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Title: Story of the Bible Animals - A Description of the Habits and Uses of every living - Creature mentioned in the Scriptures, with Explanation of - Passages in the Old and New Testament in which Reference - is made to them
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 "Story of the Bible Animals - A Description of the Habits and Uses of every living - Creature mentioned in the Scriptures, with Explanation of - Passages in the Old and New Testament in which Reference - is made to them" ***

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Transcriber's note:

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       *       *       *       *       *




  A Description of the
  Habits and Uses of every living
  Creature mentioned in the Scriptures,



  J. G. WOOD,


  No. 118 South Seventh Street,


See page 307.]



Owing to the different 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 without some study of the customs and manners of
Eastern peoples, as well as of the countries in which they lived.

The Oriental character of the scriptural writings causes them to
abound with metaphors and symbols taken from the common life of the

They contain allusions to 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.

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 understanding the nature, habits, and uses of
the animals which are constantly mentioned in the Bible, cannot be
overrated as a means of elucidating the Scriptures, and without this
knowledge we shall not only miss the point of innumerable passages
of the Old and New Testaments, but the words of our Lord Himself
will often be totally misinterpreted, or at least lose 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.


See page 191.]


The Rev. J. G. Wood is a native of London, England. He was educated
at Oxford University, and has long been known, both in England
and America, as not only a learned and accurate writer on Natural
History, but a popular one as well, having the happy faculty of
making the results of scientific study and painstaking observation,
interesting and instructive to all classes of readers.

He has published a number of works on the most familiar departments
of the history of animals, designed to awaken popular interest
in the study. Their titles are "Sketches and Anecdotes of Animal
Life;" "Common Objects of the Seashore and Country;" "My Feathered
Friends;" "Homes Without Hands"--being a description of the
habitations of animals,--and the "Illustrated Natural History," a
book which is widely known both in England and America as a standard
work of great value. It has given the author celebrity, and has
caused him to be considered an eminent authority on the subject
which it treats.

It is evident, from these facts, that it would be difficult to find
a man better qualified than Mr. Wood, to write a book describing the
animals mentioned in the Bible.

Profoundly impressed with the ignorance which prevails towards so
important a feature of the Scriptural Narrative, he has devoted his
ripe powers and special knowledge to the work of dissipating it, and
in this volume, not only fully describes the nature and habits of
all the animals mentioned in the Scriptures, but tells the story of
their relations to mankind.

Mr. Wood is a clergyman of the Church of England, and was for a
time connected with Christ Church, Oxford. He has devoted himself
mainly, however, to authorship in the field which he has chosen,
and in which he has become so well known. In his works he usually
employs a popular style of writing, and does not make scientific
terms prominent. This is especially true of the "Story of the Bible
Animals," which from its easy and interesting character is adapted
to the comprehension of young and old.

[Illutration: animals]

Many of the pictures in this book are taken from the living animals,
or from photographs and sketches by Eastern travellers.

Others represent imaginary scenes, or ancient historical events, and
have been designed by skilful artists after careful study of the


[A complete Index of Subjects will be found at the end of this

  NO.                                                            PAGE

  1. THE ANIMALS ENTER THE ARK                                      2

  2. WAR-HORSES AND ANCIENT EGYPTIAN CHARIOT                        4


  4. A DESERT-SCENE                                                 8

  5. THE GARDEN OF EDEN                                            19

  6. LION DRINKING AT A POOL                                       21

  7. A LION KILLS THE PROPHET FROM JUDAH                           22

  8. LION AND TIGER                                                23

  9. THE LION REPLIES TO THE THUNDER                               25

  10. LIONESS AND YOUNG                                            27

  11. LION CARRYING HOME SUPPLIES                                  31

  12. AFRICAN LIONS                                                32

  13. THE LION ATTACKS THE HERD                                    34

  14. THE LAIR OF THE LION                                         35


  16. THE LEOPARD                                                  43

  17. LEOPARD ATTACKING A HERD OF DEER                             45

  18. THE LEOPARD LEAPS UPON HIS PREY                              47

  19. WAITING                                                      49

  20. LEOPARD                                                      51

  21. CAT AND KITTENS                                              52

  22. CAT                                                          54

  23. DOGS IN AN EASTERN CITY AT NIGHT                             57

  24. SHIMEI EXULTING OVER KING DAVID                              59

  25. LAZARUS LYING AT THE RICH MAN'S DOOR                         62

  26. THE DEATH OF JEZEBEL                                         63

  27. SYRIAN DOG                                                   64

  28. EASTERN WATER-SELLER                                         68

  29. WOLVES ATTACKING A FLOCK OF SHEEP                            70

  30. WOLVES CHASING DEER                                          72

  31. THE WOLF                                                     73

  32. WOLVES ATTACKING WILD GOATS                                  75

  33. THE JACKAL                                                   76


  35. A FEAST IN PROSPECT                                          79

  36. A FEAST SECURED                                              81

  37. A TRESPASSER                                                 83

  38. LEOPARD ROBBED OF ITS PREY BY HYÆNAS                         87

  39. HYÆNAS DEVOURING BONES                                       89

  40. WEASELS                                                      93

  41. THE BITER BIT                                                95

  42. BADGERS                                                      99


  44. BEARS DESCENDING THE MOUNTAINS                              105

  45. ON THE WATCH                                                107

  46. SEEKING AN OUTLOOK                                          109

  47. A FAMILY PARTY                                              111

  48. BEAR                                                        112

  49. PORCUPINE                                                   113

  50. THE MOLE-RAT                                                115

  51. THE MOUSE                                                   119

  52. DAGON FALLEN DOWN BEFORE THE ARK                            120

  53. MOUSE AND NEST                                              121

  54. JERBOA OR LEAPING-MOUSE                                     122

  55. THE FIELD-MOUSE                                             123

  56. THE SYRIAN HARE                                             127

  57. A TIMID GROUP                                               129

  58. ALTAR OF BURNT-OFFERING                                     133

  59. THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS                                    134


  61. OXEN TREADING OUT GRAIN                                     139

  62. EASTERN OX-CART                                             140


  64. PLOUGHING WITH OXEN                                         143



  67. JEROBOAM SETS UP A GOLDEN CALF AT BETHEL                    148

  68. THE BUFFALO                                                 149

         THE PLOUGH                                               151

  70. WILD BULL OR ORYX                                           155

  71. THE ORYX                                                    157

  72. THE UNICORN                                                 158

  73. THE BISON                                                   160

  74. BISON KILLING WOLF                                          161

  75. THE GAZELLE OR ROE OF SCRIPTURE                             163

  76. GAZELLES                                                    164

  77. THE FALCON USED IN OUR HUNT                                 168


  79. THE GAZELLE                                                 170

  80. THE ADDAX                                                   172

  81. THE BUBALE OR FALLOW DEER OF SCRIPTURE                      175

  82. SHEEP                                                       176

  83. ARABS JOURNEYING TO FRESH PASTURES                          178

  84. VIEW OF THE PYRAMIDS                                        179

  85. JACOB MEETS RACHEL AT THE WELL                              182

  86. EASTERN SHEPHERD WATCHING HIS FLOCK                         183

         GOLIATH                                                  185

  88. AN EASTERN SHEPHERD                                         186

  89. SHEEP FOLLOWING THEIR SHEPHERD                              187

  90. ANCIENT SHEEP-PEN                                           190

  91. THE POOR MAN'S LAMB                                         193

  92. THE RICH MAN'S FEAST                                        193



  95. RAM'S HORN TRUMPET                                          203

  96. A LAMB UPON THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERING                     204

  97. THE PLACE OF SACRIFICE                                      206

  98. THE CHAMOIS                                                 211

  99. CHAMOIS DEFENDING ITS YOUNG                                 213

  100. CHASING THE AOUDAD                                         214

  101. THE MOUFLON                                                216


  103. THE ANGEL APPEARS TO GIDEON                                219


  105. GOATS ON THE MARCH                                         228

  106. HERD OF GOATS ATTACKED BY A LION                           231

  107. ARABIAN IBEX, THE WILD GOAT OF SCRIPTURE                   236

  108. THE DEER                                                   238

  109. RED DEER                                                   239

  110. FALLOW DEER OR HIND OF SCRIPTURE                           240

  111. A QUIET SPOT                                               241

  112. RED DEER AND FAWN                                          243

  113. THE LEADER OF THE HERD                                     245

  114. THE WATCHFUL DOE                                           247

  115. A KNEELING CAMEL                                           248

  116. JACOB LEAVES LABAN AND RETURNS TO CANAAN                   249

  117. A CAMP IN THE DESERT                                       250

  118. A GRATEFUL SHADE                                           253

  119. CAMELS LADEN WITH BOUGHS                                   257


  121. THE CAMEL POST                                             261

  122. A RUNAWAY                                                  263

  123. AN ARAB SHEIK MOUNTED UPON HIS CAMEL                       264

  124. AARON'S ROD BEARS ALMONDS                                  266

  125. CAMEL RIDING                                               267

  126. THE DELOUL, OR SWIFT CAMEL                                 268

  127. ANOTHER MODE OF RIDING THE CAMEL                           270


  129. MOSES AT THE BURNING BUSH                                  278

  130. AN ARAB ENCAMPMENT                                         279

  131. ON THE MARCH                                               281

  132. HAIR OF THE CAMEL                                          283

  133. CAMEL GOING THROUGH A "NEEDLE'S EYE"                       285

  134. A REST IN THE DESERT                                       287

  135. BACTRIAN CAMELS DRAWING CART                               289

  136. TRIAL OF ARAB HORSES                                       292

  137. AN ARAB HORSE OF THE KOCHLANI BREED                        293

  138. THE WAR-HORSE                                              295

  139. ARAB HORSES                                                297

  140. BUYING AN ARAB HORSE                                       299

  141. THE ARAB'S FAVORITE STEEDS                                 301

        HORSES, AND THE SEA COVERS THEM                           302

  143. ELIJAH IS CARRIED UP                                       304


  145. ANCIENT BATTLEFIELD                                        309

  146. CHARIOT OF STATE                                           311

        KING IN HIS CHARIOT SLAYING HIS ENEMIES                   313

        YEARS OLD                                                 314

  149. ASS AND DRIVER                                             315

  150. ENTERING JERUSALEM                                         317

  151. SYRIAN ASSES                                               319

  152. A STREET IN CAIRO, EGYPT                                   322

  153. BEGGAR IN THE STREETS OF CAIRO                             324

  154. NIGHT-WATCH IN CAIRO                                       325

  155. HUNTING WILD ASSES                                         331

  156. MULES OF THE EAST                                          334


  158. DANIEL REFUSES TO EAT THE KING'S MEAT                      337

  159. THE PRODIGAL SON                                           340

  160. ELEAZAR REFUSES TO EAT SWINE'S FLESH                       341

        TO EAT SWINE'S FLESH                                      342

  162. THE EVIL SPIRITS ENTER A HERD OR SWINE                     343


  164. WILD BOARS                                                 345

  165. WILD BOARS DESTROYING A VINEYARD                           347

  166. INDIAN ELEPHANT                                            349

        QUEEN OF SHEBA                                            350

  168. INDIAN ELEPHANTS                                           351

  169. THE WAR-ELEPHANT                                           355

  170. AFRICAN ELEPHANTS                                          359

  171. ELEPHANTS' WATERING-PLACE                                  361

  172. TIGER                                                      363

  173. TIGER IN THE REEDS                                         364

  174. HEAD OF TIGER                                              365

  175. THE HYRAX                                                  367

  176. HIPPOPOTAMUS                                               372

  177. HIPPOPOTAMUS POOL                                          375

  178. THE GREAT JAWS OF THE HIPPOPOTAMUS                         376

  179. HIPPOPOTAMUS EMERGING FROM THE RIVER                       377

  180. HIPPOPOTAMUS EATING GRASS                                  379

  181. A HIPPOPOTAMUS-HUNT IN EGYPT                               381

  182. HIPPOPOTAMUS AND TRAP                                      384

  183. THE BABOON                                                 387

  184. THE RHESUS MONKEY                                          389

  185. FEEDING THE MONKEYS IN INDIA                               390

  186. TROUBLESOME NEIGHBORS                                      391

  187. MONKEYS ENTERING A PLANTATION                              392

  188. SLOTHFUL MONKEYS                                           393

  189. A PRIVILEGED RACE                                          394

  190. THE WANDEROO                                               396

  191. THE ENEMY DISCOVERED                                       397

  192. BONNET MONKEYS                                             399

  193. THE BAT                                                    401

  194. BATS' RESTING-PLACE                                        403

  195. GREAT FOX-HEADED BAT, OR FLYING FOX                        405

  196. CAVE NEAR THE SITE OF ANCIENT JERICHO                      406

  197. NIGHT IN THE TROPICS                                       407

  198. LEOPARDS                                                   408

  199. THE HOME OF THE VULTURE                                    411

  200. The LÄMMERGEIER                                            412

  201. A SUCCESSFUL DEFENCE                                       415

  202. STRUCK FROM A DIZZY HEIGHT                                 417

  203. THE VULTURE'S NEST                                         418

  204. THE EGYPTIAN VULTURE, OR GIER EAGLE                        420

  205. VULTURES                                                   425

  206. THE EAGLE AND THE HARE                                     430

  207. EAGLES                                                     432

  208. EAGLE RETURNING TO THE NEST WITH HER PREY                  435

  209. THE OSPREY SEARCHING FOR FISH                              437

        PREY                                                      439

  211. THE KITE, OR VULTURE OF SCRIPTURE                          441

  212. THE PEREGRINE FALCON, OR GLEDE                             444

  213. THE LANNER FALCON                                          446

  214. THE HAWK                                                   447


  216. THE WIND-HOVER, OR KESTREL                                 450

  217. THE BARN OWL                                               454

  218. THE LITTLE OWL                                             456

  219. CAUGHT NAPPING                                             457

  220. RAVEN.--BARN OWL.--EAGLE OWL                               459

  221. A FAMILY COUNCIL                                           460

  222. THE NIGHT HAWK ON THE WING                                 462

  223. THE NIGHT HAWK                                             463

  224. THE SWALLOW                                                466

  225. LOST FROM THE FLOCK                                        469

  226. THE SWALLOW AND SWIFT                                      471

  227. VIEW OF THE SEA OF GALILEE                                 472

  228. THE SWALLOW'S FAVORITE HAUNT                               473

  229. SWALLOWS AT HOME                                           475

  230. THE HOOPOE                                                 478

  231. EASTERN HOUSETOPS                                          479

          FROM CAPTIVITY                                          482

  233. THE BLUE THRUSH, OR SPARROW OF SCRIPTURE                   483

  234. THE TREE SPARROW                                           485

  235. SPARROWS                                                   486

  236. A FOREST SCENE                                             487

  237. THE GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO                                   488

  238. NOAH RECEIVES THE DOVE                                     489

          AND THOSE WHO SOLD DOVES                                493

  240. THE ROCK DOVE                                              494

  241. BLUE ROCK PIGEONS                                          495

  242. THE TURTLE DOVE                                            497

  243. THE HEN AND HER BROOD                                      498

  244. THE DOMESTIC FOWL                                          499

  245. POULTRY                                                    500

  246. THE PEACOCK                                                501

  247. PEAFOWL                                                    503

  248. FEATHERS OF THE PEACOCK                                    504

  249. PARTRIDGES                                                 505

  250. THE GREEK PARTRIDGE                                        507

  251. PARTRIDGE AND THEIR YOUNG                                  508

  252. EASTERN QUAIL                                              509

  253. THE QUAIL                                                  510

  254. FLIGHT OF QUAIL                                            515

  255. THE RAVEN                                                  517

  256. ELIJAH FED BY RAVENS                                       518

  257. RAVENS' ROOSTING-PLACE                                     521

  258. RAVENS' NEST                                               522

  259. OSTRICH AND NEST                                           527

  260. ARABS HUNTING THE OSTRICH                                  533

  261. THE BITTERN                                                537

  262. BITTERN AND CORMORANT                                      539

  263. THE HOME OF THE BITTERN                                    541

  264. THE HERON                                                  543

  265. THE HOME OF THE HERON                                      545

  266. THE PAPYRUS PLANT                                          548

  267. THE HOME OF THE CRANE                                      549

  268. THE CRANE                                                  550

  269.  THE STORK                                                 553

  270.  STORKS AND THEIR NESTS                                    555

  271.  A NEST OF THE WHITE STORK                                 559

  272.  IBIS AND GALLINULE                                        561

  273.  THE PELICAN                                               568

  274.  LIZARDS                                                   575

  275.  TORTOISES                                                 577

  276.  THE DHUBB AND THE TORTOISE                                578

  277.  WATER TORTOISE                                            579

  278.  CROCODILE ATTACKING HORSES                                587

  279.  A CROCODILE POOL OF ANCIENT EGYPT                         590

  280.  CROCODILES OF THE UPPER NILE                              591


  282.  A CROCODILE TRAP                                          599

  283.  A FIGHT FOR LIFE                                          601

  284.  THE CYPRIUS, OR LIZARD                                    602

  285.  THE CHAMELEON                                             605

  286.  GECKO AND CHAMELEON                                       606

  287.  THE GECKO                                                 609

  288.  SERPENTS                                                  611

  289.  BOA CONSTRICTOR AND TIGER                                 613

  290.  COBRA AND CERASTES                                        615

        AND MOSES LIFTS UP THE SERPENT OF BRASS                   616

  292.  THE SERPENT-CHARMER                                       619

  293.  THE VIPER                                                 621

  294.  TEACHING COBRAS TO DANCE                                  623

  295.  HORNED VIPER                                              625

  296.  THE VIPER, OR EPHEH                                       627

  297.  THE TOXICOA                                               628

  298.  THE FROG                                                  630

  299.  FISHES                                                    633

  300.  A RIVER SCENE                                             635

  301. PETER CATCHES THE FISH                                     636

  302. MURÆNA, LONG-HEADED BARBEL, AND SHEAT FISH                 638

  303. SUCKING FISH, TUNNY, AND CORYPHENE                         640

  304. FISHING SCENE ON THE SEA OF GALILEE                        642

  305. MODE OF DRAGGING THE SEINE NET                             645

  306. NILE PERCH, SURMULLET, AND STAR-GAZER                      647

  307. THE PEARL OYSTER                                           653

  308. INSECTS                                                    655

  309. A SWARM OF LOCUSTS                                         659

  310. THE LOCUST                                                 663

  311. THE BEE                                                    665

  312. THE HORNET AND ITS NEST                                    669

  313. ANTS ON THE MARCH                                          671

  314. ANT OF PALESTINE                                           675

  315. THE CRIMSON WORM                                           677

        HORSE                                                     679

  317. BUTTERFLIES OF PALESTINE                                   682

  318. NOXIOUS FLIES OF PALESTINE                                 685

  319. THE SCORPION                                               690

  320. CORAL                                                      694

[Illustration: more animals]



     Frequent mention of the Lion in the Scriptures--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--The Lion hunt.

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 Lion's 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.

[Illustration: LION DRINKING AT A POOL.]


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 surprising.

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.

[Illustration: LION AND TIGER.]

Moreover, 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 security.


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 distance.

[Illustration: LIONESS AND YOUNG.]

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

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 any."

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 Lions.

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 Lions.

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."


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.

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.

[Illustration: AFRICAN LIONS.]

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
it 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.


Upon the African Continent the Lion reigns supreme, monarch of the
feline race.

Whatever may be said of the distinction between the Asiatic and
African Lion, there seems to be scarcely sufficient grounds for
considering the very slight differences a sufficient warrant for
constituting separate species. From all accounts, it seems that
the habits of all Lions are very similar, and that a Lion acts
like a Lion whether found in Africa or Asia.

[Illustration: THE LAIR OF THE LION.]

An old Boer, as the Dutch settlers of Southern Africa are called,
gave me a most interesting account of an adventure with a Lion.

The man was a well-known hunter, and lived principally by the sale
of ivory and skins. He was accustomed each year to make a trip into
the game country, and traded with the Kaffirs, or native blacks,
under very favorable auspices. His stock in trade consisted of guns
and ammunition, several spans of fine oxen, some horses, and about a
dozen dogs.

A Lion which appeared to have been roaming about the country
happened to pass near this hunter's camp, and scenting the horses
and oxen, evidently thought that the location would suit him for
a short period. A dense wood situated about a mile from the camp
afforded shelter, and this spot the Lion selected as a favorable
position for his headquarters.

The hunter had not to wait for more than a day, before the
suspicions which had been aroused by some broad footmarks, which he
saw imprinted in the soil, were confirmed into a certainty that a
large Lion was concealed near his residence.

It now became a question of policy whether the Boer should attack
the Lion, or wait for the Lion to attack him. He thought it possible
that the savage beast, having been warned off by the dogs, whose
barking had been continued and furious during the night on which the
Lion was supposed to have passed, might think discretion the better
part of valor, and consequently would move farther on, in search of
a less carefully guarded locality upon which to quarter himself. He
determined, therefore, to wait, but to use every precaution against
a night-surprise.

The Lion, however, was more than a match for the man; for during the
second night a strong ox from his best span was quietly carried off,
and, although there was some commotion among the dogs and cattle, it
was then thought that the alarm had scared the Lion away.

The morning light, however, showed that the beast had leaped the
fence which surrounded the camp, and, having killed the ox, had
evidently endeavored to scramble over it again with the ox in his
possession. The weight of the Lion and the ox had caused the stakes
to give way, and the Lion had easily carried off his prey through
the aperture.

