore, only weaken, and not strengthen, its use in battle.
Accordingly we find that the writer, when describing with perfect
accuracy the mode in which the Elephant fights, utterly omits all
mention of the sword and the mailed proboscis, and describes the
animal, not as striking or thrusting with the sword, but as
overthrowing with the trunk, taking up into the air, and casting down
again--acts which could only be performed when the proboscis was
unencumbered by armour. The use of weapons was left to the soldiers
that fought upon its back, the principal object of the huge animal
being to trample its way through the opposing ranks, and to make a way
for the soldiers that followed.

It may be easily imagined that, before soldiers become familiarized
with the appearance of the Elephant, they might be pardoned for being
panic-struck at the sight of so strange an animal. Not only was it
formidable for its vast size, and for the armed men which it carried,
but for the obedience which it rendered to its keeper, and the skill
with which it wielded the strange but powerful weapon with which
Nature had armed it.

At first, the very approach of so terrible a foe struck consternation
into the soldiers, who knew of no mode by which they could oppose the
gigantic beast, which came on in its swift, swinging pace, crushing
its way by sheer weight through the ranks, and striking right and left
with its proboscis. No other method of checking the Elephant, except
by self-sacrifice, could be found; and in 1 Macc. vi. 43-46, we read
how Eleazar, the son of Mattathias, nobly devoted himself for his

"Eleazar also, surnamed Savaran, perceiving that one of the beasts,
armed with royal harness, was higher than all the rest, and supposing
that the king was upon him.

"Put himself in jeopardy, to the end he might deliver his people, and
get him a perpetual name.

"Whereupon he ran upon him courageously, through the midst of the
battle, slaying on the right hand and on the left, so that they were
divided from him on both sides.

"Which done, he crept under the elephant, and thrust him under, and
slew him; whereupon the elephant fell down upon him, and he died."

I may here mention that the surname of Savaran, or Avaran, as it ought
to be called, signifies one who pierces an animal from behind, and was
given to him after his death, in honour of his exploit.

At first, then, Elephants were the most formidable engines of war that
could be brought into the battle-field, and the very sight of these
huge beasts, towering above even the helmets of the cavalry,
disheartened the enemy so much that victory became easy.

After a while, however, when time for reflection had been allowed, the
more intellectual among the soldiers began to think that, after all,
the Elephant was not a mere engine, but a living animal, and, as such,
subject to the infirmities of the lower animals. So they invented
scheme after scheme, by which they baffled the attacks of these once
dreaded foes, and sometimes even succeeded in driving them back among
the ranks of their own soldiery, so maddened with pain and anger,
that they dealt destruction among the soldiers for whom they were
fighting, and so broke up their order of battle that the foe easily
overcame them.

The vulnerable nature of the proboscis was soon discovered, and
soldiers were armed with very sharp swords, set on long handles, with
which they continually attacked the Elephants' trunks. Others were
mounted on swift horses, dashed past the Elephant, and hurled their
darts before the animal could strike them. Others, again, were placed
in chariots, and armed with very long and sharply-pointed spears.
Several of these chariots would be driven simultaneously against an
Elephant, and sometimes succeeded in killing the animal. Slingers also
were told off for the express purpose of clearing the "castles," or
howdahs, of the soldiers who fought on the Elephants' backs, and their
especial object was the native mahout, who sat on the animal's neck.

Sometimes they made way for the Elephant as it pressed forward, and
then closed round it, so as to make it the central mark, on which
converged a hail of javelins, arrows, and stones on every side, until
the huge animal sank beneath its many wounds. By degrees, therefore,
the Elephant was found to be so uncertain an engine of war, that its
use was gradually discontinued, and finally abandoned altogether.

The Elephant which was employed in these wars was the Indian species,
_Elephas Indicus_, which is thought to be more susceptible of
education than the African Elephant. The latter, however, has been
tamed, and, in the days of Rome's greatest splendour, was taught to
perform a series of tricks that seem almost incredible. As, however,
the Indian species is that with which we have here to do, I have
selected it for the illustration.

It may be at once distinguished from its African relative by the
comparatively small ears, those of the African Elephant reaching above
the back of the head, and drooping well below the neck. The shape of
the head, too, is different. In the Indian species, only the males
bear tusks, and even many of them are unarmed. In the African species,
however, both sexes bear tusks, those of the male furnishing the best
ivory, with its peculiar creamy colour and beautiful graining, and
those of the female being smaller in size, and producing ivory of a
much inferior quality.

  [Illustration: INDIAN ELEPHANT

  "They brought thee for a present horns of Ivory"--EZ. xxvii. 15.]

The Talmudical writers have not much to say about the Elephant, and
what they do say is rather ludicrous than otherwise. The proboscis,
say they, gives the animal a very ugly look, so that to dream of the
trunk of an Elephant is a bad omen. Indeed, it is so odd a substitute
for a nose, that when people look at it they say, "Praised be He who
can thus transform His creatures."

Largest and strongest of earth's inhabitants, the Elephant is yet
afraid of the smallest. The gnat attacks him, flies into the open end
of the proboscis, and sucks his blood at its ease.

It is rather remarkable that there is an ironical adage respecting the
Elephant and the eye of the needle, exactly similar to the familiar
proverb of the camel and the needle's eye.


   The Shaphan of Scripture, and the correct meaning of the
   word--Identification of the Shaphan with the Syrian
   Hyrax--Description of the animal--Its feet, teeth, and apparent
   rumination--Passages in which the Coney is mentioned--Habits of
   the animal--Its activity and wariness--The South African Hyrax,
   and its mode of life--Difficulty of procuring it--Similarity in
   appearance and habits of the Syrian species--Three species of
   Hyrax known to naturalists--The Talmudical writers on the
   Shaphan--The jerboa and the rabbit--A curious speculation and a
   judicious compromise.

Among the many animals mentioned in the Bible, there is one which is
evidently of some importance in the Jewish code, inasmuch as it is
twice named in the Mosaic law.

That it was also familiar to the Jews is evident from other references
which are made to its habits. This animal is the Shaphan of the Hebrew
language, a word which has very wrongly been translated in the
Authorized Version as Coney, _i.e._ Rabbit, the creature in question
not being a rabbit, nor even a rodent. No rabbit has ever been
discovered in Palestine, and naturalists have agreed that the
true Coney or Rabbit has never inhabited the Holy Land. There
is no doubt that the Shaphan of the Hebrew Scripture, and the Coney of
the Vulgate, was the SYRIAN HYRAX (_Hyrax Syriacus_). This little
animal is rather larger than an ordinary rabbit, is not unlike it in
appearance, and has many of its habits. It is clothed with brown fur,
it is very active, it inhabits holes and clefts in rocks, and it has
in the front of its mouth long chisel-shaped teeth, very much like
those of the rabbit. Consequently, it was classed by naturalists among
the rodents for many years, under the name of Rock Rabbit. Yet, as I
have already mentioned, it is not even a rodent, but belongs to the
pachydermatous group of animals, and occupies an intermediate place
between the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus.

  [Illustration: THE HYRAX.

  "_The Conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the
  rocks._"--PROV. xxx. 26.]

If it be examined carefully, the rodent-like teeth will be seen to
resemble exactly the long curved tusks of the hippopotamus, with
their sharp and chisel-edged tips; the little feet, on a close
inspection, are seen to be furnished with a set of tiny hoofs just
like those of the rhinoceros; and there are many other points in its
structure which, to the eye of a naturalist, point out its true place
in nature.

In common with the rodents, and other animals which have
similarly-shaped teeth, the Hyrax, when at rest, is continually
working its jaws from side to side, a movement which it instinctively
performs, in order that the chiselled edges of the upper and lower
teeth may be preserved sharp by continually rubbing against each
other, and that they may not be suffered to grow too long, and so to
deprive the animal of the means whereby it gains its food. But for
this peculiar movement, which looks very like the action of
ruminating, the teeth would grow far beyond the mouth, as they rapidly
deposit dental material in their bases in order to supply the waste
caused at their tips by the continual friction of the edges against
each other.

It may seem strange that an animal which is classed with the elephant,
the rhinoceros, and the hippopotamus, all bare-skinned animals, should
be clothed with a furry coat. The reader may perhaps remember that the
Hyrax does not afford a solitary instance of this structure, and that,
although the elephants of our day have only a few bristly hairs thinly
scattered over the body, those of former days were clad in a thick and
treble coat of fur and hair.

There are four passages of Scripture in which the Coney is
mentioned--two in which it is prohibited as food, and two in which
allusion is made to its manner of life. In order to understand the
subject better, we will take them in their order.

The first mention of the Coney occurs in Leviticus xi. 5, among the
list of clean and unclean animals: "The coney, because he cheweth the
cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you." The second is
of a like nature, and is to be found in Deut. xiv. 7: "These ye shall
not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven
hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the
cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you."

The remaining passages, which describe the habits of the Coney, are as
follow. The first alludes to the rock-loving habits of the animal:
"The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats, and the rocks for the
conies." (Ps. civ. 18.) The second makes a similar mention of the
localities which the animal frequents, and in addition speaks of its
wariness, including it among the "four things which are little upon
the earth, but they are exceedingly wise." The four are the ants, the
locusts, the spiders, and the Conies, which "are but a feeble folk,
yet make they their houses in the rocks."

We will take these passages in their order.

It has already been mentioned that the Hyrax, a true pachyderm, does
not merely chew the cud, but that the peculiar and constant movement
of its jaws strongly resembles the act of rumination. The Jews,
ignorant as they were of scientific zoology, would naturally set down
the Hyrax as a ruminant, and would have been likely to eat it, as its
flesh is very good. It must be remembered that two conditions were
needful to render an animal fit to be eaten by a Jew, the one that it
must be a ruminant, and the second that it should have a divided hoof.
Granting, therefore, the presence of the former qualification, Moses
points out the absence of the latter, thereby prohibiting the animal
as effectually as if he had entered into a question of comparative
anatomy, and proved that the Hyrax was incapable of rumination.

We now come to the habits of the animal.

As we may gather from the passages of Scripture which have already
been mentioned, the Hyrax inhabits rocky places, and lives in the
clefts that are always found in such localities. It is an exceedingly
active creature, leaping from rock to rock with wonderful rapidity,
its little sharp hoofs giving it a firm hold of the hard and irregular
surface of the stony ground. Even in captivity it retains much of its
activity, and flies about its cage with a rapidity that seems more
suitable to a squirrel than to an animal allied to the rhinoceros and

There are several species--perhaps only varieties--of the Hyrax, all
of them identical in habits, and almost precisely similar in
appearance. The best known of these animals is that which inhabits
Southern Africa (_Hyrax Capensis_), and which is familiar to the
colonists by its name of Klip-das, or Rock-rabbit. In situations which
suit it, the Hyrax is very plentiful, and is much hunted by the
natives, who esteem its flesh very highly. Small and insignificant as
it appears to be, even Europeans think that to kill the Hyrax is a
tolerable test of sportsmanship, the wariness of the animal being so
great that much hunter's craft is required to approach it.

The following account of the Hyrax has been furnished to me by
Lt.-Col. A. W. Drayson, R.A.:--"In the Cape Colony, and over a great
portion of Southern Africa, this little creature is found. It is
never, as far as my experience goes, seen in great numbers, as we find
rabbits in England, though the caution of the animal is such as to
enable it to remain safe in districts from which other animals are
soon exterminated.

"As its name implies, it is found among rocks, in the crevices and
holes of which it finds a retreat. When a natural cavity is not found,
the klip-das scratches a hole in the ground under the rocks, and
burrows like a common rabbit. In size it is about equal to a hare,
though it is much shorter in the legs, and has ears more like those of
a rat than a rabbit. Its skin is covered with fur, thick and woolly,
as though intended for a colder climate than that in which it is
usually found; and, when seen from a distance, it looks nearly black.

"The rock-rabbit is a very watchful creature, and usually feeds on the
summit of any piece of rock near its home, always choosing one from
which it can obtain a good view of the surrounding country. When it
sees an enemy approaching, it sits rigidly on the rock and watches him
without moving, so that at a little distance it is almost impossible
to distinguish it from the rock on which it sits. When it does move,
it darts quickly out of sight, and disappears into its burrow with a
sudden leap.

"In consequence of its activity and cunning, the rock-rabbit is seldom
killed by white men; and when a hunter does secure one, it is
generally by means of a long shot. The natives usually watch near its
burrow, or noiselessly stalk it.

"I once killed one of these animals by a very long shot from a rifle,
as it was sitting watching us from the top of a large boulder, at a
distance of a hundred and fifty yards or thereabouts. The Dutch Boers
who were with me were delighted at the sight of it, as they said it
was good eating; and so it proved to be, the flesh being somewhat like
that of a hare, though in our rough field-cookery we could not do
justice to it."

This short narrative excellently illustrates the character of the
animal, which is classed among the "four things which be exceeding
wise." It is so crafty that no trap or snare ever set has induced a
Hyrax to enter it, and so wary that it is with difficulty to be killed
even with the aid of fire-arms. "No animal," writes Mr. Tristram,
"ever gave us so much trouble to secure.... The only chance of
securing one is to be concealed, particularly about sunset or before
sunrise, on some overhanging cliff, taking care not to let the shadow
be cast below, and then to wait until the little creatures cautiously
peep forth from their holes. They are said to be common by those who
have not looked for them, but are certainly not abundant in Palestine,
and few writers have ever had more than a single glimpse of one. I had
the good fortune to see one feeding in the gorge of the Kedron, and
then to watch it as it sat at the mouth of its hole, ruminating,
metaphorically if not literally, while waiting for sunset."

Should the Hyrax manage to catch a glimpse of the enemy, it utters a
shrill cry or squeal, and darts at once to its hole--an action which
is followed by all its companions as soon as they hear the warning
cry. It is a tolerably prolific animal, rearing four or five young at
a birth, and keeping them in a soft bed of hay and fur, in which they
are almost hidden. If surprised in its hole and seized, the Hyrax will
bite very sharply, its long chisel-edged teeth inflicting severe
wounds on the hand that attempts to grasp it. But it is of a tolerably
docile disposition, and in a short time learns to know its owner, and
to delight in receiving his caresses.

Three species of Hyrax are known to naturalists. One is the Klip-das,
or Rock-rabbit, of Southern Africa; the second is the Ashkoko of
Abyssinia; and the third is the Syrian Hyrax, or the Coney of the
Bible. The two last species have often been confounded together, but
the Syrian animal may be known by the oblong pale spot on the middle
of its back.

The Talmudical writers were greatly perplexed about the proper reading
of the word Shaphan, some of them thinking it to be a jerboa, and
others considering it as the rabbit. Lewysohn sums up the arguments
after a rather curious fashion. According to him, the strongest
argument against the translation of the Biblical word Shaphan as
"rabbit" is that the animal came from Spain, and was probably unknown
to the earlier Talmudists, though the later writers might have known

Then, struck with the resemblance of the Hebrew word [Hebrew: Sh'p'n]
and Spain, he proceeds to discuss the probability of the Shaphan
deriving its name from Spain, the country of its origin, or of Spain
being so called on account of the number of rabbits which inhabited
it. He comes at last to the conclusion that the jerboa was probably
the animal which was prohibited in the Mosaic law; but that, as the
rabbit answered in every respect to the Talmudical conditions, it may,
for all practical purposes, be accepted as the representative of the
Shaphan of Scripture.


   Literal translation of the word Behemoth--Various theories
   respecting the identity of the animal--The Hippopotamus known to
   the ancient Hebrews--Geographical range of the animal--"He
   eateth grass like the ox"--Ravages of the Hippopotamus among the
   crops--Structure of the mouth and teeth--The "sword or scythe"
   of the Hippopotamus--Some strange theories--Haunts of the
   Hippopotamus--The Egyptian hunter--A valuable painting--Strength
   of the Hippopotamus--Rising of the Nile--Modern
   hunters--Wariness of the Hippopotamus--The pitfall and the

In the concluding part of that wonderful poem which is so familiar to
us as the Book of Job, the Lord is represented as reproving the
murmurs of Job, by showing that he could not even understand the
mysteries of the universe, much less the purposes of the Creator. By
presuming to bring a charge of injustice against his Maker, he in fact
inferred that the accuser was more competent to govern the world than
was the Creator, and thus laid himself open to the unanswerable irony
of the splendid passages contained in chapters xl. xli., which show
that man cannot even rule the animals, his fellow-creatures, much less
control the destinies of the human race.

The passages with which we are at present concerned are to be found at
the end of the fortieth chapter, and contain a most powerful
description of some animal which is called by the name of Behemoth.
Now this word only occurs once in the whole of the Scriptures, _i.e._
in Job xl. 15: "Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee," &c. Some
commentators, in consequence of the plural termination of the word,
which may be literally translated as "beasts," have thought that it
was a collective term for all the largest beasts of the world, such as
the elephant, the hippopotamus, the wild cattle, and their like.
Others have thought that the elephant was signified by the word
Behemoth; and some later writers, acquainted with palæontology, have
put forward a conjecture that the Behemoth must have been some extinct
pachydermatous animal, like the dinotherium, in which might be
combined many of the qualities of the elephant and hippopotamus.

It is now, however, agreed by all Biblical scholars and naturalists,
that the hippopotamus, and no other animal, is the creature which was
signified by the word Behemoth, and this interpretation is followed in
the Jewish Bible.

We will now take the whole of the passage, and afterwards examine it
by degrees, comparing the Authorized Version with the Jewish Bible,
and noting at the same time one or two variations in the rendering of
certain phrases. The passage is given as follows in the Jewish Bible,
and may be compared with our Authorized Version:--

"Behold now the river-horse, which I have made with thee: he eateth
grass like an ox.

"Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his vigour is in the
muscles of his body.

"He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his thighs are wrapped

"His bones are pipes of copper; his bones are like bars of iron.

"He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can alone reach
his sword.

"That the mountains should bring forth food for him, and all the
beasts of the field play there.

"He lieth under wild lotuses, in the covert of the reed, and fens.

"Wild lotuses cover him with their shadow; willows of the brook
compass him about.

"Behold, should a river overflow, he hasteth not: he feels secure
should Jordan burst forth up to his mouth.

"He taketh it in with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares."

We will now take this description in detail, and see how far it
applies to the now familiar habits of the hippopotamus. A little
allowance must of course be made for poetical imagery, but we shall
find that in all important details the account of the Behemoth agrees
perfectly with the appearance and habits of the hippopotamus.

In the first place, it is evident that we may dismiss from our minds
the idea that the Behemoth was an extinct pachyderm. The whole tenor
of the passage shows that it must have been an animal then existing,
and whose habits were familiar to Job and his friends. Now the date of
the Book of Job could not have been earlier than about 1500 B.C., and
in, consequence, the ideas of a palæozoic animal must be discarded.

We may also dismiss the elephant, inasmuch as it was most unlikely
that Job should have known anything about the animal, and it is
certain that he could not have attained the familiarity with its
appearance and habits which is inferred by the context. Moreover, it
cannot be said of the elephant that "he eateth grass as an ox." The
elephant feeds chiefly on the leaves of trees, and when he does eat
grass, he cannot do so "like an ox," but plucks it with his proboscis,
and then puts the green tufts into his mouth. So characteristic a
gesture as this would never have passed unnoticed in a description so
full of detail.

That the hippopotamus was known to the ancient Hebrews is certain.
After their sojourn in Egypt they had necessarily become familiarized
with it; and if, as most commentators believe, the date of the Book of
Job be subsequent to the liberation of the Israelites, there is no
difficulty in assuming that Job and his companions were well
acquainted with the animal. Even if the book be of an earlier date, it
is still possible that the hippopotamus may, in those days, have lived
in rivers where it is now as much extinct as it is in England. Mr.
Tristram remarks on this point: "No hippopotamus is found in Asia, but
there is no reason for asserting that it may not have had an eastern
range as far as Palestine, and wallowed in the Jordan; for its bones
are found in the _débris_ of the rivers of Algeria, flowing into the
Mediterranean, when tradition is quite silent as to its former

"Several extinct species of hippopotamus have been found in the later
tertiary deposits, both of England and other countries of Europe,
embedded in gravel which contains shells of many existing species of
the locality, showing that the temperature has not much changed, and
that some of the fossil species were natives of cold and temperate

There is no doubt that the hippopotamus and the urus were the two
largest animals known to the Jews, and it is probably on that account
that the former received the name of Behemoth.

Assuming, therefore, that the Behemoth is identical with the
hippopotamus, we will proceed with the description.

The words "whom I made with thee" have been variously translated. Some
Hebraists render them as, "whom I made near thee," _i.e._ near or in
the country in which Job lived. Others read the words, "like as thee,"
_i.e._ that the Behemoth was the fellow-creature of Job. Others again
understand them as signifying that the man and the animal were
contemporaneous, and the passage should be read, "whom I made at the
same time with thee." Whichever interpretation we adopt, it is evident
that a parallel of some kind is drawn between the man and the beast.

"He eateth grass like the ox." The word which is here rendered "grass"
is translated in Numb. xi. 5 as "leeks." It means, something that is
green, and is probably used to signify green herbage of any
description. Now it is perfectly true of the hippopotamus that it eats
grass like an ox, or like cattle, as the passage may be translated. In
order to supply its huge massive body with nourishment, it consumes
vast quantities of food, as indeed may be inferred from the structure
of its mouth and jaws. The mouth is enormously broad and
shovel-shaped, so as to take in a large quantity of food at once; and
the gape is so wide, that when the animal opens its jaws to their full
extent it seems to split its head into two nearly equal portions. This
great mobility of jaw is assisted by the peculiar form of the gape,
which takes a sudden turn upwards, and reaches almost to the eyes.

Just as the mouth is formed to contain a vast quantity of food, so
the jaws and teeth are made to procure it. From the front of the lower
jaw the incisor teeth project horizontally, no longer performing the
ordinary duties of teeth, but being modified into tusks, which are in
all probability used as levers for prising up the vegetables on which
the animal lives. But the most singular portion of the jaw is the mode
in which the canine teeth are modified so as to resemble the incisor
teeth of rodents, and to perform a similar office.

These teeth are very long, curved, and chisel-edged at their tips,
their shape being preserved by continual attrition, just as has been
mentioned of the hyrax. The material of the teeth is peculiarly hard,
so much so, indeed, that it is in great request for artificial teeth,
the "verniers" of philosophical instruments, and similar purposes.
Consequently, with these teeth the hippopotamus can cut through the
stems of thick and strong herbage as with shears, and the strength of
its jaws is so great that an angered hippopotamus has been known to
bite a man completely in two, and to crush a canoe to fragments with a
single movement of its enormous jaws.

Keeping this description in our minds, we shall see how true is the
statement in verse 19. This passage is not adequately rendered in the
Authorized Version: the word which is translated as "sword" also
signifies a scythe, and evidently having that meaning in the text. The
passage is best translated thus: "His Maker hath furnished him with
his scythe."

The havoc which such an animal can make among growing crops may be
easily imagined. It is fond of leaving the river, and forcing its way
into cultivated grounds, where it eats vast quantities of green food,
and destroys as much as it eats, by the trampling of its heavy feet.
Owing to the width of the animal, the feet are placed very far apart,
and the consequence is that the hippopotamus makes a double path, the
feet of each side trampling down the herbage, and causing the track to
look like a double rut, with an elevated ridge between them.

Some little difficulty has been made respecting the passage in verse
20, "Surely the mountains bring him forth food." Commentators ignorant
of the habits of the hippopotamus, and not acquainted with the
character of the country where it lives, have thought that the animal
only lived in the rivers, and merely found its food along its banks,
or at most upon the marshes at the river-side. The hippopotamus, say
they, is not a dweller on the mountains, but an inhabitant of the
river, and therefore this passage cannot rightly be applied to the

Now, in the first place, the word _harim_, which is translated as
"mountains" in the Authorized Version, is rendered as "hills" by many
Hebraists. Moreover, as we know from many passages of Scripture, the
word "mountain" is applied to any elevated spot, without reference to
its height. Such places are very common along the banks of the Nile,
and are employed for the culture of vegetables, which would not grow
properly upon the flat and marshy lands around them. These spots are
very attractive to the hippopotamus, who likes a change of diet, and
thus finds food upon the mountains. In many parts of Egypt the river
runs through a mountainous country, so that the hills are within a
very short distance of the water, and are easily reached by the

The Talmudical writers exaggerated, after their custom, the
dimensions, voracity, and other attributes of the Behemoth. They said
that the animal devoured daily the herbage of a thousand hills, but
that, in order to prevent the devastation of the world which such
voracity would occasion, the herbage was miraculously renewed every
night. Only two of the Behemoth were ever created, and, lest they
should increase in numbers, and destroy every green thing on the face
of the earth, they were made incapable of propagating their kind.
There are other legends of the Behemoth too puerile to be narrated.

We will now proceed to the next verse. After mentioning that the
Behemoth can eat grass like an ox, and finds its food upon the hills,
the sacred writer proceeds to show that in its moments of repose it is
an inhabitant of the rivers and marshy ground: "He lieth under the
shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens.

"The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook
compass him about."

Here I may remind the reader that the compound Hebrew word which is
rendered in the Authorized Version as "shady trees" is translated by
some persons as "wild lotuses"--a rendering which is followed by the
editor of the Jewish Bible. Apparently, however, the Authorized
Version gives a more correct meaning of the term. Judging from a
well-known Egyptian painting, which represents a hunter in the act of
harpooning the hippopotamus, the tall papyrus reeds are the plants
that are signified by this word, which occurs in no other place in the

Nothing can be more accurate than this description of the habits of
the animal. I have now before me a number of sketches by Mr. T.
Baines, representing various incidents in the life of the
hippopotamus; and in one or two of them, the little islands that stud
the river, as well as the banks themselves, are thickly clothed with
reeds mixed with papyrus, the whole being exactly similar to those
which are represented in the conventional style of Egyptian art. These
spots are the favourite haunts of the hippopotamus, which loves to lie
under their shadow, its whole body remaining concealed in the water,
and only the eyes, ears, and nostrils appearing above the surface.

As reference will be made to this painting when we come to the
Leviathan, it will be as well to describe it in detail. In order that
the reader should fully understand it, I have had it translated, so to
speak, from the conventional outline of Egyptian art into perspective,
exactly as has been done with the Assyrian and Egyptian chariots.

In the foreground is seen the hunter, standing on a boat that closely
resembles the raft-boat which is still in use in several parts of
Africa. It is made of the very light wood called ambatch, by cutting
down the requisite number of trees, laying them side by side so that
their bases form the stern and their points the bow of the
extemporized boat. They are then firmly lashed together, the pointed
ends turned upwards, and the simple vessel is complete. It is, in
fact, nothing more than a raft of triangular shape, but the wood is so
buoyant that it answers every purpose.

In his hand the hunter grasps the harpoon which he is about to launch
at the hippopotamus. This is evidently the same weapon which is still
employed for that purpose. It consists of a long shaft, into the end
of which a barbed iron point is loosely inserted. To the iron point is
attached one end of a rope, and to the other end, which is held in the
left hand of the harpooner, a float of ambatch wood is fastened.


  "_Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee._"--JOB xl. 15.]

When the weapon is thrown, the furious struggles of the wounded animal
disengage the shaft of the harpoon, which is regained by the
hunter; and as it dashes through the water, throwing up spray
as it goes, the ambatch float keeps the end of the rope at the
surface, so that it can be seen as soon as the animal becomes quieter.
Sometimes it dives to the bottom, and remains there as long as its
breath can hold out; and when it comes up to breathe, it only pushes
the nostrils out of the water under the shadow of the reeds, so that
but for the float it might manage to escape.

  [Illustration: THE EGYPTIAN HUNTER.

  "_He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and
  fens._"--JOB xl. 21.

  (The attitude of the Hippopotamus is copied from the painting.)]

In the meantime, guided by the float, the hunter follows the course of
the animal, and, as soon as it comes within reach of his weapon,
drives another spear into it, and so proceeds until the animal dies
from loss of blood. The modern hunters never throw a second harpoon
unless the one already fixed gives way, mainly employing a spear to
inflict the last wounds. But if we may judge from this painting, the
Egyptian hunter attached a new rope with every cast of his weapon,
and, when the hippopotamus became weak from its wounds, gathered up
the ropes and came to close quarters.

In the bow of the boat is the hunter's assistant, armed with a rope
made lasso-wise into a noose, which he is throwing over the head of
the hippopotamus, whose attitude and expression show evidently, in
spite of the rudeness of the drawing, the impotent anger of the
weakened animal.

Behind the hippopotamus are the tall and dense reeds and papyrus under
the shelter of which the animal loves to lie, and on the surface of
the water float the beautiful white flowers of the lotus.

In the Egyptian painting, the artist, in spite of the
conventionalities to which he was bound, has depicted the whole scene
with skill and spirit. The head and open mouth of the hippopotamus are
remarkably fine, and show that the artist who drew the animal must
have seen it when half mad with pain, and half dead from loss of

The enormous strength of the hippopotamus is shown in verses 16, 18,
the last of which passages requires a little explanation. Two
different words are used here to express the bones of the animal. The
first is derived from a word signifying strength, and means the
"strong bones," _i.e._ those of the legs. These are hollow, and are
therefore aptly compared to tubes or pipes of copper. The second term
is thought by some Hebraists to refer to the rib-bones, which are
solid, and therefore are not likened to tubes, but to bars of iron.

The 23d verse has been translated rather variously. The Authorized
Version can be seen by reference to a Bible, and another translation,
that of the Jewish Bible, is given on page 319. A third, and perhaps
the best rendering of this passage is given by the Rev. W. Drake, in
Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible:" "Lo, the river swelleth proudly
against him, yet he is not alarmed; he is securely confident though a
Jordan burst forth against his mouth."