The track of the Lion was immediately followed by the Boer, who took
with him a negro and half a dozen of his best dogs. The tracks were
easily seen, and the hunter had no difficulty in deciding that the
Lion was in the wood previously mentioned. But this in itself was no
great advance, for the place was overgrown with a dense thicket of
thorn-bushes, creepers, and long grass, forming a jungle so thick
and impenetrable that for a man to enter seemed almost impossible.

It was therefore agreed that the Boer should station himself on one
side, while the negro went to the other side of the jungle, the dogs
meanwhile being sent into the thicket.

This arrangement, it was hoped, would enable either the hunter or
the negro to obtain a shot; for they concluded that the dogs, which
were very courageous animals, would drive the Lion out of the bushes.

The excited barking of the dogs soon indicated that they had
discovered the Lion, but they appeared to be unable to drive him
from his stronghold; for, although they would scamper away every now
and then, as though the enraged monster was chasing them, still they
returned to bark at the same spot.

Both of the hunters fired several shots, with the hope that a stray
bullet might find its way through the underwood to the heart of the
savage beast, but a great quantity of ammunition was expended and no
result achieved.

At length, as the dogs had almost ceased to bark, it was considered
advisable to call them off. But all the whistling and shouting
failed to recall more than two out of the six, and one of these was
fearfully wounded. The others, it was afterwards found, had been
killed by the Lion: a blow from his paw had sufficed to break the
back or smash the skull of all which had come within his reach.

Thus the first attempt on the Lion was a total failure, and the
hunter returned home lamenting the loss of his dogs, and during the
night watched beside his enclosure; but the Lion did not pay him a
second visit.

Early on the following evening, accompanied by the negro, he started
afresh for the wood; and, having marked the spot from which the Lion
had on the former occasion quitted the dense thorny jungle, the two
hunters ascended a tree and watched during the whole night in the
hope of obtaining a shot at the hated marauder. But while they
were paying the residence of the Lion a visit _he_ favored the camp
with a call, and this time, by way of variety, carried away a very
valuable horse, which he conveyed to the wood, being wise enough
to walk out and to return by a different path from that he had
previously used, consequently avoiding the ambush prepared for him.

When the hunter returned to his camp, he was furious at this new
loss, and determined upon a plan which, though dangerous, still
appeared the most likely to insure the destruction of the ravenous

This plan was to enter the wood alone, without attendant or dogs,
and with noiseless, stealthy movements creep near enough to the Lion
to obtain a shot.

Now, when we consider the difficulty of moving through thick bushes
without making a noise, and remember the watchful habits of every
member of the cat tribe, we may be certain that to surprise the Lion
was a matter of extreme difficulty, and that the probability was
that the hunter would meet with disaster.

At about ten o'clock on the morning after the horse-slaughter,
the hunter started for the wood armed with a double-barrelled
smooth-bore gun, and prepared to put forth his utmost skill in
stalking his dangerous enemy.

Now, it is the nature of the Lion, when gorged, to sleep during the
day; and if the animal has carried off any prey, it usually conceals
itself near the remnants of its feast, to watch them until ready for
another meal.

The hunter was aware of this, and laid his plans very judiciously.
He approached the wood slowly and silently, found the track of the
Lion, and began tracing it to find the spot where the remains of the
horse could be seen.

He moved forward very slowly and with great caution, being soon
surrounded by the thick bushes, the brightness of the plain also
being succeeded by the deep gloom of the wood. Being an experienced
hand at bush-craft, he was able to walk or crawl without causing
either a dried stick to crack or a leaf to rustle, and he was aware
that his progress was without noise; for the small birds, usually so
watchful and alert, flew away only when he approached close to them,
thus showing that their eyes, and not their ears, had made them
conscious of the presence of man.

Birds and monkeys are the great obstacles in the bush to the
success of a surprise, for the birds fly from tree to tree and
whistle or twitter, whilst the monkeys chatter and grimace,
expressing by all sorts of actions that a strange creature is
approaching. When, therefore, the bushranger finds that birds and
monkeys are unconscious of his presence until they see him, he may
be satisfied that he has traversed the bush with tolerable silence,
and has vanquished such dangerous betrayers of his presence as dried
sticks and dead leaves.


The hunter had not proceeded thus more than fifty yards into the
jungle, before he found indications that he was close upon the lair
of the Lion: a strong leonine scent was noticeable, and part of
the carcase of his horse was visible between the bushes. Instead,
therefore, of advancing farther, as an incautious or inexperienced
bushranger would have done, he crouched down behind a bush and
remained motionless.

All animals are aware of the advantages of a surprise, and the
cat tribe especially practise the ambuscading system. The hunter,
therefore, determined, if possible, to turn the tables on the Lion,
and to surprise, rather than to be surprised.

He concluded that the Lion, even when gorged with horseflesh, would
not be so neglectful of his safety as to sleep with more than one
eye closed, and that, although he had crept with great care through
the bush, he had probably, from some slight sound, caused the Lion
to be on the alert; if, therefore, he should approach the carcase of
the horse, he might be pounced upon at once.

After remaining silent and watchful for several minutes, the hunter
at length saw that an indistinctly-outlined object was moving behind
some large broad-leafed plants at about twenty paces from him.

This object was the Lion. It was crouched behind some shrubs,
attentively watching the bushes where the hunter was concealed. Its
head only was clearly visible, the body being hidden by the foliage.

It was evident that the Lion was suspicious of something, but was
not certain that anything had approached.

The hunter, knowing that this was a critical period for him,
remained perfectly quiet. He did not like to risk a shot at the
forehead of the Lion, for it would require a very sure aim to insure
a death-wound, and the number of twigs and branches would be almost
certain to deflect the bullet.

The Lion, after a careful inspection, appeared to be satisfied, and
laid down behind the shrubs. The hunter then cocked both barrels
of his heavy gun and turned the muzzle slowly around, so that he
covered the spot on which the Lion lay, and shifted his position so
as to be well placed for a shot.

The slight noise he made in moving, attracted the attention of the
Lion, who immediately rose to his feet. A broadside shot, which was
the most sure, could not be obtained, so the hunter fired at the
head of the animal, aiming for a spot between the eyes. The ball
struck high, as is usually the case when the distance is short, and
the charge of powder heavy, but the Lion fell over on its back,
rising, however, almost immediately and uttering a terrific roar.

In regaining its feet it turned its side to the hunter, giving him
the opportunity he had so anxiously waited for. Aiming at a spot
behind the shoulder, he fired again, and had the satisfaction of
seeing the savage beast, maddened by the pain of a mortal wound,
tearing up the ground in its fury within a very few paces of his

By degrees its fierce roars subsided into angry growls, and the
growls into heavy moans, until the terrible voice was hushed and
silence reigned throughout the wood.

The hunter immediately started off home, and brought his negroes and
dogs to the spot, where they found stretched dead upon the ground a
Lion of the largest size.

Before sunset that evening its skin was pegged down at the hunter's
camp, and all were filled with delight, knowing that they would be
no more disturbed by the fierce marauder.


     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 written.

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.]

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,
couching 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

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.

[Illustration: WAITING.]

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 aspect.

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 addressed.

[Illustration: leopard]

[Illustration: cats]


     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

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.

[Illustration: cat]


     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 Mahommed.

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. i:
"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 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 a very hard winter, 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 two years afterwards, 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 quarrelsome 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 world.

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.


[Illustration: THE DEATH OF JEZEBEL.]

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. 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

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.

[Illustration: SYRIAN DOG.]

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 step."

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 entreaties 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 dog's 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 all.

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 this country, 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

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 restored.

"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.

"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.



     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.


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 pursuers.

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.

[Illustration: WOLVES CHASING DEER.]

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.

[Illustration: THE WOLF.]

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.

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 horses 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, ate 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
hunt singly, or at most in little packs of few in number. Still they
dread the animal exceedingly on account of the damage it inflicts
upon their flocks of sheep and goats.

[Illustration: THE JACKAL.]


     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

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


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

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 com 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.

[Illustration: A FEAST IN PROSPECT.]

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, 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 future.

[Illustration: A FEAST SECURED.]

"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.

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.

[Illustration: A TRESPASSER.]

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

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.


     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.

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 influence.

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

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

There is hardly any animal which, for its size, is so much dreaded
by the creatures on which it preys as the common Weasel.

Although its small proportions render a single Weasel an
insignificant opponent to man or dog, yet it can wage a sharp battle
even with such powerful foes, and refuses to yield except at the
last necessity.

The proportions of the Weasel are extremely small, a full-grown male
not exceeding ten inches in length. The color of its fur is bright
reddish-brown on the upper parts of the body, and the under-portions
are pure white. The audacity and courage of this little animal are
really remarkable. It seems to hold every being except itself in the
most sovereign contempt, and, to all appearances, is as ready to
match itself against a man as against a mouse.

It is a terrible foe to many of the smaller animals, such as rats
and mice, and performs a really good service to the farmer in
destroying many of these farmyard pests. The Weasel is specially
dreaded by rats and mice, because there is no hole through which
they can pass that will not also admit the passage of their enemy;
and, as the Weasel is most persevering and determined in pursuit, it
seldom happens that rats or mice escape when their little foe has
set itself fairly on their track.

[Illustration: WEASELS.]

Not only does the Weasel pursue its prey through the windings of
the burrows, but it will even cross water in the chase. When it
has at last reached its victim, it leaps upon the devoted creature
and endeavours to fix its teeth in the back of the neck, where it
retains its deadly hold in spite of every struggle on the part of
the wounded animal. If the attack be rightly made and the animal a
small one, the Weasel can drive its teeth into the brain and cause
instantaneous death.

The Weasel is very fond of eggs, and young birds of all kinds. It
is said that an egg that has been broken by a Weasel, can always be
recognized, by the peculiar mode which the little creature employs
for the purpose.

Instead of breaking the egg to pieces or biting a large hole in the
shell, the Weasel contents itself with making quite a small aperture
at one end, through which it abstracts the liquid contents.

A curious example of the courage of the Weasel, is related by a
gentleman who while crossing a field at dusk, saw an owl pounce upon
some object on the ground, and carry it in the air.

In a short time the bird showed signs of distress, trying to free
itself from some annoying object by means of its talons, and
flapping about in a very bewildered manner.

Soon afterwards the owl fell dead to the earth; and when the
spectator of the aërial combat approached, a weasel ran away from
the dead body of the bird, itself being apparently uninjured. On
examination of the owl's body, it was found that the Weasel, which
had been marked out for the owl's repast, had in its turn become the
assailant, and had attacked the unprotected parts which lie beneath
the wings. A considerable wound had been made in that spot, and the
large blood-vessels torn through.

[Illustration: THE BITER BIT.]

[Illustration: scene]


     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 fulfilled.

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

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.

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 purpose.

[Illustration: BADGERS.]

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 sanctuary.

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

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."

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 Land.

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. 33-36.

[Illustration: ON THE WATCH.]

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.

[Illustration: SEEKING AN OUTLOOK.]

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

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.

Bears are capable of erecting themselves on their hinder limbs, and
of supporting themselves in an upright position with the greatest
ease. When attacked in close combat, they have a habit of rearing
themselves upon their hinder feet--a position which enables them to
deliver with the greatest effect the terrific blows with their fore
paws, upon which they chiefly rely in defending themselves.

With fearful ingenuity, the Bear, when engaged with a human foe,
directs its attack upon the head of its antagonist, and, as
previously stated, has been known to strike off the entire scalp
with a single blow.

[Illustration: A FAMILY-PARTY.]

A hunter who had the misfortune to be struck down by a Bear--and
the singular good fortune to afterwards escape from it--says, that
when he was lying on the ground at the mercy of the angry beast,
the animal, after biting him upon the arms and legs, deliberately
settled itself upon his head and began to scarify it in the fiercest
manner, leaving wounds eight and nine inches in length.

Bears are the more terrible antagonists from their extreme tenacity
of life, and the fearful energy which they compress into the last
moment of existence, when they are suffering from a mortal wound.
Unless struck in the heart or brain, the mortally-wounded Bear is
more to be feared than if it had received no injury whatever, and
contrives to wreak more harm in the few minutes that immediately
precede its death, than it had achieved while still uninjured.

Many a hunter has received mortal hurts by incautiously approaching
a Bear, which lay apparently dead, but was in reality only stunned.

[Illustration: bear]

[Illustration: porcupine]


     Presumed identity of the Kippôd with the Porcupine--Habits
     of the Porcupine--the common Porcupine found plentifully in

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.

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 through them, 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.


     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 things.

[Illustration: THE MOLE-RAT.]

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 senses.

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 night.

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.

[Illustration: mice]


     The Mice which marred the land--The Field-mouse--Its destructive
     habits and prolific nature--The Hamster, and its habits--The
     Jerboa, its activity and destructiveness--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, their great 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."

[Illustration: MOUSE AND NEST.]

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.

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 autumn.


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.]

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 Mice.

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

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

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 eaten.

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 mistranslated.

[Illustration: THE SYRIAN HARE.]

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 organs.

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.

[Illustration: A TIMID GROUP.]

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

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 England.


     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."


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

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

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

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."

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.

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 was most probably
the case.

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 goad.

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 a new 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 burned.

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: EASTERN OX-CART.]

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.

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


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.

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

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.

[Illustration: PLOUGHING WITH OXEN.]

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.

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


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 people.



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

[Illustration: THE BUFFALO.]

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.

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.

In the picture which appears on a following page, one of these
domesticated Buffaloes is represented, harnessed with a camel, to a
rude form of plough used in the East.



     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 game.

A brief allusion to the hunting-net is made at page 31, 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.

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.

[Illustration: WILD BULL, OR ORYX.]

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

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 world.

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.

[Illustration: THE ORYX.]

[Illustration: unicorn]


     The Unicorn apparently known to the Jews--Its evident connection
     with the Ox tribe--Its presumed identity with the now extinct
     Urus--Enormous size and dangerous character of the Urus.

There are many animals mentioned in the Scriptures which are
identified with difficulty, 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 version.

Even in late years the Unicorn has been erroneously supposed to be
identical with the Rhinoceros of India. It is, however, now certain
that the Unicorn 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.

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. At the present day naturalists are nearly
all agreed that the Unicorn of the Old Testament must have been of
the Ox tribe. Probably the Urus, a species now extinct, was the
animal alluded to. 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

That the Unicorn 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 Unicorn; 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

Of the extinct variety we know but little. We do know, however, that
it was a huge and most formidable beast, as is evident from the
skulls and other bones which have been discovered. Their character
also indicates that the creature was nothing more than a very large
Ox, probably measuring twelve feet in length, and six feet in
height. Such a wild animal, armed, as it was, with enormous horns,
would prove a most formidable antagonist.

[Illustration: bison]


     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.

[Illustration: BISON KILLING WOLF.]

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 degree.

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.

[Illustration: gazelle]


     Its swiftness, its beauty, and the quality of its
     flesh--Different varieties of the Gazelle--How the Gazelle
     defends itself against wild beasts--Chase of the Gazelle.

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 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.

[Illustration: THE GAZELLE.]

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

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 spectator.

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 heron.

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 manœuvre,
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

"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


"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 Arab is wild in his transports of delight. More certain of
the prowess of his bird than ourselves, he had stopped awhile to
gather together the fruits of our booty, and now galloped furiously
up, waving his long gun, and 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.

[Illustration: THE GAZELLE.]


     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.

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.

[Illustration: THE ADDAX.]

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.

[Illustration: decoration]


     The word Jachmur evidently represents a species of
     antelope--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 143. 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.


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. "Harts and Roebucks
and Fallow-Deer" are the wild animals mentioned in the passage
alluded to.

[Illustration: sheep and birds]


     Importance of Sheep in the Bible--The Sheep the chief wealth
     of the pastoral tribes--Arab shepherds of the present
     day--Wanderings of the flocks in search of food--Value of the
     wells--How the Sheep are watered--The shepherd usually a part
     owner of the flocks--Structure of the sheepfolds--The rock
     caverns of Palestine--David's adventure with Saul--Use of the
     dogs--The broad-tailed Sheep, and its peculiarities.

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.

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.


"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 described....

[Illustration: VIEW OF THE PYRAMIDS.]

"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

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.


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

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 quoted.

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.

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 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.

[Illustration: AN EASTERN SHEPHERD.]

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.

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."

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.

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 sheepfold, and Himself to the door.
"He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, 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."

[Illustration: ANCIENT SHEEP PEN.]

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.

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 abundant.

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

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

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 Lebanon:--

"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.

[Illustration: THE POOR MAN'S LAMB.]

[Illustration: THE RICH MAN'S FEAST.]

"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

This last sentence reminds us that there are two breeds of Sheep
in Palestine. One much resembles the ordinary English Sheep, while
the other is a very different animal. 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.

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."


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

       *       *       *       *       *

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. 20).

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 mothers 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 semi-solid.

       *       *       *       *       *

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 wool."

The wool of the Sheep of Palestine differed extremely in value; some
kinds being coarse and rough, while others were fine.

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.

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.

       *       *       *       *       *

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.

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.

       *       *       *       *       *

The horn of the ram had 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

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."


The jubilee year was always 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).

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.

       *       *       *       *       *

We now come to the important subject, the use of the Sheep in

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 day.

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.

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.


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 sacrifices 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

"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.

[Illustration: sheep]

"Perhaps in another century the fire on Mount Gerizim will be the
only relic left of this most interesting and ancient rite."

[Illustration: chamois]


     The Zemer or Chamois only once mentioned in the
     Bible--Signification of the word Zemer--Probability that the
     Zemer is the Aoudad--Its strength and activity--The Mouflon
     probably classed with the Aoudad under the name of Zemer.

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 this animal does not inhabit Palestine, nor are there
any proofs that it ever did so. The Chamois frequents the lofty
inaccessible crags of the highest mountains, finding its food in the
scanty herbage which grows in such regions, appearing on the brink
of awful precipices, and leaping from ledge to ledge with ease and
safety. We must, therefore, look for some other animal.

The Chamois is one of the most wary of Antelopes, and possesses the
power of scenting mankind at what would seem to be an impossible

Its ears are as acute as its nostrils, so that there are few animals
which are so difficult to approach.

Only those who have been trained to climb the giddy heights of the
Alpine Mountains, to traverse the most fearful precipices with a
quiet pulse and steady head, to exist for days amid the terrible
solitudes of ice, rock, and snow,--only these, can hope to come
within sight of the Chamois, when the animal is at large upon its
native cliffs.

The Hebrew word, which has been rendered Chamois, 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.


[Illustration: CHASING THE AOUDAD.]

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.

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

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 214.

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

[Illustration: THE MOUFLON.]

At the present time the Mouflon is only to be found in Crete,
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

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


Gideon did so, and the angel reached forth the staff that was in his
hand, and touched the flesh, and there rose up fire out of the rock
and burnt up the offering.

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, 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." 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 apology.

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

"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

       *       *       *       *       *

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.

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

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, and such was the "bottle of wine" that Hannah
brought as her offering when she dedicated Samuel to the service of

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.]

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

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


     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 renderings.

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 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

[Illustration: deer]


     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.

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.

[Illustration: RED DEER.]

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 placed.

       *       *       *       *       *

We will now proceed to the various passages in which the Hart and
Hind are mentioned in the Bible.


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.

[Illustration: A QUIET SPOT.]

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.

[Illustration: RED DEER AND FAWN.]

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.

[Illustration: THE LEADER OF THE HERD.]

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

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."

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.

[Illustration: THE WATCHFUL DOE.]

[Illustration: A KNEELING CAMEL.]



     The two species of Camel, and the mode of distinguishing
     them--Value of the Camel in the East--Thirst-enduring
     capability--The hump, and its use to the animal--The Camel as
     a beast of draught and burden--How the Camel is laden--Camels
     for riding--Difficulty of sitting a Camel--A rough-paced
     steed--Method of guiding the Camel--The swift dromedary--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 camels."


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).

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.

[Illustration: A CAMP IN THE DESERT.]

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 camel-keeper."

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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 here--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.

[Illustration: A GRATEFUL SHADE.]

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 cooking.

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 England.

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 article.

       *       *       *       *       *

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.

In the large illustration are represented four 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 maybe 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 far more difficult of accomplishment
than 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. One
well-known traveller declares that any person desiring to practise
Camel-riding can readily 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 manœuvre 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.

[Illustration: THE CAMEL POST.]

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 Soudan:"--

"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 hump-backed 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

[Illustration: A RUNAWAY.]


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.

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

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.

[Illustration: CAMEL-RIDING.]

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.


We now come to the Swift Camel, or Deloul.

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 opportunity.

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


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

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

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

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

Mr. Kennard had a very narrow escape with one of these arch ways.
"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 workshop.

[Illustration: AN ARAB ENCAMPMENT.]

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'œuvre_."

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.

[Illustration: ON THE MARCH.]

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, 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 Camels 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.

[Illustration: HAIR OF THE CAMEL.]

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 needed.

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 (δυσκόλως) 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.


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, especially 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 διυλίζω,
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

[Illustration: A REST IN THE DESERT.]

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 Camel.

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 often used alone 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.


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

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 drivers.

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

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.

[Illustration: TRIAL OF ARAB HORSES.]

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

"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.

[Illustration: THE WAR HORSE.]

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.

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."

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

"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.

[Illustration: ARAB HORSES.]

"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

"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

[Illustration: BUYING AN ARAB HORSE.]

"These remarks only apply to buying horses of the purest blood;
those of inferior race are obtained without difficulty, and at fair

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.

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.

[Illustration: ELIJAH IS CARRIED UP.]

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" (Nah. iii. 2) thundered along, are repeatedly

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 salvation?"

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 occupants.

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 horse-soldier.


       *       *       *       *       *

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 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

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 Horses.

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.