In all probability reference is here made to the annual rising of the
Nile, and the inundations which it causes. In some years, when it
rises much above its usual height, the floods become most disastrous.
Whole villages are swept away, and scarcely a vestige of the mud-built
houses is left; the dead bodies of human beings are seen intermixed
with those of cattle, and the whole country is one scene of
desolation. Yet the almost amphibious hippopotamus cares nothing for
the floods, as long as it can find food, and so, "though the river
swelleth proudly against him," he is not alarmed.

From the use of the word "Jordan" in the same verse, it might be
thought that the river of Palestine was intended. This, however, is
not the case. The word "Jordan" is simply used as a poetical term for
any river, and is derived from a Hebrew word which signifies
"descending quickly."

We now come to the last verse of this noble description: "He taketh it
in with his eyes." These words have also been variously rendered, some
translating them as "He receiveth it (_i.e._ the river) up to his
eyes." But the translation which seems to suit the context best is,
"Who will take him when in his sight? His nose pierceth through
(_i.e._ detects) snares." Now, this faculty of detecting snares is one
of the chief characteristics of the hippopotamus, when it lives near
places inhabited by mankind, who are always doing their best to
destroy it. In the first place, its body gives them an almost
unlimited supply of flesh, the fat is very highly valued for many
purposes, the teeth are sold to the ivory-dealers, and the hide is cut
up into whips, or khoorbashes.

There is now before me a khoorbash, purchased from a native Egyptian
who was beating a servant with it. The whip is identical with that
which was used by the ancient Egyptians in urging the Israelites to
their tasks, and the scene reminded the traveller so forcibly of the
old Scriptural times that he rescued the unfortunate servant, and
purchased the khoorbash, which is now in my collection.

Not content with hunting the hippopotamus, the natives contrive
various traps, either pitfalls or drop-traps. The former are simply
pits dug in the path of the animal, covered with sticks and reeds, and
having at the bottom a sharp stake on which the victim is impaled, and
so effectually prevented from escaping or damaging the pit by its


  "_His nose pierceth through snares._"--JOB xl. 24.]

The drop-trap is a log of wood, weighted with stones, and having at
one end an iron spike, which is sometimes poisoned. The path which the
animal takes is watched, a conveniently overhanging branch is
selected, and from that branch the cruel spear is suspended, by a
catch or trigger, exactly over the centre of the path. There is no
difficulty in finding the precise centre of the path, owing to the
peculiar gait of the animal, which has already been described. One end
of the trigger supports the spear, and to the other is attached a
rope, which is brought across the path in such a way that when touched
it relieves the spear, which is driven deeply into the animal's back.
If well hung, the spear-blade divides the spine, and the wounded
animal falls on the spot, but, even if it should miss a vital part,
the poison soon does its fatal work.

In consequence of the continual persecution to which it is subjected,
the hippopotamus becomes exceedingly wary, and, huge, clumsy, and
blundering as it looks, is clever enough to detect either pitfall or
drop-trap that have not been contrived with especial care. An old and
experienced hippopotamus becomes so wary that he will be suspicious
even of a bent twig, and, rather than venture across it, he will leave
the path, force for himself a roundabout passage, and return to the
path beyond the object that alarmed him.

Mr. T. Baines, to whose sketches I am indebted for the illustration,
told me that the hippopotamus is possessed of much more intellect than
might be expected from a creature of so dull, clumsy, and unpromising
aspect. Apathetic it generally is, and, as long as it is left
unmolested, does not care to molest even the human beings that intrude
upon its repose.

It likes to lie in the shade of the reeds and rushes, and may be seen
floating in the water, with only the nostrils, the eyes, and the ears
above the surface, these organs being set in a line along the head,
evidently for the purpose of allowing the whole body to be hidden
under water while the three most important senses are capable of

A canoe-man who knows the habits of the hippopotamus will fearlessly
take his fragile vessel through a herd of the animals, knowing that,
if he only avoids contact with them, they will not interfere with him.
The only danger is, that a hippopotamus may rise under the canoe, and
strike itself against the boat, in which case the animal is rather apt
to consider the intruding object as an enemy, and to attack it,
sometimes crushing the canoe between its teeth, and mostly upsetting
it, and throwing the crew into the water. In such a case, the men
always dive at once to the bottom of the river, and hold on to some
weed or rock as long as they can exist without breathing. The reason
for this proceeding is, that the hippopotamus always looks for its
enemy upon the surface of the water, and, if the men were to swim to
shore, they would be caught and killed before they had swum many
strokes. But, as it sees nothing but the damaged canoe, its
short-lived anger vanishes, and it sinks again into the river,
leaving the men at liberty to regain and repair their vessel.

There is one passage in the description of the Behemoth which requires
a few words of explanation: "He moveth his tail like a cedar" (v. 17).

Several commentators have imagined that this expression shows that the
Behemoth must have been an animal which had a very long and powerful
tail, and have adduced the passage as a proof that the crocodile was
the animal that was signified by the Behemoth. Others, again, have
shifted the position of the tail, and, by rendering it as the
"proboscis," have identified the Behemoth with the elephant. There is,
however, no necessity for straining the interpretation, the passage
evidently signifying that the member in question is stiff and
inflexible as the cedar-stem.



   Difficulty of identifying the various birds mentioned in
   Scripture--The vultures of Palestine--The Lämmergeier, or
   Ossifrage of Scripture--The Hebrew word Peres, and its
   signification--The Ossifrage, or Bone-breaker--Appearance of the
   Lämmergeier--Its flight and mode of feeding--How the Lämmergeier
   kills snakes and tortoises, and breaks marrow-bones--Mode of
   destroying the chamois and mountain sheep--Nest of the

It has already been mentioned that even the best Biblical scholars
have found very great difficulties in identifying several of the
animals which are named in Scripture. This difficulty is greatly
increased when we come to the BIRDS, and in many instances it is
absolutely impossible to identify the Hebrew word with any precise
species. In all probability, however, the nomenclature of the birds is
a very loose one, several species being classed under the same title.

Even at the present day, the English language presents many similar
instances of poverty, as is well known to all zoologists. Taking the
birds as our first examples, how often do we not find the same word
used to signify many distinct species, and, again, one species
designated by several dissimilar words? The word Vulture, for example,
is used to signify a great number of birds, including the Lämmergeier,
the Condors, the Griffons, the Caracaras, and others; while the term
Eagle has scarcely a less wide signification. Sometimes the name is
applied in such a manner as to mislead those who are not scientific
ornithologists, and we find such inappropriate titles as night-hawk,
fern-owl, hedge-sparrow, reed-wren, &c., the birds in question being
neither hawks, owls, sparrows, nor wrens.

Keeping this difficulty in mind, I shall mention all the species which
are likely to have been classed under a single title, giving a general
description of the whole, and a detailed account of the particular
species which seems to answer most closely to the Hebrew word.


  "_These are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the
  ossifrage, and the ospray._"--DEUT. xiv. 12]

Following the arrangement which has been employed in this work, I
shall begin with the bird which has been placed by zoologists at the
head of its class, namely, the LÄMMERGEIER, the bird which may be
safely identified with the Ossifrage of Scripture. The Hebrew word is
"Peres," a term which only occurs twice when signifying a species of
bird; namely, in Lev. xi. 13, and the parallel passage in Deut. xiv.
12. The first of these passages runs as follows: "These ye shall have
in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an
abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray." The
corresponding passage in Deuteronomy has precisely the same
signification, though rather differently worded: "These are they of
which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray."

The reader will here notice that the sacred narrative gives no account
of the appearance or habits of the bird, but merely classed it with
the remainder of the predacious birds, all of which are declared to be
unfit for food. We must therefore look for some assistance in the
etymology of the word _peres_, which signifies one who breaks
anything. The same word occurs in several other passages of Scripture.

For example, the word was much used by David in commemorating any
remarkable event. When David sent Uzzah and Ahio to fetch the ark from
Kirjath-jearim, the oxen which drew the cart stumbled and shook the
ark, so that it seemed likely to fall. Uzzah, who walked by the side
of the cart, while his brother marched in front of the oxen,
instinctively put out his hand to uphold it, and fell dead by the side
of the ark which he had touched without authority. In order to
commemorate this event, David called the spot whereon it occurred
Perez-Uzzah, or the Breaking of Uzzah, "because the LORD had made a
breach upon Uzzah." (See 2 Sam. vi. 8.)

Reference to this event was afterwards made by David when he brought
the ark into Jerusalem. Having taken warning by the solemn event which
he had witnessed, he called together the priests and Levites, to whom
he gave the commission to bring the ark with due honour, and "said
unto them, Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: sanctify
yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of
the Lord God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it.

"For, because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a
breach (_peres_) upon us, for that we sought Him not in due order" (1
Chron. xv. 12, 13). David again employed the word to signify the
breaking up or destruction of the Philistines. "David smote them
there, and said, The Lord hath broken forth upon mine enemies before
me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that
place Baal-perazim"--_i.e._ the Place of Breakings. The same word
occurs again in that dread message to Belshazzar, written by the hand
upon the wall, "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin," or _peres_, the last
word signifying that the kingdom was broken up, and would be given
to other rulers.

The word _peres_, then, signifies a breaker; and the Latin term
Ossifraga, or Bone-breaker, is a very good translation of the word.
How it applies to the Lämmergeier we shall presently see.

The Lämmergeier belongs to the vultures, but has much more the
appearance of an eagle than a vulture, the neck being clothed with
feathers, instead of being naked or only covered with down. It may at
once be known by the tuft of long, hair-like feathers which depends
from the beak, and which has gained for the bird the title of Bearded
Vulture. The colour of the plumage is a mixture of different browns
and greys, tawny below and beautifully pencilled above, a line of pure
white running along the middle of each feather. When young it is
nearly black, and indeed has been treated as a separate species under
the name of Black Vulture.

It is one of the largest of the flying birds, its length often
exceeding four feet, and the expanse of its wings being rather more
than ten feet. In consequence of this great spread of wing, it looks
when flying like a much larger bird than it really is, and its size
has often been variously misstated. Its flight, as may be imagined
from the possession of such wings, is equally grand and graceful, and
it sweeps through the air with great force, apparently unaccompanied
by effort.

The Lämmergeier extends through a very large range of country, and is
found throughout many parts of Europe and Asia. It is spread over the
Holy Land, never congregating in numbers, like ordinary vultures, but
living in pairs, and scarcely any ravine being uninhabited by at least
one pair of Lämmergeiers.

The food of the Lämmergeier is, like that of other vultures, the flesh
of dead animals, though it does not feed quite in the same manner that
they do. When the ordinary vultures have found a carcase they tear it
to pieces, and soon remove all the flesh. This having been done, the
Lämmergeier comes to the half-picked bones, eats the remaining flesh
from them, and finishes by breaking them and eating the marrow. That a
bird should be able to break a bone as thick and hard as the
thigh-bone of a horse or ox seems rather problematical, but the bird
achieves the feat in a simple and effectual manner.

Seizing the bone in its claws, it rises to an immense height in the
air, and then, balancing itself over some piece of rock, it lets the
bone fall, and sweeps after it with scarce less rapidity than the bone
falls. Should the bone be broken by the fall, the bird picks the
marrow out of the fragments; and should it have escaped fracture by
reason of falling on a soft piece of ground instead of a hard rock,
the bird picks it up, and renews the process until it has attained its
object. It will be seen, therefore, that the name of Ossifrage, or
Bone-breaker, may very properly be given to this bird.

Not only does it extract the marrow from bones in this peculiar
manner, but it procures other articles of food by employing precisely
the same system. If it sees a tortoise, many of which reptiles are
found in the countries which it inhabits, it does not waste time and
trouble by trying to peck the shell open, but carries its prey high in
the air, drops it on the ground, and so breaks its shell to pieces.
Tortoises are often very hard-shelled creatures, and the Lämmergeier
has been observed to raise one of them and drop it six or seven times
before the stubborn armour would yield. Snakes, too, are killed in a
similar manner, being seized by the neck, and then dropped from a
height upon rocks or hard ground. The reader may perhaps be aware that
the Hooded Crow of England breaks bones and the shells of bivalve
molluscs in a similar manner.

Mr. Tristram suggests, with much probability, that the "eagle" which
mistook the bald head of the poet Æschylus for a white stone, and
killed him by dropping a tortoise upon it, was in all likelihood a
Lämmergeier, the bird being a denizen of the same country, and the act
of tortoise-dropping being its usual mode of killing those reptiles.

We now see why the Lämmergeier is furnished with such enormous wings,
and so great a power of flight, these attributes being needful in
order to enable it to lift its prey to a sufficient height. The air,
as we all know, becomes more and more attenuated in exact proportion
to the height above the earth; and did not the bird possess such great
powers of flight, it would not be able to carry a heavy tortoise into
the thinner strata of air which are found at the height to which it

The instinct of killing its prey by a fall is employed against other
animals besides snakes and tortoises, though exerted in a somewhat
different manner. The bird, as has already been mentioned, lives among
mountain ranges, and it may be seen floating about them for hours
together, watching each inch of ground in search of prey. Should it
see a goat or other inhabitant of the rocks standing near a precipice,
the Lämmergeier sweeps rapidly upon it, and with a blow of its wing
knocks the animal off the rock into the valley beneath, where it lies
helplessly maimed, even if not killed by the fall.

Even hares and lambs are killed in this manner, and it is from the
havoc which the Lämmergeier makes among the sheep that it has obtained
the name of Lämmergeier, or Lamb-Vulture. So swift and noiseless is
the rush of the bird, that an animal which has once been marked by its
blood-red eye seldom escapes from the swoop; and even the Alpine
hunters, who spend their lives in pursuit of the chamois, have
occasionally been put in great jeopardy by the sudden attack of a
Lämmergeier, the bird having mistaken their crouching forms for the
chamois, and only turned aside at the last moment.

The reason for employing so remarkable a mode of attack is to be found
in the structure of the feet, which, although belonging to so large
and powerful a bird, are comparatively feeble, and are unable, like
those of the eagle, to grasp the living animal in a deadly hold, and
to drive the sharp talons into its vitals. They are not well adapted
for holding prey, the talons not possessing the hook-like form or the
sharp points which characterise those of the eagle. The feet, by the
way, are feathered down to the toes. The beak, too, is weak when
compared with the rest of the body, and could not perform its work
were not the object which it tears previously shattered by the fall
from a height.

The nest of the Lämmergeier is made of sticks and sods, and is of
enormous dimensions. It is almost always placed upon a lofty cliff,
and contains about a wagon-load or so of sticks rudely interwoven, and
supporting a nearly equal amount of sods and moss.

An allied species lives in Northern Africa, where it is called by a
name which signifies Father Longbeard, in allusion to the beard-like
tufts of the bill.


    The Râchâm or Gier-Eagle identified with the Egyptian Vulture--Its
    appearance on the Egyptian monuments--Signification of the word
    _Râchâm_--Various translations of the word--The shape, size, and
    colour of the bird--Its value as a scavenger, and its general
    habits--The Egyptian Vultures and the griffons--Its fondness for the
    society of man--Nest of the Egyptian Vulture.

In the same list of unclean birds which has already been given, we
find the name of a bird which we can identify without much difficulty,
although there has been some little controversy about it. This is the
so-called Gier-Eagle, which is named with the cormorant and the
pelican as one of the birds which the Jews are forbidden to eat. The
word which is translated as Gier-Eagle is Râchâm, a name which is
almost identical with the Arabic name of the EGYPTIAN VULTURE,
sometimes called Pharaoh's Chicken, because it is so often sculptured
on the ancient monuments of Egypt. It is called by the Turks by a name
which signifies White Father, in allusion to the colour of its

Before proceeding to a description of the bird, we will examine the
other interpretations which have been given to the word _râchâm_.

In the first place, the word signifies "love," and is used in that
sense in many passages of Scripture. According to Buxtorf, the bird in
question is the merops or bee-eater, "a bird so called from the love
and pity which is shown to its parents, because it nurtures them when
hidden in the most lofty caves." Some of the Talmudists take it to be
the woodpecker.

Another rendering of the word which has received much favour is, that
the Râchâm is the hyacinthine gallinule, or sultana hen (_Pophyrio
veterum_). This bird is allied to the rails, and is remarkable for the
great length of its toes, by means of which it can walk on floating
herbage as it lies on the surface of the water. The colour of the bird
is a rich and variable blue, darker on the back and lighter on the
throat and breast. It is on account of this purple hue that the bird
has received the name of _Porphyrio_, or Purple Bird. It is spread
over many parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe.


  "_And the pelican, and the gier-eagle, and the cormorant._"--DEUT.
  xiv. 17.]

The reading of _râchâm_ as _porphyrio_ is followed in the Septuagint,
and the reading has been defended on the ground that the bird must
belong to the aquatic group, being placed between the pelican and
cormorant. The Jewish Bible follows our version, but affixes the mark
of doubt to the word.

Although some of the Talmudists render the word as woodpecker, others
identify it with the Egyptian Vulture. In Lewysohn's "Zoologie des
Talmuds," there is a curious speculation on this subject. This bird,
according to the authors whom he quotes, is the Schirkrek, and
derives its name from its peculiar cry, which begins with a hiss
(Schirk) and ends with a shriek (Rek). The bird utters its cry when
the rising of the Nile is expected, and so has earned the name of
Râchâm, or Love, this word being frequently used in the Scriptures as
a metaphor for rain, dew, or any water that nourishes plants.

Without adopting the process of reasoning employed in this case, we
may safely accept the conclusion, and consider the Râchâm as identical
with the Egyptian Vulture (_Neophron perenopterus_).

This bird is not a very large one, being about equal to a raven in
size, though its enormously long wings give it an appearance of much
greater size. Its colour is white, with the exception of the quill
feathers of the wings, which are dark-brown. The bill and the naked
face and legs are bright ochreous yellow. It does not attain this
white plumage until its third year, its colour before reaching adult
age being brown, with a grey neck and dull yellow legs and face.

The Egyptian Vulture, although not large, is a really handsome bird,
the bold contrast of pure white and dark brown being very conspicuous
when it is on the wing. In this plumage it has never been seen in
England, but one or two examples are known of the Egyptian Vulture
being killed in England while still in its dark-brown clothing.

It inhabits a very wide range of country, being found throughout all
the warmer parts of the Old World. Although it is tolerably plentiful,
it is never seen in great numbers, as is the case with several of the
vultures, but is always to be found in pairs, the male and female
never separating, and invariably being seen close together. In fact,
in places where it is common it is hardly possible to travel more than
a mile or two without seeing a pair of Egyptian Vultures. Should more
than two of these birds be seen together, the spectator may be sure
that they have congregated over some food. It has been well suggested
that its Hebrew name of Râchâm, or Love, has been given to it in
consequence of this constant association of the male and female.

The Egyptian Vulture is one of the best of scavengers, not only
devouring the carcases of dead animals, but feeding on every kind of
offal or garbage. Indeed, its teeth and claws are much too feeble to
enable it to cope with the true vultures in tearing up a large
carcase, and in consequence it never really associates with them,
although it may be seen hovering near them, and it never ventures to
feed in their company, keeping at a respectful distance while they
feed, and, when they retire, humbly making a meal on the scraps which
they have left.

Mr. Tristram narrates an amusing instance of this trait of character.
"On a subsequent occasion, on the north side of Hermon, we observed
the griffons teaching a lesson of patience to the inferior scavengers.
A long row of Egyptian vultures were sitting on some rocks, so
intently watching a spot in a corn-field that they took no notice of
our approach. Creeping cautiously near, we watched a score of griffons
busily engaged in turning over a dead horse, one side of which they
had already reduced to a skeleton.

"Their united efforts had just effected this, when we showed
ourselves, and they quickly retired. The inferior birds, who dreaded
us much less than them, at once darted to the repast, and, utterly
regardless of our presence within ten yards of them, began to gorge.
We had hardly retired two hundred yards, when the griffons came down
with a swoop, and the Egyptian vultures and a pair or two of eagles
hurriedly resumed their post of observation; while some black kites
remained, and contrived by their superior agility to filch a few
morsels from their lordly superiors."

So useful is this bird as a scavenger, that it is protected in all
parts of the East by the most stringent laws, so that a naturalist who
wishes for specimens has some difficulty in procuring the bird, or
even its egg. It wanders about the streets of the villages, and may
generally be found investigating the heaps of refuse which are left to
be cleared away by the animals and birds which constitute the
scavengers of the East.

It not only eats dead animal substances, but kills and devours great
quantities of rats, mice, lizards, and other pests that swarm in hot
countries. So tame is it, that it may even be observed, like the gull
and the rook of our own country, following the ploughman as he turns
up the ground, and examining the furrow for the purpose of picking up
the worms, grubs, and similar creatures that are disturbed by the

Being thus protected and encouraged by man, there is good reason why
it should have learned in course of time to fear him far less than its
own kind. Indeed, it is so utterly fearless with regard to human
beings, that it habitually follows the caravans as they pass from one
town to another, for the sake of feeding on the refuse food and other
offal which is thrown aside on the road.

Two articles of diet which certainly do not seem to fall within the
ordinary range of vulture's food are said to be consumed by this bird.
The first is the egg of the ostrich, the shell of which is too hard to
be broken by the feeble beak of the Egyptian Vulture. The bird cannot,
like the lämmergeier, carry the egg into the air and drop it on the
ground, because its feet are not large enough to grasp it, and only
slip off its round and polished surface. Therefore, instead of raising
the egg into the air and dropping it upon a stone, it carries a stone
into the air and drops it upon the egg. So at least say the natives of
the country which it inhabits, and there is no reason why we should
doubt the truth of the statement.

The other article of food is a sort of melon, very full of juice. This
melon is called "nara," and is devoured by various creatures, such as
lions, leopards, mice, ostriches, &c. and seems to serve them instead
of drink.

The nest of the Egyptian Vulture is made in some rocky ledge, and the
bird does not trouble itself about selecting a spot inaccessible to
man, knowing well that it will not be disturbed. The nest is, like
that of other vultures, a large and rude mass of sticks, sods, bones,
and similar materials, to which are added any bits of rag, rope, skin,
and other village refuse which it can pick up as it traverses the
streets. There are two, and occasionally three, eggs, rather variously
mottled with red. In its breeding, as in its general life, it is not a
gregarious bird, never breeding in colonies, and, indeed, very seldom
choosing a spot for its nest near one which has already been selected
by another pair.

The illustration on page 340 represents part of the nest of the
Egyptian Vulture, in which the curious mixture of bones and sticks is
well shown. The parent birds are drawn in two characteristic attitudes
taken from life, and well exhibit the feeble beak, the peculiar and
intelligent, almost cunning expression of the head, and the ruff of
feathers which surrounds the upper part of the neck. In the distance
another bird is drawn as it appears on the wing, in order to show the
contrast between the white plumage and the dark quill feathers of the
wings, the bird presenting a general appearance very similar to that
of the common English sea-gull.



    The Griffon Vulture identified with the Eagle of Scripture--The word
    _Nesher_ and its signification--Geographical range of the Griffon--Its
    mode of flight and sociable habits--The featherless head and neck of
    the bird--The Vulture used as an image of strength, swiftness, and
    rapacity--Its powers of sight--How Vultures assemble round a
    carcase--Nesting-places of the Griffon--Mr. Tristram's description of
    the Griffon--Rock-caves of the Wady Hamâm--Care of the young, and
    teaching them to fly--Strength of the Griffon--Its emblematical use in
    Egypt and Assyria--The god Nisroch--Noble aspect of the Griffon--Its
    longevity--Various attitudes assumed by the bird.

We now come to another word which will give us but little trouble in
identification. This is the word _Nesher_, which is invariably
translated in the Authorized Version of the Bible as Eagle, but which
was undoubtedly a different bird, and has satisfactorily been
identified with the GRIFFON VULTURE, or Great Vulture (_Gyps fulvus_).
The reasons for this conclusion are so inextricably interwoven with
the various passages in which the bird is mentioned, that I shall not
give them separately, but simply allude to them in the course of the

In the first place, the name Nesher is derived, according to many
Hebraists, from a word which signifies the power of sight, and is
given to the bird in consequence of its piercing vision. The
Talmudical writers mention a curious proverb concerning the sight of
the Vulture, namely, that a Vulture in Babylon can see a carcase in
Palestine. Other scholars derive it from a word which signifies its
longevity, while others again believe that the true derivation is to
be found in a word which signifies ripping up or tearing with the

The Griffon Vulture is found throughout a large portion of the Old
World, inhabiting nearly all the warmer portions of this hemisphere.
The colour of the adult bird is a sort of yellowish brown, diversified
by the black quill feathers and the ruff of white down that surrounds
the neck. The head and neck are without feathers, but are sparingly
covered with very short down of a similar character to that of the

It is really a large bird, being little short of five feet in total
length, and the expanse of wing measuring about eight feet.

The Griffon Vulture is very plentiful in Palestine, and, unlike the
lesser though equally useful Egyptian Vulture, congregates together in
great numbers, feeding, flying, and herding in company. Large flocks
of them may be seen daily, soaring high in the air, and sweeping their
graceful way in the grand curves which distinguish the flight of the
large birds of prey. They are best to be seen in the early morning,
being in the habit of quitting their rocky homes at daybreak, and
indulging in a flight for two or three hours, after which they mostly
return to the rocks, and wait until evening, when they take another
short flight before retiring to rest.

Allusion is made in the Scriptures to the gregarious habits of the
Vultures: "Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be
gathered together" (Matt xxiv. 28). That the Vulture, and not the
eagle, is here signified, is evident from the fact that the eagles do
not congregate like the Vultures, never being seen in greater numbers
than two or three together, while the Vultures assemble in hundreds.

The featherless head of the Vulture is mentioned in the Book of Micah,
chap. i. ver. 16: "Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate
children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into
captivity from thee." It is evident that in this passage reference is
made, not to the eagle, whose head is thickly covered with feathers,
but to the Vulture, whose head and neck are but scantily sprinkled
with white down. Some commentators, not aware that the word _nesher_
should have been rendered as "vulture," have explained the passage by
saying that the prophet referred to the moulting-time of the eagle;
but the reader will see that such an explanation is at the best a
forced one, whereas the reference to the bald head of the Vulture is
both simple and natural.

The voracity of the Vulture, and its capacity for discovering food,
are both mentioned in Job xxxix. 27-30: "Doth the eagle (_nesher_)
mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?

"She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and
the strong place.

"From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off.

"Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is

See also Hab. i. 6-8, in which the prophet speaks of the Chaldeans,
"that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth
of the land, to possess the dwelling-places that are not theirs.

"They are terrible and dreadful: ... and their horsemen shall spread
themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as
the eagle that hasteth to eat."

There is also a curious passage in the Book of Proverbs, chap. xxx.
ver. 17, which alludes to the carnivorous nature of the bird: "The eye
that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the
ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat

Allusion is made in several passages to the swiftness of the Vulture,
as well as its voracity. See, for example, a portion of David's
lamentation over the bodies of Saul and Jonathan, who, according to
the poet's metaphor, "were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in
their death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they
were stronger than lions."

The "bitter" people--namely, the Chaldeans--are again mentioned in a
very similar manner by the prophet Jeremiah: "Our persecutors are
swifter than the eagles of the heavens; they pursued us upon the
mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness" (Lam. iv. 19).

There is something peculiarly appropriate in employing the Vulture as
an image of strength and swiftness when applied to warriors, the bird
being an invariable attendant on the battle, and flying to the field
of death with marvellous swiftness. All who had ever witnessed a
battle were familiar with the presence of the Vulture--the scene of
carnage, and the image which is employed, would be one which commended
itself at once to those for whom it was intended. And, as the earlier
history of the Jewish nation is essentially of a warlike character, we
cannot wonder that so powerful and familiar an image should have been
repeatedly introduced into the sacred writings.

The wonderful powers of sight possessed by this bird are mentioned in
the passage from Job xxxix. which has already been quoted.

Here it may be as well to say that, piercing as is the vision of the
Vulture, its visual powers have been much exaggerated. It certainly
does possess a vision of no ordinary capacity, which is able to assume
either a telescopic or a microscopic character, by means of a complex
and marvellous structure, which can alter the whole shape of the organ
at the will of the bird.

Not only can the eye be thus altered, but it changes instantaneously,
so as to accommodate itself to the task which it is to perform. A
Vulture, for example, sees from a vast height the body of a dead
animal, and instantly swoops down upon it like an arrow from a bow. In
order to enable the bird to see so distant an object, the eye has been
exercising its telescopic powers, and yet, in a second or two, when
the Vulture is close to its prey, the whole form of the eye must be
changed, or the bird would mistake its distance, and dash itself to
pieces on the ground.

To describe this beautiful piece of mechanism would be outside the
scope of the present work; but the reader can find it in every good
work on comparative anatomy, and is strongly advised to make himself
master of the means by which a result so apparently impossible is

By means of its powerful eyes, the Vulture can see to an enormous
distance, and with great clearness, but neither so far nor so clearly
as is popularly supposed. It is true that, as soon as a carcase is
discovered, it will be covered with Vultures, who arrive from every
side, looking at first like tiny specks in the air, scarcely
perceptible even to practised eyes, and all directing their flight to
the same point. "Where the carcase is, there will the vultures be
gathered together." But, although they all fly towards the same spot,
it does not follow that they have all seen the same object. The fact
is, they see and understand each other's movements.

A single Vulture, for example, sees a dead or dying sheep, and swoops
down upon it. The other Vultures which are flying about in search of
food, and from which the animal in question may be concealed, know
perfectly well that a Vulture soars high in the air when searching for
food, and only darts to the earth when it has found a suitable prey.
They immediately follow its example, and in their turn are followed by
other Vultures, which can see their fellows from a distance, and know
perfectly well why they are all converging to one spot.

In this way all the Vultures of a neighbourhood will understand, by a
very intelligible telegraph, that a dead body of some animal has been
found, and, aided by their wonderful powers of flight, will assemble
over its body in an almost incredibly short space of time.

The resting-place of the Griffon Vulture is always on some lofty spot.
The Arabian Vulture will build within easy reach, the eagle prefers
lofty situations, but nothing but the highest and most inaccessible
spots will satisfy the Vulture. To reach the nest of this bird is
therefore a very difficult task, only to be attempted by experienced
and intrepid cragsmen; and, in consequence, both the eggs and young of
the Griffon Vulture cannot be obtained except for a very high price.
The birds are fond of building in the rock-caves which are found in so
many parts of Palestine, and in some places they fill these places as
thickly as rooks fill a rookery.

The fondness of the Vulture for such localities is more than once
mentioned in Holy Writ. One of these passages, which occurs in Job
xxxix. 29, has already been quoted, and another, and equally forcible
one, is to be found in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah: "Thy
terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou
that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of
the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle
(_nesher_), I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord" (Jer.
xlix. 16).

In Mr. Tristram's "Land of Israel," there is a very graphic
description of the Griffon's nests, and of the difficulty experienced
in reaching them. "A narrow gorge, with limestone cliffs from five
hundred to six hundred feet high, into which the sun never penetrates,
walls the rapid brook on each side so closely that we often had to
ride in the bed of the stream. The cliffs are perforated with caves at
all heights, wholly inaccessible to man, the secure resting-place of
hundreds of noble griffons, some lämmergeiers, lanner falcons, and
several species of eagle.... One day in the ravine well repaid us,
though so terrific were the precipices, that it was quite impossible
to reach any of the nests with which it swarmed.

"We were more successful in the Wady Hamâm, the southwest end of the
plain, the entrance from Hattin and the Buttauf, where we spent three
days in exploration. The cliffs, though reaching the height of fifteen
hundred feet, rise like terraces, with enormous masses of _débris_,
and the wood is half a mile wide. By the aid of Giacomo, who proved
himself an expert rope-climber, we reaped a good harvest of griffons'
eggs, some of the party being let down by ropes, while those above
were guided in working them by signals from others below in the
valley. It required the aid of a party of a dozen to capture these
nests. The idea of scaling the cliff with ropes was quite new to some
Arabs who were herding cattle above, and who could not, excepting one
little girl, be induced to render any assistance. She proved herself
most sensible and efficient in telegraphing.

"While capturing the griffons' nests, we were re-enacting a celebrated
siege in Jewish history. Close to us, at the head of the cliffs which
form the limits of the celebrated Plain of Hattin, were the ruins of
Irbid, the ancient Arbela, marked principally by the remains of a
synagogue, of which some marble shafts and fragments of entablature,
like those of Tell Hûm, are still to be seen, and were afterwards
visited by us.

"Hosea mentions the place apparently as a strong fortress: 'All thy
fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel in the day
of battle' (Hos. x. 14). Perhaps the prophet here refers to the
refuges in the rocks below.

"The long series of chambers and galleries in the face of the
precipice are called by the Arabs Kulat Ibn Maân, and are very fully
described by Josephus. These cliffs were the homes of a set of
bandits, who resided here with their families, and for years set the
power of Herod the Great at defiance. At length, when all other
attempts at scaling the fortress had failed, he let down soldiers at
this very spot in boxes, by chains, who attacked the robbers with long
hooks, and succeeded in rooting them all out. The exploit was familiar
to us by an engraving of the _Penny Magazine_ of old, and little did
we dream that we should one day storm those very caves in a similar
way ourselves. We could not but regret that Herod had neglected to
leave his chains and grappling-irons for our use.

"The rock galleries, though now only tenanted by griffons, are very
complete and perfect, and beautifully built. Long galleries wind
backwards and forwards in the cliff side, their walls being built with
dressed stone, flush with the precipice, and often opening into
spacious chambers. Tier after tier rise one after another with
projecting windows, connected by narrow staircases, carried sometimes
upon arches, and in the upper portions rarely broken away. In many of
the upper chambers to which we were let down, the dust of ages had
accumulated, undisturbed by any foot save that of the birds of the
air; and here we rested during the heat of the day, with the plains
and lake set as in a frame before us. We obtained a full zoological
harvest, as in three days we captured fourteen nests of griffons."

Although these caverns and rocky passages are much more accessible
than most of the places whereon the Griffons build, the natives never
venture to enter them, being deterred not so much by their height, as
by their superstitious fears. The Griffons instinctively found out
that man never entered these caverns, and so took possession of them.

As the young Griffons are brought up in these lofty and precipitous
places, it is evident that their first flight must be a dangerous
experiment, requiring the aid of the parent birds. At first the young
are rather nervous at the task which lies before them, and shrink from
trusting themselves to the air. The parents, however, encourage them
to use their wings, take short flights in order to set them an
example, and, when they at last venture from the nest, accompany and
encourage them in their first journey.

Even this habit has been noted by the sacred writers, and been
forcibly employed as an image of divine protection. See the Song of
Moses, in which the aged leader, whose forty years' work was at last
finished, recapitulates the mercies vouchsafed to the people of
Israel, and exhorts them against the sin of ingratitude: "For the
Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.

"He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness;
He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His

"As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young,
spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings;

"So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with
him" (Deut. xxxii. 9-12).

The strength of flight of the Vulture is also noticed by the sacred
writers. See, for example, Exod. xix. 4: "Ye have seen what I did to
the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' (_nesherim_) wings, and
brought you unto myself."

This passage had a peculiar force when addressed to the Hebrews, the
Vulture being one of the chief emblems of Egyptian power, and its
outspread wings continually recurring on the grand monuments and
temples with which they must have been so familiar.

Strangely enough, in their second captivity, the Jews met with the
same emblem among the Assyrians. For example, their god Nisroch, whom
we find mentioned as specially worshipped by Sennacherib, was a
vulture-headed deity, bearing not only the head of the bird, but also
its wings. The vast wings of the Vulture were by the Assyrians used as
types of Divine power, and were therefore added, not only to human
figures, but to those of beasts. The human-headed and vulture-winged
bulls of Nineveh, with which we are now so familiar, are good examples
of this peculiar imagery.

The name Nisroch, by the way, is evidently the same word as _nesher_,
and bears even closer resemblance to the Arabic _niss'r_. This bird
was also the war standard of Assyria, just as the eagle is that of
France, and the metaphors used by Habbakuk and Jeremiah had therefore
a doubly forcible sense.

We find the same bird employed as a visible emblem of Divine
omnipresence and omniscience in the visions seen by Ezekiel and St.
John: "And every one had four faces; the first face was the face of a
cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the
face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle" (Ezek. x. 14).
Then, in the Revelation, chap. iv. ver. 6, 7, is the account of a
vision of very similar character: "In the midst of the throne, and
round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and

"And the first beast was like a lion, and the second was like a calf,
and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like
a flying eagle."

From these passages we shall see that the Griffon Vulture was not held
by the Scriptural writers in the contempt with which we are apt to
regard it. Not having any Vultures resident in our country, for the
simple reason that there is not enough carrion in the whole of England
to feed a single Vulture for a month, we have no practical knowledge
of them, and are apt to confound, under the common title of Vulture,
birds of most dissimilar aspect. Some of them, especially those which
inhabit the West Indies, are mean-looking, slouching, sneaking,
obscene birds, which, even when brought to this country, and nourished
on fresh meat, cannot be regarded without inspiring a feeling of

But there are others which are really grand and noble birds, which
excite admiration instead of disgust, and one of the chief among these
is the Griffon Vulture. Scavenger though it be, it is not disgusting
in its habits, and may even be called a cleanly bird. It is
intelligent, after its way, and is quite as susceptible of human
teaching as the falcon or the cormorant. It is not quarrelsome, and,
even when feeding, does not try to drive away its neighbour, but feeds
alongside of him with perfect amity and quiet.

In common with other birds of its order, the Griffon Vulture is a very
long-lived bird, and even this characteristic is noticed in the
well-known passage, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His
benefits: ... who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy
youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Ps. ciii. 1, 5).


  "Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered
  together."--MATT. xxiv. 28.]

This passage has often been absurdly misinterpreted by commentators
who have not appreciated the metaphorical style of all Oriental
poetry. Taking the passage in its exact literal sense, and not knowing
that reference is made to the Vulture and not to the eagle,
they have taken for granted that the eagle had some mode of
renewing its youth, and, in fact, after becoming old, went through
some process by which it shook off the decrepitude of old age, and
became young again. Others, seeing that such an interpretation was
both strained and far-fetched, have thought that reference was made to
the annual moult of the eagle, which they fancied to be of a very
severe character, the whole of the feathers being shed at once, so as
to leave the bird naked and helpless, and then being restored with
added strength and beauty.

It is evident, however, that no such interpretation is needed, and
that the Psalmist, when using the expression "renewing the youth like
an eagle's," only employed a metaphorical expression significative of

If we recapitulate the various passages in which the Nesher is
mentioned in the Scriptures, we shall find that the sacred writers
were thoroughly acquainted with the bird, and that they wrote of it
with an occasional fulness and an invariable precision which shows how
familiar they were with a bird at once so plentiful and so

The illustration represents one of the rocky gorges so plentiful in
Palestine, inhabited by a number of Griffon Vultures. Some of them are
feeding upon the carcase of a dead animal, another is upon her nest,
and several Vultures, who have gorged themselves with food after their
fashion, are sitting listlessly on the rock, in some of the singular
positions which this bird affects. There is, perhaps, no bird which
has a more curious set of attitudes than the Griffon Vulture, or which
exhibits so different an aspect at various times.

In flight it is one of the most magnificent birds that can be seen,
and even when perched it often retains a certain look of majesty and
grandeur. Sometimes, however, especially when basking in the sun, it
assumes a series of attitudes which are absolutely grotesque, and
convert the noble-looking bird into a positively ludicrous object. At
one moment it will sit all hunched up, its head sunk between its
shoulders, and one wing trailing behind it as if broken. At another it
will bend its legs and sit down on the ankle-joint, pushing its feet
out in front, and supporting itself by the stiff feathers of its tail.
Often it will crouch nearly flat on the ground, partly spread its
wings, and allow their tips to rest on the earth, and sometimes it
will support nearly all the weight of its body on the wings, which
rest, in a half doubled state, on the ground. I have before me a great
number of sketches, taken in a single day, of the attitudes assumed by
one of these birds, every one of which is strikingly different from
the others, and transforms the whole shape of the bird so much that it
is scarcely recognisable as the same individual.


   Signification of the word _Asniyeh_--The Golden Eagle and its
   habits--The Imperial Eagle--Its solitary mode of life--The
   Short-toed Eagle--Its domestic habits and fondness for the
   society of man--The Osprey, or Fishing Eagle--Its mode of
   catching fish--Its distribution in Palestine.

As to the Eagle, rightly so called, there is little doubt that it is
one of the many birds of prey that seem to have been classed under the
general title of Asniyeh--the word which in the Authorized Version of
the Bible is rendered as Osprey. A similar confusion is observable in
the modern Arabic, one word, _ogab_, being applied indiscriminately to
all the Eagles and the large _falconidæ_.

The chief of the true Eagles, namely, the Golden Eagle (_Aquila
chrysaëtos_), is one of the inhabitants of Palestine, and is seen
frequently, though never in great numbers. Indeed, its predacious
habits unfit it for associating with its kind. Any animal which lives
chiefly, if not wholly, by the chase, requires a large district in
order to enable it to live, and thus twenty or thirty eagles will be
scattered over a district of twice the number of miles. Like the lion
among the mammalia, the Eagle leads an almost solitary life, scarcely
ever associating with any of its kind except its mate and its young.

  [Illustration: THE EAGLE.

  "Though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle."--JER. xlix.

Although it lives principally by the chase, it has no objection to
carrion, and, as has already been mentioned on page 342, may be seen
feeding on a dead animal in company with the lesser vultures,
though it retires before the lordly griffon. Being so thinly
scattered, it would not be so conspicuous a bird as the griffon, which
is not only very much larger, but associates in great numbers, and
probably on that account no definite species of Eagle seems to be
mentioned in Holy Writ.

Four or five species of Eagle are known to inhabit Palestine. There
is, for example, the Imperial Eagle (_Aquila mogilnik_), which may be
distinguished from the Golden Eagle by a white patch on the shoulders,
and the long, lancet-shaped feathers of the head and neck. These
feathers are of a fawn colour, and contrast beautifully with the deep
black-brown of the back and wings. It is not very often seen, being a
bird that loves the forest, and that does not care to leave the
shelter of the trees. It is tolerably common in Palestine.

Then there are several of the allied species, of which the best
example is perhaps the Short-toed Eagle (_Circaëtus gallicus_), a bird
which is extremely plentiful in the Holy Land--so plentiful indeed
that, as Mr. Tristram remarks, there are probably twice as many of the
Short-toed Eagles in Palestine as of all the other species put
together. The genus to which this bird belongs does not take rank with
the true Eagles, but is supposed by systematic naturalists to hold an
intermediate place between the true Eagles and the ospreys.

The Short-toed Eagle is seldom a carrion-eater, preferring to kill its
prey for itself. It feeds mostly on serpents and other reptiles, and
is especially fond of frogs. It is a large and somewhat heavily built
bird, lightness and swiftness being far less necessary than strength
in taking the animals on which it feeds. It is rather more than two
feet in length, and is a decidedly handsome bird, the back being dark
brown, and the under parts white, covered with crescent-shaped black


   The Osprey, or Fishing Eagle--Its geographical range--Mode of
   securing prey--Structure of its feet--Its power of balancing
   itself in the air.

We now come to the Osprey itself (_Pandion haliaëtus_), which was
undoubtedly one of the birds grouped together under the collective
term Asniyeh. This word occurs only in the two passages in Deut. xiv.
and Lev. xi. which have been several times quoted already, and need
not be mentioned again.

This fine bird is spread over a very large range of country, and is
found in the New World as well as the Old. In consequence of its
peculiar habits, it is often called the Fishing Eagle.

The Osprey is essentially a fish-eater. It seems very strange that a
predacious bird allied to the eagles, none of which birds can swim,
much less dive, should obtain its living from the water. That the
cormorant and other diving birds should do so is no matter of
surprise, inasmuch as they are able to pursue the fish in their own
element, and catch them by superior speed. But any bird which cannot
dive, and which yet lives on fish, is forced to content itself with
those fish that come to the surface of the water, a mode of obtaining
a livelihood which does not appear to have much chance of success. Yet
the Osprey does on a large scale what the kingfisher does on a small
one, and contrives to find abundant food in the water.

Its method of taking prey is almost exactly like that which is
employed by the kingfisher. When it goes out in search of food, it
soars into the air, and floats in circles over the water, watching
every inch of it as narrowly as a kestrel watches a stubble-field. No
sooner does a fish rise toward the surface to take a fly, or to leap
into the air for sport, than the Osprey darts downwards, grasps the
fish in its talons, drags the struggling prey from the water, and with
a scream of joy and triumph bears it away to shore, where it can be
devoured at leisure.

  [Illustration: THE OSPREY.

  "These are they of which ye shall not eat; the eagle, and the
  ossifrage, and the osprey."

  DEUT. xiv. 12.]

The bird never dives, neither does it seize the fish with its beak
like the kingfisher. It plunges but slightly into the water, as
otherwise it would not be able to use its strong wings and
carry off its prey. In order to enable the bird to seize the hard
and slippery body of the fish, it is furnished with long, very sharp,
and boldly-hooked talons, which force themselves into the sides of the
fish, and hold it as with grappling irons.

In order to enable it to hover over the water, and to watch the
surface carefully, it is possessed of wonderful powers of flight,
being able to balance itself in one spot without seeming to move a
wing, and having the singular facility of doing so even when a
tolerably strong breeze is blowing. It has even been observed to
maintain its place unmoved when a sharp squall swept over the spot.

Although not very plentiful in Palestine, nor indeed in any other
country, it is seen throughout the whole of that country where it can
find a sufficiency of water. It prefers the sea-shore and the rivers
of the coast, and is said to avoid the Sea of Galilee.


   The word _Dayah_ and its signification--Dayah a collective term
   for different species of Kites--The Common or Red Kite plentiful
   in Palestine--Its piercing sight and habit of soaring--The Black
   Kite of Palestine and its habits--The Egyptian Kite--The Raah or
   Glede of Scripture--The Buzzards and their habits--The Peregrine
   Falcon an inhabitant of Central Palestine, and the Lanner of the
   eastern parts of the country.

In Lev. xi. 14 and Deut. xiv. 13, we find the Vulture among the list
of birds which the Jews were not permitted to eat. The word which is
translated as Vulture is _dayah_, and we find it occurring again in
Isaiah xxxiv. 15, "There shall the vultures also be gathered, every
one with her mate." There is no doubt, however, that this translation
of the word is an incorrect one, and that it ought to be rendered as
KITE. In Job xxviii. 7, there is a similar word, _ayah_, which is also
translated as Vulture, and which is acknowledged to be not a Vulture,
but one of the Kites: "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and
which the vulture's eye hath not seen." Both these words are nearly
identical with modern Arabic terms which are employed rather loosely
to signify several species of Kite. Buxtorf, in his Hebrew Lexicon,
gives the correct rendering, translating _dayah_ as _Milvus_, and the
Vulgate in one or two places gives the same translation, though in
others it renders the word as Vulture.


  "_There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye
  hath not seen._"

  JOB xxviii. 7.]

Mr. Tristram, who has given much attention to this subject, is
inclined to refer the word _ayah_ to the Common Kite (_Milvus
regalis_), which was once so plentiful in this country, and is now
nearly extinct; and _dayah_ to the Black Kite (_Milvus atra_). He
founds this distinction on the different habits of the two species,
the Common or Red Kite being thinly scattered, and being in the habit
of soaring into the air at very great heights, and the latter being
very plentiful and gregarious.

We will first take the Red Kite.

This bird is scattered all over Palestine, feeding chiefly on the
smaller birds, mice, reptiles, and fish. In the capture of fish the
Kite is almost as expert as the osprey, darting from a great height
into the water, and bearing off the fish in its claws. The wings of
this bird are very long and powerful, and bear it through the air in a
peculiarly graceful flight. It is indeed in consequence of this flight
that it has been called the Glede, the word being derived from its
gliding movements.

The sight of this bird is remarkably keen and piercing, and, from the
vast elevation to which it soars when in search of food, it is able to
survey the face of the country beneath, and to detect the partridge,
quail, chicken, or other creature that will serve it for food. This
piercing sight and habit of soaring render the passage in Job
peculiarly appropriate to this species of Kite, though it does not
express the habits of the other. Should the Kite suspect danger when
forced to leave its nest, it escapes by darting rapidly into the air,
and soaring at a vast height above the trees among which its home is
made. From that elevation it can act as a sentinel, and will not come
down again until it is assured of safety.

Of the habits of the BLACK KITE (_Milvus atra_), Mr. Tristram gives an
admirable description. "The habits of the bird bear out the allusion
in Isa. xxxiv. 15, for it is, excepting during the winter three
months, so numerous everywhere in Palestine as to be almost
gregarious. It returns about the beginning of March, and scatters
itself over the whole country, preferring especially the neighbourhood
of valleys, where it is a welcome and unmolested guest. It does not
appear to attack the poultry, among whom it may often be seen feeding
on garbage. It is very sociable, and the slaughter of a sheep at one
of the tents will soon attract a large party of black kites, which
swoop down regardless of man and guns, and enjoy a noisy scramble for
the refuse, chasing each other in a laughable fashion, and sometimes
enabling the wily raven to steal off with the coveted morsel during
their contentions. It is the butt of all the smaller scavengers, and
is evidently most unpopular with the crows and daws, and even rollers,
who enjoy the amusement of teasing it in their tumbling flight, which
is a manoeuvre most perplexing to the kite."

The same writer proceeds to mention that the Black Kite, unlike the
red species, is very careless about the position of its nest, and
never even attempts to conceal it, sometimes building it in a tree,
sometimes on a rock-ledge, and sometimes in a bush growing on the
rocks. It seems indeed desirous of making the nest as conspicuous as
possible, and hangs it all over with bits of cloth, strips of bark,
wings of birds, and even the cast skins of serpents.

Another species (_Milvus Ægyptiacus_) is sometimes called the Black
Kite from the dark hue of its plumage, but ought rather to retain the
title of Egyptian Kite. Unlike the black kite, this bird is a great
thief, and makes as much havoc among poultry as the red kite. It is
also a robber of other birds, and if it should happen to see a weaker
bird with food, it is sure to attack and rob it. Like the black kite,
it is fond of the society of man, and haunts the villages in great
numbers, for the purpose of eating the offal, which in Oriental towns
is simply flung into the streets to be devoured by the dogs, vultures,
kites, and other scavengers, without whom no village would be
habitable for a month.

Whether the word _raah_, which is translated as Glede in Deut. xiv.
13, among the list of birds which may not be eaten, is one of these
species of Kite, or a bird of a different group, is a very doubtful
point. This is the only passage in which the word occurs, and we have
but small grounds for definitely identifying it with any one species.
The Hebrew Bible retains the word Glede, but affixes a mark of doubt
to it, and several commentators are of opinion that the word is a
wrong reading of _dayah_, which occurs in the parallel passage in Lev.
xi. 14. The reading of the Septuagint follows this interpretation, and
renders it as Vulture in both cases. Buxtorf translates the word
_raah_ as Rook, but suggests that _dayah_ is the correct reading.

Accepting, however, the word _raah_, we shall find that it is derived
from a root which signifies sight or vision, especially of some
particular object, so that a piercing sight would therefore be the
chief characteristic of the bird, which, as we know, is one of the
attributes of the Kites, together with other birds of prey, so that it
evidently must be classed among the group with which we are now
concerned. It has been suggested that, granting the _raah_ to be a
species distinct from the _dayah_, it is a collective term for the
larger falcons and buzzards, several species of which inhabit
Palestine, and are not distinctly mentioned in the Bible.

Several species of buzzard inhabit the Holy Land, and there is no
particular reason why they should be mentioned except by a collective
name. Some of the buzzards are very large birds, and though their
wings are short when compared with those of the vultures and eagles,
the flight of the bird is both powerful and graceful. It is not,
however, remarkable for swiftness, and never was employed, like the
falcon, in catching other birds, being reckoned as one of the useless
and cowardly birds of prey. In consonance with this opinion, to
compare a man to a buzzard was thought a most cutting insult.


  "_And the Glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his
  kind._"--DEUT. xiv. 13.]

As a general rule, it does not chase its prey like the eagles or the
large-winged falcons, but perches on a rock or tree, watches for some
animal on which it can feed, pounces on it, and returns to its post,
the whole movements being very like those of the flycatcher. This
sluggishness of disposition, and the soft and almost owl-like plumage,
have been the means of bringing the bird into contempt among

As to the large falcons, which seem to be included in the term _raah_,
the chief of them is the Peregrine Falcon (_Falco peregrinus_), which
is tolerably common in the Holy Land. In his "Land of Israel," Mr.
Tristram gives several notices of this bird, from which we may take
the following picture from a description of a scene at Endor. "Dreary
and desolate looked the plain, though of exuberant fertility. Here and
there might be seen a small flock of sheep or herd of cattle, tended
by three or four mounted villagers, armed with their long firelocks,
and pistols and swords, on the watch against any small party of
marauding cattle-lifters.

"Griffon vultures were wheeling in circles far over the rounded top of
Tabor; and here and there an eagle was soaring beneath them in search
of food, but at a most inconvenient distance from our guns. Hariers
were sweeping more rapidly and closely over the ground, where lambs
appeared to be their only prey; and a noble peregrine falcon, which in
Central Palestine does not give place to the more eastern lanner, was
perched on an isolated rock, calmly surveying the scene, and
permitting us to approach and scrutinize him at our leisure."

The habit of perching on the rock, as mentioned above, is very
characteristic of the Peregrine Falcon, who loves the loftiest and
most craggy cliffs, and makes its nest in spots which can only be
reached by a bold and experienced climber. The nests of this bird are
never built in close proximity, the Peregrine preferring to have its
home at least a mile from the nest of any other of its kinsfolk.
Sometimes it makes a nest in lofty trees, taking possession of the
deserted home of some other bird; but it loves the cliff better than
the tree, and seldom builds in the latter when the former is

In the passage from the "Land of Israel" is mentioned the LANNER
FALCON (_Falco lanarius_), another of the larger falcons to which the
term _raah_ may have been applied.

This bird is much larger than the Peregrine Falcon, and, indeed, is
very little less than the great gerfalcon itself. It is one of the
birds that were reckoned among the noble falcons; and the female,
which is much larger and stronger than the male, was employed for the
purpose of chasing the kite, whose long and powerful wings could not
always save it from such a foe.

Although the Lanner has been frequently mentioned among the British
birds, and the name is therefore familiar to us, it is not even a
visitor of our island. The mistake has occurred by an error in
nomenclature, the young female Peregrine Falcon, which is much larger
and darker than the male bird, having been erroneously called by the
name of Lanner.

  [Illustration: THE LANNER FALCON.]

In the illustration, a pair of Lanner Falcons are depicted as pursuing
some of the rock-pigeons which abound in Palestine, the attitudes of
both birds being taken from life.


   The Netz or Hawk--Number of species probably grouped under that
   name--Rare occurrence of the word--The Sparrow-Hawk and its
   general habits--Its place of nesting--The Kestrel, or
   Wind-hover--Various names by which it is known in England--Its
   mode of feeding and curious flight--The Hariers--Probable
   derivation of the name--Species of Harier known to inhabit
   Palestine--Falconry apparently unknown to the ancient Jews.

There is no doubt that a considerable number of species are grouped
together under the single title Netz, or Hawk, a word which is rightly
enough translated. That a great number of birds should have been thus
confounded together is not surprising, seeing that even in this
country and at the present time, the single word Hawk may signify any
one of at least twelve different species. The various falcons, the
hariers, the kestrel, the sparrow-hawk, and the hobbies, are one and
all called popularly by the name of Hawk, and it is therefore likely
that the Hebrew word Netz would signify as many species as the English
word Hawk. From them we will select one or two of the principal

In the first place, the word is of very rare occurrence. We only find
it three times. It first occurs in Lev. xi. 16, in which it is named,
together with the eagle, the ossifrage, and many other birds, as among
the unclean creatures, to eat which was an abomination. It is next
found in the parallel passage in Deut. xiv. 15, neither of which
portions of Scripture need be quoted at length.

That the word _netz_ was used in its collective sense is very evident
from the addition which is made to it in both cases. The Hawk, "after
its kind," is forbidden, showing therefore that several kinds or
species of Hawk were meant. Indeed, any specific detail would be quite
needless, as the collective term was quite a sufficient indication,
and, having named the vultures, eagles, and larger birds of prey, the
simple word _netz_ was considered by the sacred writer as expressing
the rest of the birds of prey.

We find the word once more in that part of the Bible to which we
usually look for any reference to natural history. In Job xxxix. 26,
we have the words, "Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and turn [or
stretch] her wings toward the south?" The precise signification of
this passage is rather doubtful, but it is generally considered to
refer to the migration of several of the Hawk tribe. That the bird in
question was distinguished for its power of flight is evident from the
fact that the sacred poet has selected that one attribute as the most
characteristic of the Netz.

Taking first the typical example of the Hawks, we find that the
SPARROW-HAWK (_Accipiter nisus_) is plentiful in Palestine, finding
abundant food in the smaller birds of the country. It selects for its
nest just the spots which are so plentiful in the Holy Land, _i.e._
the crannies of rocks, and the tops of tall trees. Sometimes it builds
in deserted ruins, but its favourite spot seems to be the lofty
tree-top, and, in default of that, the rock-crevice. It seldom builds
a nest of its own, but takes possession of that which has been made by
some other bird. Some ornithologists think that it looks out for a
convenient nest, say of the crow or magpie, and then ejects the
rightful owner. I am inclined to think, however, that it mostly takes
possession of a nest that is already deserted, without running the
risk of fighting such enemies as a pair of angry magpies. This opinion
is strengthened by the fact that the bird resorts to the same nest
year after year.

It is a bold and dashing bird, though of no great size, and when wild
and free displays a courage which it seems to lose in captivity. As is
the case with so many of the birds, the female is much larger than her
mate, the latter weighing about six ounces, and measuring about a foot
in length, and the former weighing above nine ounces, and measuring
about fifteen inches in length.

The most plentiful of the smaller Hawks of Palestine is the COMMON
KESTREL (_Tinnunculus alaudarius_). This is the same species with
which we are so familiar in England under the names of Kestrel,
Wind-hover, and Stannel Hawk.

  [Illustration: KESTREL.

  "_Doth the Hawk fly by thy wisdom?_"--JOB xxxix. 26.]

It derives its name of Wind-hover from its remarkable habit of
hovering, head to windward, over some spot for many minutes together.
This action is always performed at a moderate distance from the
ground; some naturalists saying that the Hawk in question never hovers
at an elevation exceeding forty feet, while others, myself included,
have seen the bird hovering at a height of twice as many yards.
Generally, however, it prefers a lower distance, and is able by
employing this manoeuvre to survey a tolerably large space beneath. As
its food consists in a very great measure of field-mice, the Kestrel
is thus able by means of its telescopic eyesight to see if a mouse
rises from its hole; and if it should do so, the bird drops on it and
secures it in its claws.

Unlike the sparrow-hawk, the Kestrel is undoubtedly gregarious, and
will build its nest in close proximity to the habitations of other
birds, a number of nests being often found within a few yards of each
other. Mr. Tristram remarks that he has found its nest in the recesses
of the caverns occupied by the griffon vultures, and that the Kestrel
also builds close to the eagles, and is the only bird which is
permitted to do so. It also builds in company with the jackdaw.