[Illustration: CHARIOT OF STATE.]

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.

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 exaggerrated 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.



[Illustration: ass]


     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--Samson and Balaam.

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

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 woman of Shunem, who rode on an Ass to meet Elisha, 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

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.

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.

[Illustration: SYRIAN ASSES.]

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 avoid.

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. "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,
travel would be impossible.

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 customs."

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

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.

As we may see from 2 Kings iv. 24, the Ass was generally guided
by a driver who ran behind it, just as is done with donkeys hired
to children here. 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:--

[Illustration: A STREET IN CAIRO, EGYPT.]

"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 empty-handed.

"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."

[Illustration: NIGHT-WATCH IN CAIRO.]

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 burdens.

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 ground.

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 work.

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.

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.


     Various allusions to the Wild Ass--Its swiftness and
     wildness--The Wild Ass of Asia and Africa--How the Wild Ass is
     hunted--Excellence of its flesh--Meeting 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. 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

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

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?"

       *       *       *       *       *

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.

"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 ass.

"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

"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.

[Illustration: HUNTING WILD ASSES.]

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 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--Obstinacy of 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.]

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 Gihon."

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.



     The Mosaic prohibition of the pig--Hatred of Swine by Jews and
     Mahometans--The prodigal son--Supposed connexion between Swine
     and diseases of the skin--Destruction of the herd of Swine--The
     wild boar of the woods--The damage which it does to the vines.

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 Lord."

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."

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.

[Illustration: THE PRODIGAL SON.]

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 in 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. Eleazer, 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.


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

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 lands.

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.

Swine are at the present day much neglected in Palestine, 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.


We now come to the wild animal. There 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.

[Illustration: WILD BOARS.]

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 eats.

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.

[Illustration: chase]

[Illustration: INDIAN ELEPHANT.]


     The Elephant indirectly mentioned in the Authorized
     Version--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.

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 Tyropœon,
"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.

[Illustration: INDIAN ELEPHANTS.]

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 309 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 long-lived."

The passages in the Bible in which the Elephant itself is named 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,

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,

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 battle, 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."

[Illustration: THE WAR ELEPHANT.]

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 country.

"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

       *       *       *       *       *

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 principal illustrations.

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: AFRICAN ELEPHANTS.]

The Elephant, whether of Asia or Africa, always lives in herds
varying greatly in numbers, and invariably found in the deepest
forests, or in their near vicinity. Both species are fond of
water, and never wander far from some stream or fountain, although
they can, and do, make tolerably long journeys for the purpose of
obtaining the needful supply of liquid.

They have a curious capability of laying up a store of water in
their interior, somewhat after the fashion of the camel, but also
possess the strange accomplishment of drawing the liquid supply from
their stomachs by means of their trunks, and scattering it in a
shower over their backs to cool their heated bodies.

When drinking, the Elephant inserts the tip of his trunk into the
stream, fills it with water, and then, turning it into his throat,
discharges the contents.

The strangest portion of the Elephant is the trunk, or proboscis.
This wonderful appendage is furnished at its extremity with a
finger-like projection, with which the animal can pluck a single
blade of grass or pick up a small object from the ground.

The value of the proboscis to the Elephant can be estimated when it
is considered that without its aid the animal must soon starve to
death. The short, thick neck and projecting tusks would entirely
prevent it from reaching any of the vegetation upon which it feeds.

With the trunk, however, the Elephant readily carries its food to
its mouth, and employs the useful member just as if it were a long
and flexible arm.

The Elephant bears a worldwide fame for its capabilities as a
servant and companion of man, and for the extraordinary development
of its intellectual faculties. The Indian or Asiatic Elephant is the
variety that is considered most docile and easy to train; these are
almost invariably taken in a wild state from their native forests.
The Indian hunters usually proceed into the woods with trained
female Elephants. These advance quietly, and by their blandishments
so occupy the attention of any unfortunate male that they meet that
the hunters are enabled to tie his legs together and fasten him to
a tree. His treacherous companions now leave him to struggle in
impotent rage until he is so subdued by hunger and fatigue that the
hunters can drive him home between two tame elephants. When once
captured, he is easily trained.

The following curious instance of intelligence in an Elephant is
given by a traveller in Ceylon:

"One evening, while riding in the vicinity of Kandy, my horse showed
some excitement at a noise which was heard in the thick jungle,
sounding something like '_Urmph! Urmph!_' uttered in a hoarse and
dissatisfied tone. A turn in the forest explained the mystery, by
bringing me face to face with a tame working Elephant unaccompanied
by any driver or attendant. He was laboring painfully with a heavy
beam of timber, which he had balanced across his tusks and was
carrying to the village from which I had come.

"The pathway being narrow, he was compelled to bend his head
to one side to permit the passage of the long piece of wood, and
the exertion and inconvenience combined, led him to utter the
dissatisfied sounds which had frightened my horse.


"On seeing us halt, the Elephant raised his head, looked at us for a
moment, then dropped the timber, and forced himself backward among
the bushes at the side of the road, so as to leave us plenty of room
to pass.

"My horse still hesitated; the Elephant observed this, and
impatiently crowded himself still deeper in the jungle, repeating
his cry of, '_Urmph! Urmph!_' but in a voice evidently meant to
encourage us to come on. Still the horse trembled; and, anxious to
observe the conduct of the two sagacious creatures, I forbore any
interference. Again the Elephant wedged himself farther in among the
trees and waited for us to pass him. At last the horse timidly did
so, after which I saw the wise Elephant come out of the wood, take
up the heavy timber upon his tusks, and resume his route, hoarsely
snorting, as before, his discontented remonstrance."

Although so valuable an animal for certain kinds of work, the
Elephant is hardly so effective an assistant as might be supposed.
The working Elephant is always a delicate animal, and requires
watchfulness and care; as a beast of burden he is unsatisfactory,
for, although in the matter of mere strength there is hardly any
weight that could be conveniently placed on him which he could not
carry, it is difficult to pack it without causing abrasions of the
Elephant's skin, which afterwards ulcerate.

His skin is easily chafed by harness, especially in wet weather.
Either during long droughts, or too much moisture, his feet are also
liable to sores which render him useless for months.

In India the Elephant is used more for purposes of state display
or for hunting than for hard labor. It is especially trained for
tiger-hunting, and, as there is a natural dread of the terrible
tiger deeply implanted in almost all Elephants, it is no easy matter
to teach the animal to approach his powerful foe.

A stuffed tiger-skin is employed for this purpose, and is
continually shown to the Elephant until he learns to lose all
distrust of the inanimate object, and to strike it, to crush it with
his feet, or to pierce it with his tusks.

After a while a boy is put inside the tiger-skin, in order to
accustom the Elephant to the sight of the tiger in motion.

[Illustration: TIGER.]

The last stage in the proceedings is to procure a dead tiger, and to
substitute it for the stuffed skin. Even with all this training, it
most frequently happens that when the Elephant is brought to face
a veritable living tiger the furious bounds, the savage yells, and
gleaming eyes of the beast are so terrifying that he turns tail and
makes a hasty retreat. Hardly one Elephant out of ten will face an
angry tiger. The Elephant, when used in tiger-hunting, is always
guided by a native driver, called a mahout, who sits astride of the
animal's neck and guides its movements by means of the voice and the
use of an iron hook at the end of a short stick.

[Illustration: THE TIGER IN THE REEDS.]

The hunters who ride upon the Elephant sit in a kind of box called
a howdah, which is strapped firmly upon the animal's back, or else
merely rests upon a large flat pad furnished with cross-ropes for
maintaining a firm hold. The Elephant generally kneels to enable
the riders to mount, and then rises from the ground with a peculiar
swinging motion that is most discomposing to beginners in the art.

The chase of the tiger is among the most exciting and favourite
sports in India. When starting on a hunt, a number of hunters
usually assemble, mounted on Elephants trained for the purpose, and
carrying with them a supply of loaded rifles in their howdahs, or
carriages mounted on the Elephants' backs. Thus armed, they proceed
to the spot where a tiger has been seen. The animal is usually
found hidden in the long grass or jungle, which is frequently
eight or more feet in height; and when roused, it endeavours to
creep away under the grass. The movement of the leaves betrays him,
and he is checked by a rifle-ball aimed at him through the jungle.
Finding that he cannot escape without being seen, he turns round
and springs at the nearest Elephant, endeavouring to clamber up it
and attack the party in the howdah. This is the most dangerous part
of the proceedings, as many Elephants will turn round and run away,
regardless of the efforts of their drivers to make them face the
tiger. Should, however, the Elephant stand firm, a well-directed
ball checks the tiger in his spring; and he then endeavours to
again escape, but a volley of rifle-balls from the backs of the
other Elephants, who by this time have come up, lays the savage
animal prostrate, and in a very short time his skin decorates the
successful marksman's howdah.

[Illustration: tiger]

[Illustration: jungle scene]


     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.

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.]

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 hippopotamus.

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 Major
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

"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.

[Illustration: HIPPOPOTAMUS.]


     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.

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

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 together.

  "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

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 existence."

[Illustration: THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.]

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.

"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. 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.

[Illustration: THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.]

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

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 animal.

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 hippopotamus.


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 Scriptures.

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.

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.


(This picture is taken from an ancient Egyptian 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 blood.

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

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 374. 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 struggles.

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 acting.

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.

[Illustration: lily pad scene]

[Illustration: BABOON.]


     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--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--Various species of
     Monkey that may be included in the term "Kophim."

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

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.

[Illustration: THE RHESUS MONKEY.]

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 MONKEY.


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 monkeys.

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 of the opinion that no evil will follow a
foreigner's action, 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 the
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 held.


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.

[Illustration: SLOTHFUL MONKEYS.]

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.

[Illustration: A PRIVILEGED RACE.]

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 these
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 accordingly.

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. As is the case with many animals, the mane is not
noticeable in the young specimens, but increases in size with age,
only reaching its full dimensions when the animal has attained adult
age. 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.

[Illustration: THE WANDEROO.]

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.


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

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 royal
courts, a custom which extended even into the modern history of
England, 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.

[Illustration: BONNET MONKEYS.]

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 great. 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.

[Illustration: THE BAT.]


     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--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

[Illustration: BATS' RESTING-PLACE.]

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.

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 quarries 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 Asia.


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.


"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 an
ancient burying-place of the Anchorites, or hermits of the country,
whose custom it was to retire to such desert and solitary places.

"Their bones lay in undisturbed order, probably as the corpses had
been stretched after death.

"After capturing two or three long-tailed bats, of a species new
to us, which were the only living occupants of the cave, we crept
out, with a feeling of religious awe, from this strange, sepulchral

Besides the species of bats that have been described, it is probable
that representatives of several more families of bats inhabit

[Illustration: bat]

[Illustration: LEOPARDS.]

[Illustration: BIRDS.]

[Illustration: bird and nest]

[Illustration: ossifrage]


     Difficulty of identifying the various birds mentioned in
     Scripture--The vultures of Palestine--The Lämmergeier, or
     Ossifrage of Scripture--Appearance of the Lämmergeier--Its
     flight and mode of feeding--Nest of the Lämmergeier.

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

[Illustration: THE LÄMMERGEIER.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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 word _peres_ 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


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 soars.

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.

[Illustration: bird feeding young]


     The Râchâm or Gier-Eagle identified with the Egyptian
     Vulture--Its appearance on the Egyptian monuments--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 plumage.

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 share.

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

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 420 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 sea-gull.



     The Griffon Vulture identified with the Eagle of
     Scripture--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.

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 ruff.

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

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 it."

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.

Wonderful powers of sight are possessed by this bird. Its eyes
are 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.

[Illustration: VULTURES.]

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.

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.

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 south-west 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 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

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.

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 touch 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

[Illustration: tree]

[Illustration: eagle]


     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.

The whole of the Falconidæ, as the family to which the Eagles belong
is called, are very destructive birds, gaining their subsistence
chiefly by the chase, seldom feeding on carrion except when pressed
by hunger, or when the dead animal has only recently been killed.

Herein they form a complete contrast to the vultures, whose usual
food is putrefying carrion, and fresh meat the exception.

Destructive though the Eagles may be, they cannot be called cruel
birds, for, although they deprive many birds and beasts of life,
they effect their purpose with a single blow, sweeping down upon the
doomed creature with such lightning velocity, and striking it so
fiercely with their death-dealing talons, that almost instantaneous
death usually results.

When the Eagle pounces on a bird, the mere shock caused by the
stroke of the Eagle's body is almost invariably sufficient to cause
death, and the bird, even if a large one--such as the swan, for
example--falls dead upon the earth with scarcely a wound.

Smaller birds are carried off in the talons of their pursuers, and
are killed by the grip of their tremendous claws, the Eagle in no
case making use of its beak for killing its prey. If the great
bird carries off a lamb or a hare, it grasps the body firmly with
its claws, and then by a sudden exertion of its wonderful strength
drives the sharp talons deep into the vitals of its prey, and does
not loosen its grasp until the breath of life has fled from its

The structure by means of which the Eagle is enabled to use its
talons with such terrible effect is equally beautiful and simple,
deserving special mention.

Now, many observant persons have been struck with the curious
power possessed by birds which enables them to hold their position
upon a branch or perch even while sleeping. In many instances the
slumbering bird retains its hold of the perch by a single foot, the
other being drawn up and buried in the feathers.

As this grasp is clearly an involuntary one, it is evidently
independent of the mere will of the bird, and is due to some
peculiar formation.

On removing the skin from the leg of any bird, and separating the
muscles from each other, the structure in question is easily seen.
The muscles which move the leg and foot, and the tendons, or leaders
which form the attachment of the muscles to the bones, are so
arranged that whenever the bird bends its leg the foot is forcibly
closed, and is opened again when the leg is straightened.

A common chicken, as it walks along, closing its toes as it lifts
its foot from the ground and spreading them as the leg is unbent,
cannot do otherwise, as the tendons are shortened and lengthened as
each step is taken.

[Illustration: EAGLES.]

It will be seen, therefore, that when a bird falls asleep upon a
branch the legs are not only bent, but are pressed downwards by the
weight of the body; so that the claws hold the perch with a firm and
involuntary grasp which knows no fatigue, and which remains secure
as long as the pressure from above keeps the limbs bent.

To return to the Eagle. When, therefore, the bird desires to
drive his talons into the body of his prey, he needs only to sink
downwards with his whole weight, and the forcible bending of his
legs will contract the talons with irresistible force, without the
necessity of any muscular exertion.

Exertion, indeed, is never needlessly used by the Eagle, for it is
very chary of putting forth its great muscular powers, and unless
roused by the sight of prey, or pressed to fly abroad in search of
food, will sit upon a tree or point of rock for hours as motionless
as a stuffed figure.

The Golden Eagle is a truly magnificent bird in size and appearance.
A full-grown female measures about three feet six inches in length,
and the expanse of her wings is nine feet. The male bird is smaller
by nearly six inches. The colour of the bird is a rich blackish
brown on the greater part of the body, the head and neck being
covered with feathers of a golden red, which have earned for the
bird its customary name.

The Golden Eagle is observed to frequent certain favourite places,
and to breed regularly in the same spot, for a long series of years.
The nest is always made upon some high place, generally upon a ledge
of rock, and is most roughly constructed of sticks.

In hunting for their prey the Eagle and his mate assist each other.
It may be also mentioned here that Eagles keep themselves to a
single mate, and live together throughout their lives. Should,
however, one of them die or be killed, the survivor does not long
remain in a state of loneliness, but vanishes from the spot for a
longer or shorter time, and then returns with a new mate.

As rabbits and hares, which form a frequent meal for the Eagle, are
usually hidden under bushes and trees during the day, the birds are
frequently forced to drive them from their place of concealment;
this they have been observed to do in a very clever manner. One of
the Eagles conceals itself near the cover, and its companion dashes
among the bushes, screaming and making such a disturbance that the
terrified inmates rush out in hopes of escape, and are immediately
pounced upon by the watchful confederate.

The prey is immediately taken to the nest, and distributed to the
young after being torn to pieces by the parent birds.

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

Then there are several of the allied species, of which the best
example is perhaps the Short-toed Eagle (_Circaëtus cinereus_), 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 spots.

[Illustration: eagle]



     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

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.

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.


The flight of the Osprey is peculiarly easy and elegant, as might
be expected from a bird the length of whose body is only twenty-two
inches, and the expanse of wing nearly five feet and a half.

It is therefore able to hover over the water for long periods of
time, and can balance itself in one spot without seeming to move a
wing, 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.

Harmless though the Osprey be--except to the fish--it is a most
persecuted bird, being everywhere annoyed by rooks and crows, and,
in America, robbed by the more powerful white-headed eagle.

Such a scene is thus described by Wilson:

     "Elevated on the high, dead limb of a gigantic tree that
     commanded a wide view of the neighbouring shore and ocean, the
     great white-headed eagle calmly surveys the motions of various
     smaller birds that pursue their busy avocations below.

     "The snow-white gulls slowly winnowing the air; the trains of
     ducks streaming over the surface; silent and watchful cranes,
     intent and wading, and all the winged multitude that subsist by
     the bounty of this vast liquid magazine of nature.

     "High over all these, hovers one whose action instantly arrests
     the eagle's attention. By his wide curvature of wing and sudden
     suspension in the air he knows him to be the Osprey, settling
     over some devoted victim of the deep. The eyes of the eagle
     kindle at the sight, and balancing himself with half-opened
     wings on the branch, he watches the result.

     "Down, rapid as an arrow, from heaven descends the Osprey, the
     roar of its wings reaching the ear as it disappears in the
     water, making the surges foam around! At this moment the eager
     looks of the eagle are all ardour, and, levelling his neck for
     flight, he sees the Osprey once more emerge, struggling with his
     prey, and mounting in the air with screams of exultation.

     "These are the signals for the eagle, who, launching into the
     air, instantly gives chase, and soon gains on the Osprey; each
     exerts his utmost to mount above the other, displaying in this
     encounter the most elegant and sublime aërial evolutions.


     "The unencumbered eagle rapidly advances, and is just on the
     point of reaching his opponent, when, with a sudden scream,
     probably of despair and honest execration, the Osprey drops his

     "The eagle, poising himself for a moment, as if to take a more
     certain aim, descends like a whirlwind, snatches it in his
     grasp ere it reaches the water, and bears his ill-gotten booty
     silently away to the woods."

Although not very plentiful in Palestine, nor indeed in any other
country, the Osprey 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.


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 manœuvre 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.


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 falconers.

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

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.

[Illustration: hawk]


     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 species.

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 former weighing about six ounces, and
measuring about a foot in length, and the latter weighing above nine
ounces, and measuring about fifteen inches in length.


The most plentiful of the smaller Hawks of Palestine is the COMMON
KESTREL. This is the same species which is known under the names of
Kestrel, Wind-hover, and Stannel Hawk.

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 manœuvre 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

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 claws.

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.

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

On page 444 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 rocks.

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 flood.

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 168), 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

[Illustration: BARN OWL.]


     The words which have been translated as 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.

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."

It is very likely that the Little Owl here mentioned is identical
with the Boomah of the Arabs. It is a bird that is common in Europe,
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 device.

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 partridge.

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

The common and well-known Barn Owl, also inhabits Palestine. Like
the Little Owl, it affects the neighbourhood of man, though it may
be found in ruins and similar localities. An old ruined building
is sure to be tenanted by the Barn Owl, whose nightly shrieks very
often terrify the belated wanderer, and make him fancy that the
place is haunted by disturbed spirits. Such being the habits of the
bird, 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 desolation.

[Illustration: THE LITTLE OWL.]

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 Scriptures.

       *       *       *       *       *

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.

[Illustration: CAUGHT NAPPING.]

"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

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

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.



[Illustration: A FAMILY COUNCIL.]

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."

[Illustration: owl]

[Illustration: night-hawk]


     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. 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 made.

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.

[Illustration: THE NIGHT-HAWK.]

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

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 of 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

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.

[Illustration: trees and bird]

[Illustration: swallow]


     Identification of the smaller birds--Oriental indifference to
     natural history--Use of collective terms--The Swallow--The Bird
     of Liberty--Swallows and Swifts--Variety of small birds found in
     Palestine--The Swallows of Palestine.

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 a 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, there is 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 roar 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 song.

       *       *       *       *       *

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.

[Illustration: LOST FROM THE FLOCK.]

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 or 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

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 Galilee.

[Illustration: THE SWALLOW AND SWIFT.]

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


This being the case, we naturally expect to find that several
species of the Swallow are inhabitants of Palestine, if so migratory
a bird can be 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.

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 be 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 it.

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.

[Illustration: SWALLOWS AT HOME.]


     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 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 crest.

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

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.

[Illustration: lapwing]

[Illustration: EASTERN HOUSE-TOP.]


     The Sparrow upon the house top--Architecture of the East--Little
     birds exposed for sale in the market--The two Sparrows sold for
     a farthing--Bird-catching--The net, the snare, and the trap.

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.

On turning to Ps. cii. 5-7, 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 this country. It is often seen upon
roofs or house-tops, but is no more apt to sit alone in Palestine
than it is here. 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.

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 instruction.

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 words.


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, 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

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.

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

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.

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."

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.

[Illustration: sparrows]

[Illustration: old tree]


     The Cuckoo only twice mentioned in Scripture--The common
     species, and the Great Spotted Cuckoo--Depositing the egg.

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 abomination.

It is rather remarkable 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


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.



     Parallel between the lamb and the Dove--The Dove and the olive
     branch--Abram's sacrifice, and its acceptance--The Dove-sellers
     of the Temple--The Rock Dove and its multitudes.

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 species.

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 other.

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 impossible.

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.