Several species of Kestrel are known, and of them at least two inhabit
the Holy Land, the second being a much smaller bird than the Common
Kestrel, and feeding almost entirely on insects, which it catches with
its claws, the common chafers forming its usual prey. Great numbers of
these birds live together, and as they rather affect the society of
mankind, they are fond of building their nests in convenient crannies
in the mosques or churches. Independently of its smaller size, it may
be distinguished from the Common Kestrel by the whiteness of its

The illustration is drawn from a sketch taken from life. The bird
hovered so near a house, and remained so long in one place, that the
artist fixed a telescope and secured an exact sketch of the bird in
the peculiar attitude which it is so fond of assuming. After a while,
the Kestrel ascended to a higher elevation, and then resumed its
hovering, in the attitude which is shown in the upper figure. In
consequence of the great abundance of this species in Palestine, and
the peculiarly conspicuous mode of balancing itself in the air while
in search of prey, we may feel sure that the sacred writers had it
specially in their minds when they used the collective term Netz.

The Kestrel has a very large geographical range, being plentiful not
only in England and Palestine, but in Northern and Southern Europe,
throughout the greater part of Asia, in Siberia, and in portions of
Africa. The bird, therefore, is capable of enduring both heat and
cold, and, as is often the case with those creatures that are useful
to man, is a perfect cosmopolitan.

It is easily trained, and, although in the old hawking days it was
considered a bird which a noble could not carry, it can be trained to
chase the smaller birds as successfully as the falcons can be taught
to pursue the heron. The name Tinnunculus is supposed by some to have
been given to the bird in allusion to its peculiar cry, which is
clear, shrill, and consists of a single note several times repeated.

On page 361 the reader may see a representation of a pair of HARIER
HAWKS flying below the rock on which the peregrine falcon has
perched, and engaged in pursuing one of the smaller birds.

They have been introduced because several species of Harier are to be
found in Palestine, where they take, among the plains and lowlands,
the place which is occupied by the other hawks and falcons among the

The name of Harier appears to be given to these birds on account of
their habit of regularly quartering the ground over which they fly
when in search of prey, just like hounds when searching for hares.
This bird is essentially a haunter of flat and marshy lands, where it
finds frogs, mice, lizards, on which it usually feeds. It does not,
however, confine itself to such food, but will chase and kill most of
the smaller birds, and occasionally will catch even the leveret, the
rabbit, the partridge, and the curlew.

When it chases winged prey, it seldom seizes the bird in the air, but
almost invariably keeps above it, and gradually drives it to the
ground. It will be seen, therefore, that its flight is mostly low, as
suits the localities in which it lives, and it seldom soars to any
great height, except when it amuses itself by rising and wheeling in
circles together with its mate. This proceeding generally takes place
before nest-building. The usual flight is a mixture of that of the
kestrel and the falcon, the Harier sometimes poising itself over some
particular spot, and at others shooting forwards through the air with
motionless wings.

Unlike the falcons and most of the hawks, the Harier does not as a
rule perch on rocks, but prefers to sit very upright on the ground,
perching generally on a mole-hill, stone, or some similar elevation.
Even its nest is made on the ground, and is composed of reeds, sedges,
sticks, and similar matter, materials that can be procured from marshy
land. The nest is always elevated a foot or so from the ground, and
has occasionally been found on the top of a mound more than a yard in
height. It is, however, conjectured that in such cases the mound is
made by one nest being built upon the remains of another. The object
of the elevated nest is probably to preserve the eggs in case of a

At least five species of Hariers are known to exist in the Holy Land,
two of which are among the British birds, namely, the Marsh Harier
(_Circus æruginosus_), sometimes called the Duck Hawk and the Moor
Buzzard, and the Hen Harier (_Circus cyaneus_), sometimes called the
White Hawk, Dove Hawk, or Blue Hawk, on account of the plumage of the
male, which differs greatly according to age; and the Ring-tailed
Hawk, on account of the dark bars which appear on the tail of the
female. All the Hariers are remarkable for the Circlet of feathers
that surrounds the eyes, and which resembles in a lesser degree the
bold feather-circle around the eye of the owl tribe.

Before taking leave of the Hawks, it is as well to notice the entire
absence in the Scriptures of any reference to falconry. Now, seeing
that the art of catching birds and animals by means of Hawks is a
favourite amusement among Orientals, as has already been mentioned
when treating of the gazelle (page 139), and knowing the unchanging
character of the East, we cannot but think it remarkable that no
reference should be made to this sport in the Scriptures.

It is true that in Palestine itself there would be but little scope
for falconry, the rough hilly ground and abundance of cultivated soil
rendering such an amusement almost impossible. Besides, the use of the
falcon implies that of the horse, and, as we have already seen, the
horse was scarcely ever used except for military purposes.

Had, therefore, the experience of the Israelites been confined to
Palestine, there would have been good reason for the silence of the
sacred writers on this subject. But when we remember that the
surrounding country is well adapted for falconry, that the amusement
is practised there at the present day, and that the Israelites passed
so many years as captives in other countries, we can but wonder that
the Hawks should never be mentioned as aids to bird-catching. We find
that other bird-catching implements are freely mentioned and employed
as familiar symbols, such as the gin, the net, the snare, the trap,
and so forth; but that there is not a single passage in which the
Hawks are mentioned as employed in falconry.


   The words which have been translated as Owl--The Côs, or Little
   Owl--Use made of the Little Owl in bird-catching--Habits of the
   bird--The Barn, Screech, or White Owl a native of Palestine--The
   Yanshûph, or Egyptian Eagle Owl--Its food and nest--The Lilith,
   or Night Monster--Various interpretations of the word--The
   Kippoz probably identical with the Scops Owl, or Marouf.

In various parts of the Old Testament there occur several words which
are translated as OWL in the Authorized Version, and in most cases the
rendering is acknowledged to be the correct one, while in one or two
instances there is a difference of opinion on the subject.

In Lev. xi. 16, 17, we find the following birds reckoned among those
which are an abomination, and which might not be eaten by the
Israelites: "The owl, and the night-hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk
after his kind;

"And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl."

Here, then, we have in close proximity the word Owl repeated three
times, and the same repetition occurs in the parallel passage in Deut.
xiv. Now the words which are here translated as Owl are totally
different words in the Hebrew, so that if we leave them untranslated,
the passages will run as follow: "And the Bath-haya'anah, and the
night-hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind;

"And the Côs, and the cormorant, and the Yanshûph."

Taking these words in order, we find in the first place that the
Jewish Bible accepts the translation of the words _côs_ and
_yanshûph_, merely affixing to them the mark of doubt. But it
translates the word _bath-haya'anah_ as Ostrich, without adding the
doubtful mark. Now the same word occurs in several other passages of
Scripture, the first being in Job xxx. 29: "I am a brother to dragons,
and a companion to owls." In the marginal reading of the Authorized
Version, which, as the reader must bear in mind, is of equal value
with the text, the rendering is the same as that of the Jewish Bible,
and in several other passages the same reading is followed. We
therefore accept the word _bath-haya'anah_ as the ostrich, and dismiss
it from among the owls.

Coming now to the other words, we find in the passages already quoted
the words _côs_ and _yanshûph_. Both those words occur in other parts
of Scripture, and evidently are the names of nocturnal birds that
haunt ruins and lonely places. Taking them in order, we find the word
_côs_ to occur again in Ps. cii. 6: "I am like a pelican of the
wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert." The Psalm in which this
passage occurs is a penitential prayer, in which the writer uses many
of the metaphors employed by Job when lamenting his afflictions, and
describes himself as left alone among men.

The simile is equally just and feasible in this case, the Owl being
essentially a bird of night, and associated with solitude and gloom.
The particular species which is signified by the word _côs_ bears but
very slightly on the subject, inasmuch as in general habits all the
true Owls are very similar in hiding by day in their nests, and coming
out at night to hunt for prey, their melancholy hoot, or startling
shriek, breaking the silence of the night.

Still it is necessary to identify, if we can, some species with the
word _côs_, and it is very likely that the Little Owl, or Boomah of
the Arabs (_Athene Persica_), is the bird which is signified by the
word _côs_. This species is probably identical with the Little Night
Owl of England (_Athene noctua_). Though rare in England, it is very
common in many parts of the Continent where it is much valued by
bird-catchers, who employ it as a means of attracting small birds to
their traps. They place it on the top of a long pole, and carry it
into the fields, where they plant the pole in the ground. This Owl has
a curious habit of swaying its body backwards and forwards, and is
sure to attract the notice of all the small birds in the
neighbourhood. It is well known that the smaller birds have a peculiar
hatred to the Owl, and never can pass it without mobbing it,
assembling in great numbers, and so intent on their occupation that
they seem to be incapable of perceiving anything but the object of
their hatred. Even rooks, magpies, and hawks are taken by this simple

Whether or not the Little Owl was used for this object by the ancient
inhabitants of Palestine is rather doubtful; but as they certainly did
so employ decoy birds for the purpose of attracting game, it is not
unlikely that the Little Owl was found to serve as a decoy. We shall
learn more about the system of decoy-birds when we come to the

  [Illustration: THE LITTLE OWL

  "_I am like an owl of the desert._"--PS. cii. 6.]

The Little Owl is to be found in almost every locality, caring little
whether it takes up its residence in cultivated grounds, in villages,
among deserted ruins, or in places where man has never lived. As,
however, it is protected by the natives, it prefers the neighbourhood
of villages, and may be seen quietly perched in some favourite spot,
not taking the trouble to move unless it be approached closely. And to
detect a perched Owl is not at all an easy matter, as the bird has a
way of selecting some spot where the colours of its plumage harmonize
so well with the surrounding objects that the large eyes are often the
first indication of its presence. Many a time I have gone to search
after Owls, and only been made aware of them by the sharp angry snap
that they make when startled.

The name _Athene_, by the way, has been given to this Owl because it
is the species selected by the Greeks as the emblem of wisdom.

The common BARN OWL of England (_Strix flammea_) also inhabits
Palestine, and if, as is likely to be the case, the word côs is a
collective term under which several species are grouped together, the
Barn or White Owl is likely to be one of them.

Like the Little Owl, it affects the neighbourhood of man, though it
may be found in ruins and similar localities. An old ruined castle is
sure to be tenanted by the Barn Owl, whose nightly shrieks have so
often terrified the belated wanderer, and made him fancy that the
place was haunted by disturbed spirits. Such being the case in
England, it is likely that in the East, where popular superstition has
peopled every well with its jinn and every ruin with its spirit, the
nocturnal cry of this bird, which is often called the Screech Owl from
its note, should be exceedingly terrifying, and would impress itself
on the minds of sacred writers as a fit image of solitude, terror, and

The Screech Owl is scarcely less plentiful in Palestine than the
Little Owl, and, whether or not it be mentioned under a separate name,
is sure to be one of the birds to which allusion is made in the

Another name now rises before us: this is the Yanshûph, translated as
the Great Owl, a word which occurs not only in the prohibitory
passages of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, but in the Book of Isaiah. In
that book, ch. xxxiv. ver. 10, 11, we find the following passage:
"From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass
through it for ever and ever.

"But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl
(_yanshûph_) also and the raven shall dwell in it: and He shall
stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of
emptiness." The Jewish Bible follows the same reading.

It is most probable that the Great Owl or Yanshûph is the EGYPTIAN
EAGLE OWL (_Bubo ascalaphus_), a bird which is closely allied to the
great Eagle Owl of Europe (_Bubo maximus_), and the Virginian Eared
Owl (_Bubo Virginianus_) of America. This fine bird measures some two
feet in length, and looks much larger than its real size, owing to the
thick coating of feathers which it wears in common with all true Owls,
and the ear-like feather tufts on the top of its head, which it can
raise or depress at pleasure. Its plumage is light tawny.

This bird has a special predilection for deserted places and ruins,
and may at the present time be seen on the very spots of which the
prophet spoke in his prediction. It is very plentiful in Egypt, where
the vast ruins are the only relics of a creed long passed away or
modified into other forms of religion, and its presence only
intensifies rather than diminishes the feeling of loneliness that
oppresses the traveller as he passes among the ruins.

The European Eagle Owl has all the habits of its Asiatic congener. It
dwells in places far from the neighbourhood of man, and during the day
is hidden in some deep and dark recess, its enormous eyes not being
able to endure the light of day. In the evening it issues from its
retreat, and begins its search after prey, which consists of various
birds, quadrupeds, reptiles, fish, and even insects when it can find
nothing better.

On account of its comparatively large dimensions, it is able to
overcome even the full-grown hare and rabbit, while the lamb and the
young fawn occasionally fall victims to its voracity. It seems never
to chase any creature on the wing, but floats silently through the
air, its soft and downy plumage deadening the sound of its progress,
and suddenly drops on the unsuspecting prey while it is on the ground.

The nest of this Owl is made in the crevices of rocks, or in ruins,
and is a very large one, composed of sticks and twigs, lined with a
tolerably large heap of dried herbage, the parent Owls returning to
the same spot year after year. Should it not be able to find either a
rock or a ruin, it contents itself with a hollow in the ground, and
there lays its eggs, which are generally two in number, though
occasionally a third egg is found. The Egyptian Eagle Owl does much
the same thing, burrowing in sand-banks, and retreating, if it fears
danger, into the hollow where its nest has been made.

In the large illustration the two last-mentioned species are given.
The Egyptian Eagle Owl is seen with its back towards the spectator,
grasping in its talons a dead hare, and with ear-tufts erect is
looking towards the Barn Owl, which is contemplating in mingled anger
and fear the proceedings of the larger bird. Near them is perched a
raven, in order to carry out more fully the prophetic words, "the owl
also and the raven shall dwell in it."

Two more passages yet remain in which the word Owl is mentioned, and,
curiously enough, both of them are found in the Book of Isaiah, the
poet-prophet, who seized with a poet's intuition on the natural
objects around him, and converted the simplest and most familiar
incidents into glowing imagery and powerful metaphor.

If the reader will refer to Isaiah xxxiv. 13-15, he will find the
following passages, which are, in fact, a continuation of the prophecy
against Idumea, which has already been quoted. "And thorns shall come
up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and
it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.

"The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of
the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl
also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.

"There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and
gather under her shadow."

It has been already mentioned that the word which is translated as
Owl, in the first of these passages, is _bath-haya'anah_, which is
generally considered to signify the ostrich. In verse 14 we come to a
new word, namely, _lilith_. In the marginal reading of the Authorized
Version, this word is rendered as "night monster," and the Jewish
Bible takes nearly the same view of the word by translating it as "a
nocturnal one," evidently basing this interpretation upon the
derivation of the word. Several Hebraists have thought that the word
_lilith_ merely represents some mythological being, like the dread
Lamia of the ancients, a mixture of the material and spiritual--too
ethereal to be seen by daylight, and too gross to be above the
requirements of human food. The blood of mankind was the food of these
fearful beings, and, according to old ideas, they could only live
among ruins and desert places, where they concealed themselves during
the day at the bottoms of wells or the recesses of rock-caverns, and
stole out at night to seize on some unlucky wanderer, and suck his
blood as he slept.

The reader may remember that even our very imperfect version of the
"Arabian Nights" repeatedly alludes to this belief, the evil spirit
being almost invariably represented as dwelling in ruins, rocky
places, and the interiors of wells.

Although it is very possible that the prophet may have referred to
some of the mythological beings which were so universally supposed to
inhabit deserted spots, and thus to have employed the word _lilith_ as
a term which he did not intend to be taken otherwise than
metaphorically, it is equally possible that some nocturnal bird may
have been meant, and in that case the bird in question must almost
certainly have been an Owl of some kind. As to the particular species
of Owl, that is a question which cannot be satisfactorily answered,
especially as so many scholars find reason to doubt whether the word
_lilith_ represents an Owl, or indeed any ordinary inhabitant of
earth. As, therefore, we have no data whereon to found a positive
opinion, the question will be allowed to remain an open one.

The last word which is translated as Owl is _kippoz_, and occurs in
ch. xxxiv. 15: "There shall the great owl make her nest."

  [Illustration: THE OWL.

  "I am a companion to owls."--JOB. xxx. 29.]

Many Hebraists think that in this case the word _kippoz_ is a mere
clerical error for _kippod_, or hedgehog, and have translated the
passage accordingly. The Septuagint and the Vulgate follow this
reading; Buxtorf, in his Hebrew Lexicon, translates _kippoz_ as
Thrush, deriving the name from the dipping character of its flight.
The Jewish Bible, following several other authorities, renders the
word as "arrow-snake," while several scholars translate it as "darting
serpent." This interpretation, however, is scarcely tenable, as the
description of the Kippoz as making its nest, laying its eggs, and
gathering them under its shadow, clearly points to a bird, and not a
reptile. It is very true that the boa or python snake has been seen to
coil itself round a heap of its eggs, but the sacred writer could
hardly have had many opportunities of seeing such an act, while the
custom of a bird gathering her young under the shadow of her wings
must have been perfectly familiar to him. There is, moreover, the
fact that the context speaks of the vultures, so that a bird
of some kind was evidently in the mind of the writer. Mr.
Tristram suggests that the Kippoz might be intended for the Scops Owl,
called Marouf by the Arabs, and which is very common about ruins,
caves, and the old walls of towns. Its note is well represented by the
word _kippoz_.

"It is a migrant, returning to Palestine in spring. It is the smallest
owl in the country, being little more than seven inches in length,
with long ear-tufts, and its whole plumage most delicately mottled and
speckled with grey and light brown."

This species is very plentiful on the continent of Europe, though it
is rare in the British Isles. It feeds, as might be presumed from its
diminutive size, on mice, small reptiles, and insects. Its scientific
name, according to the nomenclature of the British Museum, is
_Ephialtes Scops_.


   Different interpretations of the word Tachmâs--Probability that
   it signifies the Nightjar--Various names of the bird--Its
   remarkable jarring cry, and wheeling flight--Mode of
   feeding--Boldness of the bird--Deceptive appearance of its size.

We next come to the vexed question of the word Tachmâs, which is
rendered in the Authorized Version as NIGHT-HAWK.

This word only occurs among the list of prohibited birds (see Lev. xi.
16, and Deut. xiv. 15), and has caused great controversies among
commentators. Some Hebraists have thought that the male ostrich was
signified by _tachmâs_, the word _bath-haya'anah_ being supposed by
them to signify the female ostrich. It is hardly probable, however,
that the sacred writer should have mentioned separately the sexes of
the same species, and we must therefore look for some other

Going to the opposite extreme of size, some scholars have translated
_tachmâs_ as Swallow. This again is not a very probable rendering, as
the swallow would be too small a bird to be specially named in the
prohibitory list. The balance of probability seems to lie between two
interpretations,--namely, that which considers the word _tachmâs_ to
signify the Night-hawk, and that which translates it as Owl. For both
of these interpretations much is to be said, and it cannot be denied
that of the two the latter is perhaps the preferable. If so, the White
or Barn Owl is probably the particular species to which reference is

  [Illustration: THE NIGHT-HAWK.

  "_The owl, and the night-hawk, and the cuckoo._"--DEUT. xiv. 15.]

Still, many commentators think that the Night-hawk or Nightjar is the
bird which is signified by the word _tachmâs_; and, as we have already
treated of the owls, we will accept the rendering of the Authorized
Version. Moreover, the Jewish Bible follows the same translation, and
renders _tachmâs_ as Night-hawk, but affixes the mark of doubt.

It is not unlikely that the Jews may have reckoned this bird among the
owls, just as is the case with the uneducated among ourselves, who
popularly speak of the Nightjar as the Fern Owl, Churn Owl, or Jar
Owl, the two last names being given to it on account of its peculiar
cry. There are few birds, indeed, which have received a greater
variety of popular names, for, besides the Goatsucker and the five
which have already been mentioned, there are the Wheel-bird and
Dor-hawk, the former of these names having been given to the bird on
account of its wheeling round the trees while seeking for prey, and
the latter on account of the dor-beetles on which it largely feeds.

This curious variety of names is probably due to the very conspicuous
character of the Nightjar, its strange, jarring, weird-like cry
forcing itself on the ear of the least attentive, as it breaks the
silence of night. It hardly seems like the cry of a bird, but rather
resembles the sound of a pallet falling on the cogs of a
rapidly-working wheel. It begins in the dusk of evening, the long,
jarring note being rolled out almost interminably, until the hearer
wonders how the bird can have breath enough for such a prolonged
sound. The hearer may hold his breath as long as he can, take a full
inspiration, hold his breath afresh, and repeat this process over and
over again, and yet the Nightjar continues to trill out its rapid
notes without a moment's cessation for breath, the sound now rising
shrill and clear, and now sinking as if the bird were far off, but
never ceasing for an instant.

This remarkable cry has caused the uneducated rustics to look upon the
bird with superstitious dread, every one knowing its cry full well,
though to many the bird is unknown except by its voice. It is probable
that, in the days when Moses wrote the Law, so conspicuous a bird was
well known to the Jews, and we may therefore conjecture that it was
one of those birds which he would specially mention by name.

The general habits of the Nightjar are quite as remarkable as its
note. It feeds on the wing, chasing and capturing the various moths,
beetles, and other insects that fly abroad by night. It may be seen
wheeling round the branches of some tree, the oak being a special
favourite, sometimes circling round it, and sometimes rising high in
the air, and the next moment skimming along the ground. Suddenly it
will disappear, and next moment its long trilling cry is heard from
among the branches of the tree round which it has been flying. To see
it while singing is almost impossible, for it has a habit of sitting
longitudinally on the branch, and not across it, like most birds, so
that the outline of its body cannot be distinguished from that of the
bough on which it is seated. As suddenly as it began, the sound
ceases, and simultaneously the bird may be seen wheeling again through
the air with its noiseless flight.

Being a very bold bird, and not much afraid of man, it allows a
careful observer to watch its movements clearly. I have often stood
close to the tree round which several Nightjars were circling, and
seen them chase their prey to the ground within a yard or two of the
spot on which I was standing. The flight of the Nightjar is singularly
graceful. Swift as the swallow itself, it presents a command of wing
that is really wonderful, gliding through the air with consummate
ease, wheeling and doubling in pursuit of some active moth, whose
white wings glitter against the dark background, while the sober
plumage of its pursuer is scarcely visible, passing often within a few
feet of the spectator, and yet not a sound or a rustle will reach his
ears. Sometimes the bird is said to strike its wings together over its
back, so as to produce a sharp snapping sound, intended to express
anger at the presence of the intruder. I never, however, heard this
sound, though I have watched the bird so often.

Owing to the soft plumage with which it is clad, this bird, like the
owls, looks larger than really is the case. It is between ten and
eleven inches in length, with an expanse of wing of twenty inches, and
yet weighs rather less than three ounces. Its large mouth, like that
of the swallow tribe, opens as far as the eyes, and is furnished with
a set of _vibrissæ_ or bristles, which remind the observer of the
"whale-bone" which is set on the jaw of the Greenland whale. The
scientific name of the bird is _Caprimulgus Europæus_.


   Identification of the smaller birds--Oriental indifference to
   natural history--Use of collective terms--The
   Swallow--Signification of the word _Deror_--The Bird of
   Liberty--Swallows and Swifts--The Sunbirds and
   Bee-eaters--Variety of small birds found in Palestine--The
   Swallows of Palestine--Swallows protected by man in various
   countries--Nesting of the Swallow--The Rufous Swallow and
   Martin--The Sis or Swift--Various species of Swift inhabiting
   the Holy Land--Talmudical notions of the Swift or Swallow--The
   leper and his offering--The cooking pot and the sacrificial
   vessel--Signification of the word _Tzippor-deror_.

Difficult as is the identification of the mammalia mentioned in the
Bible, that of the birds is much more intricate.

Some of the larger birds can be identified with tolerable certainty,
but when we come to the smaller and less conspicuous species, we are
at once lost in uncertainty, and at the best can only offer
conjectures. The fact is, the Jews of old had no idea of
discriminating between the smaller birds, unless they happened to be
tolerably conspicuous by plumage or by voice. We need not be much
surprised at this. The Orientals of the present day do precisely the
same thing, and not only fail to discriminate between the smaller
birds, but absolutely have no names for them.

By them, the shrikes, the swallows, the starlings, the thrushes, the
larks, the warblers, and all the smaller birds, are called by a common
title, derived from the twittering sound of their voices, only one or
two of them having any distinctive titles. They look upon the birds
much as persons ignorant of entomology look at a collection of moths.
There is not much difficulty in discriminating between the great
hawk-moths, and perhaps in giving a name to one or two of them which
are specially noticeable for any peculiarity of form or colour; but
when they come to the "Rustics," the "Carpets," the "Wainscots," and
similar groups, they are utterly lost; and, though they may be able to
see the characteristic marks when the moths are placed side by side,
they are incapable of distinguishing them separately, and, to their
uneducated eyes, twenty or thirty species appear absolutely alike.

I believe that there is no country where a knowledge of practical
natural history is so widely extended as in England, and yet how few
educated persons are there who, if taken along a country lane, can
name the commonest weed or insect, or distinguish between a sparrow, a
linnet, a hedge-sparrow, and a chaffinch. Nay, how many are there who,
if challenged even to repeat the names of twelve little birds, would
be unable to do so without some consideration, much less to know them
if the birds were placed before them.

Such being the case in this country, where the capability of
observation is more or less cultivated in every educated person, we
may well expect that a profound ignorance on the subject should exist
in countries where that faculty is absolutely neglected as a matter of
education. Moreover, in England we have a comparatively limited list
of birds, whereas in Palestine are found nearly all those which are
reckoned among British birds, and many other species besides. Those
which reside in England reside also for the most part in Palestine,
while the greater part of the migratory birds pass, as we might
expect, into the Holy Land and the neighbouring countries.

If then we put together the two facts of an unobservant people and a
vastly extended fauna, we shall not wonder that so many collective
terms are used in the Scriptures, one word often doing duty for twenty
or thirty species. The only plan, therefore, which can be adopted, is
to mention generally the birds which were probably grouped under one
name, and to describe briefly one or two of the most prominent.

It is, however, rather remarkable that the song of birds does not
appear to be noticed by the sacred writers. We might expect that
several of the prophets, especially Isaiah, the great sacred poet, who
drew so many of his images from natural objects, would have found in
the song of birds some metaphor expressive of sweetness or joy. We
might expect that in the Book of Job, in which so many creatures are
mentioned, the singing of birds would be brought as prominently
forward as the neck clothed with thunder of the horse, the tameless
freedom of the wild ass, the voracity of the vulture, and the
swiftness of the ostrich. We might expect the song of birds to be
mentioned by Amos, the herdman of Tekoa, who introduces into his
rugged poem the rear of the old lion and the wail of the cub, the
venom of the serpent hidden in the wattled wall of the herdman's hut,
and the ravages of the palmer-worm among the olives. Above all, we
might expect that in the Psalms there would be many allusions to the
notes of the various birds which have formed such fruitful themes for
the poets of later times. There are, however, in the whole of the
Scriptures but two passages in which the song of birds is mentioned,
and even in these only a passing allusion is made.

One of them occurs in Psalm civ. 12: "By them (_i.e._ the springs of
water) shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing
among the branches." This passage is perhaps rendered more closely in
the Jewish Bible: "Over them dwell the fowls of the heaven; they let
their voices resound (or give their voice) from between the foliage."

The other occurs in Eccles. xii. 4: "And the doors shall be shut in
the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise
up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be
brought low." The word which is here translated as "bird," is that
which is rendered in some places as "sparrow," in others as "fowl,"
and in others as "bird." Even in these passages, as the reader will
have noticed, no marks of appreciation are employed, and we hear
nothing of the sweetness, joyousness, or mournfulness of the bird's

We will now proceed to the words which have been translated as Swallow
in the Authorized Version.

These are two in number, namely, _derôr_ and _agar_. Hebraists are,
however, agreed that the latter word has been wrongly applied, the
translators having interchanged the signification of two contiguous

We will therefore first take the word _deror_. This word signifies
liberty, and is well applied to the Swallow, the bird of freedom. It
is remarkable, by the way, how some of the old commentators have
contrived to perplex themselves about a very simple matter. One of
them comments upon the bird as being "so called, because it has the
liberty of building in the houses of mankind." Another takes a
somewhat similar view of the case, but puts it in a catechetical
form: "Why is the swallow called the bird of liberty? Because it lives
both in the house and in the field." It is scarcely necessary to point
out to the reader that the "liberty" to which allusion is made is the
liberty of flight, the bird coming and going at its appointed times,
and not being capable of domestication.

Several kinds of Swallow are known in Palestine, including the true
Swallows, the martins, and the swifts, and, as we shall presently see,
it is likely that one of these groups was distinguished by a separate
name. Whether of not the word _deror_ included other birds beside the
Swallows is rather doubtful, though not at all unlikely; and if so, it
is probable that any swift-winged insectivorous bird would be called
by the name of Deror, irrespective of its size or colour.

The bee-eaters, for example, are probably among the number of the
birds grouped together under the word _deror_, and we may conjecture
that the same is the case with the sunbirds, those bright-plumed
little beings that take in the Old World the place occupied by the
humming-birds in the New, and often mistaken for them by travellers
who are not acquainted with ornithology. One of these birds, the
_Nectarinia Oseæ_, is described by Mr. Tristram as "a tiny little
creature of gorgeous plumage, rivalling the humming-birds of America
in the metallic lustre of its feathers--green and purple, with
brilliant red and orange plumes under its shoulders."

In order to account for the singular variety of animal life which is
to be found in Palestine, and especially the exceeding diversity of
species among the birds, we must remember that Palestine is a sort of
microcosm in itself, comprising within its narrow boundaries the most
opposite conditions of temperature, climate, and soil. Some parts are
rocky, barren, and mountainous, chilly and cold at the top, and acting
as channels through which the winds blow almost continuously. The
cliffs are full of holes, rifts, and caverns, some natural, some
artificial, and some of a mixed kind, the original caverns having been
enlarged and improved by the hand of man.

As a contrast to this rough and ragged region, there lie close at hand
large fertile plains, affording pasturage for unnumbered cattle, and
of a tolerably equable temperature, so that the animals which are
pastured in it can find food throughout the year. Through the centre
of Palestine runs the Jordan, fertilizing its banks with perpetual
verdure, and ending its course in the sulphurous and bituminous waters
of the Dead Sea, under whose waves the ruins of the wicked cities are
supposed to lie. Westward we have the shore of the Mediterranean with
its tideless waves of the salt sea, and on the eastward of the
mountain range that runs nearly parallel to the sea is the great Lake
of Tiberias, so large as to have earned the name of the Sea of


  "_The turtle, and the crane, and the swallow observe the time of their
  coming._"--JER. viii. 7.]

Under these favourable conditions, therefore, the number of species
which are found in Palestine is perhaps greater than can be seen in
any other part of the earth of the same dimensions, and it seems
probable that for this reason, among many others, Palestine was
selected to be the Holy Land. If, for example, the Christian Church
had been originated under the tropics, those who lived in a cold
climate could scarcely have understood the language in which the
Scriptures must necessarily have been couched. Had it, on the
contrary, taken its rise in the Arctic regions, the inhabitants of the
tropics and temperate regions could not have comprehended the imagery
in which the teachings of Scripture must have been conveyed. But the
small and geographically insignificant Land of Palestine combines in
itself many of the characteristics which belong respectively to the
cold, the temperate, and the hot regions of the world, so that the
terms in which the sacred writings are couched are intelligible to a
very great proportion of the world's inhabitants.

This being the case, we naturally expect to find that several species
of the Swallow are inhabitants of Palestine, if indeed so migratory a
bird can be rightly said to be an inhabitant of any one country.

The chief characteristic of the Swallow, the "bird of freedom," is
that it cannot endure captivity, but is forced by instinct to pass
from one country to another for the purpose of preserving itself in a
tolerably equable temperature, moving northwards as the spring ripens
into summer, and southwards as autumn begins to sink into winter. By
some marvellous instinct it traces its way over vast distances,
passing over hundreds of miles where nothing but the sea is beneath
it, and yet at the appointed season returning with unerring certainty
to the spot where it was hatched. How it is guided no one knows, but
the fact is certain, that Swallows, remarkable for some peculiarity by
which they could be at once identified, have been observed to leave
the country on their migration, and to return in the following year to
the identical nest whence they started.

The habits of the Swallow are much the same in Palestine as they are
in England. Its habit of making its nest among the habitations of
mankind is mentioned in a well-known passage of the Psalms: "The
sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where
she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and
my God" (Ps. lxxxiv. 3). The Swallow seems in all countries to have
enjoyed the protection of man, and to have been suffered to build in
peace under his roof. We find the same idea prevalent in the New World
as well as the Old, and it is rather curious that the presence of the
bird should so generally he thought to bring luck to a house.

In some parts of our country, a farmer would not dare to kill a
Swallow or break down its nest, simply because he thinks that if he
did so his cows would fail to give their due supply of milk. The
connexion between the milking of a cow in the field and the
destruction of a Swallow's nest in the house is not very easy to see,
but nevertheless such is the belief. This idea ranks with that which
asserts the robin and the wren to be the male and female of the same
species, and to be under some special divine protection.

Whatever may be the origin of this superstition, whether it be derived
from some forgotten source, or whether it be the natural result of the
confiding nature of the bird, the Swallow enjoys at the present day
the protection of man, and builds freely in his houses, and even his
places of worship. The heathen temples, the Mahometan mosques, and the
Christian churches are alike inhabited by the Swallow, who seems to
know her security, and often places her nest where a child might reach

The bird does not, however, restrict itself to the habitations of man,
though it prefers them; and in those places where no houses are to be
found, and yet where insects are plentiful, it takes possession of the
clefts of rocks, and therein makes its nest. Many instances are known
where the Swallow has chosen the most extraordinary places for its
nest. It has been known to build year after year on the frame of a
picture, between the handles of a pair of shears hung on the wall, on
a lamp-bracket, in a table-drawer, on a door-knocker, and similar
strange localities.

The swiftness of flight for which this bird is remarkable is noticed
by the sacred writers. "As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by
flying, so the curse causeless shall not come" (Prov. xxvi. 2). This
passage is given rather differently in the Jewish Bible, though the
general sense remains the same: "As the bird is ready to flee, as the
swallow to fly away; so a causeless execration, it shall not come." It
is possible, however, that this passage may allude rather to the
migration than the swiftness of the bird.

Several species of Swallow inhabit the Holy Land. There is, for
example, our common SWALLOW, which is one of the migratory species,
while another, the Oriental Swallow (_Hirundo cahirica_), often
remains in the warmer parts of the country throughout the year. This
bird may be distinguished by the chestnut hue of the under parts.

Perhaps the most characteristic species is the RUFOUS or RUSSET
SWALLOW (_Hirundo rufula_), a bird which is exceedingly rare even in
the warmer parts of Europe, but is plentiful in Palestine. It may be
easily known by the chestnut red of the back just above the tail, in
the spot where the white patch occurs in our house martin. The under
parts are differently coloured from those of the common Swallow, being
pink instead of white.

Several Martins inhabit Palestine, among which are the two species
with which we are so familiar in England, namely, the HOUSE MARTIN
(_Chelidon urbica_) and the SAND MARTIN (_Cotyle riparia_). At least
two other species of Martin are known to inhabit the Holy Land, but
they do not call for any special notice.

Besides the word _deror_, which is acknowledged to signify the
Swallow, there is another word which, by a curious transposition, has
been translated as "crane," whereas there is little doubt that it
signifies one of the Swallow tribe, and most probably represents the
Swift. The word is _sis_, and occurs in two passages. The first occurs
in Isa. xxxviii. 13, 14, in the well-known prayer of Hezekiah during
his sickness: "From day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.
Like a crane [_sis_], or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a
dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward." The Jewish Bible reads the
words, "Like a chattering swallow," affixing the mark of doubt; while
the Septuagint translates the word _sis_ as "Chelidon," or Swallow,
and this is probably the correct rendering of the word.

Accepting this as the true interpretation, we find that the word _sis_
is very expressive of the perpetual chattering of the Swift, whose
sharp, shrill cries often betray its presence while it is sailing in
the air almost beyond the ken of human eyes. There is a wailing,
melancholy sound about the bird's cry which makes Hezekiah's image
exceedingly appropriate, and he could hardly have selected a more
forcible metaphor.

The second passage occurs in Jer. viii. 7: "Yea, the stork in the
heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane
[_sis_], and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my
people know not the judgment of the Lord." With regard to this
passage, the Jewish Bible renders the word _sis_ as Swallow, though
with the mark of doubt.

Allusion is here made to the migratory habits of the Swift. There is,
perhaps, no bird more conspicuous in this respect; for whereas the
other migratory birds seem to straggle, as it were, into the country,
the Swifts arrive almost simultaneously, so that on one day not a
Swift will be seen, and on the next the air is full of their dark,
glancing forms.

Like the Swallow, the Swift haunts the neighbourhood of man, and loves
to build its simple nest in the roofs of houses. Almost any hole will
do for a Swift to build in, provided that it be tolerably deep; for
the bird loves darkness for its nest, though it is essentially in its
habits a bird of light.

Perhaps the word "build" is scarcely the right one, inasmuch as the
nest is even more simple than that of the sand-martin. This latter
bird does indeed arrange with some regularity the feathers which
compose its nest, as may be seen by a beautiful specimen obtained by
Mr. Gould; whereas the Swift merely places together a quantity of hay,
straw, hair, feathers, and similar materials, all of which are
probably obtained from the ruins of a sparrow's nest which had
occupied the hole before the Swift took possession of it.

Several species of Swift inhabit Palestine. The common Swift
(_Cypselus apus_), with which we are so familiar, is very plentiful,
and so is the ALPINE SWIFT (_Cypselus melba_), a bird which is rare in
England, though it occasionally visits our shores. It is much larger
than the common Swift, and is brown above and white below, instead of
being dusky black, like the common species.

The most characteristic species is, however, the GALILEAN SWIFT
(_Cypselus affinis_). Of this kind, Mr. Tristram remarks that it is
"very like the house-martin in general appearance and size. It resides
all the year in the Jordan valley, where alone it is found, living in
large communities, and has a pleasing note, a gentle and melodious
wail, very different from the harsh scream of the other swifts. Its
nests are very peculiar, being composed generally of straw and
feathers, agglutinated together by the bird's saliva, like those of
the edible swallow of Eastern Asia. They are without any lining,
attached to the under side of an overhanging rock. It also sometimes
takes possession of the nest of the rufus swallow for its purposes.
The Galilean swift has a wide range, being found in India and

It is possible that this may be the Sis mentioned by Hezekiah, its
soft wailing cry being used as the metaphor to express his own

As might be expected, the Talmudical writers have much to say on this

For example, the offering which a leper made at the cleansing of his
infirmity might be the Tzippor-deror, the rather quaint reason being
that it was a bird with sharp scratching claws, and was therefore very
appropriately offered in connexion with a disease of the skin. Here we
have rather a complication of terms, the word _tzippor_ being used, as
we shall presently see, to signify the sparrow in particular, or any
little bird in general. The particular species, therefore, which is
signified by the combination of the two words _tzippor-deror_ is
rather obscure, and the Talmudists themselves are rather uncertain
about it. The interpretation of this compound word seems, however, to
have been a difficulty, and the various renderings which have been
suggested seem at last to have varied between the wild pigeon, or
rock-dove, and the Swallow. An account of the various arguments is
given by Lewysohn in his "Zoologie des Talmuds," page 206, and may be
briefly epitomized, as follows, in favour of the Swallow, or, as we
shall soon see, the Swift.

The reader may perhaps be acquainted with the legend respecting the
death of Titus, how a gnat made its way through his nostril into his
brain, and there grew and kept him in constant torture until he died,
when, according to some writers, it had reached the size of a
Tzippor-deror, and weighed two selaim. Others enlarged upon this
story, and said that it grew as large as a wild pigeon, and weighed
two pounds. Now, as twenty-five selaim are equal to one pound, it
follows that the Tzippor-deror must have been very much less than the
wild pigeon, and that therefore the two birds could not have been

Another reason for believing the Tzippor-deror to be a much smaller
bird than the pigeon is found in a curious rule respecting the eating
of certain meats. The Jews were forbidden to eat date-shells with the
heathen, unless they were cooked in a vessel with an opening so small
that a Tzippor-deror could not have been introduced into the pot. The
reason of this curious proviso was, that if any unclean flesh, such as
that of the swine, or of any animal which had been offered to idols,
had been cooked in that vessel, even the date-shells would become
unclean. But, if the mouth of the pot were too small for a
Tzippor-deror to be passed through it, such a vessel could not have
been used in cooking meat, and might therefore be assumed to be clean.
Here, then, we have another proof of the small size of the bird. With
regard to this argument, I find myself perplexed as to the
"date-shells." Dates have no shells, and need no cooking, while the
stones are too hard and woody to be rendered edible by any amount of
cooking. Still, the word employed by Lewysohn is "dattelschalen."

The leper's offering was not laid on the altar, but was submitted to a
peculiar manipulation on the part of the priest. Among other points of
ritual, the blood had to be mixed with a certain quantity of water,
which it barely discoloured, staining it of a very pale red. As the
amount of water was the fourth part of a "log," and is defined to be
equal to the contents of six hen's eggs, it was evident that the bird
whose blood would only discolour so small a volume of water must be a
little one.

After giving all these details, the learned writer sums up his
arguments by saying that he believes the Tzippor-deror to be the White
Swallow, which is small, and has claws so sharp that by means of them
it can cling to the wall. Now this action is one of the
characteristics of the Swifts, who often cling to walls for a time,
and then resume their flight. They do so in preference to sitting on
the ground after the fashion of the Swallow, because the great length
of the wings causes the Swift to find some little difficulty in rising
from a level surface. After weighing all the various arguments that
have been urged on the subject, we may conclude that the Tzippor-deror
was the White, or Alpine Swift, which has been already described on
page 389.


   The "Dukiphath" of Scripture--Various interpretations of the
   word--The Hoopoe--Its beauty and ill reputation--The unpleasant
   odour of its nest--Food of the Hoopoe--Its beautiful nest, and
   remarkable gestures--A curious legend of Solomon and the Hoopoe.

In the two parallel chapters, Lev. xi. and Deut. xiv., there occurs
the name of a bird which is translated in the Authorized Version,
Lapwing: "And the stork, the heron after her kind, the lapwing, and
the bat."

The Hebrew word is _dukiphath_, and various interpretations have been
proposed for it, some taking it to be the common domestic fowl, others
the cock-of-the-woods, or capercailzie, while others have preferred to
translate it as Hoopoe. The Jewish Bible retains the word lapwing, but
adds the mark of doubt. Commentators are, however, agreed that of all
these interpretations, that which renders the word as HOOPOE (_Upupa
epops_) is the best.

There would be no particular object in the prohibition of such a bird
as the lapwing, or any of its kin, while there would be very good
reasons for the same injunction with regard to the Hoopoe.

In spite of the beauty of the bird, it has always had rather an ill
reputation, and, whether in Europe or Asia, its presence seems to be
regarded by the ignorant with a kind of superstitious aversion. This
universal distaste for the Hoopoe is probably occasioned by an
exceedingly pungent and disagreeable odour which fills the nest of the
bird, and which infects for a considerable time the hand which is
employed to take the eggs.

The nest is, moreover, well calculated for retaining any unpleasant
smell, being generally made in the hollow of a tree, and having
therefore but little of that thorough ventilation which is found in
nearly all nests which are built on boughs and sprays. The odour in
question proceeds from a substance secreted from the tail-glands of
the Hoopoe, and is not due, as was long supposed, to the food which
was brought to the nest.

  [Illustration: THE HOOPOE.]

There was good reason for supposing that this evil odour was caused by
the food, inasmuch as the Hoopoe is in the habit of raking about in
very unsavoury places in search of insects. But it does not therefore
follow that the insects which it finds are possessed of an evil smell.
On the contrary, some of the worst-smelling insects--notably the
lace-wing fly and many of the flower-haunting hemiptera--are
invariably found upon the leaves of trees and the petals of flowers;
while others which, like many of the scarab beetles, haunt the most
repulsive substances, are in themselves bright, and clean, and sweet.

The food of the Hoopoe consists almost entirely of insects. They have
been said to feed on earth-worms; but this notion seems to be a
mistaken one, as in captivity they will not touch an earth-worm so
long as they can procure an insect. Beetles of various kinds seem to
be their favourite food, and when the beetles are tolerably
large--say, for example, as large as the common cockchafer and
dor-beetle--the bird beats them into a soft mass before it attempts to
eat them. Smaller beetles are swallowed without any ceremony. The
various boring insects which make their home in decaying wood are
favourite articles of diet with the Hoopoe, which digs them out of the
soft wood with its long curved beak.

It has already been mentioned that the nest is usually made in the
hollow of a tree. In many parts of the country however, hollow trees
cannot be found, and in that case the Hoopoe resorts to clefts in the
rock, or even to holes in old ruins.

The bird is a peculiarly conspicuous one, not only on account of its
boldly-barred plumage and its beautiful crest, but by its cry and its
gestures. It has a way of elevating and depressing its crest, and
bobbing its head up and down, in a manner which could not fail to
attract the attention even of the most incurious, the whole aspect and
expression of the bird varying with the raising and depressing of the

Respecting this crest there is a curious old legend. As is the case
with most of the Oriental legends, it introduces the name of King
Solomon, who, according to Oriental notions, was a mighty wizard
rather than a wise king, and by means of his seal, on which was
engraven the mystic symbol of Divinity, held sway over the birds, the
beasts, the elements, and even over the Jinns and Afreets, _i.e._ the
good and evil spirits, which are too ethereal for the material world
and too gross for the spiritual, and therefore hold the middle place
between them.

On one of his journeys across the desert, Solomon was perishing from
the heat of the sun, when the Hoopoes came to his aid, and flew in a
dense mass over his head, thus forming a shelter from the fiery
sunbeams. Grateful for this assistance, the monarch told the Hoopoes
to ask for a boon, and it should be granted to them. The birds, after
consulting together, agreed to ask that from that time every Hoopoe
should wear a crown of gold like Solomon himself. The request was
immediately granted, and each Hoopoe found itself adorned with a
royal crown. At first, while their honours were new, great was the joy
of the birds, who paused at every little puddle of water to
contemplate themselves, bowing their heads over the watery mirror so
as to display the crown to the best advantage.

Soon, however, they found cause to repent of their ambition. The
golden crown became heavy and wearisome to them, and, besides, the
wealth bestowed on the birds rendered them the prey of every fowler.
The unfortunate Hoopoes were persecuted in all directions for the sake
of their golden crowns, which they could neither take off nor conceal.

At last, the few survivors presented themselves before Solomon, and
begged him to rescind his fatal gift, which he did by substituting a
crest of feathers for the crown of gold. The Hoopoe, however, never
forgets its former grandeur, and is always bowing and bending itself
as it used to do when contemplating its golden crown in the water.


   Signification of the word _Tzippor_--The bird used for the
   leper's sacrifice--The Sparrow upon the house-top--Architecture
   of the East--Proclamation from the house-tops--The Blue Thrush,
   its appearance and habits--Little birds exposed for sale in the
   market--The two Sparrows sold for a farthing--Bird-catching--The
   net, the snare, and the trap--The Sparrow that builds her nest
   in the Temple--The Tree-Sparrow--Various Sparrows that inhabit
   Palestine--Birds kept in cages.

We have already discussed the signification of the compound word
_tzippor-deror_, and will now take the word _tzippor_ alone.

Like many other Hebrew terms, the word is evidently used in a
collective sense, signifying any small bird that is not specially
designated. In several portions of Scripture it is translated as
Sparrow, and to that word we will at present restrict ourselves.

Much difficulty has been found in identifying the bird which is
signified by this word, the various allusions not agreeing with each
other. For example, in the marginal reading in Lev. xiv. 4 it is
employed as a bird of sacrifice. When a leper had found that his
disease had passed away, he was ordered to present himself before the
priest, who would examine him, and decide whether the leprosy had
really passed away or not. If he found that the man was right, a
series of symbolic ceremonies had to be performed before the former
leper could be restored to his place in the congregation.

These ceremonies lasted for eight days, and the first of them was the
sacrificing of the Sparrow. "Then shall the priest command to take for
him that shall be cleansed two birds [_tzipporim_ or sparrows] alive
and clean, and cedar-wood, and scarlet, and hyssop." One of these
birds was to be sacrificed over running water, and the other to be set
free, this sacrifice being analogous to that of the scape-goat.

We see in this passage that the bird in question, whatever it might
be, must be one of those birds which were considered as clean and fit
for food. Indeed, the very use of the word "clean" shows that the
leper was not restricted to any particular species. Had this been the
case, there would have been no necessity for stipulating that the
Tzipporim must belong to the list of _clean_ birds--_i.e._ those which
were permitted as food to the Israelites. Had any definite species
been intended, there would have been no necessity for mentioning the
word "clean" in connexion with the bird.

In the remaining ceremonies no such word is needed. There is no
stipulation that the lamb to be sacrificed should be clean, or, in
case the leper should be a poor man, that the doves which he offers
should be clean. That the lamb should be without blemish is especially
mentioned, because it would not be right to offer a maimed or diseased
animal--he who presented himself before the Lord might not offer a
sacrifice which cost him nothing, and therefore was no true sacrifice.
But the lamb and the dove were known to be "clean" animals, so it was
useless to use the word in connexion with them. If, therefore, the
words "clean birds" (_tzipporim_) be mentioned, it is evident that the
leper might select any of the Tzipporim, provided that it be one of
the species that was acknowledged to be dean.

Here, then, we have an example that the Sparrow might be a bird of
sacrifice. We will now pass to Ps. cii. 5-7, in which we find that the
word is used as an emblem of solitude and misery: "By reason of the
voice of my groaning, my bones cleave to my skin.

"I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the

"I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house-top."

The word which is here translated as "Sparrow" is _tzippor_, the same
which is rendered as "bird" in Lev. xiv. 4. The Hebrew Bible more
consistently uses the collective term "bird" in both instances, and
renders the passage as, "I watch, and am as a lonely bird upon a

Now, any one who knows the habits of the Sparrow is perfectly aware
that it is a peculiarly sociable bird. It is quarrelsome enough with
its fellows, and always ready to fight for a stray grain or morsel of
food; but it is exceedingly gregarious, assembling together in little
parties, enlivening the air with its merry though unmusical

This cosmopolitan bird is plentiful in the coast towns of Palestine,
where it haunts the habitations of men with the same dauntless
confidence which it displays in England. It is often seen upon roofs
or house-tops, but is no more apt to sit alone in Palestine than it is
in England. On the contrary, the Sparrows collect in great numbers on
the house-tops, attracted by the abundant supply of food which it
finds there. This requires some little explanation.

The house-tops of the East, instead of being gabled and tiled as among
ourselves, to allow the rain to run off, are quite flat, and serve as
terraces or promenades in the evening, or even for sleeping-places;
and from the house-tops proclamations were made. See, for example, 1
Sam. ix. 25: "And when they were come down from the high place into
the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house"--this
being the ordinary place which would be chosen for a conversation. In
order to keep out the heat of the mid-day sun, tents were sometimes
pitched upon these flat house-tops. (See 2 Sam. xvi. 22.) Reference to
the use of the house-tops as places for conversation are made in the
New Testament. See, for example, Matt. x. 27: "What I tell you in
darkness, that speak ye in light; and what ye hear in the ear, that
preach ye upon the house-tops." Another passage of a similar nature
occurs in Luke xii. 3: "Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in
darkness shall be heard in the light, and that which ye have spoken in
the ear in closets shall be proclaimed on the house-tops."

These roofs, instead of being built with sloping rafters like those to
which we are accustomed in this country, are made with great beams of
wood laid horizontally, and crossed by planks, poles, and brushwood
packed tightly together. As this roof would not keep out the rain, it
is covered with a thick layer of clay mixed with straw, and beaten
down as hard as possible. This covering has constantly to be renewed,
as, even in the best made roofs, the heavy rains are sure to wash away
some portion of the clay covering, which has to be patched up with a
fresh supply of earth. A stone roller is generally kept on the roof of
each house for the purpose of making a flat and even surface.

The earth which is used for this purpose is brought from the
uncultivated ground, and is full of various seeds. As soon as the
rains fall, these seeds spring up, and afford food to the Sparrows and
other little birds, who assemble in thousands on the house-tops, and
then peck away just as they do in our own streets and farm-yards.

It is now evident that the "sparrow alone and melancholy upon the
house-tops" cannot be the lively, gregarious Sparrow which assembles
in such numbers on these favourite feeding-places. We must therefore
look for some other bird, and naturalists are now agreed that we may
accept the BLUE THRUSH (_Petrocossyphus cyaneus_) as the particular
Tzippor, or small bird, which sits alone on the house-tops. The colour
of this bird is a dark blue, whence it derives its popular name. Its
habits exactly correspond with the idea of solitude and melancholy.
The Blue Thrushes never assemble in flocks, and it is very rare to see
more than a pair together. It is fond of sitting on the tops of
houses, uttering its note, which, however agreeable to itself, is
monotonous and melancholy to a human ear.

In connexion with the passage already quoted, "What ye hear in the
ear, that preach ye upon the house-tops," I will take the opportunity
of explaining the passage itself, which scarcely seems relevant to the
occasion unless we understand its bearings. The context shows that our
Lord was speaking of the new doctrines which He had come to teach,
and the duty of spreading them, and alludes to a mode of religious
teaching which was then in vogue.


  "_I am as a sparrow alone upon the house-tops._"--PS. cii. 7.]

The long captivity of the Jews in Babylon had caused the Hebrew
language to be disused among the common people, who had learned the
Chaldaic language from their captors. After their return to Palestine,
the custom of publicly reading the Scriptures was found to be
positively useless, the generality of the people being ignorant of the
Hebrew language.

Accordingly, the following modification was adopted. The roll of the
Scriptures was brought out as usual, and the sacred words read, or
rather chanted. After each passage was read, a doctor of the law
whispered its meaning into the ear of a Targumista or interpreter, who
repeated to the people in the Chaldaic language the explanation which
the doctor had whispered in Hebrew. The reader will now see how
appropriate is the metaphor, the whispering in the ear and subsequent
proclamation being the customary mode of imparting religious

If the reader will now turn to Matt. x. 29, he will find that the word
"sparrow" is used in a passage which has become very familiar to us.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not
fall on the ground without your Father.

"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

"Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." The
same sentences are given by St. Luke (xii. 6), in almost the same

Now the word which is translated as "Sparrow" is _strouthion_, a
collective word, signifying a bird of any kind. Without the addition
of some epithet, it was generally used to signify any kind of small
bird, though it is occasionally employed to signify even so large a
creature as an eagle, provided that the bird had been mentioned
beforehand. Conjoined with the word "great," it signifies the ostrich;
and when used in connexion with a word significative of running, it is
employed as a general term for all cursorial birds.

In the passages above quoted it is used alone, and evidently signifies
any kind of little bird, whether it be a sparrow or not. Allusion is
made by our Lord to a custom, which has survived to the present day,
of exposing for sale in the markets the bodies of little birds. They
are stripped of their feathers, and spitted together in rows, just as
are larks in this country, and always have a large sale. Various birds
are sold in this manner, little if any distinction being made between
them, save perhaps in respect of size, the larger species commanding a
higher price than the small birds. In fact, they are arranged exactly
after the manner in which the Orientals sell their "kabobs," _i.e._
little pieces of meat pierced by wooden skewers.

It is evident that to supply such a market it is necessary that the
birds should be of a tolerably gregarious nature, so that a
considerable number can be caught at a time. Nets were employed for
this purpose, and we may safely infer that the forms of the nets and
the methods of using them were identical with those which are employed
in the same country at the present day.

It is rather curious that the mode of bird-catching which is familiar
to us under the name of bat-fowling is employed in the East. The
fowlers supply themselves with a large net supported on two sticks,
and, taking a lantern with them fastened to the top of a pole, they
sally out at night to the places where the small birds sleep.

Raising the net on its sticks, they lift it to the requisite height,
and hold the lantern exactly opposite to it, so as to place the net
between the birds and the lantern. The roosting-places are then beaten
with sticks or pelted with stones, so as to awaken the sleeping birds.
Startled by the sudden noise, they dash from their roosts,
instinctively make towards the light, and so fall into the net.
Bird-catching with nets is several times mentioned in the Old
Testament, but in the New the net is only alluded to as used for
taking fish.

Beside the net, several other modes of bird-catching were used by the
ancient Jews, just as is the case at the present day. Boys, for
example, who catch birds for their own consumption, and not for the
market, can do so by means of various traps, most of which are made on
the principle of the noose, or snare. Sometimes a great number of
hair-nooses are set in places to which the birds are decoyed, so that
in hopping about many of them are sure to become entangled in the
snares. Sometimes the noose is ingeniously suspended in a narrow
passage which the birds are likely to traverse, and sometimes a simple
fall-trap is employed.

To these nooses many allusions are made in the Scriptures. See, for
example, Ps. cxxiv. 7: "Our soul is escaped as a bird (_tzippor_) out
of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped."
Also Prov. vii. 23: "He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to
the slaughter ... as a bird hasteneth to the snare, and knoweth not
that it is for his life." There is one passage in Ecclesiastes, where
both the fishing-net and the snare are mentioned in connexion with
each other: "For man knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are
taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare;
so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth
suddenly upon them" (ix. 12).

Allusion is also made to the snare by the prophet Amos in one of the
passages where his rough, homely diction rises by successive steps
into sublimity: "Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no
gin is for him? shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have
taken nothing at all?" (iii. 5.)

So common was the use of the snare that it was frequently used as a
familiar image by the sacred writers. "How long shall this man be a
snare to us?" said Pharaoh's servants of Moses, through whom the
waters of the sacred river had been polluted, and various other
plagues had come upon the Egyptians. Idols are called snares in many
parts of the Scriptures, and so is the society of the wicked. A
forcible use of this image was made by Saul when he found that his
daughter Michal loved David: "And Saul said, I will give him her, that
she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be
against him" (1 Sam. xviii. 21). His device, or snare, not only
failed, but, as we learn in the succeeding chapter, verses 11-16,
David was "delivered from the snare of the fowler," by the very means
which had been employed for entrapping him.

We now pass to another division of the subject. In Ps. lxxxiv. 1-3, we
come upon a passage in which the Sparrow is again mentioned: "How
amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!

"My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord; my
heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

"Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for
herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of
hosts, my King, and my God."

It is evident that we have in this passage a different bird from the
Sparrow that sitteth alone upon the house-tops; and though the same
word, _tzippor_, is used in both cases, it is clear that whereas the
former bird was mentioned as an emblem of sorrow, solitude, and
sadness, the latter is brought forward as an image of joy and
happiness. "Blessed are they," proceeds the Psalmist, "that dwell in
Thy house: they will be still praising Thee.... For a day in Thy
courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the
house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."

According to Mr. Tristram, this is probably one of the species to
which allusion is made by the Psalmist. While inspecting the ruins in
the neighbourhood of the Temple, he came upon an old wall. "Near this
gate I climbed on to the top of the wall, and walked along for some
time, enjoying the fine view at the gorge of the Kedron, with its
harvest crop of little white tombs. In a chink I discovered a
sparrow's nest (_Passer cisalpinus_, var.) of a species so closely
allied to our own that it is difficult to distinguish it, one of the
very kind of which the Psalmist sung.... The swallows had departed for
the winter, but the sparrow has remained pertinaciously through all
the sieges and changes of Jerusalem."


  "_Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, where she may lay her
  young._"--PS. lxxxiv. 3.]