According to some 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.

[Illustration: THE ROCK DOVE.]

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.

[Illustration: BLUE ROCK PIGEONS.]

The practice of pigeon-keeping has survived to the present day, the
houses of wealthy men being furnished with separate pigeon-houses
for the protection and shelter of these popular birds.

In the Holy Land are found all the species of Pigeons with which
we are familiar, together with one or two others. First, there is
the Rock Pigeon, or Blue Rock Dove, 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.

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."

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, with which we are so familiar in this
country. Its migratory habits are noticed in the sacred writings.
See the following passage in the Song of Solomon:

"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, one variety
of which is known as the Barbary Dove. It is a large species,
measuring more than a foot in length. Another species is the Palm
Turtle, 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.

[Illustration: THE TURTLE DOVE.]

It is rather a small bird, being barely ten inches in length, and
having no "collar" on the neck, like the two preceding species.

[Illustration: chickens]


     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."

[Illustration: THE DOMESTIC FOWL.]

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: "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, besides harts, and roebucks, and fallow-deer, and fatted

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.

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.

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.

[Illustration: chickens]

[Illustration: peacock]


     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).

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 India and Ceylon, 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.

The Peacock may safely be termed one of the most beautiful of the
feathered tribe, and may even lay a well-founded claim to the
chief rank among birds, in splendour of plumage and effulgence of

We are so familiar with the Peacock that we think little of its
real splendour; but if one of these birds was brought to this
country for the first time, it would create a greater sensation than
many animals which are now viewed in menageries with the greatest
curiosity and interest.

The train of the male Peacock is the most remarkable feature of this
beautiful bird; the feathers composing it are very long, and are
coloured with green, purple, bronze, gold, and blue in such a manner
as to form distinct "eyes."

On the head is a tuft of upright feathers, blackish upon their
shafts, and rich golden green, shot with blue, on their expanded
tips. The top of the head, the throat, and neck are the most
refulgent blue, changing in different lights to gold and green. The
wings are darker than the rest of the plumage, the abdomen blackish,
and the feathers of the thighs are fawn.

[Illustration: THE PEACOCK.]

The female is much smaller than her mate, and not nearly so
beautiful, the train being almost wanting, and the colour
ashy-brown, with the exception of the throat and neck, which are

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.

[Illustration: feathers]

[Illustration: partridge]


     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--Egg-hunting in Palestine--The various species of

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.

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 mountains."

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 may
be 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.]

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 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.

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


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.

[Illustration: EASTERN QUAIL.]


     Migration of the Quail--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,

"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.

[Illustration: THE QUAIL.]

"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).

"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).

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."

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."

       *       *       *       *       *

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 manœuvre, 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 brushwood.

Boys catch the Quails in various traps and springes, the
most ingenious of which is a kind of trap, the door of which
over-balances 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 country.

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

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.

[Illustration: birds]

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.


     The Raven tribe plentiful in Palestine--The Raven and the
     Dove--Elijah and the Ravens--Desert-loving habits of the
     Raven--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.

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.]

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.

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 setting.

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 walls.

"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 manœuvre 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, can
appreciate this anecdote, and can understand how the Raven would
ever afterwards keep clear of the spot where the flash and smoke
of fire-arms had twice appeared. In a large garden in which the
sparrows used to congregate, 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.

[Illustration: birds in flight]

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.


     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.

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.

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 habits.

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 310, 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

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.]

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 414, 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 manœuvre 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-yard
fowls. We forthwith dismounted from out 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 forms.

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 Bushman, 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, and the small impression made in the sand by
the two-toed foot, the track of a running Ostrich is very obscure.
Perhaps no better proof of the swiftness of the bird can be given
than the extreme value set upon it by the Arabs. Although they are
bred to the desert as much as the Ostrich itself, and are mounted on
horses whose swiftness and endurance are proverbial, they set a very
high value on the Ostrich, and to have captured one of these birds
establishes an Arab's fame as a hunter.

Sometimes the Arabs employ the plan of cutting across the course
of the bird, but at others they pursue it in fair chase, training
their horses and themselves specially for the occasion. They furnish
themselves with a supply of water, and then start in pursuit of the
first flock of Ostriches they find. They take care not to alarm the
birds, lest they should put out their full speed and run away out
of sight, but just keep sufficiently near to force the birds to be
continually on the move. They will sometimes continue this chase for
several days, not allowing their game time to eat or rest, until at
last it is so tired that it yields itself an easy prey.

In Southern Africa, snares are used for taking the Ostrich. They
are in fact ordinary springes, but of strength suitable to the size
of the bird. The cord is made fast to a sapling, which is bent down
by main strength, and the other end is then formed into a noose and
fastened down with a trigger. Sometimes the bird is enticed towards
the snare by means of a bait, and sometimes it is driven over it
by the huntsmen. In either case, as soon as the Ostrich puts its
foot within the fatal noose, the trigger is loosed, the sapling is
released, and, with a violent jerk, the Ostrich is caught by the leg
and suspended in the air.

Why the flesh of the Ostrich should have been prohibited to the
Jews is rather a mystery. It is much valued by most natives, though
some of the Arab tribes still adhere to the Jewish prohibition, and
those Europeans who have tried it pronounce it to be excellent when
the bird is young and tender, but to be unpleasantly tough when it
is old. Mr. Andersson says that its flesh resembles that of the
zebra, and mentions that the fat and blood are in great request,
being mixed together by cutting the throat of the bird, passing a
ligature round the neck just below the incision, and then shaking
and dragging the bird about for some time. Nearly twenty pounds of
this substance are obtained from a single Ostrich.


The ancient Romans valued exceedingly the flesh of this bird. We
are told that Heliogabalus once had a dish served at his table
containing six hundred Ostrich brains, and that another emperor ate
a whole Ostrich at a meal. As an adult Ostrich weighs some three
hundred and fifty pounds, we may presume that the bird in question
was a young one.

The eggs are most valuable articles of food, both on account of
their excellent flavour and their enormous size. It is calculated
that one Ostrich egg contains as much as twenty-five ordinary hen's
eggs. Cooking the Ostrich egg is easily performed. A hole is made
in the upper part of the egg, and the lower end is set on the fire.
A forked stick is then introduced into the egg, and twirled between
the hands, so as to beat up the whole of the interior. Europeans
usually add pepper and salt, and say that this simple mode of
cooking produces an excellent omelette.

The ordinary food of the Ostrich consists of the seeds, buds, and
tops of various plants. It seems strange, however, that in the
deserts, where there is so little vegetation, the bird should be
able to procure sufficient food to maintain its enormous body. Each
of the specimens which are kept at the Zoological Gardens eats
on an average a pint of barley, the same quantity of oats, four
pounds' weight of cabbage, and half a gallon of chaff, beside the
buns, bread, and other articles of food which are given to them by

Although the Ostrich, like many other inhabitants of the desert,
can live for a long time without water, yet it is forced to drink,
and like the camel, which it resembles in so many of its ways,
drinks enormously, taking in the water by a succession of gulps.
When the weather has been exceptionally hot, the Ostrich visits the
water-springs daily, and is so occupied in quenching its thirst that
it will allow the hunter to come within a very short distance. It
appears, indeed, to be almost intoxicated with its draught, and,
even when it does take the alarm, it only retreats step by step,
instead of scudding off with its usually rapid strides.

The camel-like appearance of the Ostrich has already been mentioned.
In the Arabic language the Ostrich is called by a name which
signifies camel-bird, and many of the people have an idea that it
was originally a cross between a bird and a camel.

The cry of the Ostrich is a deep bellow, which, according to
travellers in Southern Africa, so resembles the roar of the lion
that even the practised ears of the natives can scarcely distinguish
the roar of the animal from the cry of the bird. The resemblance is
increased by the fact that both the lion and Ostrich utter their
cry by night. It is evidently to this cry that the prophet Micah
alludes: "Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and
naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as
the owls" (Ostriches in marginal reading). The cry of the variety
of Ostrich which inhabits Northern Africa is said to bear more
resemblance to the lowing of an ox than the roar of the lion; but as
the bird is smaller than its southern relative, the difference is
probably accounted for.

It has been mentioned that the Ostrich has no weapons wherewith
to fight for its young; still, though it be destitute of actual
weapons, such as the spur of the gamecock or the beak and talons of
the eagle, it is not entirely defenceless. Its long and powerful
legs can be employed as weapons, and it can kick with such force
that a man would go down before the blow, and probably, if struck on
the leg or arm, have the limb broken. The blow is never delivered
backward, as is the kick of the horse, but forward, like that of the
kangaroo. The natives of the countries where it resides say that it
is able to kill by its kick the jackal that comes to steal its eggs,
and that even the hyæna and the leopard are repelled by the gigantic

[Illustration: peaceful scene]


     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--Nest of
     the Bittern--Scarcity of the bird at the present day--Food of
     the Bittern.

The Bittern belongs to the same family as the herons, the cranes,
and the storks, and has many of the habits common to them all. It
is, however, essentially a bird of solitude, hating the vicinity
of man, and living in the most retired spots of marshy ground. As
it sits among the reeds and rushes, though it is a large bird, it
is scarcely visible even to a practised eye, its mottled plumage
harmonizing with surrounding objects in such a way that the feathers
of the bird can scarcely be distinguished from the sticks, stones,
and grass tufts among which it sits. The ground colour of the
plumage is dark buff, upon which are sprinkled mottlings and streaks
of black, chestnut, grey, and brown. These mottled marks harmonize
with the stones and tufts of withered grass, while the longitudinal
dashes of buff and black on the neck and breast correspond with the
sticks and reeds.

In a similar manner the tiger, though so large an animal, can lie in
a very small covert of reeds without being detected, its striped fur
corresponding with the reeds themselves and the shadows thrown by
them; and the leopard can remain hidden among the boughs of a tree,
its spotted coat harmonizing with the broken light and shade of the

[Illustration: THE BITTERN.]

The following powerful description of the Bittern's home is given
by Mudie: "It is a bird of rude nature, where the land knows no
character save that which the untrained, working of the elements
impresses upon it; so that when any locality is in the course of
being won to usefulness, the bittern is the first to depart, and
when any one is abandoned, it is the last to return. 'The bittern
shall dwell there' is the final curse, and implies that the place is
to become uninhabited and uninhabitable. It hears not the whistle of
the ploughman, nor the sound of the mattock; and the tinkle of the
sheep-bell, or the lowing of the ox (although the latter bears so
much resemblance to its own hollow and dismal voice, that it has
given foundation to the name), is a signal for it to be gone.

"Extensive and dingy pools--if moderately upland, so much the
better--which lie in the hollows, catching, like so many traps, the
lighter and more fertile mould which the rains wash and the winds
blow from the naked heights around, and converting it into harsh and
dingy vegetation, and the pasture of those loathsome things which
wriggle in the ooze, or crawl and swim in the putrid and mantling
waters, are the habitation of the bittern.

"Places which scatter blight and mildew over every herb which
is more delicate than a sedge, a carex, or a rush, and consume
every wooded plant that is taller than the sapless and tasteless
cranberry or the weeping upland willow; which shed murrain over the
quadrupeds, chills which eat the flesh off their bones, and which,
if man ventures there, consume him by putrid fever in the hot and
dry season, and shake him to pieces with ague when the weather is
cold and humid.

"Places from which the heath and the lichen stand aloof, and where
even the raven, lover of disease, and battener upon all that expires
miserably and exhausted, comes rarely and with more than wonted
caution, lest that death which he comes to seal and riot upon in
others should unawares come upon himself. The raven loves carrion
on the dry and unpoisoning moor, scents it from afar, and hastens
to it upon his best and boldest wing; but 'the reek o' the rotten
fen' is loathsome to the sense of even the raven, and it is hunger's
last pinch ere he come nigh to the chosen habitation, the only loved
abode, of the bittern."

Secure in its retreat, the Bittern keeps its place even if a
sportsman should pass by the spot on which it crouches. It will not
be tempted to leave its retreat by noise, or even by stone throwing,
for it knows instinctively that the quaking bogland which it selects
as its home is unsafe for the step of man.

The very cry of the Bittern adds to this atmosphere of desolation.
By day the bird is silent, but after the sun has gone down it utters
its strange wild cry, a sound which exactly suits the localities in
which it loves to make its habitation. During part of the year it
only emits a sharp, harsh cry as it rises on the wing, but during
the breeding season it utters the cry by which it summons its mate,
one of the strangest love-calls that can be imagined. It is
something between the neighing of a horse, the bellow of a bull, and
a shriek of savage laughter. It is very loud and deep, so that it
seems to shake the loose and marshy ground. There was formerly an
idea that, when the Bittern uttered this booming cry, it thrust its
bill into the soft ground, and so caused it to shake. In reality,
the cry is uttered on the wing, the bird wheeling in a spiral
flight, and modulating its voice in accordance with the curves which
it describes in the air. This strange sound is only uttered by the
male bird.



Like most of the long-legged wading birds, the Bittern is able
to change its shape, and apparently to alter its size, in an
astonishing manner. When it is walking over the ground, with head
erect and eye glanced vigilantly at surrounding objects, it looks
a large, bold, vigorous, and active bird. Next minute it will sink
its head in its shoulders, so that the long beak seems to project
from them, and the neck totally disappears, the feathers enveloping
each other as perfectly and smoothly as if it never had had a neck.
In this attitude it will stand for an hour at a time on one leg,
with the other drawn close to its body, looking as dull, inert, and
sluggish a bird as can well be imagined, and reduced apparently
to one half of its former size. The Bittern is represented in one
of its extraordinary attitudes on the plate which illustrates the

The nest of the Bittern is placed on the ground, and near the
water, though the bird always takes care to build it on an elevated
spot which will not be flooded if the water should rise by reason
of a severe rain. There is, however, but little reason for the
Bittern to fear a flood, as at the time of year which is chosen
for nest-building the floods are generally out, and the water
higher than is likely to be the case for the rest of the year. The
materials of the nest are found in marshes, and consist of leaves,
reeds, and rushes.

As if to add to the general effect of its character, it is
essentially a solitary bird, and in this characteristic entirely
unlike its relatives the heron and the stork, which are peculiarly
sociable, and love to gather themselves together in multitudes. But
the Bittern is never found except alone, or at the most accompanied
for a time by its mate and one or two young ones.

The localities in which it resides are sufficient evidence of the
nature of its food. Frogs appear to be its favourite diet, but it
also feeds on various fish, insects, molluscs, worms, and similar
creatures. Dull and apathetic as it appears to be, it can display
sufficient energy to capture tolerably large fish. Though the
Bittern is only about two feet in total length, one of these birds
was killed, in the stomach of which were found one perfect rudd
eight inches in length and two in depth, together with the remains
of another fish, of a full-grown frog, and of an aquatic insect.
In another instance, a Bittern had contrived to swallow an eel as
long as itself; while in many cases the remains of five or six
full-grown frogs have been found in the interior of the bird, some
just swallowed, and others in various stages of digestion.

[Illustration: wetland]

[Illustration: THE HERON.]


     The Heron mentioned as an unclean bird--Nesting of the
     Heron--The papyrus marshes and their dangers--Description of the
     papyrus--Vessels of bulrushes.

The name of the Heron is only mentioned twice in the
Scriptures--namely, in the two parallel passages of Lev. xi. 19 and
Deut. xiv. 18; in both of which places the Heron is ranked among the
unclean birds that might not be eaten.

In some of the cases where beasts or birds are prohibited as food,
the prohibition seems scarcely needed. To us of the present day
this seems to be the case with the Heron, as it is never brought to
table. The reason for this disuse of the Heron as food is not that
it is unfit for the table, but that it has become so scarce by the
spread of cultivation and housebuilding, that it has been gradually
abandoned as a practically unattainable article of diet. The flesh
of the Heron, like that of the bittern, is remarkably excellent,
and in the former days, when it was comparatively plentiful, and
falconry was the ordinary amusement of the rich, the Heron formed a
very important dish at every great banquet.

[Illustration: THE HERON.]

The bird, however, must be eaten when young. A gentleman who liked
to try experiments for himself in the matter of food, found that,
if young Herons were properly cooked, they formed a most excellent
dish, equal, in his opinion, to grouse. Wishing to have his own
judgment confirmed by that of others, he had several of them trussed
and dressed like wild geese, and served up at table under that name.
The guests approved greatly of the bird, and compared it to hare,
the resemblance being further increased by the dark colour of the
flesh. There was not the slighest fishy flavour about the bird.
This, however, is apt to be found in the older birds, but can be
removed by burying them in the earth for several days, just as is
done with the solan goose and one or two other sea-birds.

The abundance of birds belonging to the Heron tribe is well shown by
some of the paintings and carvings on Egyptian monuments, in which
various species of Herons and other water-birds are depicted as
living among the papyrus reeds, exactly the locality in which they
are most plentiful at the present day.

Unlike the bittern, the Heron is a most sociable bird, and loves not
only to live, but even to feed, in company with others of its own

I have watched the Herons feeding in close proximity to each other.
The birds were fond of wading stealthily along the edge of the
lake until they came to a suitable spot, where they would stand
immersed in the water up to the thighs, waiting patiently for their
prey. They stood as still as if they were carved out of wood, the
ripples of the lake reflected on their plumage as the breeze ruffled
the surface of the water. Suddenly there would be a quick dive of
the beak, either among the reeds or in the water, and each stroke
signified that the Heron had caught its prey.

Frogs and small fishes are the usual food of the Heron, though it
often grapples with larger prey, having been seen to capture an
eel of considerable size in its beak. Under such circumstances
it leaves the water, with the fish in its mouth, and beats it
violently against a stone so as to kill it. Now and then the bird
is vanquished in the struggle by the fish, several instances being
known in which an eel, in its endeavours to escape, has twisted
itself so tightly round the neck of the bird that both have been
found lying dead on the shore.

In one such case the Heron's beak had struck through the eyes of the
eel, so that the bird could not disengage itself. In another the
Heron had tried to swallow an eel which was much too large for it,
and had been nearly choked by its meal. The eel must necessarily
have been a very large one, as the Heron has a wonderful capacity
for devouring fish. Even when quite young, it can swallow a fish as
large as a herring, and when it is full grown it will eat four or
five large herrings at a meal.

Now when we remember that a man of average appetite finds one
herring to form a very sufficient breakfast, we can easily imagine
what must be the digestive power of a bird which, though very
inferior to man in point of bulk, can eat four times as much at a
meal. Even though the fish be much larger in diameter than the neck
of the bird, the Heron can swallow it as easily as a small snake
swallows a large frog. The neck merely seems to expand as if it were
made of Indiarubber, the fish slips down, and the bird is ready for

[Illustration: THE HOME OF THE HERON.]

Generally the Herons feed after sunset, but I have frequently
seen them busily engaged in catching their prey in full daylight,
when the sunbeams were playing in the water so as to produce the
beautiful rippling effect on the Heron's plumage which has already
been mentioned.

The Heron does not restrict itself to fishes or reptiles, but, like
the bittern, feeds on almost any kind of aquatic animal which comes
within its reach. When it lives near tidal rivers, it feeds largely
on the shrimps, prawns, green crabs, and various other crustacea;
and when it lives far inland, it still makes prey of the fresh-water
shrimps, the water-beetles, and the boat-flies, and similar aquatic
creatures. In fact, it acts much after the fashion of the lions,
tigers, and leopards, which put up with locusts and beetles when
they can find no larger prey.

The long beak of the Heron is not merely an instrument by which it
can obtain food, but is also a weapon of considerable power. When
attacked, it aims a blow at the eye of its opponent, and makes the
stroke with such rapidity that the foe is generally blinded before
perceiving the danger. When domesticated, it has been known to keep
possession of the enclosure in which it lived, and soon to drive
away dogs by the power of its beak. When it is young, it is quite
helpless, its very long legs being unable to support its body,
which is entirely bare of plumage, and has a very unprepossessing

The flight of the Heron is very powerful, its wings being very large
in proportion to its slender body. Sometimes the bird takes to
ascending in a spiral line, and then the flight is as beautiful as
it is strong. When chased by the falcon it mostly ascends in this
manner, each of the two birds trying to rise above the other.

The nest of the Heron is always made on the top of some lofty tree,
whenever the bird builds in places where trees can be found; and as
the bird is an eminently sociable one, a single nest is very seldom
found, the Heron being as fond of society as the rook. In some parts
of Palestine, however, where trees are very scarce, the Heron is
obliged to choose some other locality for its nest, and in that case
prefers the great thickets of papyrus reeds which are found in the
marshes, and which are even more inaccessible than the tops of trees.

One of these marshes is well described by Mr. Tristram in his "Land
of Israel." "The whole marsh is marked in the map as impassable; and
most truly it is so. I never anywhere have met with a swamp so vast
and utterly impenetrable.

"The papyrus extends right across to the east side. A false step off
its roots will take the intruder over head in suffocating peat-mud.
We spent a long time in attempting to effect an entrance, and at
last gave it up, satisfied that the marsh birds were not to be had.
In fact, the whole is simply a floating bog of several miles square;
a very thin crust of vegetation covers an unknown depth of water;
and, if the explorer breaks through this, suffocation is imminent.
Some of the Arabs, who were tilling the plain for cotton, assured us
that even a wild boar never got through it. We shot two bitterns,
but in endeavouring to retrieve them I slipped from the root on
which I was standing, and was drawn down in a moment, only saving
myself from drowning by my gun, which had providentially caught
across a papyrus stem."