The same traveller thinks that the TREE SPARROW (_Passer montanus_)
may be the species to which the sacred writer refers, as it is even
now very plentiful about the neighbourhood of the Temple. In all
probability we may accept both these birds as representatives of the
Sparrow which found a home in the Temple. The swallow is separately
mentioned, possibly because its migratory habits rendered it a
peculiarly conspicuous bird; but it is probable that many species of
birds might make their nests in a place where they felt themselves
secure from disturbance, and that all these birds would be mentioned
under the collective and convenient term of Tzipporim.

As we are engaged upon the word Sparrow, it may be mentioned that
several species of Sparrow inhabit Palestine. There is, for example,
the common House Sparrow, with which we are so familiar. Then, as has
just been described, there is the Tree Sparrow--a bird which is very
common in some parts of England, and never seen in others.

Beside these, there is the MARSH SPARROW, or SPANISH SPARROW (_Passer
salicarius_), which haunts the banks of the Jordan, and is found there
in countless myriads. Mr. Tristram mentions that it builds so
plentifully in the thorn-bushes of the Jordan valley, that he has seen
the branches borne down by the weight of the nests. The same writer,
in remarking upon the difficulty, not to say impossibility, of
defining the precise bird which was signified by a Hebrew word, says
that, exclusive of the crow tribe, the swifts, cuckoos, rollers,
kingfishers, &c., nearly one hundred and fifty species of passerine
birds are known to inhabit the Holy Land, any or all of which may be
signified by the word _tzippor_.

In curious contrast to the generally unobservant nature of the
Oriental, and to the almost entire absence in Scripture of any
allusion to the song of birds, we find that not only do the Orientals
of the present day keep singing-birds in cages, but that the custom
was in all probability prevalent during the days when the various
Scriptural books were written. Any of my readers who are familiar--as
they ought to be--with that store-house of Oriental manners, the
"Arabian Nights," will remember several allusions to birds kept in
cages, some for their song, some for their beauty of plumage, and some
for their powers of talking. The same custom is continued at the
present day; and not only in Palestine, but in other Eastern
countries, birds may be seen in cages hung outside the houses.

In two passages of the Scriptures the word "cage" is mentioned, but in
one case the word evidently has another meaning, and in the other the
signification is open to doubt.

The first of these passages occurs in Jer. v. 27: "For among my people
are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they
set a trap, they catch men.

"As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit."

There is but little doubt that the word which is rendered here as
"cage" really signifies a trap, probably one of the basket-traps which
are still employed in the East in bird-catching. One marginal reading
gives the word as "coop." The whole of the context, however, shows
that reference is made, not to keeping birds in cages, but to
capturing them in traps, to which the houses of the wicked are

The second mention of the word "cage" occurs in the Revelation, where
the sacred writer compares Babylon with "a cage of every unclean
bird." The word in this case signifies "prison," and we cannot
definitely say that it represents a cage such as we understand by the
word. There is, however, a passage in the Book of Job (xli. 5) which
unmistakeably alludes to the custom of domesticating birds. Speaking
of the leviathan and its strength, the sacred writer uses the
following metaphor:--"Wilt thou play with him as with a bird, or wilt
thou bind him for thy maidens?"


   The Cuckoo only twice mentioned in Scripture--Difficulty of
   identifying the Shachaph--The common species, and the Great
   Spotted Cuckoo--Depositing the egg--Conjectures respecting the
   Shachaph--Etymology of the word--The various gulls, and other

Only in two instances is the word CUCKOO found in the Authorized
Version of the Bible, and as they occur in parallel passages they are
practically reduced to one. In Lev. xi. 16 we find it mentioned among
the birds that might not be eaten, and the same prohibition is
repeated in Deut. xiv. 15, the Jews being ordered to hold the bird in

The Hebrew word is _shachaph_ (the vowels to be pronounced as in
"mat"), but as to the precise bird which is signified we can but
conjecture. The etymology of the word gives us but little assistance.
_Shachaph_ is derived from a root that signifies leanness or
slenderness; but it is not very easy to base an interpretation on such
grounds. In the Jewish Bible the word is rendered as "Cuckoo," but
with the addition of the doubtful mark.

It is possible that the bird may be the Shachaph of the Pentateuch,
for several species of Cuckoo are known to inhabit the Holy Land. One
of them is the species with which we are so familiar in this country
by sound, if not by sight, and which possesses in Palestine the same
habits as in England. It is rather remarkable, by the way, that the
Arabic name for the bird is exactly the same as ours, the peculiar cry
having supplied the name. Its habit of laying its eggs in the nests of
other birds is well known, together with the curious fact, that
although so large a bird, measuring more than a foot in length, its
egg is not larger than that of the little birds, such as the
hedge-sparrow, robin, or redstart.


  "_And the owl, and the night-hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after
  his kind._"--LEV. xi. 16; DEUT. xiv. 15.]

Besides this species, another Cuckoo inhabits Palestine, and is much
more common. This is the GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO (_Oxylophus
glandarius_). The birds belonging to this genus have been separated
from the other Cuckoos because the feathers on the head are formed
into a bold crest, in some species, such as Le Vaillant's Cuckoo,
reminding the observer of the crest of the cockatoo. This fine bird
measures nearly sixteen inches in length, and can be distinguished,
not only by the crested head, but by the reddish grey of the throat
and chest, and the white tips of the wing and tail feathers.

This species lays its eggs in the nests of comparatively large birds,
such as the rooks, crows, and magpies; and it is a remarkable fact,
that just as the egg of the English Cuckoo is very small, so as to
suit the nests of the little birds in which it is placed, that of the
Great Spotted Cuckoo is as large as the average rook's egg, so as to
be in proportion to the nests of the larger birds.

Many commentators believe that by the word _shachaph_ was signified
some species of sea-gull, or at all events some marine bird. As such
birds live on fish, they would necessarily come into the class of
unclean birds, and there is on that account some probability that the
suggestion is a correct one.

Dr. Lewysohn has a very elaborate disquisition on the subject, in
which he decides that the creature was one of the sea-birds, and
derives its name of Shachaph, or "attenuated," from the meagreness of
its proportions. Of the various sea-birds, he selects the petrel as
the species which he thinks to have been signified by the word. This
bird, as he says, is a very lean one, having many feathers, but very
little flesh, so that its limbs are no larger than olives, and no one
could make a meal of it. This last remark, however, tends to diminish
rather than to establish his theory, as, if the bird could not be
eaten, there would have been no object in prohibiting the Jews from
eating it.

He further proceeds to observe that the bird is unable to scratch, and
may therefore be given to a child as a playfellow, and that it is
capable of being domesticated and living in a cage. There is, however,
no argument here, and the theory is not a tenable one.

Mr. Tristram, with far more probability, suggests that if the bird be
not one of the Cuckoos, and be really a sea-bird, it may be one of the
shearwaters which live in such numbers on the sea-shore of Palestine.
He mentions especially two species, the Great Shearwater (_Puffinus
cinereus_) and the Manx Shearwater (_Puffinus anglorum_), both of
which are extremely plentiful on the coast, skimming continually over
the water, and being at the present day regarded by the Mahometans
with superstitious awe, being thought to be the ever-restless souls of
the condemned, who are doomed to fly backwards and forwards
continually until the end of the world, clad in sombre plumage, and
never permitted to rest.

Besides the shearwater, many species of gull inhabit the same coast,
and it is not at all unlikely that the word _shachaph_ was used in a
collective sense, as we have seen to be the case with _tzippor_, and
signified any of the marine birds, without aiming at distinction of


   Parallel between the lamb and the Dove--Derivation of the Hebrew
   word _Yonâh_--The Dove and the olive branch--Abram's sacrifice,
   and its acceptance--The sacrifice according to the law of
   Moses--The Dove-sellers of the Temple--Talmudical zoology--The
   story of Ilisch--The Dove and the raven--The Dove a type of
   Israel--The Beni-yonâh, or Sons of Pigeons--Home-finding
   instinct of the pigeon--The Oriental Dove-cotes--Voice of the
   Dove--Its strength of wing--The Dove's dung of Samaria--Various
   pigeons of Palestine--The Rock-Dove and its multitudes--The Dove
   and the Griffon--The Turtle-Doves of Palestine, and their
   appearance and habits.

In giving the Scriptural history of the Doves and Pigeons, we shall
find ourselves rather perplexed in compressing the needful information
into a reasonable space. There is no bird which plays a more important
part, both in the Old and the New Testaments, or which is employed so
largely in metaphor and symbol.

The Doves and Pigeons were to the birds what were the sheep and lambs
to the animals, and, like them, derived their chief interest from
their use in sacrifice. Both the lamb and the young pigeon being
emblems of innocence, both were used on similar occasions, the latter
being in many instances permitted when the former were too expensive
for the means of the offerer. As to the rendering of the Hebrew words
which have been translated as Pigeon, Dove, and Turtle Dove, there has
never been any discussion. The Hebrew word _yonâh_ has always been
acknowledged to signify the Dove or Pigeon, and the word _tôr_ to
signify the Turtle Dove. Generally, the two words are used in
combination, so that _tor-yonâh_ signifies the Turtle Dove.

Though the interpretation of the word _yonâh_ is universally accepted,
there is a little difficulty about its derivation, and its
signification apart from the bird. Some have thought that it is
derived from a root signifying warmth, in allusion to the warmth of
its affection, the Dove having from time immemorial been selected as
the type of conjugal love. Others, among whom is Buxtorf, derive it
from a word which signifies oppression, because the gentle nature of
the Dove, together with its inability to defend itself, cause it to be
oppressed, not only by man, but by many rapacious birds.

The first passage in which we hear of the Dove occurs in the earlier
part of Genesis. Indeed, the Dove and the raven are the first two
creatures that are mentioned by any definite names, the word
_nachosh_, which is translated as "serpent" in Gen. iii. 1, being a
collective word signifying any kind of serpent, whether venomous or
otherwise, and not used for the purpose of designating any particular

Turning to Gen. viii. 8, we come to the first mention of the Dove. The
whole passage is too familiar to need quoting, and it is only needful
to say that the Dove was sent out of the ark in order that Noah might
learn whether the floods had subsided, and that, after she had
returned once, he sent her out again seven days afterwards, and that
she returned, bearing an olive-branch (or leaf, in the Jewish Bible).
Seven days afterwards he sent the Dove for the third time, but she had
found rest on the earth, and returned no more.

It is not within the province of this work to treat, except in the
most superficial manner, of the metaphorical signification of the
Scriptures. I shall, therefore, allude but very slightly to the
metaphorical sense of the passages which record the exit from the ark
and the sacrifice of Noah. Suffice it to say that, putting entirely
aside all metaphor, the characters of the raven and the Dove are well
contrasted. The one went out, and, though the trees were at that time
submerged, it trusted in its strong wings, and hovered above the
watery expanse until the flood had subsided. The Dove, on the
contrary, fond of the society of man, and having none of the wild,
predatorial habits which distinguish the raven, twice returned to its
place of refuge, before it was finally able to find a resting-place
for its foot.

After this, we hear nothing of the Dove until the time of Abraham,
some four hundred years afterwards, when the covenant was made between
the Lord and Abram, when "he believed in the Lord, and it was counted
to him for righteousness." In order to ratify this covenant he was
ordered to offer a sacrifice, which consisted of a young heifer, a
she-goat, a ram, a turtle-dove, and a young dove or pigeon. The larger
animals were severed in two, but the birds were not divided, and
between the portions of the sacrifice there passed a lamp of fire as a
symbol of the Divine presence.

In after days, when the promise that the seed of Abram should be as
the stars of heaven for multitude had been amply fulfilled, together
with the prophecy that they should be "strangers in a land that was
not theirs," and should be in slavery and under oppression for many
years, the Dove was specially mentioned in the new law as one of the
creatures that were to be sacrificed on certain defined occasions.

Even the particular mode of offering the Dove was strictly defined.
See Lev. i. 14-17: "If the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the
Lord be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtle-doves, or
of young pigeons.

"And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off his head,
and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at
the side of the altar.

"And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it
beside the altar, on the east part, by the place of the ashes.

"And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide
it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood
that is upon the fire."

Here we have a repetition not only of the sacrifice of Abram, but of
the mode in which it was offered, care being taken that the body of
the bird should not be divided. There is a slight, though not very
important variation in one or two portions of this passage. For
example, the wringing off the head of the bird is, literally, pinching
off, and had to be done with the thumb nail; and the passage which is
by some translators rendered as the crop and the feathers, is by
others translated as the crop and its contents--a reading which seems
to be more consonant with the usual ceremonial of sacrifice than the

As a general rule, the pigeon was only sanctioned as a sacrificial
animal in case one of more value could not be afforded; and so much
care was taken in this respect, that with the exception of the two
"sparrows" (_tzipporim_) that were enjoined as part of the sacrifice
by which the cleansed leper was received back among the people (Lev.
xiv. 4), no bird might be offered in sacrifice unless it belonged to
the tribe of pigeons.

It was in consequence of the poverty of the family that the Virgin
Mary brought two young pigeons when she came to present her new-born
Son in the Temple. For those who were able to afford it, the required
sacrifice was a lamb of the first year for a burnt-offering, and a
young pigeon or Turtle Dove for a sin-offering. But "if she be not
able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young
pigeons, the one for the burnt-offering and the other for a
sin-offering." The extraordinary value which all Israelites set upon
the first-born son is well known, both parents even changing their own
names, and being called respectively the father and mother of Elias,
or Joseph, as the case may be. If the parents who had thus attained
the summit of their wishes possessed a lamb, or could have obtained
one, they would most certainly have offered it in the fulness of their
joy, particularly when, as in the case of Mary, there was such cause
for rejoicing; and the fact that they were forced to substitute a
second pigeon for the lamb is a proof of their extreme poverty.

While the Israelites were comparatively a small and compact nation,
dwelling around their tabernacle, the worshippers could easily offer
their sacrifices, bringing them from their homes to the altar. But in
process of time, when the nation had become a large and scattered one,
its members residing at great distances, and only coming to the Temple
once or twice in the year to offer their sacrifices, they would have
found that for even the poor to carry their pigeons with them would
have greatly increased the trouble, and in many cases have been almost

For the sake of convenience, therefore, a number of dealers
established themselves in the outer courts of the Temple, for the
purpose of selling Doves to those who came to sacrifice. Sheep and
oxen were also sold for the same purpose, and, as offerings of money
could only be made in the Jewish coinage, money-changers established
themselves for the purpose of exchanging foreign money brought from a
distance for the legal Jewish shekel. That these people exceeded their
object, and endeavoured to overreach the foreign Jews who were
ignorant of the comparative value of money and goods, is evident from
the fact of their expulsion by our Lord, and the epithets which were
applied to them.

As the Dove played so important a part in the Jewish worship, the
Talmudical writers have investigated the subject with a curious

In the first place, they discuss the reasons for its selection as the
bird of sacrifice, and always endeavour to represent it as contrasted
with the raven--all birds of the raven kind, _i.e._ the rooks, crows,
magpies, and the like, being set down as cunning, deceptive, and
thieving; while all the pigeon kind are mild, true, and loving. There
is a curious story which illustrates this idea. A certain man named
Ilisch, who understood the language of birds, was "once upon a time"
in captivity, when he heard the cry of a raven, which called out to
him, "Ilisch! Ilisch! flee! flee!" But Ilisch said within himself, "I
believe not this lying bird." But next came a Dove, which said the
same words. Then said Ilisch, "I believe this bird, because Israel is
compared to a dove."

Here this Ilisch, whoever he may be, referred to the Talmudical
writers on the subject of the Dove, which they delighted to compare
with Israel in a variety of ways, some of them being very obscure and
rather far-fetched. For example, of all birds the Dove is the most
persecuted, being gentle, meek, and unable to resist. She cannot fight
with her beak or her claws, and has only her wings, with which she
will flee away if she is able, or if not, will fight with them. Now,
as the wings are to the Dove, so is the law to Israel.

The wings are the strength of the Dove. Upheld by them she can fly for
many hours, so that the birds of prey which are pursuing her cannot
take her. Then comes a strange notion of the Dove's flight. When other
birds are tired, they sit down and fold their wings to rest. But the
tired Dove never ceases her flight; but when one wing is fatigued,
she allows it to rest, and continues her flight with the other. So is
it with Israel, who, though persecuted by the Gentiles, and deprived
of half her strength, cannot be entirely crushed, but still survives
and asserts herself.

One reason that is given for the gentle disposition of the Dove is
that the bird has no gall, the gall being considered by the
naturalists of old as the source and fountain of contention, the
bitterness of the gall being supposed to infuse itself into the
spirit. Probably on account of this anatomical peculiarity, the Dove
was considered as the very pattern for married people, and the emblem
of chastity, as it lives in the strictest monogamy, never desiring
another mate. Unfortunately for these writers, the Raven, which is
always mentioned by them in strong contrast with the Dove, is quite as
remarkable for its attachment to its mate and young, and for the
strictness of its monogamy, the same pair, when once mated, residing
together for the whole of their lives.

Even the age of the Dove was made a matter of consideration by the
Talmudists, so that in great measure the original benevolence of the
Law was cramped by the restrictions which were laid upon it. As we are
told by St. Paul, in Heb. ix., even under the old dispensation,
without shedding of blood there was no remission of sins, and he who
desired to obtain that remission was obliged to shed the blood of the
sacrifice. Now, in order that poverty should be no restriction to the
attainment of the greatest spiritual privileges, it was ordained that
young pigeons or Turtle Doves might be substituted for the more costly

These birds cost but very little. The peasant might take them from the
dove-cote, which was the appendage of most households, and he who was
too poor even to have a dove-cote of his own might go to the rocky
side of the ravines, and take as many young as he pleased from the
myriad nests which are placed in the clefts. Thus, at any time of the
year, the poorest man or woman could obtain the means of sacrifice.

But the restrictive genius which was so sternly rebuked by our Lord
soon made itself felt. All these birds, in order to be fit for
sacrifice, must be Beni-yonâh, _i.e._ Sons of Doves. The definition of
this term is rather interesting, as it affords an excellent example of
the hair-splitting character of these interpreters of the Law.
According to them, a pigeon could only be ranked among the Beni-yonâh
for a short period of its life, and, if it were too young or too old,
it might not be offered as a sacrifice.

The test of proper age lay in the feathers. If the bird were so young
that the feathers could be pulled out without drawing blood, it was
considered as being below age. If, on the contrary, blood followed the
feathers, but the plumage of the neck exhibited a metallic lustre, it
was reckoned as having passed the age of Beni-yonâh. It might be a
father, and not the son, of pigeons. When these feathers are visible,
the bird changes its name, and is called Tôr--a word which will be
presently explained.

According to some of these old writers, the Dove was considered as
having a superiority over other birds in the instinctive certainty
with which it finds its way from one place to another. At the present
time, our familiarity with the variety of pigeon known as the Carrier
has taught us that the eye is the real means employed by the pigeon
for the direction of its flight. Those who fly pigeons for long
distances always take them several times over the same ground,
carrying them to an increasing distance at every journey, so that the
birds shall be able to note certain objects which serve them as

Bees and wasps have recourse to a similar plan. When a young wasp
leaves its nest for the first time, it does not fly away at once, but
hovers in front of the entrance for some time, getting farther and
farther away from the nest until it has learned the aspect of
surrounding objects. The pigeon acts in precisely the same manner, and
so completely does it depend upon eyesight that, if a heavy fog should
come on, the best-trained pigeon will lose its way.

The old writers, however, made up their minds that the pigeon found
its way by scent, which sense alone, according to their ideas, could
guide it across the sea. They were not aware of the power possessed by
birds of making their eyes telescopic at will, or of the enormous
increase of range which the sight obtains by elevation. A pigeon at
the elevation of several hundred yards can see to an astonishing
distance, and there is no need of imagining one sense to receive a
peculiar development when the ordinary powers of another are
sufficient to obtain the object.

That dove-cotes were in use among the earlier Jews is well known. An
allusion to the custom of keeping pigeons in cotes is seen in Isa. lx.
8: "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their
windows?" or, as the Jewish Bible translates the passage, "as the
doves to their apertures?" In this passage the sacred writer utters a
prophecy concerning the coming of the world to the Messiah, the
Gentiles flocking to Him as the clouds of pigeons fly homeward to
their cotes.

The practice of pigeon-keeping has survived to the present day, the
houses of wealthy men being furnished with separate pigeon-houses,
built up of a number of earthen jars, and roofed over. Each jar is the
habitation of a pair of pigeons, and the whole principle of this
dove-cote is exactly the same as that which was employed by the late
Mr. Waterton in erecting the starling-houses in his garden and
grounds. Poorer people, who cannot afford to build a separate house
for the pigeons, set up jars for them in their own houses, the pigeons
gaining access to their nests through the door.

The Talmudical writers have even their regulations respecting the
keeping of tame pigeons. No one was allowed to do so who had not a
sufficiency of ground around his house to supply food for them.
According to their regulations, the pigeon-house must not be within
fifty paces of cultivated ground belonging to any one except the owner
of the pigeons. The reason for this prohibition was, that as the
pigeon was known to be an exceedingly voracious bird, it should not
feed at the expense of a neighbour. It was conventionally supposed to
feed by choice in the immediate vicinity of the house, and, when it
had filled its crop, to be unwilling to fly farther than was
absolutely necessary.

Being so familiar with this bird, it was to be expected that the
writers of the Scriptures would make many references to it. The
plaintive, monotonous cooing of the pigeon is several times mentioned.
For example: "And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be
brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves,
taboring upon their breasts" (Nah. ii. 7). The Jewish Bible gives this
passage in another and certainly a more forcible manner: "And Huzzab
shall be uncovered and brought up, and her maids shall sigh as the
voice of doves, drumming upon their breasts." Here the prophet alludes
to the ancient custom of beating the breast as a sign of sorrow (a
custom that survived even in this country until a very recent date),
accompanied with the moanings of distress.

The prophet Isaiah makes use of a similar metaphor: "I did mourn as a
dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward" (xxxviii. 14). Also in chap.
lix. 11: "We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves."

  [Illustration: THE ROCK DOVE.

  "O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rocks."--CANT. ii. 14.]

The beauty of the bird is mentioned in many passages, several of which
occur in the Song of Solomon. "Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold,
thou art fair; thou hast dove's eyes" (i. 15). "His eyes are the eyes
of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set" (v.
12). And in several other places the beloved is spoken of as a Dove,
as in the following passage: "My dove, my undefiled, is but one; she
is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare
her" (vi. 9).

Allusion is made to the peculiar metallic gleam of the Dove's plumage
in a well-known passage of the Psalms: "Though ye have lien among the
pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and
her feathers with yellow gold" (Ps. lxviii. 13).

The strong flight of the Dove is also mentioned by the Psalmist in an
equally familiar passage: "And I said, Oh that I had wings like a
dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I
wander far off, and remain in the wilderness" (Ps. lv. 6, 7). It is
scarcely necessary to advert to the well-known passages in which
reference is made to the gentleness of the Dove.

That the pigeons which are not domesticated live in the rocks was
known to the Scripture writers, who make several references to the

See, for example: "O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, and
dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the
sides of the hole's mouth" (Jer. xlviii. 28). See also Ezek. vii. 16:
"But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the
mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one
for his iniquity."

This is an especially graphic image. The deep valleys that run between
the mountain ranges are literally crowded with pigeons who have made
their nests in the cavities. Several of these are so well known that
they go by the name of "Valleys of Pigeons."

In the Song of Solomon (ii. 14) is another reference to the
rock-loving propensities of the Dove: "O my dove, that art in the
clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy
countenance, let me hear thy voice." The Jewish Bible gives a slightly
different rendering, translating the word which is given as "stairs"
in the Authorized Version as "cliffs."

That the Doves were caught in nets is evident from a passage in Hosea
(vii. 11, 12): "Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they
call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.

"When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them
down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their
congregation hath heard."

There is one passage in the Old Testament about which great
controversy has taken place. It occurs in 2 Kings vi. 25. When
Ben-hadad besieged Samaria, and tried to reduce it by starvation, the
famine was so great in the city that "an ass's head was sold for
fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove's
dung for five pieces of silver."

Objection has been taken to this passage on the score of the exceeding
repulsiveness of the food. This objection, however, cannot hold good;
for, although such diet must have been most repulsive, it could not
have been more so than the flesh of the ass, an animal which was
strictly forbidden as food, and held as unclean. Moreover, as we see
in verse 29 that parents actually ate the flesh of their own children,
it is evident that the mere repulsiveness of the food cannot be taken
as an objection.

A far stronger objection is to be found in the fact that even all the
dove-cotes of Samaria could not furnish a sufficient quantity for
food, especially as the Doves themselves must have been killed and
eaten long before the people were driven to such an extremity as to
eat the flesh of their own children. It is far more probable that the
"dove's-dung" was the name of a vegetable of some kind. We find a
similar nomenclature in the popular names of many of our own plants,
such as oxlip, cowslip, horse-tail, hart's-tongue, mouse-ear,
maidenhair, and the like.

We now come to the various species of Pigeons which inhabit Palestine.

In the Holy Land are found all the species of Pigeons which inhabit
England, together with one or two others. First, there is the Rock
Pigeon, or Blue Rock Dove (_Columba livia_), which is acknowledged to
be the origin of our domestic breeds of Pigeons, with all their
infinite variety of colour and plumage. This species, though plentiful
in Palestine, is not spread over the whole of the land, but lives
chiefly on the coast and in the higher parts of the country. In these
places it multiplies in amazing numbers, its increase being almost
wholly unchecked by man, on account of the inaccessible cliffs in
which it lays its eggs and nurtures its young, its only enemies being
a few of the birds and beasts of prey, which can exercise but a
trifling influence on these prolific birds.

In other parts of the country the Egyptian Rock Dove (_Columba
Schimperi_) takes the place of the more northern species. It is a
little smaller than our own Rock Dove, and has not the whitish plumage
on the lower part of the back. This species is quite as numerous as
the other, and builds in similar places. Mr. Tristram, while visiting
the Wady (or Valley) Seimûn, which lies near the Lake of Gennesaret,
witnessed an amusing example of the vast number of these Pigeons.

"No description can give an adequate idea of the myriads of rock
pigeons. In absolute clouds they dashed to and fro in the ravine,
whirling round with a rush and a whirr that could be felt like a gust
of wind. It was amusing to watch them upset the dignity and the
equilibrium of the majestic griffon as they swept past him. This
enormous bird, quietly sailing along, was quite turned on his back by
the sudden rush of wings and wind."

The writer of this description has been too modest. It is impossible
to convey a better idea of the vast multitude of birds than has been
given by this anecdote. We are all familiar with the clatter of
Pigeons' wings as they dart from their resting-place, and can well
imagine how great must have been the multitude of birds that would
fairly turn the powerful griffon-vulture on its back. This description
may be advantageously compared with the passage in Isa. lx. 8: "Who
are these that fly as a cloud?" the sacred writer well knowing the
force of his image when addressed to those who were familiar with the
habits of the bird, whether it was the semi-domesticated House Pigeon
or the wild Rock Dove. The Ring Dove (_Columba palumbus_) and the
Stock Dove (_Columba ænas_) are also found in Palestine.

These birds are taken in nets, into which they are decoyed by a very
effective though cruel device.

When one of these birds is trapped or snared, it is seized by its
capturers, who spare its life for the sake of using it as a decoy.
They blind it by sewing its eyelids together, and then fasten it to a
perch among trees. The miserable bird utters plaintive cries, and
continually flaps its wings, thus attracting others of its kind, who
settle on the surrounding branches and are easily taken, their whole
attention being occupied by the cries of their distressed companion.

We now come to the Turtle Doves, several of which inhabit the Holy
Land; but, as they are similar in habits, we will confine ourselves to
the common species (_Turtur auritus_), with which we are so familiar
in this country. The Hebrew word which is translated as Turtle, is
_tôr_, a term which is usually employed in connexion with the word
_yônâh_, or Dove, thus, _tôr-yônâh_. The name is evidently derived
from the note of the bird.

The reader may remember that on page 414, a curious tradition has been
mentioned respecting the word _tôr_; namely, that it represented the
age, and not the species of a Dove. There is but little doubt,
however, that the word really does represent a species, and that the
Turtle Dove is the bird signified by the word _tôr_. For example, its
migratory habits are noticed in the sacred writings. See the following
passage in the Song of Solomon.

  [Illustration: THE TURTLE DOVE.

  "_The voice of the turtle is heard in our land._"--CANT. ii. 12.]

"Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear
on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice
of the turtle is heard in our land" (Cant. ii. 11, 12). The prophet
Jeremiah also refers to the migration of this bird: "Yea, the stork in
the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane,
and the swallow observe the time of their coming: but my people know
not the judgment of the Lord" (viii. 7).

Beside this species, there is the Collared Turtle Dove (_Turtur
risorius_), one variety of which is known in England as the Barbary
Dove. It is a large species, measuring more than a foot in length.
Another species is the Palm Turtle (_Turtur Senegalensis_), so called
from its habit of nesting on palm-trees, when it is obliged to build
at a distance from the habitations of man. It is a gregarious bird,
several nests being generally found on one tree, and even, when it
cannot find a palm, it will build among the thorns in multitudes. Like
the common Dove, it is fond of the society of man, and is sure to make
its nest among human habitations, secure in its knowledge that it will
not be disturbed.

It is rather a small bird, being barely ten inches in length, and
having no "collar" on the neck, like the two preceding species.


   Poultry plentiful in Palestine at the present day--The Domestic
   Fowl unknown in the early times of Israel--The eating and
   gathering of eggs--References to Poultry in the New
   Testament--The egg and the scorpion--The fatted fowl of
   Solomon--The hen brooding over her eggs--Poultry prohibited
   within Jerusalem--The cock-crowing.

At the present day, poultry are plentiful both in Palestine and Syria,
and that they were bred in the time of the Apostles is evident from
one or two references which are made by our Lord. How long the
Domestic Fowl had been known to the Jews is extremely uncertain, and
we have very little to guide us in our search.