It may here be mentioned that the bulrush of Scripture is
undoubtedly the papyrus. The ark or basket of bulrushes, lined with
slime and pitch, in which Moses was laid, was made of the papyrus,
which at the present day is used for the manufacture of baskets,
mats, sandals, and for the thatching of houses. Many tribes which
inhabit the banks of the Nile make simple boats, or rather rafts,
of the papyrus, which they cut and tie in bundles; and it is worthy
of notice that the Australian native makes a reed boat in almost
exactly the same manner.

Compare Is. xviii. 1, 2: "Woe to the land shadowing with wings,
which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.

"That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes."
Did we not know that vessels are actually made of bulrushes at the
present day, a custom which has survived from very ancient times,
we might find a difficulty in understanding this passage, while the
meaning is intelligible enough when it is viewed by the light of
the knowledge that the Ethiopian of the present day takes gold, and
ivory, and other merchandise down the Nile in his boat of papyrus
(or bulrush) reeds tied together.

[Illustration: THE PAPYRUS PLANT.]

The papyrus runs from ten to fifteen or sixteen feet in height, so
that the Herons are at no loss for suitable spots whereon to place
their nests. From the name "papyrus" our word paper is derived. The
stems of the plant, after having been split into thin slices, joined
together, and brought to a smooth surface, formed the paper upon
which the ancient Egyptians wrote.

The Egrets, which are probably included under the generic title
of Anâphah, are birds of passage, and at the proper season are
plentiful in Palestine. These pretty birds much resemble the heron
in general form, and in general habits both birds are very much
alike, haunting the marshes and edges of lakes and streams, and
feeding upon the frogs and other inhabitants of the water. In
countries where rice is cultivated, the Egret may generally be seen
in the artificial swamps in which that plant is sown. The colour
of the Egret is pure white, with the exception of the train. This
consists of a great number of long slender feathers of a delicate
straw colour. Like those which form the train of the peacock, they
fall over the feathers of the tail, and entirely conceal them.

[Illustration: jungle scene]


     Various passages in which the Crane is mentioned--Its migratory
     habits, and loud voice--Geographical range of the Crane--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

In the description of the dove and the swallow two passages have
been quoted in which the name of the CRANE is mentioned, one
referring to its voice, and the other to its migratory instinct. The
first passage occurs in Isa. xxxviii. 14: "Like a crane or swallow,
so did I chatter;" and the other in Jer. viii. 7: "The turtle and
the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming."

[Illustration: THE CRANE.]

It is rather remarkable that in both these cases the word "Crane" is
used in connexion with the swallow, or rather the swift, and that in
both instances the names of the birds should have been interchanged.
If we refer to the original of these passages, we shall find that
the former of them would run thus, "Like a _sis_ or an _agur_," and
the latter thus, "The turtle and the _sis_ and the _agur_." That in
these passages the interpretation of the words _sis_ and _agur_ have
been interchanged has already been mentioned, and, as the former
has been described under the name of swallow or swift, we shall now
treat of the latter under the title of Crane.

The species here mentioned is the common Crane, a bird which has a
very wide range, and which seeks a warm climate on the approach of

The Crane performs its annual migrations in company, vast flocks of
many thousand individuals passing like great clouds at an immense
height, whence their trumpet-like cry is audible for a great
distance round, and attracts the ear if not the eye to them. Thus we
have at a glance both the characteristics to which reference is made
in the Scriptures, namely, the noisy cry and the habit of migration.

It is a very gregarious bird, associating with its comrades in
flocks, just as do the starlings and rooks of our own country,
and, like these birds, has favourite roosting-places in which it
passes the night. When evening approaches, the Cranes may be seen in
large flocks passing to their roosting-places, and, on account of
their great size, having a very strange effect. A fair-sized Crane
will measure seven feet across the expanded wings, so that even a
solitary bird has a very imposing effect when flying, while that of
a large flock of Cranes on the wing is simply magnificent.

The spots which the Crane selects for its roosting-places are
generally of the same character. Being in some respects a wary bird,
though it is curiously indifferent in others, it will not roost
in any place near bushes, rocks, or other spots which might serve
to conceal an enemy. The locality most favoured by the Crane is a
large, smooth, sloping bank, far from any spot wherein an enemy
may be concealed. The birds keep a careful watch during the night,
and it is impossible for any foe to approach them without being
discovered. The Crane is noisy on the wing, and, whether it be
soaring high over head on its long migratory journeys, or be merely
flying at dusk to its roosting-place, it continually utters its
loud, clangorous cry.

The food of the Crane is much like that of the heron, but in
addition to the frogs, fish, worms, and insects, it eats vegetable
substances. Sometimes it is apt to get into cultivated grounds,
and then does much damage to the crops, pecking up the ground with
its long beak, partly for the sake of the worms, grubs, and other
creatures, and partly for the sake of the sprouting seeds.

Although by reason of its scarcity the Crane has been abandoned as
food, its flesh is really excellent, and in former days was valued
very highly.

Like the egret, the Crane is remarkable for the flowing plumes of
the back, which fall over the tail feathers, and form a train. These
feathers are much used as plumes, both for purposes of dress and as
brushes or flappers wherewith to drive off the flies. By reason of
this conformation, some systematic zoologists have thought that it
has some affinity to the ostrich, the rhœa, and similar birds,
and that the resemblance is strengthened by the structure of the
digestive organs, which are suited to vegetable as well as animal
substances, the stomach being strong and muscular.

The peculiar voice of the Crane, which it is so fond of using,
and to which reference is made in the Scriptures, is caused by a
peculiar structure of the windpipe, which is exceedingly long,
and, instead of going straight to the lungs, undergoes several
convolutions about the breast-bone, and then proceeds to the lungs.

The Crane makes its nest on low ground, generally among osiers or
reeds, and it lays only two eggs, pale olive in colour, dashed
profusely with black and brown streaks.

[Illustration: water side]

[Illustration: stork]


     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--The Stork always protected.

In the Old Testament there are several passages wherein is mentioned
the word _Chasidah_.

The Authorized Version invariably renders the word _Chasidah_ as
"Stork" and is undoubtedly right.

In Buxtorf's Lexicon there is a curious derivation of the word. He
says that the word _Chasidah_ is derived from _chesed_, a word that
signifies benevolence.

According to some writers, the name was given to the Stork because
it was supposed to be a bird remarkable for its filial piety;
"for the storks in their turn support their parents in their old
age: they allow them to rest their necks on their bodies during
migration, and, if the elders are tired, the young ones take them
on their backs." According to others, the name is given to the
Stork because it exercises kindness towards its companions in
bringing them food; but in all cases the derivation of the word is
acknowledged to be the same.

Partly in consequence of this idea, which is a very old and almost
universal one, and partly on account of the great services rendered
by the bird in clearing the ground of snakes, insects, and garbage,
the Stork has always been protected through the East, as it is to
the present day in several parts of Europe. The slaughter of a
Stork, or even the destruction of its eggs, would be punished with a
heavy fine; and in consequence of the immunity which it enjoys, it
loves to haunt the habitations of mankind.

In many of the Continental towns, where sanitary regulations are not
enforced, the Stork serves the purpose of a scavenger, and may be
seen walking about the market-place, waiting for the offal of fish,
fowls, and the like, which are simply thrown on the ground for the
Storks to eat. In Eastern lands the Stork enjoys similar privileges,
and we may infer that the bird was perfectly familiar both to the
writers of the various Scriptural books in which it was mentioned,
and to the people for whom these books were intended.

When they settle upon a tract of ground, the Storks divide it among
themselves in a manner that seems to have a sort of system in it,
spreading themselves over it with wonderful regularity, each bird
appearing to take possession of a definite amount of ground. By this
mode of proceeding, the ground is rapidly cleared of all vermin; the
Storks examining their allotted space with the keenest scrutiny,
and devouring every reptile, mouse, worm, grub, or insect that they
can find on it. Sometimes they will spread themselves in this
manner over a vast extent of country, arriving suddenly, remaining
for several months, and departing without giving any sign of their
intention to move.


The wings of the Stork, which are mentioned in Holy Writ, are very
conspicuous, and are well calculated to strike an imaginative mind.
The general colour of the bird is white, while the quill feathers
of the wings are black; so that the effect of the spread wings is
very striking, an adult bird measuring about seven feet across,
when flying. As the body, large though it may be, is comparatively
light when compared with the extent of wing, the flight is both
lofty and sustained, the bird flying at very great height, and, when
migrating, is literally the "stork in the heavens."

Next we come to the migratory habits of the Stork.

Like the swallow, the Stork resorts year after year to the same
spots; and when it has once fixed on a locality for its nest, that
place will be assuredly taken as regularly as the breeding-season
comes round. The same pair are sure to return to their well-known
home, notwithstanding the vast distances over which they pass, and
the many lands in which they sojourn. Should one of the pair die,
the other finds a mate in a very short time, and thus the same home
is kept up by successive generations of Storks, much as among men
one ancestral mansion is inhabited by a series of members of the
same family.

So well is this known, that when a pair of Storks have made their
nest in a human habitation their return is always expected, and
when they arrive the absentees are welcomed on all sides. In many
countries breeding-places are specially provided for the Storks; and
when one of them is occupied for the first time, the owner of the
house looks upon it as a fortunate omen.

The localities chosen by the Stork for its nest vary according to
the surrounding conditions. The foundation which a Stork requires is
a firm platform, the more elevated the better, but the bird seems to
care little whether this platform be on rocks, buildings, or trees.
If, for example, it builds its nest in craggy places, far from the
habitations of man, it selects some flat ledge for the purpose,
preferring those that are at the extreme tops of the rocks. The
summit of a natural pinnacle is a favourite spot with the Stork.

In many cases the Stork breeds among old ruins, and under such
circumstances it is fond of building its nest on the tops of
pillars or towers, the summits of arches, and similar localities.
When it takes up its abode among mankind, it generally selects the
breeding-places which have been built for it by those who know its
taste, but it frequently chooses the top of a chimney, or some such

Sometimes, however, it is obliged to build in spots where it can
find neither rocks nor buildings, and in such cases it builds on
trees, and, like the heron, is sociable in its nesting, a whole
community residing in a clump of trees. It is not very particular
about the kind of tree, provided that it be tolerably tall, and
strong enough to bear the weight of its enormous nest; and the
reader will at once see that the fir-trees are peculiarly fitted to
be the houses for the Stork.

As may be expected from the localities chosen by the Stork for its
breeding-place, its nest is very large and heavy. It is constructed
with very little skill, and is scarcely more than a huge quantity of
sticks, reeds, and similar substances, heaped together, and having
in the middle a slight depression in which the eggs are laid. These
eggs are usually three, or perhaps four in number, and now and then
a fifth is seen, and are of a very pale buff or cream colour.

As is the case with the heron, the young of the Stork are quite
helpless when hatched, and are most ungainly little beings, with
their long legs doubled under them, unable to sustain their round
and almost naked bodies, while their large beaks are ever gaping for
food. Those of my readers who have had young birds of any kind must
have noticed the extremely grotesque appearance which they possess
when they hold up their heads and cry for food, with their bills
open to an almost incredible extent. In such birds as the Stork,
the heron, and others of the tribe, the grotesque appearance is
exaggerated in proportion to the length and gape of the bill.

The Stork is noted for being a peculiarly kind and loving parent
to its young, in that point fully deserving the derivation of its
Hebrew name, though its love manifests itself towards the young, and
not towards the parent.

The Rev. H. B. Tristram mentions from personal experience an
instance of the watchful care exercised by the Stork over its young.
"The writer was once in camp near an old ruined tower in the plains
of Zana, south of the Atlas, where a pair of storks had their nest.
The four young might often be seen from a little distance, surveying
the prospect from their lonely height, but whenever any of the human
party happened to stroll near the tower, one of the old storks,
invisible before, would instantly appear, and, lighting on the nest,
put its feet gently on the necks of all the young, so as to hold
them down out of sight till the stranger had passed, snapping its
bill meanwhile, and assuming a grotesque air of indifference, as if
unconscious of there being anything under its charge."

The snapping noise which is here mentioned is the only sound
produced by the Stork, which is an absolutely silent bird, as far as
voice is concerned.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is another species of Stork found in Palestine, to which
the fir-trees are especially a home. This is the Black Stork
(_Ciconia nigra_), which in some parts of the country is even more
plentiful than its white relative, which it resembles in almost
every particular, except that it has a dark head and back, the
feathers being glossed with purple and green like those of the
magpie. This species, which is undoubtedly included in the Hebrew
word _chasidah_, always makes its nest on trees whenever it can find
them, and in some of the more densely wooded parts of Palestine is
in consequence plentiful, placing its nest in the deepest parts of
the forests. When it cannot obtain trees, it will build its nest on
rocky ledges. It lays two or three eggs of a greenish white colour.

Like the preceding species, the Black Stork is easily domesticated.
Colonel Montague kept one which was very tame, and would follow
its keeper like a dog. Its tameness enabled its proceedings to be
closely watched, and its mode of feeding was thereby investigated.
It was fond of examining the rank grass and mud for food, and while
doing so always kept its bill a little open, so as to pounce down at
once on any insect or reptile that it might disturb.

Eels were its favourite food, and it was such an adept at catching
them that it was never seen to miss one, no matter how small or
quick it might be. As soon as it had caught one of these active
fish, it went to some dry place, and then disabled its prey by
shaking and beating it against the ground before swallowing it,
whereas many birds that feed on fish swallow their prey as soon
as it is caught. The Stork was never seen to swim as the heron
sometimes does, but it would wade as long as it could place its feet
on the bed of the stream, and would strain its head and the whole of
its neck under water in searching for fish.

[Illustration: A NEST OF THE WHITE STORK.]

It was of a mild and peaceable disposition, and, even if angered,
did not attempt to bite or strike with its beak, but only denoted
its displeasure by blowing the air sharply from its lungs, and
nodding its head repeatedly. After the manner of Storks, it always
chose an elevated spot on which to repose, and took its rest
standing on one leg, with its head so sunk among the feathers of its
shoulders that scarcely any part of it was visible, the hinder part
of the head resting on the back, and the bill lying on the fore-part
of the neck.

Though the bird is so capable of domestication, it does not of its
own accord haunt the dwellings of men, like the White Stork, but
avoids the neighbourhood of houses, and lives in the most retired
places it can find.


     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.

In the two parallel chapters of Lev. xi. 18 and Deut. xiv. 16, the
Hebrew word _tinshemeth_ is found, and evidently signifies some
kind of bird which was forbidden as food. After stating (Lev. xi.
13) that "these are they which ye shall have in abomination among
the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination," the
sacred lawgiver proceeds to enumerate a number of birds, nearly all
of which have already been described. Among them occurs the name of
_tinshemeth_, between the great owl and the pelican.

What was the precise species of bird which was signified by this
name it is impossible to say, but there is no doubt that it could
not have been the Swan, according to the rendering of the Authorized
Version. The Swan is far too rare a bird in Palestine to have been
specially mentioned in the law of Moses, and in all probability it
was totally unknown to the generality of the Israelites. Even had
it been known to them, and tolerably common, there seems to be no
reason why it should have been reckoned among the list of unclean

On turning to the Hebrew Bible, we find that the word is left
untranslated, and simply given in its Hebrew form, thereby
signifying that the translators could form no opinion whatever of
the proper rendering of the word. The Septuagint translates the
Tinshemeth as the Porphyrio or Ibis, and the Vulgate follows the
same rendering. Later naturalists have agreed that the Septuagint
and Vulgate have the far more probable reading; and, as two birds
are there mentioned, they will be both described.


The first is the Porphyrio, by which we may understand the
HYACINTHINE GALLINULE (_Porphyrio veterum_). All the birds of this
group are remarkable for the enormous length of their toes, by means
of which they are enabled to walk upon the loose herbage that floats
on the surface of the water as firmly as if they were treading
on land. Their feet are also used, like those of the parrots, in
conveying food to the mouth. We have in England a very familiar
example of the Gallinules in the common water-hen, or moor-hen,
the toes of which are of great proportionate length, though not so
long as those of the Purple Gallinule, which almost rivals in this
respect the jacanas of South America and China. The water-rail, and
corncrake or land-rail, are also allied to the Gallinules.

The Hyacinthine Gallinule derives its name from its colour, which is
a rich and variable blue, taking a turquoise hue on the head, neck,
throat, and breast, and deep indigo on the back. The large bill and
the legs are red. Like many other birds, however, it varies much in
colour according to age.

It has a very wide geographical range, being found in many parts of
Europe, Asia, and Africa, and is common in the marshy districts of
Palestine, where its rich blue plumage and its large size, equalling
that of a duck, render it very conspicuous. The large and powerful
bill of this bird betokens the nature of its food, which consists
almost entirely of hard vegetable substances, the seeds of aquatic
herbage forming a large portion of its diet. When it searches for
food on the seashore, it eats the marine vegetation, mixing with
this diet other articles of an animal nature, such as molluscs and
small reptiles.

Though apparently a clumsy bird, it moves with wonderful speed,
running not only swiftly but gracefully, its large feet being no
hindrance to the rapidity of its movements. It is mostly found in
shallow marshes, where the construction of its feet enables it to
traverse both the soft muddy ground and the patches of firm earth
with equal ease. Its wings, however, are by no means equal to its
legs either in power or activity; and, like most of the rail tribe,
it never takes to the air unless absolutely obliged to do so.

The nest of the Hyacinthine Gallinule is made on the sedge-patches
which dot the marshes, much like that of the coot. The nest, too,
resembles that of the coot, being composed of reeds, sedges, and
other aquatic plants. The eggs are three or four in number, white in
colour, and nearly spherical in form.

As the Ibis has an equal claim to the title of Tinshemeth we will
devote a few lines to a description of the bird. The particular
species which would be signified by the word _tinshemeth_ would
undoubtedly be the WHITE or SACRED IBIS (_Ibis religiosa_), a bird
which derives its name of Sacred from the reverence with which it
was held by the ancient Egyptians, and the frequency with which its
figure occurs in the monumental sculptures. It was also thought
worthy of being embalmed, and many mummies of the Ibis have been
found in the old Egyptian burial-places, having been preserved for
some three thousand years.

It is about as large as an ordinary hen, and, as its name imports,
has the greater part of its plumage white, the ends of the
wing-feathers and the coverts being black, with violet reflections.
The long neck is black and bare, and has a most curious aspect,
looking as if it were made of an old black kid glove, very much
crumpled, but still retaining its gloss.

The reason for the extreme veneration with which the bird was
regarded by the ancient Egyptians seems rather obscure. It is
probable, however, that the partial migration of the bird was
connected in their minds with the rise of the Nile, a river as
sacred to the old Egyptians as the Ganges to the modern Hindoo. As
soon as the water begins to rise, the Ibis makes its appearance,
sometimes alone, and sometimes in small troops. It haunts the banks
of the river, and marshy places in general, diligently searching for
food by the aid of its long bill. It can fly well and strongly, and
it utters at intervals a rather loud cry, dipping its head at every


     The word _Shâlâk_ and its signification--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.

Although in the Authorized Version of the Scriptures the word
Cormorant occurs three times, there is no doubt that in two of the
passages the Hebrew word ought to have been rendered as Pelican, as
we shall see when we come presently to the description of that bird.

In the two parallel passages, Lev. xi. 17 and Deut. xiv. 17, a
creature called the Shâlâk is mentioned in the list of prohibited
meats. That the Shâlâk must be a bird is evident from the context,
and we are therefore only left to discover what sort of bird it may
be. On looking at the etymology of the word we find that it is
derived from a root which signifies hurling or casting down, and we
may therefore presume that the bird is one which plunges or sweeps
down upon its prey.

Weighing, carefully, the opinions of the various Hebraists and
naturalists, we may safely determine that the word _shâlâk_ has been
rightly translated in the Authorized Version. The Hebrew Bible gives
the same reading, and does not affix the mark of doubt to the word,
though there are very few of the long list of animals in Lev. xi.
and Deut. xiv. which are not either distinguished by the mark of
doubt, or, like the Tinshemeth, are left untranslated.

The Cormorant belongs to the family of the pelicans, the
relationship between them being evident to the most unpractised eye;
and the whole structure of the bird shows its admirable adaptation
for the life which it leads.

Its long beak enables it to seize even a large fish, while the
hook at the end prevents the slippery prey from escaping. The
long snake-like neck gives the bird the power of darting its beak
with great rapidity, and at the same time allows it to seize
prey immediately to the right or left of its course. Its strong,
closely-feathered wings enable it to fly with tolerable speed,
while at the same time they can be closed so tightly to the body
that they do not hinder the progress of the bird through the water;
while the tail serves equally when spread to direct its course
through the air, and when partially or entirely closed to act as a
rudder in the water. Lastly, its short powerful legs, with their
broadly-webbed feet, act as paddles, by which the bird urges itself
through the water with such wonderful speed that it can overtake and
secure the fishes even in their own element. Besides these outward
characteristics, we find that the bird is able to make a very
long stay under water, the lungs being adapted so as to contain a
wonderful amount of air.

The Cormorant has been trained to play the same part in the water
as the falcon in the air, and has been taught to catch fish, and
bring them ashore for its master. So adroit are they, that if one
of them should catch a fish which is too heavy for it, another bird
will come to its assistance, and the two together will bring the
struggling prey to land. Trained birds of this description have been
employed in China from time immemorial.

In order to prevent it from swallowing the fish which it takes, each
bird has a ring or ligature passed round its neck.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Cormorant is a most voracious bird, swallowing a considerable
weight of fish at a meal, and digesting them so rapidly that it is
soon ready for another supply. Although it is essentially a marine
bird, hunger often takes it inland, especially to places where there
are lakes or large rivers.