That it was unknown to the Jews during the earlier period of their
history is evident from the utter silence of the Old Testament on the
subject. A bird so conspicuous and so plentiful would certainly have
been mentioned in the Law of Moses had it been known to the
Israelites; but, in all its minute and detailed provisions, the Law is
silent on the subject.

Neither the bird itself nor its eggs are mentioned, although there are
a few references to eggs, without signifying the bird which laid
them. The humane provision in Deut. xxii. 6, 7, refers not to a
domesticated, but to a wild bird: "If a bird's nest chance to be
before thee in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones,
or eggs, and the dams sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou
shalt not take the dam with the young: but thou shalt in any wise let
the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee,
that thou mayest prolong thy days."

That eggs were used for food, is seen from Job vi. 6: "Can that which
is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white
of an egg?" So in Isa. lix. 5: "They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and weave
the spider's web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth."

There is another passage in the same book which refers to the
gathering of eggs as mentioned in Deut. xxii. "And my hand hath found
as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are
left, have I gathered all the earth" (Isa. x. 14). The well-known
passage in Luke xi. 11, 12, however, evidently refers to the ordinary
hen's egg, which was used then for food just as is the case at the
present day: "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father,
will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give
him a serpent?

"Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?"

There is but one passage in the Old Testament which has ever been
conjectured to refer to the Domestic Fowl. It occurs in 1 Kings iv.
22, 23, among the list of the daily provision of Solomon's household:
"And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine
flour, and threescore measures of meal,

"Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred
sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallow-deer, and fatted fowl."

Now the word which is here rendered as "fatted fowl" is in the Hebrew,
_barberim_. Judging by the etymology of the word, which is derived
from a root that signifies whiteness, or purity, it has been thought
that the correct rendering would be "fattened white" (birds). Some
Hebraists have conjectured that the white birds in question were
geese, this term including various white birds, swans among the

Many persons think that the fatted fowl mentioned in the above-quoted
passage were really Domestic Fowl, which Solomon had introduced into
Palestine, together with various other birds and animals, by means of
his fleet. There may be truth in this conjecture, but, as there can be
no certainty, we will pass from the Old Testament to the New.


"_As a hen doth gather her brood under her wings._"--LUKE xiii. 34.

We are all familiar with the passages in which the Domestic Fowl is
mentioned in the New Testament. There is, for example, that touching
image employed by our Lord when lamenting over Jerusalem: "O
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them
that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children
together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would
not!" The reference is evidently made to the Domesticated Fowl, which
in the time of our Lord was largely bred in the Holy Land.

Some writers have taken objection to this statement in consequence of
a Rabbinical law which prohibited poultry from being kept within the
walls of Jerusalem, lest in their search for food they should scratch
up any impurity which had been buried, and so defile the holy city.
But it must be remembered that in the time of Christ Jerusalem
belonged practically to the Romans, who held it with a garrison, and
who, together with other foreigners, would not trouble themselves
about any such prohibition, which would seem to them, as it does to
us, exceedingly puerile, not to say unjustifiable. Whether the Jews
obeyed or disregarded the prohibition, it is evident that it would
have been binding on the Jews alone, and that all Gentiles were exempt
from it. Some commentators have even thought that the Domestic Fowl
was not known in Palestine until imported by the Romans.

That the bird was common in the days of our Lord is evident from the
reference to the "cock-crowing" as a measure of time.

Even on this subject there has been much controversy, some persons
thinking that the words are to be understood in their literal sense,
and others that they are merely metaphorical, and refer to the
divisions of time under the Romans, which were marked by the blowing
of trumpets, conventionally termed cock-crowings. There is, however,
no necessity to search for a metaphorical meaning when the literal
interpretation is clear and intelligible. At the present day, as in
all probability in the time of our Lord, the crowing of the cocks is
employed as a means of reckoning time during the night, the birds
crowing at certain hours with almost mechanical regularity.


   The foreign curiosities imported by Solomon--The word _Tucciyim_
   and its various interpretations--Identity of the word with the
   Cingalese name of the Peacock--Reasons why the Peacock should
   have been brought to Solomon--Its subsequent neglect and

Among the many foreign objects which were imported by Solomon into
Palestine, we find that the Peacock is specially mentioned. (See a
passage which has already been mentioned in connexion with ivory and
apes.) The sacred historian, after mentioning the ivory throne, the
golden shields and targets, that all the vessels in Solomon's house
were of gold, and that silver was so common as to be of no account,
proceeds to give the reason for this profuse magnificence. "For the
king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in
three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver,
ivory, and apes, and peacocks" (1 Kings x. 22).

The word which is here translated as Peacock is in the Hebrew
_tucciyim_, and has been rendered in various modes. The Jewish Bible
accepts the same translation as our own, and does not even affix the
mark of doubt. Some Hebraists have rendered the word as "parrots,"
while others have tried to identify the Tucciyim with guinea-fowls.

In the identification of any animal, much must necessarily depend on
the country in which it is found. Now, if the reader will refer to
page 2 of this work, he will see that India and Ceylon are identified
as the land visited by Solomon's ships. In the latter island are found
all the three valuables which are mentioned in the above-quoted
passage, and it is remarkable that the Cingalese name for the Peacock
is so similar to the Hebrew word, that we have every reason to believe
that the word _tucciyim_ or _tuyeyim_ is in reality a Hebraic form of
the Cingalese tokei. A similar resemblance of name occurs in the
Hebrew and Cingalese terms for ape and elephant.

That this magnificent bird should have been one of those creatures
that were imported by Solomon is almost certain. It would be imported
for the same reason as the apes; namely, for the purpose of adding to
the glories of Solomon's house, and no bird could have been selected
which would have a more magnificent effect than the Peacock. Moreover,
although unknown in Palestine, it is extremely plentiful in its native
land, inhabiting the jungle by thousands, and, by a curious
coincidence, being invariably most plentiful in those spots which are
most frequented by tigers. In many parts of the country, great numbers
of Peacocks frequent the temples, and live amicably with the sacred
monkeys, passing their lives in absolute security, protected by the
sanctity of the place.

Their numbers, therefore, would render them easily accessible to
Solomon's envoys, who would purchase them at a cheap rate from the
native dealers, while their surpassing beauty would render them sure
of a sale on their arrival in Jerusalem. Indeed, their beauty made so
great an impression that they are separately mentioned by the sacred
chronicler, the Peacock and the ape being the only two animals that
are thought worthy of enumeration.

It seems that after Solomon's death the breed of Peafowl was not kept
up, owing in all probability to the troubles which beset the throne
after that magnificent monarch died.


   The word _Kore_ and its signification--The Partridge upon the
   mountains--David's simile--The Desert Partridge and its
   habits--Hunting the Partridge with sticks--Eggs of the
   Partridge--A disputed reading, and probable signification of the
   passage--Egg-hunting in Palestine--The various species of
   Partridge--The Francolin and the Sand-grouse.

There is a bird mentioned in the Old Testament, which, although its
name is only given twice, is a very interesting bird to all students
of the Scriptures, both passages giving an insight into the
manners and customs of the scarcely changing East. This is
the bird called in the Hebrew Kore, a word which has been generally
accepted as signifying some kind of Partridge. There is no doubt that,
like most other Hebrew names of animated beings, the word is a
collective one, signifying a considerable number of species.

  [Illustration: THE PEACOCK.

  "Once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and
  silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks." 1 KINGS x. 22.]

The first passage occurs in 1 Sam. xxvi. 20. When David was being
pursued by Saul, and had been forced to escape from the city and hide
himself in the rocky valleys, he compared himself to the Partridge,
which frequented exactly the same places: "The king of Israel is come
out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge upon the

The appositeness of this simile is perfect. The bird to which David
alluded was in all probability the Desert Partridge (_Ammoperdix
Heyii_), a species which especially haunts rocky and desert places,
and even at the present day is exceedingly plentiful about the Cave of
Adullam. The males, when they think themselves unobserved, are fond of
challenging, or calling to each other in a loud ringing note, a
peculiarity that has earned for the bird the Hebrew name of Kore, or
"the caller."

It is a very active bird, not taking to flight if it can escape by
means of its legs, and, when pursued or disturbed, running with great
swiftness to some rocky cleft in which it may hide itself, taking care
to interpose, as it runs, stones or other obstacles between itself and
the object of its alarm. Thus, then, it will be seen how close was the
parallel between this bird and David, who was forced, like the
Partridge, to seek for refuge in the rocky caves.

But the parallel becomes even closer when we come to examine the full
meaning of the passage. The Partridge is at the present day hunted on
the mountains exactly as was the case in the time of David. The usual
hunters are boys, who provide themselves with a supply of stout sticks
about eighteen inches in length, and, armed with these, they chase the
birds, hurling the sticks one after the other along the ground, so as
to strike the Partridge as it runs. Generally, several hunters chase
the same bird, some of them throwing the sticks along the ground,
while others hurl them just above the bird, so that if it should take
to flight, it maybe struck as it rises into the air. By
pertinaciously chasing an individual bird, the hunters tire it, and
contrive to come so close that they are certain to strike it.

  [Illustration: THE GREEK PARTRIDGE.

  "_A partridge upon the mountains._"--1 SAM. xxvi. 20.]

Rude as this mode of bird-hunting may seem, it is still employed in
some parts of England, and is effective even against birds far more
active on the wing than the Partridge. I have seen snipe killed in the
New Forest by being hunted down with sticks. Squirrels are chased and
killed in a similar manner, except that the "bolts," or the sticks for
squirrel-hunting, are weighted with lead at one end.

The reader will now see how perfect is the image. Driven from the
city, David was forced to wander, together with the Desert Partridge,
upon the hill-sides, and, like that bird, his final refuge is the
rock. Then came the hunters and pursued him, driving him from place to
place, as the boys hunt the Partridge, until he was weary of his life,
and exclaimed in his despair, "I shall now perish one day by the hand
of Saul."

The second passage in which the word _kore_ is found occurs in Jer.
xvii. 11: "As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so
he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the
midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool." The marginal
reading of this passage gives the sense in a slightly different form,
and commences the verse as follows: "As the partridge gathereth
(young) which she hath not brought forth, so he," &c. The Jewish Bible
gives the whole passage rather differently from both these readings:
"A partridge hatching what it hath not laid (_or_ borne), is he that
getteth (_or_ maketh) riches, and not by right (_or_ judgment): he
shall leave them in the midst (_or_ half) of his days, and at his end
shall be base."

Taking all these readings, and comparing them with the original, with
each other, and with the context, we can have but little doubt that
reference is made by the prophet to the number of unborn, _i.e._
unhatched, eggs on which the Partridge sits, but which are so often
taken from her before they can be hatched. Just as hunting the
Partridge is an acknowledged sport among the inhabitants of the
uncultivated parts of Palestine, so is searching for the eggs of the
bird a regular business at the proper time of year.

The Partridges of Palestine are, like those of our own land,
exceedingly prolific birds, laying a wonderful number of eggs, more
than twenty being sometimes found in a single nest. These eggs are
used for food, and the consumption of them is very great, so that many
a Partridge has been deprived of her expected family: she has sat upon
eggs, and hatched them not.

Of these birds several species inhabit Palestine. There is, for
example, the Desert Partridge, which has already been mentioned. It is
beautifully, though not brilliantly, coloured, and may be known by the
white spot behind the eye, the purple and chestnut streaks on the
sides, and the orange bill and legs. These, however, soon lose their
colour after death.

Then there is the Greek Partridge (_Caccabis saxatilis_), which is
even more plentiful than the preceding species, and is more widely
spread. It is a large bird of its kind, being much larger than our
English species, and may be known by its size, the dark red legs and
beak, and the bold bars on the sides.

Mr. Tristram suggests, with much probability, that the Francolin, or
Black Partridge of India, and the Sand-Grouse, may be included among
the number of the birds which are included under the common name of
Kore. The latter bird is extremely plentiful in Palestine, and, in all
probability, was classed by the unobservant Jews with the true


   Signification of the word _Selâv_--Various passages in which the
   word is mentioned--The locust, the stork, and the
   sand-grouse--Spreading the birds around the camp--Migration of
   the Quail--Drying the Quails for food--Modes of catching the
   Quail in the East--The Quail-hunters of Northern
   Africa--Quarrelsome nature of the bird--Quail-fighting in the
   East--How the Quails were brought to the Israelites.

In one or two parts of the Old Testament is found a word which has
been translated in the Authorized Version of the Bible as QUAIL.

The word is _selâv_, and in every case where it is mentioned it is
used with reference to the same occurrence; namely, the providing of
flesh-meat in the wilderness, where the people could find no food. As
the passages remarkably bear upon each other, it will be advisable to
quote them in the order in which they come.

The first mention of the Selâv occurs in Exod. xvi. Only a few days
after the Israelites had passed the Red Sea, they began to complain of
the desert land into which Moses had led them, and openly said that
they wished they had never left the land of their slavery, where they
had plenty to eat. According to His custom, pitying their
narrow-minded and short-sighted folly, the natural result of the long
servitude to which they had been subject, the Lord promised to send
both bread and flesh-meat.

"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

  [Illustration: THE QUAIL.

  "_The people asked, and He brought quails._"--PSALM cv. 40.]

"I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto
them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall
be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God.

"And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the
camp" (ver. 11-13).

The next passage records a similar circumstance, which occurred about
a year afterwards, when the Israelites were tired of eating nothing
but the manna, and again wished themselves back in Egypt. "And there
went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought quails from the sea, and
let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side,
and as it were a day's journey on the other side, round about the
camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth.

"And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the
next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least
gathered ten homers; and they spread them all abroad for themselves
round about the camp" (Numb. xi. 31, 32).

The last passage in which Quails are mentioned occurs in the Psalms.
In Ps. cv. are enumerated the various wonders done on behalf of the
Israelites, and among them is specially mentioned this gift of the
Quails and manna. "The people asked, and He brought quails, and
satisfied them with the bread of heaven" (ver. 40).

We now have to ask ourselves what the word _selâv_ really means. Some
commentators have thought that it signified a species of locust,
insects which travel in vast multitudes, and are always carried with
the wind, thus agreeing with the statement that the Selavim were
brought by the wind. Others have imagined that the Selavim were
flying-fish, blown on shore as they rose from the sea after their
fashion. Putting aside other reasons against these interpretations,
the Psalms contain a passage which effectually contradicts them, and
proves that the Selâv was a bird of some kind.

"He had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of

"And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the
corn of heaven.

"Man did eat angels' food: He sent them meat to the full.

"He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven; and by His power He
brought in the south wind.

"He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as
the sand of the sea" (Ps. lxxviii. 23-27).

From this passage it is evident that the Selavim which were sent
together with the manna were birds of some kind--"fowls of wing,"
according to the literal sense of the Hebrew; so that the theory that
they were insects or fish must be dismissed as untenable. The
question now remains, with what species of bird are we to identify the

Respecting this question, there has been great discussion, chiefly
arising from the fact that the various commentators endeavoured to
show that the Selâv was not the Quail, but some other bird. Some, for
example, take it to be the white stork, which is very plentiful in
Palestine, and sometimes flies in such numbers that the sky is
darkened as the winged host passes by. They base this supposition on
the stature of the bird, which is so tall that it stands about "two
cubits high upon the face of the earth." So it does, but this is a
very insufficient reason for translating the word _selâv_ as "stork."

In the first place, the words "as it were two cubits high upon the
face of the earth" certainly do not refer to the stature of the
individual birds. They are popularly taken to signify that the earth
was covered with the bodies of the Selavim to the depth of three feet.

This, however, can hardly have been the fact, as in that case they
would have utterly overwhelmed the whole camp, and crushed the tents
by their weight. Moreover, there would have been no need of gathering
them up, as they would have lain so thickly on the ground that the
only trouble would have been to make a passage through them. It is not
very easy to force a passage through snow a yard in depth, while to do
so through the same depth of birds would have been almost impossible.

Neither could the Israelites have "spread them all abroad for
themselves round about the camp." If the Selavim lay to the depth of a
yard "as it were a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on
the other side of the camp," _i.e._ some eight or ten miles all round
it, there would have been no space whereon the birds could have been
spread. The sentence in question has a totally different
signification, and refers to the height from the ground at which the
birds fly. Taken in this sense, the whole passage falls into harmony,
whereas in any other it involves a difficulty.

If the ordinary interpretation of _selâv_ by "Quail" be accepted, the
description is exactly correct. The Quails fly in vast flocks, and,
being weak-winged birds, never fly against the direction of the wind.
They will wait for days until the wind blows in the required
direction, and will then take wing in countless multitudes; so that in
an hour or two a spot on which not a Quail could be seen is covered
with them.

On account of their short wings, they never rise to any great height,
even when crossing the sea, while on land they fly at a very low
elevation, merely skimming over the ground, barely a yard or "two
cubits high upon the face of the earth." We may now see how needless
it is to attribute the two cubits to the stature of the bird, or to
the depth at which they lay on the ground.

There are other reasons why the Selâv could not be any species of
stork. In the first place, all the stork tribe are included among the
list of unclean birds, and it is not likely that the Almighty would
have neutralized His own edicts by providing food which the Israelites
were forbidden to eat. In the next place, even had the flesh of the
stork been lawful, it is of so unpleasant a nature that the people
could not have eaten it. For similar reasons we may dismiss the
theories which consider the Selâv to be a goose or water-fowl of any

Some persons have thought that the sand-grouse is the Selâv. In the
first place, the flesh of this bird is hard, tasteless, and disliked
by those who have tried it; so that the Israelites would not have been
tempted to eat it. In the next, it is a strong-winged and swift-footed
bird, and would not have satisfied the required conditions. It flies
high in the air, instead of merely skimming over the ground, and when
it alights is fresh and active, and cannot easily be caught. The
Quail, on the contrary, after it has flown for any distance, is so
completely tired out that when it alights it crouches to the earth,
and will allow itself to be picked up by hand. It has even been
trodden to death under a horse's feet.

Moreover, the flesh of the Quail is peculiarly excellent, and would be
a great temptation to men who had passed so long a time without eating
animal food. Another corroboration of the identity of the Quail and
the Selâv is to be found in the mode in which the flesh is prepared at
the present day. As soon as the birds have arrived, they are captured
in vast multitudes, on account of their weariness. Many are consumed
at once, but great numbers are preserved for future use by being split
and laid out to dry in the sun, precisely as the Israelites are said
to have spread out the Selavim "all abroad for themselves round about
the camp."

It is rather remarkable that the Arabs of the present day use a word
almost exactly resembling _selâv_ to represent the Quail. The word is
_salwa_, given by one of the older writers on the subject as _selaw_.

Accepting, therefore, the Selâv and Quail to be identical, we may
proceed to the description of the bird.

It is small, plump, and round-bodied, with the head set closely on the
shoulders. Owing to this peculiarity of form, it has its Arab name,
which signifies plumpness or fatness. The wings are pressed closely to
the body, and the tail is pointed, very short, and directed downwards,
so that it almost appears to be absent, and the bird seems to be even
more plump than really is the case.

Several modes of capturing these birds are still practised in the
East, and were probably employed, not only on the two occasions
mentioned in Exodus and Numbers, but on many others of which the
Scriptural narrative takes no notice. One very simple plan is, for the
hunters to select a spot on which the birds are assembled, and to ride
or walk round them in a large circle, or rather in a constantly
diminishing spiral. The birds are by this process driven closer and
closer together, until at the last they are packed in such masses that
a net can be thrown over them, and a great number captured in it.

Sometimes a party of hunters unite to take the Quails, and employ a
similar manoeuvre, except that, instead of merely walking round the
Quails, they approach simultaneously from opposite points, and then
circle round them until the birds are supposed to be sufficiently
packed. At a given signal they all converge upon the terrified birds,
and take them by thousands at a time.

In Northern Africa these birds are captured in a very similar fashion.
As soon as notice is given that a flight of Quails has settled, all
the men of the village turn out with their great burnouses or cloaks.
Making choice of some spot as a centre, where a quantity of brushwood
grows or is laid down, the men surround it on all sides, and move
slowly towards it, spreading their cloaks in their outstretched hands,
and flapping them like the wings of huge birds. Indeed, when a man is
seen from a little distance performing this act, he looks more like a
huge bat than a human being.

As the men gradually converge upon the brushwood, the Quails naturally
run towards it for shelter, and at last they all creep under the
treacherous shade. Still holding their outspread cloaks in their
extended hands, the hunters suddenly run to the brushwood, fling their
cloaks over it, and so enclose the birds in a trap from which they
cannot escape. Much care is required in this method of hunting, lest
the birds should take to flight, and so escape. The circle is
therefore made of very great size, and the men who compose it advance
so slowly that the Quails prefer to use their legs rather than their
wings, and do not think of flight until their enemies are so close
upon them that their safest course appears to be to take refuge in the

Boys catch the Quails in various traps and springes, the most
ingenious of which is a kind of trap, the door of which overbalances
itself by the weight of the bird.

By reason of the colour of the Quail, and its inveterate habit of
keeping close to the ground, it easily escapes observation, and even
the most practised eye can scarcely distinguish a single bird, though
there may be hundreds within a very small compass. Fortunately for the
hunters, and unfortunately for itself, it betrays itself by its shrill
whistling note, which it frequently emits, and which is so peculiar
that it will at once direct the hunter to his prey.

This note is at the same time the call of the male to the female and a
challenge to its own sex. Like all the birds of its group, the Quail
is very combative, and generally fights a battle for the possession of
each of its many mates. It is not gifted with such weapons of offence
as some of its kinsfolk, but it is none the less quarrelsome, and
fights in its own way as desperately as the game-cock of our own

Indeed, in the East, it is used for exactly the same purpose as the
game-cock. Battles between birds and beasts, not to say men, are the
common amusement with Oriental potentates, and, when they are tired of
watching the combats of the larger animals, they have Quail-fights in
their own chambers. The birds are selected for this purpose, and are
intentionally furnished with stimulating food, so as to render them
even more quarrelsome than they would be by nature. Partridges are
employed for the same cruel purpose; and as both these birds are
easily obtained, and are very pugnacious, they are especially suited
for the sport.

Two passages occur in the Scriptures which exactly explain the mode in
which the Quails were sent to the Israelites. The first is in Ps.
lxxviii. 26. The Psalmist mentions that the Lord "caused an east wind
to blow in the heaven, and by His power He brought in the south wind."
Here, on examining the geographical position of the Israelites, we see
exactly how the south-east wind would bring the Quails.

The Israelites had just passed the Red Sea, and had begun to
experience a foretaste of the privations which they were to expect in
the desert through which they had to pass. Passing northwards in their
usual migrations, the birds would come to the coast of the Red Sea,
and there would wait until a favourable wind enabled them to cross the
water. The south-east wind afforded them just the very assistance
which they needed, and they would naturally take advantage of it.

It is remarkable how closely the Scriptural narrative agrees with the
habits of the Quail, the various passages, when compared together,
precisely coinciding with the character of the bird. In Exod. xvi. 13
it is mentioned that "at even the quails came up and covered the
camp." Nocturnal flight is one of the characteristics of the Quail.
When possible, they invariably fly by night, and in this manner escape
many of the foes which would make great havoc among their helpless
columns if they were to fly by day.

The identity of the Selâv with the common Quail is now seen to be
established. In the first place, we have the name still surviving in
the Arabic language. Next, the various details of the Scriptural
narrative point so conclusively to the bird, that even if we were to
put aside the etymological corroboration, we could have but little
doubt on the subject. There is not a detail which is not correct. The
gregarious instinct of the bird, which induces it to congregate in
vast numbers; its habit of migration; its inability to fly against the
wind, and the necessity for it to await a favourable breeze; its
practice of flying by night, and its custom of merely skimming over
the surface of the ground; the ease with which it is captured; the
mode of preserving by drying in the sun, and the proverbial delicacy
of its flesh, are characteristics which all unite in the Quail.

Before closing our account of the Quail, it will be as well to devote
a short space to the nature of the mode by which the Israelites were
twice fed. Commentators who were unacquainted with the natural history
of the bird have represented the whole occurrence as a miraculous one,
and have classed it with the division of the Red Sea and of the
Jordan, with the various plagues by which Pharaoh was induced to
release the Israelites, and with many other events which we are
accustomed to call miracles.

In reality, there is scarcely anything of a miraculous character about
the event, and none seems to have been claimed for it. The Quails were
not created at the moment expressly for the purpose of supplying the
people with food, nor were they even brought from any great distance.
They were merely assisted in the business on which they were engaged,
namely, their migration or customary travel from south to north, and
waiting on the opposite side of the narrow sea for a south-east wind.
That such a wind should blow was no miracle. The Quails expected it to
blow, and without it they could not have crossed the sea. That it was
made to blow earlier than might have been the case is likely enough,
but that is the extent of the miraculous character of the event.
Taking the word in its ordinary sense, no miracle was wrought, simply
because none was wanted. Granting to the fullest extent that He who
arranged the course of the world can alter His arrangements as easily
as He made them, we cannot but see that in this case no alteration was
needed, and that, in consequence, none was made.


   Signification of the word _Oreb_--The Raven tribe plentiful in
   Palestine--The Raven and the Dove--Elijah and the
   Ravens--Various explanations of the circumstance--Feeding the
   young Ravens--Luis of Grenada's sermon--The white Raven of
   ancient times--An old legend--Reference to the blackness of the
   Raven's plumage--Desert-loving habits of the Raven--Its mode of
   attacking the eye--Notions of the old commentators--Ceremonial
   use of the Raven--Return of the Ravens--Cunning of the
   bird--Nesting-places of the Raven--The magpie and its
   character--The starling--Its introduction into Palestine--The
   Rabbi perplexed--Solution of the difficulty.

It is more than probable that, while the Hebrew word _oreb_ primarily
signifies the bird which is so familiar to us under the name of RAVEN,
it was also used by the Jews in a much looser sense, and served to
designate any of the Corvidæ, or Crow tribe, such as the raven itself,
the crow, the rook, the jackdaw, and the like. We will first take the
word in its restricted sense, and then devote a brief space to its
more extended signification.

As might be expected from the cosmopolitan nature of the Raven, it is
very plentiful in Palestine, and even at the present time is
apparently as firmly established as it was in the days when the
various Scriptural books were written.

There are few birds which are more distinctly mentioned in the Holy
Scriptures than the Raven, though the passages in which its name
occurs are comparatively few. It is the first bird which is mentioned
in the Scriptures, its name occurring in Gen. viii. 7: "And it came to
pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark
which he had made;

"And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the
waters were dried up from off the earth."

Here we have, at the very outset, a characteristic account of the
bird. It left the ark, and flew to and fro, evidently for the purpose
of seeking food. The dove, which immediately followed the Raven, acted
in a different manner. She flew from the ark in search of food, and,
finding none, was forced to return again. The Raven, on the contrary,
would find plenty of food in the bodies of the various animals that
had been drowned, and were floating on the surface of the waters, and,
therefore, needed not to enter again into the ark. The context shows
that it made the ark a resting-place, and that it "went forth to and
fro," or, as the Hebrew Bible renders the passage, "in going and
returning," until the waters had subsided. Here, then, is boldly drawn
the distinction between the two birds, the carrion-eater and the
feeder on vegetable substances--a distinction to which allusion has
already been made in the history of the dove.

  [Illustration: THE RAVEN.

  "_Who provideth for the raven his food?_"--JOB xxxviii. 41.]

Passing over the declaration in Lev. xi. 15 and Deut. xiv. 14, that
every Raven (_i.e._ the Raven and all its tribe) is unclean, we come
to the next historical mention of the bird. This occurs in 1 Kings
xvii. When Elijah had excited the anger of Ahab by prophesying three
years of drought, he was divinely ordered to take refuge by the brook
Cherith, one of the tributaries of the Jordan. "And it shall be, that
thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens
[_orebim_] to feed thee there.

"So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went
and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

"And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread
and flesh in the evening, and he drank of the brook."

In this passage we have a history of a purely miraculous character. It
is not one that can be explained away. Some have tried to do so by
saying that the banished prophet found the nests of the Ravens, and
took from them daily a supply of food for his sustenance. The
repetition of the words "bread and flesh" shows that the sacred writer
had no intention of signifying a mere casual finding of food which the
Ravens brought for their young, but that the prophet was furnished
with a constant and regular supply of bread and meat twice in the day.
It is a statement which, if it be not accepted as the account of a
miracle, must be rejected altogether.

I may here mention that an explanation of the passage has been offered
by some commentators, who render the word _orebim_ as "Arabs," and so
arrive at the conclusion that the prophet was fed in his retirement by
the Arab tribes which came to the brook for water. Others have thought
that the Orebim were the inhabitants of a village called Orbo, near
the Cherith. There is, however, no need of any such explanations. The
account of the prophet's flight to the Cherith and of the daily supply
of food which he received has been accepted as a simple statement of
facts by all Jewish writers, and there is no alternative but either to
accept it in the same sense or to reject it.

This part of the subject naturally leads to certain passages in which
the feeding of the young Ravens is mentioned. See, for example, Job
xxxviii. 41: "Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young
ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat." This passage is
rendered rather differently and more forcibly in the Jewish Bible.
"Who provideth for the raven his food, when his young ones cry unto
God, and wander for lack of meat?" A passage of similar import occurs
in Ps. cxlvii. 9: "He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young
ravens which cry." An evident reference is made to these passages in
Luke xii. 24: "Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap;
which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much
more are ye better than the fowls?"

In all these cases reference is made to a curious idea which prevailed
respecting the Raven. It was thought that the Raven was a cruel
parent, and that after the eggs were hatched it cared nothing for the
young until they were full fledged. As, moreover, the bird was thought
to be peculiarly late in attaining its plumage, the young Ravens must
all die of hunger, were they not fed in some remarkable manner. This
subject is treated at some length by Luis of Grenada in his Sermons.
As the passage in question is a very curious one, I give both the
original and a translation. For the latter I am indebted to the Rev.
C. J. Smith, author of "Synonyms and Antonyms," who has preserved,
with much success, the quaint structure of the language.