While the ducks and teal and widgeons may be stationary on the
pool, the cormorant is seen swimming to and fro, as if in quest of
something. First raising his body nearly perpendicular, down he
plunges into the deep, and, after staying there a considerable time,
he is sure to bring up a fish, which he invariably swallows head
foremost. Sometimes half an hour elapses before he can manage to
accommodate a large eel quietly in his stomach.

You see him straining violently with repeated efforts to gulp it;
and when you fancy that the slippery mouthful is successfully
disposed of, all on a sudden the eel retrogrades upwards from its
dismal sepulchre, struggling violently to escape. The cormorant
swallows it again, and up again it comes, and shows its tail a foot
or more out of its destroyer's mouth. At length, worn out with
ineffectual writhings and slidings, the eel is gulped down into the
cormorant's stomach for the last time, there to meet its dreaded and
inevitable fate.

Mr. Fortune gives a very interesting account of the feeding of tame
Cormorants in China. The birds preferred eels to all other food,
and, in spite of the difficulty in swallowing the slippery and
active creature, would not touch another fish as long as an eel
was left. The bird is so completely at home in the water that it
does not need, like the heron and other aquatic birds, to bring its
prey ashore in order to swallow it, but can eat fish in the water
as well as catch them. It always seizes the fish crosswise, and is
therefore obliged to turn it before it can swallow the prey with the
head downwards. Sometimes it contrives to turn the fish while still
under water, but, if it should fail in so doing, it brings its prey
to the surface, and shifts it about in its bill, making a series of
little snatches at it until the head is in the right direction. When
it seizes a very large fish, the bird shakes its prey just as a dog
shakes a rat, and so disables it. It is said to eat its own weight
of fish in a single day.

Sometimes, when it has been very successful or exceptionally hungry,
it loads itself with food to such an extent that it becomes almost
insensible during the process of digestion, and, although naturally
a keen-eyed and wary bird, allows itself to be captured by hand.

The nest of the Cormorant is always upon a rocky ledge, and generally
on a spot which is inaccessible except by practised climbers
furnished with ropes, poles, hooks, and other appurtenances. Mr.
Waterton mentions that when he descended the Raincliff, a precipice
some four hundred feet in height, he saw numbers of the nests and
eggs, but could not get at them except by swinging himself boldly
off the face of the cliff, so as to be brought by the return swing
into the recesses chosen by the birds.

The nests are mostly placed in close proximity to each other, and
are made of sticks and seaweeds, and, as is usual with such nests,
are very inartificially constructed. The eggs are of a greenish
white on the outside, and green on the inside. When found in the
nest, they are covered with a sort of chalky crust, so that the
true colour is not perceptible until the crust is scraped off. Two
to four eggs are generally laid in, or rather on, each nest. As may
be imagined from the character of the birds' food, the odour of the
nesting-place is most horrible.

Sometimes, when rocks cannot be found, the Cormorant is obliged to
select other spots for its nest. It is mentioned in the "Proceedings
of the Zoological Society," that upon an island in the midst of
a large lake there were a number of Scotch fir-trees, upon the
branches of which were about eighty nests of the Cormorant.

The flesh of the Cormorant is very seldom eaten, as it has a fishy
flavour which is far from agreeable. To eat an old Cormorant is
indeed almost impossible, but the young birds may be rendered edible
by taking them as soon as killed, skinning them, removing the whole
of the interior, wrapping them in cloths, and burying them for some
time in the ground.


     The Pelican of the wilderness--Attitudes of the bird--Its love
     of solitude--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.

It has been mentioned that in two passages of Scripture, the word
which is translated in the Authorized Version as Cormorant, ought
to have been rendered as PELICAN. These, however, are not the first
passages in which we meet with the word _kaath_. The name occurs in
the two parallel passages of Lev. xi. and Deut. xiv. among the list
of birds which are proscribed as food. Passing over them, we next
come to Ps. cii. 6. In this passage, the sacred writer is lamenting
his 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

In these sentences, we see that the Kaath was a bird of solitude
that was to be found in the "wilderness," _i.e._ far from the
habitations of man. This is one of the characteristics of the
Pelican, which loves not the neighbourhood of human beings, and is
fond of resorting to broad, uncultivated lands, where it will not be

In them it makes its nest and hatches its young, and to them it
retires after feeding, in order to digest in quiet the ample meal
which it has made. Mr. Tristram well suggests that the metaphor of
the Psalmist may allude to the habit common to the Pelican and its
kin, of sitting motionless for hours after it has gorged itself with
food, its head sunk on its shoulders, and its bill resting on its

This is but one of the singular, and often grotesque, attitudes in
which the Pelican is in the habit of indulging.

[Illustration: THE PELICAN.]

There are before me a number of sketches made of the Pelicans at the
Zoological Gardens, and in no two cases does one attitude in the
least resemble another. In one sketch the bird is sitting in the
attitude which has just been described. In another it is walking, or
rather staggering, along, with its head on one side, and its beak
so closed that hardly a vestige of its enormous pouch can be seen.
Another sketch shows the same bird as it appeared when angry with
a companion, and scolding its foe in impotent rage; while another
shows it basking in the sun, with its magnificent wings spread and
shaking in the warm beams, and its pouch hanging in folds from its

One of the most curious of these sketches shows the bird squatting
on the ground, with its head drawn back as far as possible, and
sunk so far among the feathers of the back and shoulders that only
a portion of the head itself can be seen, while the long beak is
hidden, except an inch or two of the end. In this attitude it might
easily be mistaken at a little distance for an oval white stone.

The derivation of the Hebrew word _kaath_ is a very curious one. It
is taken from a verb signifying "to vomit," and this derivation has
been explained in different ways.

The early writers, who were comparatively ignorant of natural
history, thought that the Pelican lived chiefly on molluscs, and
that, after digesting the animals, it rejected their shells, just as
the owl and the hawk reject the bones, fur, and feathers of their

They thought that the Pelican was a bird of a hot temperament, and
that the molluscs were quickly digested by the heat of the stomach.

At the present day, however, knowing as we do the habits of the
Pelican, we find that, although the reasons just given are faulty,
and that the Pelican lives essentially on fish, and not on molluscs,
the derivation of the word is really a good one, and that those
who gave the bird the name of Kaath, or the vomiter, were well
acquainted with its habits.

The bird certainly does eat molluscs, but the principal part of its
diet is composed of fish, which it catches dexterously by a sort
of sidelong snatch of its enormous bill. The skin under the lower
part of the beak is so modified that it can form, when distended,
an enormous pouch, capable of holding a great quantity of fish,
though, as long as it is not wanted, the pouch is so contracted into
longitudinal folds as to be scarcely perceptible. When it has filled
the pouch, it usually retires from the water, and flies to a retired
spot, often many miles inland, where it can sit and digest at its
ease the enormous meal which it has made.

As it often chooses its breeding-places in similar spots, far from
the water, it has to carry the food with which it nourishes its
young for many miles. For this purpose it is furnished, not only
with the pouch which has been just mentioned, but with long, wide,
and very powerful wings, often measuring from twelve to thirteen
feet from tip to tip. No one, on looking at a Pelican as it waddles
about or sits at rest, would imagine the gigantic dimensions of
the wings, which seem, as the bird spreads them, to have almost as
unlimited a power of expansion as the pouch.

In these two points the true Pelicans present a strong contrast to
the cormorants, though birds closely allied. The cormorant has its
home close by the sea, and therefore needs not to carry its food
for any distance. Consequently, it needs no pouch, and has none.
Neither does it require the great expanse of wing which is needful
for the Pelican, that has to carry such a weight of fish through
the air. Accordingly, the wings, though strong enough to enable the
bird to carry for a short distance a single fish of somewhat large
size, are comparatively short and closely feathered, and the flight
of the cormorant possesses neither the grace nor the power which
distinguishes that of the Pelican.

When the Pelican feeds its young, it does so by pressing its beak
against its breast, so as to force out of it the enclosed fish.
Now the tip of the beak is armed, like that of the cormorant, with
a sharply-curved hook, only, in the case of the Pelican, the hook
is of a bright scarlet colour, looking, when the bird presses the
beak against the white feathers of the breast, like a large drop of
blood. Hence arose the curious legend respecting the Pelican, which
represented it as feeding its young with its own blood, and tearing
open its breast with its hooked bill. We find that this legend is
exemplified by the oft-recurring symbol of the "Pelican feeding its
young" in ecclesiastical art, as an emblem of Divine love.

This is one of the many instances in which the inventive, poetical,
inaccurate Oriental mind has seized some peculiarity of form, and
based upon it a whole series of fabulous legends. As long as they
restricted themselves to the appearance and habits of the animals
with which they were familiarly acquainted, the old writers were
curiously full, exact, and precise in their details. But as soon as
they came to any creature of whose mode of life they were entirely
or partially ignorant, they allowed their inventive faculties full
scope, and put forward as zoological facts statements which were
the mere creation of their own fancy. We have already seen several
examples of this propensity, and shall find more as we proceed with
the zoology of the Scriptures.

The fabulous legends of the Pelican are too numerous to be even
mentioned, but there is one which deserves notice, because it is
made the basis of an old Persian fable.

The writer of the legend evidently had some partial knowledge of the
bird. He knew that it had a large pouch which could hold fish and
water; that it had large and powerful wings; and that it was in the
habit of flying far inland, either for the purpose of digesting its
food or nourishing its young. Knowing that the Pelican is in the
habit of choosing solitary spots in which it may bring up its young
in safety, but not knowing the precise mode of its nesting, the
writer in question has trusted to his imagination, and put forward
his theories as facts.

Knowing that the bird dwells in "the wilderness," he has assumed
that the wilderness in question is a sandy, arid desert, far from
water, and consequently from vegetation. Such being the case, the
nurture of the Pelican's young is evidently a difficult question.
Being aquatic birds, the young must needs require water for drink
and bathing, as well as fish for food; and, though a supply of
both these necessaries could be brought in the ample pouches of
the parents, they would be wasted unless some mode of storing were

Accordingly, the parent birds were said to make their nest in a
hollow tree, and to line it with clay, or to build it altogether of
clay, so as to leave a deep basin. This basin the parent birds were
said to use as a sort of store-pond, bringing home supplies of fish
and water in their pouches, and pouring them into the pond. The wild
beasts who lived in the desert were said to be acquainted with these
nests, and to resort to them daily in order to quench their thirst,
repaying their entertainers by protecting their homes.

In real fact, the Pelican mostly breeds near water, and is fond of
selecting little rocky islands where it cannot be approached without
danger. The nest is made on the ground, and is formed in a most
inartificial manner of reeds and grass, the general mass of the
nest being made of the reeds, and the lining being formed of grass.
The eggs are white, of nearly the same shape at both ends, and are
from two to five in number. On an average, however, each nest will
contain about two eggs.

The parent birds are very energetic in defence of their eggs or
young, and, according to Le Vaillant, when approached they are "like
furious harpies let loose against us, and their cries rendered us
almost deaf. They often flew so near us that they flapped their
wings in our faces, and, though we fired our pieces repeatedly, we
were not able to frighten them." When the well-known naturalist
Sonnerat tried to drive a female Pelican from her nest, she appeared
not to be frightened, but angry. She would not move from her nest,
and when he tried to push her off, she struck at him with her long
bill and uttered cries of rage.

In order to aid the bird in carrying the heavy weights with which
it loads itself, the whole skeleton is permeated with air, and is
exceedingly light. Beside this, the whole cellular system of the
bird is honeycombed with air-cells, so that the bulk of the bird
can be greatly increased, while its weight remains practically
unaltered, and the Pelican becomes a sort of living balloon.

The habit of conveying its food inland before eating it is so
characteristic of the Pelican that other birds take advantage of
it. In some countries there is a large hawk which robs the Pelican,
just as the bald-headed eagle of America robs the osprey. Knowing
instinctively that when a Pelican is flying inland slowly and
heavily and with a distended pouch it is carrying a supply of food
to its home, the hawk dashes at it, and frightens it so that the
poor bird opens its beak, and gives up to the assailant the fish
which it was bearing homewards.

It is evident that the wings which are needed for supporting such
weights, and which, as we have seen, exceed twelve feet in length
from tip to tip, would be useless in the water, and would hinder
rather than aid the bird if it attempted to dive as the close-winged
cormorant does. Accordingly, we find that the Pelican is not a
diver, and, instead of chasing its finny prey under water, after
the manner of the cormorant, it contents itself with scooping up
in its beak the fishes which come to the surface of the water. The
very buoyancy of its body would prevent it from diving as does the
cormorant, and, although it often plunges into the water so fairly
as to be for a moment submerged, it almost immediately rises, and
pursues its course on the surface of the water, and not beneath it.
Like the cormorant, the Pelican can perch on trees, though it does
not select such spots for its roosting-places, and prefers rocks to
branches. In one case, however, when some young Pelicans had been
captured and tied to a stake, their mother used to bring them food
during the day, and at night was accustomed to roost in the branches
of a tree above them.

Though under some circumstances a thoroughly social bird, it is yet
fond of retiring to the most solitary spots in order to consume at
peace the prey that it has captured; and, as it sits motionless and
alone for hours, more like a white stone than a bird, it may well be
accepted as a type of solitude and desolation.

The colour of the common Pelican is white, with a very slight
pinky tinge, which is most conspicuous in the breeding season. The
feathers of the crest are yellow, and the quill feathers of the
wings are jetty black, contrasting well with the white plumage of
the body. The pouch is yellow, and the upper part of the beak bluish
grey, with a red line running across the middle, and a bright red
hook at the tip. This plumage belongs only to the adult bird, that
of the young being ashen grey, and four or five years are required
before the bird puts on its full beauty. There is no difference in
the appearance of the sexes. The illustration represents a fine old
male Crested Pelican. The general colour is a greyish white, with a
slight yellowish tint on the breast. The pouch is bright orange, and
the crest is formed of curling feathers.

[Illustration: scene]

[Illustration: reptile]


[Illustration: scene]

[Illustration: tortoise]


     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 food, and localities which it

We now come to a different class of animated beings. In Levit. xi.
29, there occurs among the list of unclean beasts a word which is
translated in the Authorized Version as "tortoise." The word is
_Tzab_, and is rendered in the Hebrew Bible as "lizard," but with
the mark of doubt affixed to it. As the correct translation of the
word is very dubious, we shall examine it in both these senses.

The common Tortoise is very common in Palestine, and is so plentiful
that it would certainly have been used by the Israelites as food,
had it not been prohibited by law. At the present day it is cooked
and eaten by the inhabitants of the country who are not Jews, and
its eggs are in as great request as those of the fowl.

These eggs are hard, nearly spherical, thick-shelled, and covered
with minute punctures, giving them a roughness like that of a file.
In captivity the Tortoise is very careless about the mode in which
they are deposited, and I have seen a large yard almost covered
with eggs laid by Tortoises and abandoned. The white or albumen of
the egg is so stiff and gelatinous that to empty one of them without
breaking the shell is a difficult task, and the yolk is very dark,
and covered with minute spots of black. When fresh the eggs are as
good as those of the fowl, and many persons even think them better;
the only drawback being that their small size and thick shell cause
considerable trouble in eating them.


The flesh of the Tortoise is eaten, not only by human beings, but by
birds, such as the lämmergeier. In order to get at the flesh of the
Tortoise, they carry it high in the air and drop it on the ground so
as to break the shell to pieces, should the reptile fall on a stone
or rock. If, as is not often the case in such a rocky land as that
of Palestine, it should fall on a soft spot, the bird picks it up,
soars aloft, and drops it again.

The Tortoises have no teeth, but yet are able to crop the herbage
with perfect ease. In lieu of teeth the edges of the jaws are
sharp-edged and very hard, so that they cut anything that comes
between them like a pair of shears. Leaves that are pulpy and
crisp are bitten through at once, but those that are thin, tough,
and fibrous are rather torn than bitten, the Tortoise placing its
feet upon them, and dragging them to pieces with its jaws. The
carnivorous Tortoises have a similar habit, as we shall presently

[Illustration: WATER TORTOISE.]

This is the species from whose deliberate and slow movements the
familiar metaphor of "slow as a Tortoise" was derived, and it is
this species which is the hero of the popular fable of the "Hare and
the Tortoise." Many of the reptiles are very slow in some things and
astonishingly quick in others. Some of the lizards, for example,
will at one time remain motionless for many hours together, or creep
about with a slow and snail-like progress, while at others they
dart from spot to spot with such rapidity that the eye can scarcely
follow their movements. This however is not the case with the
Tortoise, which is always slow, and, but for the defensive armour in
which it is encased, would long ago have been extirpated.

During the whole of the summer months it may be seen crawling
deliberately among the herbage, eating in the same deliberate style
which characterises all its movements, and occasionally resting in
the same spot for many hours together, apparently enjoying the warm
beams of the sunshine.

As winter approaches, it slowly scrapes a deep hole in the ground,
and buries itself until the following spring awakes it once more to
active life. The depth of its burrow depends on the severity of the
winter, for, as the cold increases, the Tortoise sinks itself more
deeply into the earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mention has been made of a species of Tortoise that inhabits the
water. This is the CASPIAN EMYS (_Emys caspica_), a small species,
measuring about six inches in length. It belongs to the large family
of the Terrapins, several of which are so well known in America, and
has a long, retractile neck, very sharp jaws, and webbed feet, and a
well-developed tail.

The body is flattish, and the colour is olive, with lines of yellow
edged with black, and the head is marked with longitudinal streaks
of bright yellow. After the death of the creature these yellow
streaks fade away gradually, and at last become nearly black. The
skin of the head is thin, but very hard. In general appearance it
is not unlike the chicken Tortoise of America, a species which is
often brought to England and kept in captivity, on account of its
hardy nature and the little trouble which is needed for keeping it
in health.

I have kept specimens of the Caspian Emys for some time, and found
them to be more interesting animals than they at first promised
to be. They were active, swimming with considerable speed, and
snatching quickly at anything which they fancied might be food.

They were exceedingly voracious, consuming daily a quantity of meat
apparently disproportioned to their size, and eating it in a manner
that strongly reminded me of the mole when engaged on a piece of
meat or the body of a bird or mouse. The Tortoise would plant its
fore-paws firmly at each side of the meat, seize a mouthful in its
jaws, and, by retracting its head violently, would tear away the
piece which it had grasped.

They are most destructive among fish, and are apt to rise quietly
underneath a fish as it basks near the surface of the water,
grasp it beneath with its sharp-edged jaws, and tear away the
piece, leaving the fish to die. It is rather remarkable that the
Lepidosiren, or mud-fish of the Gambia, destroys fish in a precisely
similar manner, though, as its jaws are much sharper than those of
the Emys, it does not need the aid of fore-paws in biting out its
mouthful of flesh.

Like the land Tortoise, it is one of the hibernators, and during the
winter months buries itself deeply in the earth, choosing for this
purpose the soft, muddy bed or bank of the pond in which it lives.

Its eggs are white, and hard-shelled, but are more oval than those
of the land Tortoise, and both ends are nearly alike. In fact, its
egg might well be mistaken for that of a small pigeon. The shell
has a porcelain-like look, and is very liable to crack, so that the
resemblance is increased.

There is one drawback to these reptiles when kept as pets. They
give out a very unpleasant odour, which is disagreeable to human
nostrils, but is absolutely terrifying to many animals. The monkey
tribe have the strongest objection to these aquatic Tortoises. I
once held one of them towards a very tame chimpanzee, much to his
discomfiture. He muttered and remonstrated, and retreated as far as
he could, pushing out his lips in a funnel-like form, and showing
his repugnance to the reptile in a manner that could not be mistaken.

Horses seem to be driven almost frantic with terror, not only by the
sight, but by the odour of these Tortoises. In Southern Africa there
are Tortoises closely allied to the Caspian Emys, and having the
same power of frightening horses.

I have read an account of an adventure there with one of those
Tortoises, which I will give. This variety is described as being of
an olive colour. When adult, there is a slight depression on either
side of the vertebral line.

"Some very awkward accidents have occurred to parties from the
terror caused by the fresh-water turtle (_Pelamedusa subrufa_).
Carts have been smashed to fragments, riders thrown, and the utmost
confusion caused by them. It is their smell, and it is certainly
very disagreeable.

"My first acquaintance with the fact was in this wise. I was out
shooting with two young ladies who had volunteered as markers; and,
as you know, all our shooting is done from horseback. I had jumped
off for a shot at some francolins near a knill, or water-hole, and,
after picking up my birds, was coming round the knoll to windward
of the horses. In my path scrambled a turtle. I called out to my
young friends, and told them of my find, on which one of them, in
a hasty voice, said, 'Oh, please, Mr. L., don't touch it; you will
frighten the horses!'

"Of course I laughed at the idea, and picked up the reptile, which
instantly emitted its pungent odour--its means of defence. Though
a long way off, the moment the horses caught the scent, away they
flew, showing terror in every action. The girls, luckily splendid
riders, tugged in vain at the reins; away they went over the Veldt,
leaving me in mortal fear that the yawning 'aard-vark' holes
(_Orycteropus capensis_) would break their necks. My own horse,
which I had hitched to a bush, tore away his bridle, and with the
ends streaming in the wind and the stirrups clashing about him,
sped off home at full gallop, and was only recovered after a severe
chase by my gallant young Amazons, who, after a race of some miles,
succeeded in checking their affrighted steeds and in securing my
runaway. But for some hours after, if I ventured to windward, there
were wild-looking eyes and cocked ears--the smell of the reptile
clung to me."

Should any of my readers keep any of those water Tortoises, they
will do well to supply them plentifully with food, to give them an
elevated rocky perch on which they can scramble, and on which they
will sit for hours so motionless that at a little distance they can
scarcely be distinguished from the stone on which they rest. They
should also be weighed at regular intervals, as decrease of weight
is a sure sign that something is wrong, and, as a general rule, is
an almost certain precursor of death.