"Dominica XIV. post Pent. Concio 1:

"Nisi hæc enim omnia magnam nobis admirationis materiam divinæque
providentiæ notitiam præberent, nequaquam Dominus inter cetera
sapientiæ et providentiæ suæ argumenta hoc etiam commemoraret, cum ad
Job ait: 'Quis præparat corvo escam suam, quando pulli ejus clamant ad
Deum vagantes eò quòd non habeant cibos?'[1] Et in Psal.: 'Qui dat
jumentis escam ipsorum et pullis corvorum invocantibus eum.'[2]

  [1] Job xxxviii.

  [2] Ps. cxlvii.

"Cur autem hoc in loco pullorum corvi præcipuè meminerit, in causa
est, quod in his miro modo singularis providentiæ cura elucet. Ait
enim interpres quidam corvorum pullos eum implumes adhuc sunt,
candorem præ se ferre: ideoque a parentibus ut nothos negligi, quod
eorum non referant colorem. Quo tempore divina providentia, quæ
nusquam dormit, eos ad se clamantes alit. Vermiculos enim quosdam in
nidulo nasci constituit, quorum esu sustentantur donec nono tandem die
nascentibus plumis parentum colorem referant, atque ita demum ab illis

"Cum igitur divina providentia nulla in re neque animalculis istis
etiam si a patribus deserantur desit, quanta ilia diffidentia est, quæ
solis hominibus eam deesse profitetur? Si homo inter omnes inferioris
hujus mundi creaturas nobilissimum et pulcherrimum animal est, si
solus ipse Dei imagine insignitus, si ipse hujus magnæ familiæ
princeps ac dominus est, si ejus obsequio cuncta militant, si omnia
rerum conditor subiecit pedibus ejus oves et boves universas, insuper
et pecora campi, &c. qui fieri potest ut cum hujus mundi moderator Dñs
nullum neque animalculum neque vermiculum a providentiæ suæ cura
excludat, sed omnibus abunde omnia suppeditat, pium hominem (cujus
obsequio cuncta destinavit) fame et inedia confici patiatur. Si pater
aliquis filii sui familiam, servos, ancillas, et jumenta diligenter
curaret, illisque necessaria abunde provideret, quomodo filium fame
perire sineret, cujus familiam tanta cura fovet et alit? Quis enim hoc
in animum inducere possit? Hæc ijitur altera ratio est qua celestis
Magister diffidentiam nostram curare, et spem alere atque fulcire

"Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Sermon 1:

"For if it were not that all these things afford to us great matter of
admiration and demonstration of the providence of God, it were in vain
that the Lord, among other tokens of His wisdom and providence, had
selected this also, when He saith in Job: 'Who provideth for the raven
his food? when his young ones cry unto God, wandering for lack of
meat.' And in the Psalms: 'Who giveth their own food to the cattle,
and to the young ravens that call upon Him.'

"Now that in this place He hath been mainly mindful of the ravens'
young, is partly for this cause, that marvellously in them the
singular care of Providence doth show forth. For a certain annotator
saith, that the young ravens while as yet they are unfledged do appear
of whiteness, and therefore are neglected of their parents as if they
were bastards, seeing that they resemble not their colour. At which
time Divine Providence, who nowhere sleepeth, doth feed them who call
upon Himself. For He causeth certain vermicles (small worms) to be
bred in the little nest, by eating of which they are sustained, until
at length on the ninth day, the feathers beginning to grow, they
resemble the colour of their parents, and so come to be nourished by

"Seeing then that Divine Providence is never wanting in any matter,
not even to these little creatures, though they be deserted of their
parents, how great is that distrust which averreth that it is wanting
unto men alone! If man be among all the creatures of this lower world
the noblest and the fairest of things; if he alone be made illustrious
by God's image; if he himself be of this great family the leader and
lord; if in obedience to him all things serve; if the Constructor of
all things hath put under his feet 'all sheep and oxen, yea, and the
beasts of the field;' how shall it be that when the Lord, the Ruler of
this world, shutteth out none, neither insect nor worm, from the care
of His providence, but supplieth abundantly all things for all, He
should suffer the righteous man, for whose service He hath appointed
all things, to perish of hunger and lack of food?

"If it be that every father would diligently care for his son's
household, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and cattle, and
provide them abundantly with all things needful, how should He suffer
His sons to perish whose families He cherisheth and feedeth with so
great care? Who, indeed, could harbour such a thought? This then is
another consideration whereby the heavenly Master seeks to cure our
distrust, and to feed and stay our hope."

Some of the old writers improved on this legend by saying that the
worms crawled into the mouths of the young Ravens, so that the birds
had not even the trouble of picking them up.

Some of the ancient Jewish writers had an idea that the Raven was
originally a white bird, and that its colour was changed by way of
punishment for its evil disposition and deceitful conduct. A similar
idea was held by the old mythological writers. They said that the
Raven was formerly the favourite bird of Apollo, and that it was
celebrated for its sweet song and snowy white plumage. Part of its
duty was to bring water for its master from the fountain Hippocrene.

One day, instead of doing its duty, the bird amused itself in the
garden, and at last fell asleep. Fearful when it awoke that it should
be punished for its carelessness, the cunning Raven snatched up a
snake, killed it, and brought it to Apollo, saying that the serpent
had disputed the passage to the fountain, and that, after a long
fight, it had just been killed. Apollo, angry with the bird for having
told a lie, drove it from his presence, and as it fled its musical
voice turned into a harsh croak, and its white plumage became black.

              "'Liar!' exclaimed the god,
    The Python-killer, as from his keen eye
    The lightning darted, 'Me wouldst thou deceive
    With such a wretched tale! Hence, hence! begone!
    Black as thy falsehood fly through shuddering air,
    A bird of lonely night! Dumb be thy voice
    Of sweetest melody: henceforth thy cry
    Tell but of woes and horrors, a wild shriek
    Of darkness and dismay.'"

    _Knight's Quarterly Magazine_

Reference to the blackness of the Raven's plumage is made in the Song
of Solomon. "My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten

"His beard is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy and black as
a Raven." (Cant. v. 10, 11.) A similar expression is common among

On account of its mode of life, the Raven cannot exist in a wild state
in cultivated ground. Hence it has disappeared from the greater part
of England, and is seldom to be seen except on wide moors or in large
forests. Cultivated ground affords it scarcely any food, and it is
therefore a bird of the wilderness rather than of the towns.

Like all feeders on carrion, it is wonderfully quick in detecting a
dead or dying animal, and rivals the vulture itself in the sharpness
of its vision. If any one who is passing over a part of the country
where Ravens still survive, should wish to see one of the birds, he
has only to lie flat on the ground, and keep his eyes nearly shut, so
as only to see through the lashes. Should there be a Raven within many
miles, it is sure to discover the apparently dead body, and to alight
at no great distance, walking round and round, with its peculiar
sidelong gait, and, if it be not checked in time, will make a dash at
the eye of the prostrate individual, and probably blind him for life.

This habit of pecking at the eye is inherent in all the crow tribe,
probably because they know instinctively that if the animal will allow
its eye to be pecked out it must be dead; and if it should still
possess life, it would be blinded for the moment, so as to allow its
assailant to escape. The Scriptures note this custom of the Raven, as
we see in Prov. xxx. 17: "The eye that mocketh at his father and
despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it
out, and the young eagles shall eat it."

The desert-loving habit of the Raven is noticed in Isa. xxxiv. 11:
"The cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the
raven shall dwell in it: and He shall stretch out upon it the line of
confusion, and the stones of emptiness."

We will now pass to the notices of the Raven as given by the writers
and commentators of the Talmud.

Being an unclean bird, and one of ill omen, it was not permitted to
perch on the roof of the Temple. According to some writers, it was
kept off by means of scarecrows, and according to others, by long and
sharp iron spikes set so closely together that there was no room for
the bird to pass between them. The latter is by far the more probable
account, as the Raven is much too cunning a bird to be deceived by a
scarecrow for any length of time. It might be alarmed at the first
sight of a strange object, but in a very short time it would hold all
scarecrows in supreme contempt.

Its carrion-eating propensities were well known to the ancient
writers, who must have had many opportunities of seeing the Raven
unite with the vultures in consuming the bodies, not only of dead
animals, but of warriors killed in battle. So fond was the Raven of
this food that, according to those writers, the very smell of human
blood attracted the bird; and, if a man accidentally cut himself, or
if he were bled for some illness, the odour of the blood would bring
round the spot all the Ravens of the place.

The punctuality with which the Raven, in common with all its kin,
returns to its roosting-place, was also familiar to the Talmudists,
who made rather an ingenious use of this habit. The ceremonial law of
the Jews required the greatest care in observing certain hours, and it
was especially necessary to know the precise time which marked the
separation of one day from another. This was ascertained easily enough
as long as the day was clear, but in case of a dull, murky day, when
the course of the sun could not be traced, some other plan was needed.

In the olden times, no artificial means of measuring time were known,
and the devout Jew was consequently fearful lest he might unwittingly
break the law by doing on one day an act which ought to have been done
on another. A convenient method for ascertaining the time was,
however, employed, and, as soon as the Ravens, rooks, and similar
birds were seen returning to their homes, the sun was supposed to be

This habit of returning regularly at the same time is mentioned by Mr.
Tristram in his "Land of Israel:"--

"Of all the birds of Jerusalem, the raven is decidedly the most
characteristic and conspicuous. It is present everywhere to eye and
ear, and the odours that float around remind us of its use. On the
evening of our arrival we were perplexed by a call-note, quite new to
us, mingling with the old familiar croak, and soon ascertained that
there must be a second species of raven along with the common _Corvus
corax_. This was the African species (_Corvus umbrinus_, Hed.), the
ashy-necked raven, a little smaller than the world-wide raven, and
here more abundant in individuals.

"Beside these, the rook (_Corvus agricola_, Trist.), the common grey,
or hooded crow (_Corvus cornix_, L.), and the jackdaw (_Corvus
monedula_, L.), roost by hundreds in the sanctuary. We used to watch
them in long lines passing over our tents every morning at daybreak,
and returning in the evening, the rooks in solid phalanx leading the
way, and the ravens in loose order bringing up the rear, generally far
out of shot. Before retiring for the night, popular assemblies of the
most uproarious character were held together in the trees of the
Kedron and Mount Olivet, and not until sunset did they withdraw in
silence, mingled indiscriminately, to their roosting-places on the

"My companions were very anxious to obtain specimens of these
Jerusalem birds, which could only be approached as they settled for
the night; but we were warned by the Consul that shooting them so
close to the mosque might be deemed a sacrilege by the Moslems, and
provoke an attack by the guardians of the Haram and the boys of the
neighbourhood. They finally determined, nevertheless, to run the risk;
and stationing themselves just before sunset in convenient
hiding-places near the walls, at a given signal they fired
simultaneously, and, hastily gathering up the spoils, had retreated
out of reach, and were hurrying to the tents before an alarm could be
raised. The discharge of ten barrels had obtained fourteen specimens,
comprising five species.

"The same manoeuvre was repeated with equal success on another
evening; but on the third occasion the ravens had learned wisdom by
experience, and, sweeping round Siloam, chose another route to their

Those who have tried to come within gunshot of a Raven, even in this
country, can appreciate this anecdote, and can understand how the
Raven would ever afterwards keep clear of a spot where the flash and
smoke of fire-arms had twice appeared.

An anecdote which authenticates this cautious turn of mind in the
Raven is given in Mr. Thompson's work on the "Natural History of
Ireland." There was a large yard in which the sparrows used to
congregate, and it was a custom of the owner to lay a train of corn
for the sparrows to eat, and then to rake the whole line with a
discharge from a gun concealed in an outhouse. A tame Raven lived
about the premises, and as soon as it saw any one carrying a gun
towards the fatal outhouse, it became much alarmed, and hurried off to
hide itself. As soon as the gun was fired, out came the Raven from its
place of concealment, pounced on one of the dead sparrows, carried it
off, and ate it in its private haunt.

The nest to which the Raven returns with such punctuality is placed in
some spot where it is safe from ordinary intruders. The tops of lofty
trees are favoured localities for the nest, and so are old towers, the
interior of caves, and clefts in lofty precipices. The nest is large
and clumsy, and the bird, trusting in the inaccessible character of
the locality, troubles itself very little about concealment. The Raven
is a peculiarly domestic bird, and a pattern of conjugal affection. It
pairs for life, and both male and female take their share of sitting
on the eggs and nurturing the young.

The old writers of whom mention has been made admitted that all the
Corvidæ were signified by the word _oreb_. Sometimes they drew a
distinction between them, but, as a rule, the word _oreb_ might mean
any of those birds, from a Raven to a starling.

The MAGPIE is one of those birds which is separately mentioned. Like
the Raven, it was thought to be harsh and cruel to its young, so that
whenever a man behaved badly to his children, either by neglect or by
absolute cruelty, he was called a Magpie-man by way of derision.
Similarly, a man of a morose or evil disposition was termed a
Raven-hearted man. As, however, the Magpie is not entirely black, but
has some white in its plumage, it was held to be rather a better bird
than the Raven. Moreover, it is fond of haunting the habitations of
men, so that it was held to be of a softer nature than the Raven,
which always kept itself as far from mankind as possible.

Lastly, we come to the Starling, which, as I have already mentioned,
is considered as one of the Raven tribe, and is ranked under the name
of Oreb. The old writers had no very great opinion of this bird, which
they considered as exceptionally quarrelsome, probably on account of
its shrill, harsh cry. They had a curious proverb, "Two Starlings
cannot sleep in one bed," by which they meant that two quarrelsome
people ought not to associate together.

There is a rather curious legend respecting the introduction of the
Starling into Palestine.

Many years ago, a strange bird appeared in Jerusalem. It was caught,
and brought before a celebrated Rabbi for examination, in order that
he might decide whether it belonged to the clean or the unclean birds.
After examining it, he could not make up his mind to either side of
the question, and left the disputed point to be settled in a different

He ordered the bird to be placed on the roof of a house, and to be
carefully watched, in order that the birds which associated with it
might be noticed. For some time no birds of any kind would recognise
the stranger, until at last there came a Raven from Egypt, which
claimed acquaintance with it. In consequence of this, the Starling was
ever afterwards classed with the Raven, and considered as an unclean
bird. The Egyptian Raven which is here mentioned is described as being
a very small bird, scarcely larger, indeed, than the Starling itself.


   Hebrew words designating the Ostrich--Description of the bird in
   the Book of Job--Ancient use of Ostrich plumes--Supposed
   heedlessness of eggs and young--Mode of depositing the
   eggs--Hatching them in the sand--Natural enemies of the
   Ostrich--Anecdote of Ostriches and their young--Alleged
   stupidity of the Ostrich--Methods of hunting and snaring the
   bird--The Ostrich in domestication--Speed of the Ostrich--The
   flesh of the bird prohibited to the Jews--Ostrich eggs and their
   uses--Food of the Ostrich--Mode of drinking--Cry of the Ostrich,
   and reference made to it in Micah.

There is rather a peculiarity about the manner in which this bird is
mentioned in the Authorized Version of the Scriptures, and, unless we
go to the original Hebrew, we shall be greatly misled. In that version
the Ostrich is mentioned only three times, but in the Hebrew it occurs
eight times. If the reader will refer to page 370, he will see that
the Hebrew word _bath-haya'nah_, which is translated in the Authorized
Version as "owl," ought really to be rendered as "Ostrich." Taking
this to be the case, we find that there are several passages in the
Scriptures in which the word has been used in the wrong sense, and
that in those places, instead of rendering the word as "owl," we ought
to read it as "Ostrich."

The first mention of this bird occurs in Lev. xi. 16, and the parallel
passage of Deut. xiv., in which the Ostrich is reckoned among the
unclean birds, without any notice being given of its appearance or

In the Book of Job, however, we have the Ostrich mentioned with that
preciseness and fulness of description which is so often the case when
the writer of that wonderful poem treats of living creatures.

"Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers
unto the ostrich?

"Who leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust,

"And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast
may break them.

"She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers:
her labour is in vain without fear;

"Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath He imparted to
her understanding.

"What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and
his rider." (Job xxxix. 13-19.)

There is rather a peculiarity in the translation of this passage,
wherein the word which has been translated as "peacock" is now allowed
to be properly rendered as "Ostrich," while the word which is
translated as "Ostrich" ought to have been given as "feathers." The
marginal translation gives the last words of ver. 13 in a rather
different manner, and renders it thus:--"Gavest thou the goodly wings
unto the peacocks, or the feathers of the stork and ostrich?" The
Hebrew Bible renders the next verses as follows:--

"She would yet leave her eggs on the earth, and warm them in dust; and
forget that the foot may crush them, or that the beast of the field
may break them.

"She is hardened against her young ones, for those not hers; being
careless, her labour is in vain."

In the same Book, chap. xxx., is another passage wherein this bird is
mentioned. "I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried
in the congregation.

"I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls," or Ostriches, in
the marginal and correct reading. The Jewish Bible also translates the
word as Ostriches, but the word which the Authorized Version renders
as "dragons" it translates as "jackals." Of this point we shall have
something to say on a future page. A somewhat similar passage occurs
in Isa. xliii. 20: "The beast of the field shall honour me, the
dragons and the owls" (Ostriches in marginal reading), "because I give
waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to
My people, My chosen." The Jewish Bible retains the same reading,
except that the word "dragons" is given with the mark of doubt.

Accepting, therefore, the rendering of the Hebrew as Ostriches, let us
see how far the passages of Scripture agree with the appearance and
habits of the bird.

Here I may observe that, although in the Scriptures frequent allusions
are made to the habits of animals, we are not to look for scientific
exactness to the Scriptures. Among much that is strictly and
completely true, there are occasional errors, to which a most needless
attention has been drawn by a certain school of critics, who point to
them as invalidating the truth of Scripture in general. The real fact
is, that they have no bearing whatever on the truth or falsehood of
the Scriptural teachings.

The Scriptures were written at various times, for instruction in
spiritual and not in temporal matters, and were never intended for
scientific treatises on astronomy, mathematics, zoology, or any such
branch of knowledge. The references which are made to the
last-mentioned subject are in no case of a scientific nature, but are
always employed by way of metaphor or simile, as the reader must have
seen in the previous pages. No point of doctrine is taught by them,
and none depends on them.

The Spirit which conveyed religious instruction to the people could
only use the means that existed, and could no more employ the
scientific knowledge of the present time than use as metaphors the
dress, arms, and inventions of the present day. The Scriptures were
written in Eastern lands for Orientals by Orientals, and were
consequently adapted to Oriental ideas; and it would be as absurd to
look for scientific zoology in the writings of an ancient Oriental, as
for descriptions of the printing press, the steam-engine, the
photographic camera, or the electric telegraph.

So, when we remember that only a few years ago the real history of the
Ostrich was unknown to those who had made zoology the study of their
lives, we cannot wonder that it was also unknown to those who lived
many centuries ago, and who had not the least idea of zoology, or any
kindred science.

Still, even with these drawbacks, it is wonderful how accurate in many
instances were the writers of the Scriptures, and the more so when we
remember the character of the Oriental mind, with its love of
metaphor, its disregard of arithmetical precision, and its poetical
style of thought.

We will now take the passage in Job xxxix. In ver. 13 reference is
made to the wings and feathers of the Ostrich. If the reader will
refer to page 260, he will see that the feathers of the Ostrich were
formerly used as the emblem of rank. In this case, they are shown as
fastened to the heads of the horses, and also in the form of a plume,
fixed to the end of a staff, and appended to a chariot, as
emblematical of the princely rank of the occupier. In the ancient
Egyptian monuments these Ostrich plumes are repeatedly shown, and in
every case denote very high rank. These plumes were therefore held in
high estimation at the time in which the Book of Job was written, and
it is evidently in allusion to this fact that the sacred writer has
mentioned so prominently the white plumes of the Ostrich.

Passing the next portion of the description, we find that the Ostrich
is mentioned as a bird that is careless of its eggs, and leaves them
"in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust, and forgetteth that the
foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them."

Now it is true that the Ostrich is often known to take the greatest
care of its eggs, the male collecting and sitting on them, and
watching them with loving assiduity, and by some persons this fact has
been brought forward as a proof that the writer of the Book of Job was
mistaken in his statements. A further acquaintance with the habits of
the bird tells us, however, that in those parts of the world which
were known to the writer of that book the Ostrich does behave in
precisely the manner which is described by the sacred writer.

Several females lay their eggs in the same nest, if the title of nest
can be rightly applied to a mere hollow scooped in the sand, and, at
least during the daytime, when the sun is shining, they simply cover
the eggs with sand, so as to conceal them from ordinary enemies, and
leave them to be hatched by the warm sunbeams. They are buried to the
depth of about a foot, so that they receive the benefit of a tolerably
equable warmth. So much, then, for the assertion that the Ostrich
leaves her eggs "in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust."

We next come to the statement that she forgets that "the foot may
crush them, or that the wild beast may break them." It is evident from
the preceding description that eggs which are buried a foot deep in
the sand could not be crushed by the foot, even were they of a fragile
character, instead of being defended by a shell as thick, and nearly
as hard, as an ordinary earthenware plate. Neither would the wild
beast be likely to discover much less to break them.

  [Illustration: OSTRICH AND NEST.

  "_Who leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the
  dust._"--JOB xxxix. 14.]

A more intimate acquaintance with the history of the Ostrich shows
that, even in this particular, the sacred writer was perfectly
correct. Besides the eggs which are intended to be hatched, and which
are hidden beneath the sand to be hatched, a number of supplementary
eggs are laid which are not meant to be hatched, and are evidently
intended as food for the young until they are able to forage for
themselves. These are left carelessly on the surface of the ground,
and may easily be crushed by the hoof of a horse, if not by the foot
of man. We meet, however, with another statement,--namely, that they
may be broken by the wild beasts. Here we have reference to another
fact in the history of the Ostrich. The scattered eggs, to which
allusion is made, are often eaten, not only by beasts, but also by
birds of prey; the former breaking the shells by knocking them against
each other, and the latter by picking up large stones in their claws,
rising above the eggs, and dropping the stones on them. The bird would
like to seize the egg, rise with it in the air, and drop it on a
stone, as mentioned on page 337, but the round, smooth surface of the
egg defies the grasp of talons, and, instead of dropping the egg upon
a stone, it is obliged to drop a stone upon the egg.

Up to the present point, therefore, the writer of the Book of Job is
shown to be perfectly correct in his statements. We will now proceed
to verse 16: "She is hardened against her young ones, as though they
were not hers." Now in the Jewish Bible the passage is rendered rather
differently: "She is hardened against her young ones, for those not
hers;" and, as we shall presently see, the reading perfectly agrees
with the character of the Ostrich.

There has long existed a belief that the Ostrich, contrary to the
character of all other birds, is careless of her young, neglects them,
and is even cruel to them. That this notion was shared by the writer
of the Book of Job is evident from the preceding passage. It also,
prevailed for at least a thousand years after the Book of Job was
written. See Lam. iv. 3: "Even the sea monsters draw out the breast,
they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is
become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness."

It is probable that this idea respecting the cruelty of the Ostrich
towards its young is derived from the fact that if a flock of
Ostriches be chased, and among them there be some very young birds,
the latter are left behind by their parents, and fall a prey to the
hunters. But, in reality, the Ostrich has no choice in the matter. The
wide sandy desert affords no place of concealment in which it might
hide its young. Nature has not furnished it with weapons by means of
which it can fight for them; and consequently it is forced to use the
only means of escape by which it can avoid sacrificing its own life,
as well as the lives of the young.

It does not, however, leave the young until it has tried, by all means
in its power, to save them. For example, it sometimes has recourse to
the manoeuvre with which we are so familiar in the case of the
lapwing, and pretends to be wounded or lamed, in order to draw the
attention of its pursuers, while its young escape in another
direction. An instance of this practice is given by Mr. Andersson in
his "Lake Ngami." "When we had proceeded little more than half the
distance, and in a part of the plain entirely destitute of vegetation,
we discovered a male and female ostrich, with a brood of young ones,
about the size of ordinary barn-door fowls. We forthwith dismounted
from our oxen, and gave chase, which proved of no ordinary interest.

"The moment the parent birds became aware of our intention, they set
off at full speed--the female leading the way, and the cock, though at
some little distance, bringing up the rear of the family party. It was
very touching to observe the anxiety the birds evinced for the safety
of their progeny. Finding that we were quickly gaining upon them, the
male at once slackened his pace and diverged somewhat from his course;
but, seeing that we were not to be diverted from our purpose, he again
increased his speed, and, with wings drooping so as almost to touch
the ground, he hovered round us, now in wide circles, and then
decreasing the circumference until he came almost within pistol-shot,
when he abruptly threw himself on the ground, and struggled
desperately to regain his legs, as it appeared, like a bird that has
been badly wounded.

"Having previously fired at him, I really thought he was disabled, and
made quickly towards him. But this was only a ruse on his part, for,
on my nearer approach, he slowly rose, and began to run in a different
direction to that of the female, who by this time was considerably
ahead with her charge." Nor is this a solitary instance of the care
which the Ostrich will take of her young. Thunberg mentions that on
one occasion, when he happened to ride near a place where an Ostrich
was sitting on the eggs, the bird jumped up and pursued him, evidently
with the object of distracting his attention from the eggs. When he
faced her, she retreated; but as soon as he turned his horse, she
pursued him afresh.

The care of the mother for the young is perhaps less needed with the
Ostrich than with most birds. The young are able to run with such
speed that ordinary animals are not able to overtake them, and,
besides, they are protected by their colour as long as they are
comparatively helpless. Their downy plumage harmonizes completely
with the sandy and stony ground, even when they run, and when they
crouch to the earth, as is their manner when alarmed, even the most
practised eye can scarcely see them. Mr. Andersson, an experienced
hunter, states that when the Ostrich chicks were crouching almost
under his feet, he had the greatest difficulty in distinguishing their

Owing to the great number of the eggs that are laid, the young are
often very numerous, between thirty and forty chicks sometimes
belonging to one brood. In the Ostrich chase which has already been
described, the brood were eighteen in number, and so great was their
speed that, in spite of their youth and diminutive size, Mr. Andersson
only succeeded in capturing nine of them after an hour's severe chase.

We find, therefore, that we must acquit the Ostrich of neglecting its
young, much more of cruelty towards them; and we will now turn to the
next charge against the bird, that of stupidity.

In one sense, the bird certainly may be considered stupid. Like nearly
all wild creatures which live on large plains, it always runs against
the wind, so as to perceive by scent if any enemies are approaching.
Its nostrils are very sensitive, and can detect a human being at a
very great distance. So fastidious is it in this respect, that no
hunter who knows his business ever attempts to approach the Ostrich
except from leeward. If a nest is found, and the discoverer wishes the
birds to continue laying in it, he approaches on the leeward side, and
rakes out the eggs with a long stick.

The little Bosjesman, who kills so many of these birds with his tiny
bow and arrow, makes use of this instinct when he goes to shoot the
Ostrich, disguised in a skin of one of the birds. Should an Ostrich
attack him, as is sometimes the case, he only shifts his position to
windward, so as to allow the birds to catch the scent of a human
being, when they instantly make off in terror.

When, therefore, the Ostriches are alarmed, they always run to
windward, instinctively knowing that, if an enemy should approach in
that direction, their powers of scent will inform them of the danger.
Being aware of this habit, the hunters manage so that while one of
them goes round by a long detour to frighten the game, the others are
in waiting at a considerable distance to windward, but well on one
side, so that no indication of their presence may reach the sensitive
nostrils of the birds. As soon as the concealed hunters see the
Ostriches fairly settled down to their course, they dash off at right
angles to the line which the birds are taking, and in this way come
near enough to use their weapons. The antelopes of the same country
have a similar instinct, and are hunted in precisely the same manner.

Thus, then, in one sense the Ostrich may be considered as open to the
charge of stupidity, inasmuch as it pursues a course which can be
anticipated by enemies who would otherwise be unable to overtake it.
But it must be remembered that instinct cannot be expected to prove a
match for reason, and that, although its human enemies are able to
overreach it, no others can do so, the instinct of running against the
wind serving to guard it from any foe which it is likely to meet in
the desert.

When captured alive and tamed, it certainly displays no particular
amount of intellect. The Arabs often keep tame Ostriches about their
tents, the birds being as much accustomed to their quarters as the
horses. In all probability they did so in ancient times, and the
author of the Book of Job was likely to be familiar with tame
Ostriches, as well as with the wild bird.

Stupidity is probably attributed to the tame bird in consequence of
the habit possessed by the Ostrich of picking up and eating substances
which cannot be used as food. For example, it will eat knives, bits of
bone or metal, and has even been known to swallow bullets hot from the
mould. On dissecting the digestive organs of an Ostrich, I have found
a large quantity of stones, pieces of brick, and scraps of wood. These
articles are, however, not intended to serve as food, but simply to
aid digestion, and the bird eats them just as domestic fowls pick up
gravel, and smaller birds grains of sand. In swallowing them,
therefore, the Ostrich does not display any stupidity, but merely
obeys a natural instinct.

Lastly, we come to the speed of the Ostrich: "What time she lifteth up
herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider."

This statement is literally true. When the Ostrich puts forth its full
speed, there is no horse that can catch it in a fair chase. It may be
killed by the ruse which has already been described, but an adult
Ostrich can run away from the swiftest horse. When it runs at full
speed, it moves its long legs with astonishing rapidity, covering at
each stride an average of twenty-four feet, a fact from which its rate
of speed may be deduced. In consequence of this width of stride