This little reptile is not without its legends. According to the old
writers on natural history, it is of exceeding use to vine-growers
in the season when there is excess of rain or hail. Whenever the
owner of a vineyard sees a black cloud approaching, all he has to do
is, to take one of these Tortoises, lay it on its back, and carry it
round the vineyard. He must then go into the middle of the ground
and lay the reptile on the earth, still on its back; and the effect
of this proceeding would be that the cloud would pass aside from a
place so well protected.

"But," proceeds the narrator, not wishing to be responsible for
the statement, "such diabolical and foolish observations were not
so muche to be remembered in this place, were it not for their
sillinesse, that by knowing them men might learn the weaknesse
of human wisdom when it erreth from the fountain of all science
and true knowledge (which is Divinity), and the most approved
assertions of nature. And so I will say no more in this place of the
sweet-water tortoise."


We now come to the second animal, which may probably be the Tzab of
the Old Testament.

This creature is one of the lizards, and is a very odd-looking
creature. It is certainly not so attractive in appearance that the
Jews might be supposed to desire it as food; but it often happens
that, as is the case with the turtle and iguana, from the most
ungainly, in the latter animal even repulsive, forms are produced
the most delicate meats.

The DHUBB, or EGYPTIAN MASTIGURE, as the lizard is indifferently
called, grows to a considerable size, measuring when adult three
feet in length. Its colour is green, variegated with brown, and is
slightly changeable, though not to the extent that distinguishes
the chameleon. The chief peculiarity of this lizard consists in its
tail, which is covered with a series of whorls or circles of long,
sharply-pointed, hard-edged scales. The very appearance of this tail
suggests its use as a weapon of defence, and it is said that even
the dreaded cerastes is conquered by it, when the lizard and the
snake happen to find themselves occupants of the same hole.

The ancients had a very amusing notion respecting the use of the
spiny tail possessed by the Dhubb and its kin. They had an idea
that, comparatively small though it was, it fed upon cattle, and
that it was able to take them from the herd and drive them to its
home. For this purpose, when it had selected an ox, it jumped on
its back, and by the pricking of its sharp claws drove the animal
to gallop in hope of ridding himself of his tormentor. In order to
guide him in the direction of its home, it made use of its tail,
lashing the ox "to make him go with his rider to the place of his
most fit execution, free from all rescue of his herdsman, or
pastor, or the annoyance of passengers, where, in most cruel and
savage manner, he teareth the limbs and parts one from another till
he be devoured."

This very absurd account is headed by an illustration, which, though
bad in drawing and rude in execution, is yet so bold and truthful
that there is no doubt that it was sketched from the living animal.

As it haunts sandy downs, rocky spots, and similar localities, it
is well adapted for the Holy Land, which is the home of a vast
number of reptiles, especially of those belonging to the lizards. In
the summer time they have the full enjoyment of the hot sunbeams,
in which they delight, and which seem to rouse these cold-blooded
creatures to action, while they deprive the higher animals of all
spirit and energy. In the winter time these very spots afford
localities wherein the lizards can hibernate until the following
spring, and in such a case they furnish the reptiles with secure

Although the Dhubb does not destroy and tear to pieces oxen and
other cattle, it is yet a rather bloodthirsty reptile, and will kill
and devour birds as large as the domestic fowl. Usually, however,
its food consists of beetles and other insects, which it takes

[Illustration: rocks and water]


     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.

The word _Leviathan_ is used in a rather loose manner in the Old
Testament, in some places representing a mammalian of the sea, and
in others signifying a reptile inhabiting the rivers. As in the most
important of these passages the Crocodile is evidently signified, we
will accept that rendering, and consider the Crocodile as being the
Leviathan of Scripture. The Jewish Bible accepts the word Crocodile,
and does not add the mark of doubt.

The fullest account of the Leviathan occurs in Job xli., the whole
of which chapter is given to the description of the terrible
reptile. As the translation of the Jewish Bible differs in some
points from that of the Authorized Version, I shall here give the
former, so that the reader may be able to compare them with each

  "Canst thou draw out a crocodile with a hook, or his tongue with a
        cord which thou lettest down?

  "Canst thou put a reed into his nose, or bore his jaw through with
        a thorn?

  "Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words
        unto thee?

  "Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him as a servant
        for ever?

  "Wilt thou play with him as with a bird, or wilt thou bind him for
        thy maidens?

  "Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him
        among the merchants?

  "Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons, or his head with

  "Lay thine hand upon him, thou wilt no more remember the battle.

  "Behold, the hope of him is in vain; shall not one be cast down at
        the sight of him?

  "None is so fierce that dare stir him up; who then is able to stand
        before Me?

  "Who hath forestalled Me that I should repay him? whatsoever is
        under the whole heaven is Mine.

  "I will not be silent of his parts, nor of the matter of his power,
        nor of his comely proportion.

  "Who can uncover the face of his garment? who would enter the double
        row in his jaw?

  "Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round

  "The strength of his shields are his pride, shut up together as
        with a close seal.

  "One is so near to another that no air can come between them.

  "They are joined one to another, they stick together that they
        cannot be sundered.

  "His snortings make light to shine, and his eyes are like the
        eyelids of the morning dawn.

  "Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or

  "His breath kindleth live coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.

  "In his neck abideth strength, and before him danceth terror.

  "The flakes of his flesh are joined together, they are firm in
        themselves; yea, as hard as nether millstone.

  "When he raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid; by reason of
        breakings they lose themselves.

  "The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the
        dart, nor the habergeon.

  "He esteemeth iron as straw, and copper as rotten wood.

  "The arrow cannot make him flee: sling-stones are turned with him
        into stubble.

  "Clubs are counted as stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.


  "His under parts are like sharp points of potsherd; he speaketh
        sharp points upon the mire.

  "He maketh the deep to boil like a pot; he maketh the sea like a pot
        of ointment.

  "He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be

  "Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.

  "He beholdeth all high things; he is a king over all the children
        of pride."

This splendid description points as clearly to the Crocodile as the
description of the Behemoth which immediately precedes it does to
the hippopotamus, and it is tolerably evident that the sacred poet
who wrote these passages must have been personally acquainted with
both the Crocodile and the hippopotamus. In both descriptions there
are a few exaggerations, or rather, poetical licences. For example,
the bones of the hippopotamus are said to be iron and copper, and
the Crocodile is said to kindle live coals with his breath. These,
however, are but the natural imagery of an Oriental poet, and,
considering the subject, we may rather wonder that the writer has
not introduced even more fanciful metaphors.


There are several species of Crocodile in different parts of the
world, ten species at least being known to science.

Some inhabit India, some tropical America, some Asia, and some
Africa, so that the genus is represented in nearly all the warmer
parts of the world.

They are all known by the formation of the teeth, the lower canines
fitting each into a notch on the side of the upper jaw. The feet are
webbed to the tips, and though the reptile mostly propels itself
through the water by means of its tail, it can also paddle itself
gently along by means of its feet.

The teeth are all made for snatching and tearing, but not for
masticating, the Crocodile swallowing its prey entire when possible;
and when the animal is too large to be eaten entire, the reptile
tears it to pieces, and swallows the fragments without attempting to
masticate them.

In order to enable it to open its mouth under water, the back
of its throat is furnished with a very simple but beautiful
contrivance, whereby the water is received on a membranous valve
and, in proportion to its pressure, closes the orifice of the
throat. As the Crocodiles mostly seize their prey in their open jaws
and hold it under water until drowned, it is evident that without
such a structure as has been described the Crocodile would be as
likely to drown itself as its prey. But the throat-valve enables
it to keep its mouth open while the water is effectually prevented
from running down its throat, and the nostrils, placed at the end of
the snout, enable it to breathe at its ease, while the unfortunate
animal which it has captured is being drowned beneath the surface of
the water.

This position of the nostrils serves another purpose, and enables
the Crocodile to breathe while the whole of its body is under the
water, and only an inch or two of the very end of the snout is
above the surface. As, moreover, the Crocodile, as is the case with
most reptiles, is able to exist for a considerable time without
breathing, it only needs to protrude its nostrils for a few moments,
and can then sink entirely beneath the water. In this way the
reptile is able to conceal itself in case it should suspect danger;
and as, in such instances, it dives under the herbage of the river,
and merely thrusts its nose into the air among the reeds and rushes,
it is evident that, in spite of its enormous size, it baffles the
observation of almost every foe.

Among reptiles, the mailed Crocodiles may be mentioned as most
formidable foes to man. Vast in bulk, yet grovelling with the belly
on the earth; clad in bony plates with sharp ridges; green eyes with
a peculiar fiery stare, gleaming out from below projecting orbits;
lips altogether wanting, displaying the long rows of interlocking
teeth even when the mouth is closed, so that, even when quiet, the
monster seems to be grinning with rage,--it is no wonder that the
Crocodile should be, in all the countries which it inhabits, viewed
with dread.

Nor is this terror groundless. The Crocodiles, both of the Nile
and of the Indian rivers, are well known to make man their victim,
and scarcely can a more terrible fate be imagined than that of
falling into the jaws of this gigantic reptile. Strange as it may
appear, the Crocodile is one of the many animals to which divine
honours were paid by the ancient Egyptians. This we learn from
several sources. Herodotus, for example, in "Euterpe," chapter
69, writes as follows: "Those who dwell about Thebes and Lake
Mœris, consider them to be very sacred; and they each of them
train up a Crocodile, which is taught to be quite tame; and they put
crystal and gold ear-rings into their ears, and bracelets on their
fore-paws; and they give them appointed and sacred food, and treat
them as well as possible while alive and when dead, they embalm
them, and bury them in sacred vaults."


The reasons for this worship are several. At the root of them all
lies the tendency of man to respect that which he fears rather
than that which he loves; and the nearer the man approaches the
savage state, the more is this feeling developed. By this tendency
his worship is regulated, and it will be found that when man is
sufficiently advanced to be capable of worship at all, his reverence
is invariably paid to the object which has the greatest terrors
for him. The Crocodile, therefore, being the animal that was most
dreaded by the ancient Egyptians, was accepted as the natural type
of divinity.


Owing to the accuracy of the description in the Book of Job, which
is evidently written by one who was personally acquainted with
the Crocodile, it is thought by many commentators that the writer
must have been acquainted with the Nile, in which river both the
Crocodile and hippopotamus are found at the present day.

It is possible, however, that the hippopotamus and the Crocodile
have had at one time a much wider range than they at present enjoy.
Even within the memory of man the hippopotamus has been driven
further and further up the Nile by the encroachments of man. It has
long been said that even at the present day the Crocodile exists in
Palestine in the river which is called "Nhar Zurka," which flows
from Samaria through the plains of Sharon. Several of the older
writers have mentioned its existence in this river, and, since this
work was commenced, the long-vexed question has been set at rest; a
Crocodile, eight feet in length, having been captured in the Nhar

No description of the Crocodile would be complete without allusion
to the mode in which it seizes its prey. It does not attack it
openly, neither, as some have said, does it go on shore for that
purpose. It watches to see whether any animal comes to drink, and
then, sinking beneath the surface of the water, dives rapidly,
rises unexpectedly beneath the unsuspecting victim, seizes it with
a sudden snap of its huge jaws, and drags it beneath the water.
Should the intended prey be too far from the water to be reached by
the mouth, or so large that it may offer a successful resistance,
the Crocodile strikes it a tremendous blow with its tail, and knocks
it into the water. The dwellers on the Nile bank say that a large
Crocodile will with a single blow of its tail break all the four
legs of an ox or a horse.

These cunning reptiles even contrive to catch birds as they come for
water. On the banks of the Nile the smaller birds drink in a very
peculiar manner. They settle in numbers on the flexible branches
that overhang the stream, and when, by their weight, the branch
bends downwards, they dip their beaks in the water. The Crocodile
sees afar off a branch thus loaded, swims as near as possible, and
then dives until it can see the birds immediately above it, when it
rises suddenly, and with a snap of its jaws secures a whole mouthful
of the unsuspecting birds.

Sir S. Baker, in his travels on the Nile, gave much attention to
the Crocodile, and has collected a great amount of interesting
information about the reptile, much of which is peculiarly valuable,
inasmuch as it illustrates the Scriptural notices of the creature.
He states that it is a very crafty animal, and that its usual mode
of attack is by first showing itself, then swimming slowly away to a
considerable distance, so as to make its intended victim think that
danger is over, and then returning under water. It is by means of
this manœuvre that it captures the little birds. It first makes
a dash at them, open-mouthed, causing them to take to flight in
terror. It then sails slowly away as if it were so baffled that it
did not intend to renew the attack. When it is at a considerable
distance, the birds think that their enemy has departed, and return
to the branch, which they crowd more than ever, and in a minute
or two several dozen of them are engulfed in the mouth of the
Crocodile, which has swiftly dived under them.

On one occasion, Sir S. Baker was walking near the edge of the
river, when he heard a great shrieking of women on the opposite
bank. It turned out that a number of women had been filling their
"gerbas" (water-skins), when one of them was suddenly attacked by
a large Crocodile. She sprang back, and the reptile, mistaking the
filled gerba for a woman, seized it, and gave the owner time to
escape. It then dashed at the rest of the women, but only succeeded
in seizing another gerba.

A short time previously a Crocodile, thought by the natives to be
the same individual, had seized a woman and carried her off; and
another had made an attack on a man in a very curious manner. A
number of men were swimming across the river, supported, after
their custom, on gerbas inflated with air, when one of them felt
himself seized by the leg by a Crocodile, which tried to drag him
under water. He, however, retained his hold on the skin, and his
companions also grasped his arms and hair with one hand, while
with the other they struck with their spears at the Crocodile. At
last they succeeded in driving the reptile away, and got their
unfortunate companion to land, where they found that the whole of
the flesh was stripped from the leg from the knee downwards. The
poor man died shortly afterwards.

Another traveller relates that three young men who were obliged to
cross a branch of a river in their route, being unable to procure
a boat, endeavoured to swim their horses to the opposite shore.
Two of them had reached the bank in safety, but the third loitered
so long on the brink as only to have just entered the water at the
moment his comrades had reached the opposite side. When he was
nearly half-way across, they saw a large Crocodile, which was known
to infest this pass, issuing from under the reeds. They instantly
warned their companion of his danger; but it was too late for him
to turn back. When the Crocodile was so close as to be on the point
of seizing him, he threw his saddle-bag to it. The ravenous animal
immediately caught the whole bundle in its jaws, and disappeared for
a few moments, but soon discovered its mistake, and rose in front
of the horse, which, then seeing it for the first time, reared and
threw its rider. He was an excellent swimmer, and had nearly escaped
by diving towards the bank; but, on rising for breath, his pursuer
also rose, and seized him by the middle. This dreadful scene,
which passed before the eyes of his companions, without the least
possibility of their rendering any assistance, was terminated by the
Crocodile, having previously drowned the unfortunate man, appearing
on an opposite sand-bank with the body, and there devouring it.

The crafty Crocodile tries to catch the baboons by lying in wait for
them at their drinking places; but the baboons are generally more
than a match for the Crocodile in point of cunning and quickness of
sight. Sir S. Baker witnessed an amusing example of such an attempt
and its failure.

"The large tamarind-trees on the opposite bank are generally full
of the dog-faced baboons (_Cynocephalus_) at their drinking hour.
I watched a large Crocodile creep slily out of the water and lie
in waiting among the rocks at the usual drinking place before they
arrived, but the baboons were too wide awake to be taken in so

"A young fellow was the first to discover the enemy. He had
accompanied several wise and experienced old hands to the extremity
of a bough that at a considerable height overhung the river; from
this post they had a bird's eye view, and reconnoitred before one of
the numerous party descended to drink. The sharp eyes of the young
one at once detected the Crocodile, who matched in colour so well
with the rocks that most probably a man would not have noticed it
until too late.

"At once the young one commenced shaking the bough and screaming
with all his might, to attract the attention of the Crocodile and to
induce it to move. In this he was immediately joined by the whole
party, who yelled in chorus, while the large old males bellowed
defiance, and descended to the lowest branches within eight or
ten feet of the Crocodile. It was of no use--the pretender never
stirred, and I watched it until dark. It remained still in the
same place, waiting for some unfortunate baboon whose thirst might
provoke his fate, but not one was sufficiently foolish, although
the perpendicular bank prevented them from drinking except at that
particular spot."

It may be imagined that if the Crocodile were to depend entirely
for its food upon the animals that it catches on the bank or in
the river, it would run a risk of starving. The fact is, that its
principal food consists of fish, which it can chase in the water.
The great speed at which the Crocodile darts through the water is
not owing to its webbed feet, but to its powerful tail, which is
swept from side to side, and thus propels the reptile after the
manner of a man "sculling" a boat with a single oar in the stern.
The whales and the fishes have a similar mode of propulsion.

On land, the tail is the Crocodile's most formidable weapon. It is
one mass of muscle and sinew, and the force of its lateral stroke
is terrible, sweeping away every living thing that it may meet.
Fortunately for its antagonists, the Crocodile can turn but very
slowly, so that, although it can scramble along at a much faster
pace than its appearance indicates, there is no great difficulty
in escaping, provided that the sweep of its tail be avoided. As
the Crocodile of the Nile attains when adult a length of thirty
feet, one moiety of which is taken up by the tail, it may easily be
imagined that the power of this weapon can scarcely be exaggerated.

As if to add to the terrors of the animal, its head, back, and tail
are shielded by a series of horny scales, which are set so closely
together that the sharpest spear can seldom find its way through
them, and even the rifle ball glances off, if it strikes them
obliquely. Like many other reptiles, the Crocodile is hatched from
eggs which are laid on shore and vivified by the warmth of the sun.

These eggs are exceedingly small when compared with the gigantic
lizard which deposited them, scarcely equalling in dimensions those
of the goose. There is now before me an egg of the cayman of South
America, a fresh-water lizard but little smaller than the Crocodile
of the Nile, and this is barely equal in size to an ordinary hen's
egg. It is longer in proportion to its width, but the contents of
the two eggs would be as nearly as possible of the same bulk. On
the exterior it is very rough, having a granulated appearance, not
unlike that of dried sharkskin, and the shell is exceedingly thin
and brittle. The lining membrane, however, is singularly thick and
tough, so that the egg is tolerably well defended against fracture.

When first hatched, the young Crocodile is scarcely larger than a
common newt, but it attains most formidable dimensions in a very
short time. Twenty or thirty eggs are laid in one spot, and, were
they not destroyed by sundry enemies, the Crocodiles would destroy
every living creature in the rivers. Fortunately, the eggs and young
have many enemies, chiefly among which is the well-known ichneumon,
which discovers the place where the eggs are laid and destroys them,
and eats any young Crocodiles that it can catch before they succeed
in making their way to the water.

The old writers were aware of the services rendered by the
ichneumon, but, after their wont, exaggerated them by additions of
their own, saying that the ichneumon enters into the mouth of the
Crocodile as it lies asleep, and eats its way through the body,
"putting the Crocodile to exquisite and intolerable torment, while
the Crocodile tumbleth to and fro, sighing and weeping, now in
the depth of water, now on the land, never resting till strength
of nature faileth. For the incessant gnawing of the ichneumon so
provoketh her to seek her rest in the unrest of every part, herb,
element, throws, throbs, rollings, but all in vain, for the enemy
within her breatheth through her breath, and sporteth herself in
the consumption of those vital parts which waste and wear away by
yielding to unpacificable teeth, one after another, till she that
crept in by stealth at the mouth, like a puny thief, comes out at
the belly like a conqueror, through a passage opened by her own
labour and industry."

The author has in the long passage, a part of which is here quoted,
mentioned that the ichneumon takes its opportunity of entering the
jaws of the Crocodile as it lies with its mouth open against the
beams of the sun. It is very true that the Crocodile does sleep
with its mouth open; and, in all probability, the older observers,
knowing that the ichneumon did really destroy the eggs and young
of the Crocodile, only added a little amplification, and made up
their minds that it also destroyed the parents. The same writer
who has lately been quoted ranks the ibis among the enemies of the
Crocodile, and says that the bird affects the reptile with such
terror that, if but an ibis's feather be laid on its back, the
Crocodile becomes rigid and unable to move. The Arabs of the
present time say that the water-tortoises are enemies to the eggs,
scratching them out of the sand and eating them.


As this reptile is so dangerous a neighbour to the inhabitants of
the river-banks, many means have been adopted for its destruction.

One such method, where a kind of harpoon is employed, is described
by a traveller in the East as follows:--

"The most favourable season for thus hunting the Crocodile is
either the winter, when the animal usually sleeps on sand-banks,
luxuriating in the rays of the sun, or the spring, after the pairing
time, when the female regularly watches the sand islands where she
has buried her eggs.

"The native hunter finds out the place and conceals himself by
digging a hole in the sand near the spot where the animal usually
lies. On its arrival at the accustomed spot the hunter darts his
harpoon or spear with all his force, for, in order that its stroke
may be successful, the iron should penetrate to a depth of at least
four inches, in order that the barb may be fixed firmly in the flesh.

"The Crocodile, on being wounded, rushes into the water, and the
huntsman retreats into a canoe, with which a companion has hastened
to his assistance.

"A piece of wood attached to the harpoon by a long cord swims on the
water and shows the direction in which the Crocodile is moving. The
hunters pull on this rope and drag the beast to the surface of the
water, where it is again pierced by a second harpoon.

"When the animal is struck it by no means remains inactive; on the
contrary, it lashes instantly with its tail, and endeavours to bite
the rope asunder. To prevent this, the rope is made of about thirty
separate slender lines, not twisted together, but merely placed in
juxtaposition, and bound around at intervals of every two feet. The
thin strands get between the Crocodile's teeth, and it is unable to
sever them.

"In spite of the great strength of the reptile, two men can drag a
tolerably large one out of the water, tie up his mouth, twist his
legs over his back, and kill him by driving a sharp steel spike into
the spinal cord just at the back of the skull.

"There are many other modes of capturing the Crocodile, one of which
is the snare portrayed in the illustration.

[Illustration: A CROCODILE TRAP]

"Two elastic saplings are bent down and kept in position by stout
cords, one of which, bears a baited hook, while the other is
fashioned into a noose. These cords are so arranged as to release
the bent saplings as soon as the Crocodile pulls upon the baited
hook. If all works properly, the animal suddenly finds himself
suspended in the air, where he remains helpless and at the mercy of
the hunter, who soon arrives and despatches him.

"The extreme tenacity of life possessed by the Crocodile is well
exemplified by an incident which occurred in Ceylon. A fine specimen
had been caught, and to all appearance killed, its interior parts
removed, and the aperture kept open by a stick placed across it.
A few hours afterwards the captors returned to their victim with
the intention of cutting off the head, but were surprised to find
the spot vacant. On examining the locality it was evident that the
creature had retained sufficient life to crawl back into the water.
From this it may be imagined that it is no easy matter to drive the
breath out of a Crocodile. Its life seems to take a separate hold
of every fibre in the creature's body, and though pierced through
and through with bullets, crushed by heavy blows, and its body
converted into a very pincushion for spears, it writhes and twists
and struggles with wondrous strength, snapping savagely with its
huge jaws, and lashing its muscular tail from side to side with such
vigour that it requires a bold man to venture within range of that
terrible weapon."

Sometimes combats occur between this creature and the tiger, one of
the fiercest and most terrible of all quadrupeds. Tigers frequently
go down to the rivers to drink, and, upon these occasions, the
Crocodile, if near, may attempt to seize them. The ferocious beast,
however, seldom falls unrevenged; for the instant he finds himself
seized, he turns with great agility and fierceness on his enemy, and
endeavours to strike his claws into the Crocodile's eyes, while the
latter drags him into the water, where they continue to struggle
until the tiger be drowned, and his triumphant antagonist feasts
upon his carcass. Such a combat is depicted in the illustration
which appears on an accompanying page.

[Illustration: A FIGHT FOR LIFE.]



     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.

In Leviticus xi. 30, the word LIZARD is used as the rendering of the
Hebrew word _letââh_ (pronounced as L'tâh-âh). There are one or two
difficulties about the word, but, without going into the question
of etymology, which is beside the object of this work, it will be
sufficient to state that the best authorities accept the rendering,
and that in the Jewish Bible the word Lizard is retained, but with
the mark of doubt appended to it.

A very common species of Lizard, and therefore likely to be one
of those which are grouped under the common name of Letââh,
is the CYPRIUS (_Plestiodon auratum_). This handsome Lizard is
golden-yellow in colour, beautifully spotted with orange and
scarlet, and may be distinguished, even when the colours have fled
after death, by the curiously formed ears, which are strongly
toothed in front. It is very plentiful in Palestine, and, like
others of its kin, avoids cultivated tracts, and is generally found
on rocky and sandy soil which cannot be tilled. It is active, and,
if alarmed, hides itself quickly in the sand or under stones.

It belongs to the great family of the Skinks, many of which, like
the familiar blind-worm of our own country, are without external
legs, and, though true Lizards, progress in a snake-like manner, and
are generally mistaken for snakes. One of these is the GLASS SNAKE
or SCHELTOPUSIC (_Pseudopus pallasii_), which has two very tiny hind
legs, but which is altogether so snake-like that it is considered
by the natives to be really a serpent. They may well be excused for
their error, as the only external indications of limbs are a pair of
slightly-projecting scales at the place where the hind legs would be
in a fully-developed Lizard.

Though tolerably plentiful, the Scheltopusic is not very often seen,
as it is timid and wary, and, when it suspects danger, glides away
silently into some place of safety. When adult, the colour of this
Lizard is usually chestnut, profusely mottled with black or deep
brown, the edge of each scale being of the darker colour. It feeds
upon insects and small reptiles, and has been known to devour a nest
full of young birds.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Levit. xi. 30 is a Hebrew word, _chomet_, which is given in the
Authorized Version as SNAIL. There is, however, no doubt that the
word is wrongly translated, and that by it some species of Lizard
is signified. The Jewish Bible follows the Authorized Version,
but affixes the mark of doubt to the word. There is another word,
_shablul_, which undoubtedly does signify the snail, and will be
mentioned in its proper place.

It is most probable that the word _chomet_ includes, among other
Lizards, many of the smaller Skinks which inhabit Palestine.
Among them we may take as an example the COMMON SKINK (_Scincus
officinalis_), a reptile which derives its specific name from the
fact that it was formerly used in medicine, together with mummy, and
the other disgusting ingredients which formed the greater part of
the old Pharmacopœia.

Even at the present day, it is used for similar purposes in the
East, and is in consequence captured for the use of physicians,
the body being simply dried in the sun, and then sent to market
for sale. It is principally employed for the cure of sunstroke,
nettle-rash, sand-blindness, or fever, and both patient and
physician have the greatest confidence in its powers. It is said by
some European physicians that the flesh of the Skink really does
possess medicinal powers, and that it has fallen into disrepute
chiefly because those powers have been exaggerated. In former days,
the head and feet were thought to possess the greatest efficacy, and
were valued accordingly.

Like all its tribe, the Skink loves sandy localities, the soil
exactly suiting its peculiar habits. Although tolerably active,
it does not run so fast or so far as many other Lizards, and,
when alarmed, it has a peculiar faculty for sinking itself almost
instantaneously under the sand, much after the fashion of the
shore-crabs of our own country. Indeed, it is even more expeditious
than the crab, which occupies some little time in burrowing under
the wet and yielding sand, whereas the Skink slips beneath the dry
and comparatively hard sand with such rapidity that it seems rather
to be diving into a nearly excavated burrow than to be scooping a
hollow for itself.

The sand is therefore a place of safety to the Skink, which does
not, like the crab, content itself with merely burying its body just
below the surface, but continues to burrow, sinking itself in a few
seconds to the depth of nearly a yard.

The length of the Skink is about eight inches, and its very variable
colour is generally yellowish brown, crossed with several dark
bands. Several specimens, however, are spotted instead of banded
with brown, while some are banded with white, and others are spotted
with white. In all, however, the under-surface is silver grey.

[Illustration: THE CHAMELEON.]


     Demeanour of the Chameleon on the ground--The independent
     eyes--Its frequent change of colour--The Nilotic Monitor.

In Levit. xi. 30 there occurs a word which has caused great trouble
to commentators. The word is _koach_.

There are two lizards to which the term may possibly be
applied--namely, the Chameleon and the Monitor; and, as the
Authorized Version of the Scriptures accepts the former
interpretation, we will first describe the Chameleon.

       *       *       *       *       *

This reptile is very plentiful in the Holy Land, as well as in
Egypt, so that the Israelites would be perfectly familiar with
it, both during their captivity and after their escape. It is but
a small reptile, and the reader may well ask why a name denoting
strength should be given to it. I think that we may find the reason
for its name in the extraordinary power of its grasp, as it is able,
by means of its peculiarly-formed feet and prehensile tail, to grasp
the branches so tightly that it can scarcely be removed without

I once saw six or seven Chameleons huddled up together, all having
clasped each other's legs and tails so firmly that they formed a
bundle that might be rolled along the ground without being broken
up. In order to show the extraordinary power of the Chameleon's
grasp, I have had a figure drawn from a sketch taken by myself from
a specimen which I kept for several months.

[Illustration: GECKO AND CHAMELEON.]

When the Chameleon wished to pass from one branch to another, it
used to hold firmly to the branch by the tail and one hind-foot, and
stretch out its body nearly horizontally, feeling about with the
other three feet, as if in search of a convenient resting-place.
In this curious attitude it would remain for a considerable time,
apparently suffering no inconvenience, though even the spider-monkey
would have been unable to maintain such an attitude for half the
length of time.

The strength of the grasp is really astonishing when contrasted
with the size of the reptile, as any one will find who allows the
Chameleon to grasp his finger, or who tries to detach it from the
branch to which it is clinging. The feet are most curiously made.
They are furnished with five toes, which are arranged like those of
parrots and other climbing birds, so as to close upon each other
like the thumb and finger of a human hand. They are armed with
little yellow claws, slightly curved and very sharp, and when they
grasp the skin of the hand they give it an unpleasantly sharp pinch.

The tail is as prehensile as that of the spider-monkey, to which
the Chameleon bears a curious resemblance in some of its attitudes,
though nothing can be more different than the volatile, inquisitive,
restless disposition of the spider-monkey and the staid, sober
demeanour of the Chameleon. The reptile has the power of guiding the
tail to any object as correctly as if there were an eye at the end
of the tail. When it has been travelling over the branches of trees,
I have often seen it direct its tail to a projecting bud, and grasp
it as firmly as if the bud had been before and not behind it.

Sometimes, when it rests on a branch, it allows the tail to
hang down as a sort of balance, the tip coiling and uncoiling
unceasingly. But, as soon as the reptile wishes to move, the tail is
tightened to the branch, and at once coiled round it. There really
seems to be almost a separate vitality and consciousness on the part
of the tail, which glides round an object as if it were acting with
entire independence of its owner.

On the ground the Chameleon fares but poorly. Its walk is absolutely
ludicrous, and an experienced person might easily fail to identify
a Chameleon when walking with the same animal on a branch. It
certainly scrambles along at a tolerable rate, but it is absurdly
awkward, its legs sprawling widely on either side, and its feet
grasping futilely at every step. The tail, which is usually so lithe
and nimble, is then held stiffly from the body, with a slight curve

The eyes are strange objects, projecting far from the head, and each
acting quite independently of the other, so that one eye may often
be directed forwards, and the other backwards. The eyeballs are
covered with a thick wrinkled skin, except a small aperture at the
tip, which can be opened and closed like our own eyelids.

The changing colour of the Chameleon has been long known, though
there are many mistaken ideas concerning it.

The reptile does not necessarily assume the colour of any object on
which it is placed, but sometimes takes a totally different colour.
Thus, if my Chameleon happened to come upon any scarlet substance,
the colour immediately became black, covered with innumerable
circular spots of light yellow. The change was so instantaneous
that, as it crawled on the scarlet cloth, the colour would alter,
and the fore-part of the body would be covered with yellow spots,
while the hinder parts retained their dull black. Scarlet always
annoyed the Chameleon, and it tried to escape whenever it found
itself near any substance of the obnoxious hue.

The normal colour was undoubtedly black, with a slight tinge of
grey. But in a short time the whole creature would become a vivid
verdigris green, and, while the spectator was watching it, the legs
would become banded with rings of bright yellow, and spats and
streaks of the same colour would appear on the head and body.

When it was excited either by anger or by expectation--as, for
example, when it heard a large fly buzzing near it--the colours
were singularly beautiful, almost exactly resembling in hue and
arrangement those of the jaguar. Of all the colours, green seemed
generally to predominate, but the creature would pass so rapidly
from one colour to another that it was scarcely possible to follow
the various gradations of hue.

Some persons have imagined that the variation of colour depends on
the wants and passions of the animal. This is not the case. The
change is often caused by mental emotion, but is not dependent on
it; and I believe that the animal has no control whatever over its
colour. The best proof of this assertion may be found in the fact
that my own Chameleon changed colour several times after its death;
and, indeed, as long as I had the dead body before me, changes of
hue were taking place.

The food of the Chameleon consists of insects, mostly flies, which
it catches by means of its tongue, which can be protruded to an
astonishing distance. The tongue is nearly cylindrical, and is
furnished at the tip with a slight cavity, which is filled with
a very glutinous secretion. When the Chameleon sees a fly or
other insect, it gently protrudes the tongue once or twice, as if
taking aim, like a billiard-player with his cue, and then, with a
moderately smart stroke, carries off the insect on the glutinous tip
of the tongue. The force with which the Chameleon strikes is really
wonderful. My own specimen used to look for flies from my hand, and
at first I was as much surprised with the force of the blow struck
by the tongue as I was with the grasping power of the feet.

[Illustration: THE GECKO.


So much for the Chameleon. We will now take the NILOTIC MONITOR and
the LAND MONITOR, the other reptiles which have been conjectured to
be the real representatives of the Koach.

These lizards attain to some size, the former sometimes measuring
six feet in length, and the latter but a foot or so less. Of the
two, the Land Monitor, being the more common, both in Palestine and
Egypt, has perhaps the best claim to be considered as the Koach
of Scripture. It is sometimes called the Land Crocodile. It is a
carnivorous animal, feeding upon other reptiles and the smaller
mammalia, and is very fond of the eggs of the crocodile, which it
destroys in great numbers, and is in consequence much venerated by
the inhabitants of the country about the Nile.

The theory that this reptile may be the Koach of Leviticus is
strengthened by the fact that even at the present day it is cooked
and eaten by the natives, whereas the chameleon is so small and bony
that scarcely any one would take the trouble of cooking it.

The Gecko takes its name from the sound which it utters, resembling
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.

In the illustration the reader will observe the flat, fan-like
expansions at the ends of the toes, by which the Gecko is able to
adhere to flat surfaces, and to dart with silent rapidity from place
to place.

[Illustration: serpent]

[Illustration: serpents]


     Serpents in general--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--The Cerastes, or Horned Serpent--Appearance and
     habits of the reptile--The "Adder in the path."

As we have seen that so much looseness of nomenclature prevailed
among the Hebrews even with regard to the mammalia, birds, and
lizards, we can but expect that the names of the Serpents will be
equally difficult to identify.

No less than seven names are employed in the Old Testament to
denote some species of Serpent; but there are only two which can
be identified with any certainty, four others being left to mere
conjecture, and one being clearly a word which, like our snake or
serpent, is a word not restricted to any particular species, but
signifying Serpents in general. This word is _nâchâsh_ (pronounced
nah-kahsh). It is unfortunate that the word is so variously
translated in different passages of Scripture, and we cannot do
better than to follow it through the Ola Testament, so as to bring
all the passages under our glance.

The first mention of the Nâchâsh occurs in Gen. iii., in the
well-known passage where the Serpent is said to be more subtle than
all the beasts of the field, the wisdom or subtlety of the Serpent
having evidently an allegorical and not a categorical signification.
We find the same symbolism employed in the New Testament, the
disciples of our Lord being told to be "wise as serpents, and
harmless as doves."

Allusion is made to the gliding movement of the Serpent tribe in
Prov. xxx. 19. On this part of the subject little need be said,
except that the movements of the Serpent are owing to the mobility
of the ribs, which are pushed forward in succession and drawn back
again, so as to catch against any inequality of the ground. This
power is increased by the structure of the scales. Those of the
upper part of the body, which are not used for locomotion, are
shaped something like the scales of a fish; but those of the lower
part of the body, which come in contact with the ground, are broad
belts, each overlapping the other, and each connected with one pair
of ribs.

When, therefore, the Serpent pushes forward the ribs, the edges of
the scaly belts will catch against the slightest projection, and are
able to give a very powerful impetus to the body. It is scarcely
possible to drag a snake backwards over rough ground; while on a
smooth surface, such as glass, the Serpent would be totally unable
to proceed. This, however, was not likely to have been studied by
the ancient Hebrews, who were among the most unobservant of mankind
with regard to details of natural history: it is, therefore, no
wonder that the gliding of the Serpent should strike the writer of
the proverb in question as a mystery which he could not explain.

The poisonous nature of some of the Serpents is mentioned in several
passages of Scripture; and it will be seen that the ancient Hebrews,
like many modern Europeans, believed that the poison lay in the
forked tongue. See, for example, Ps. lviii. 4: "Their poison is
like the poison of a serpent" (_nâchâsh_). Also Prov. xxiii. 32, in
which the sacred writer says of wine that it brings woe, sorrow,
contentions, wounds without cause, redness of eyes, and that "at the
last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder."


The idea that the poison of the Serpent lies in the tongue is seen
in several passages of Scripture. "They have sharpened their tongues
like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips" (Ps. cxl. 3).
Also in Job xx. 16, the sacred writer says of the hypocrite, that
"he shall suck the poison of asps: the viper's tongue shall slay

As to the fiery Serpents of the wilderness, it is scarcely needful
to mention that the epithet of "fiery" does not signify that the
Serpents in question produced real fire from their mouths, but that
allusion is made to the power and virulence of their poison, and
to the pain caused by their bite. We ourselves naturally employ a
similar metaphor, and speak of a "burning pain," of a "fiery trial,"
of "hot anger," and the like.


The epithet of "flying" which is applied to these Serpents is
explained by the earlier commentators as having reference to a
Serpent which they called the Dart Snake, and which they believed
to lie in wait for men and to spring at them from a distance. They
thought that this snake hid itself either in hollows of the ground
or in trees, and sprang through the air for thirty feet upon any man
or beast that happened to pass by.

       *       *       *       *       *

We will now take the various species of Serpents mentioned in the
Bible, as nearly as they can be identified.

Of one species there is no doubt whatever. This is the Cobra di
Capello, a serpent which is evidently signified by the Hebrew word

This celebrated Serpent has long been famous, not only for the
deadly power of its venom, but for the singular performances in
which it takes part. The Cobra inhabits many parts of Asia, and
in almost every place where it is found, certain daring men take
upon themselves the profession of serpent-charmers, and handle
these fearful reptiles with impunity, cause them to move in time to
certain musical sounds, and assert that they bear a life charmed
against the bite of these deadly playmates.

One of these men will take a Cobra in his bare hands, toss it about
with perfect indifference, allow it to twine about his naked breast,
tie it around his neck, and treat it with as little ceremony as
if it were an earth-worm. He will then take the same Serpent--or
apparently the same--make it bite a fowl, which soon dies from the
poison, and will then renew his performance.

Some persons say that the whole affair is but an exhibition of that
jugglery in which the natives of the East Indies are such wondrous
adepts; that the Serpents with which the man plays are harmless,
having been deprived of their fangs, and that a really venomous
specimen is adroitly substituted for the purpose of killing the
fowl. It is, moreover, said, and truly, that a snake thought to have
been rendered harmless by the deprivation of its fangs, has bitten
one of its masters and killed him, thus proving the imposture.

Still, neither of these explanations will entirely disprove the
mastery of man over a venomous Serpent.

In the first instance, it is surely as perilous an action to
substitute a venomous Serpent as to play with it. Where was it
hidden, why did it not bite the man instead of the fowl, and how did
the juggler prevent it from using its teeth while he was conveying
it away?

And, in the second instance, the detection of one impostor is by no
means a proof that all who pretend to the same powers are likewise

The following narrative by a traveller in the East seems to prove
that the serpent-charmer possessed sufficient power to induce a
truly poisonous Serpent to leave its hole, and to perform certain
antics at his command:

"A snake-charmer came to my bungalow, requesting me to allow him
to show his snakes. As I had frequently seen his performance, I
declined to witness a repetition of it, but told him that if he
would accompany me to the jungle and catch a Cobra, that I knew
frequented the place, I would give him a present of money. He was
quite willing, and as I was anxious to test the truth of the charm
he claimed to possess, I carefully counted his tame snakes, and put
a guard over them until we should return.

"Before starting I also examined his clothing, and satisfied myself
that he had no snake about his person. When we arrived at the spot,
he commenced playing upon a small pipe, and, after persevering for
some time, out crawled a large Cobra from an ant-hill which I knew
it occupied.

"On seeing the man it tried to escape, but he quickly caught it by
the tail and kept swinging it round until we reached the bungalow.
He then laid it upon the ground and made it raise and lower its head
to the sound of his pipe.

"Before long, however, it bit him above the knee. He immediately
bandaged the leg tightly above the wound, and applied a piece of
porous stone, called a snake-stone, to extract the poison. He was in
great pain for a few minutes, but afterwards it gradually subsided,
the stone falling from the wound just before he was relieved.

"When he recovered he held up a cloth, at which the snake flew and
hung by its fangs. While in this position the man passed his hand up
its back, and having seized it tightly by the throat, he pulled out
the fangs and gave them to me. He then squeezed out the poison, from
the glands in the Serpent's mouth, upon a leaf. It was a clear, oily
substance, which when rubbed with the hand produced a fine lather.

"The whole operation was carefully watched by me, and was also
witnessed by several other persons."

How the serpent-charmers perform their feats is not very
intelligible. That they handle the most venomous Serpents with
perfect impunity is evident enough, and it is also clear that they
are able to produce certain effects upon the Serpents by means of
musical (or unmusical) sounds. But these two items are entirely
distinct, and one does not depend upon the other.

In the first place, the handling of venomous snakes has been
performed by ordinary men without the least recourse to any arts
except that of acquaintance with the habits of Serpents. The late
Mr. Waterton, for example, would take up a rattlesnake in his bare
hand without feeling the least uneasy as to the behaviour of his
prisoner. He once took twenty-seven rattlesnakes out of a box,
carried them into another room, put them into a large glass case,
and afterwards replaced them in the box. He described to me the
manner in which he did it, using my wrist as the representative of
the Serpent.

[Illustration: THE SERPENT-CHARMER.]

The nature of all Serpents is rather peculiar, and is probably
owing to the mode in which the blood circulates. They are extremely
unwilling to move, except when urged by the wants of nature, and
will lie coiled up for many hours together when not pressed by
hunger. Consequently, when touched, their feeling is evidently like
that of a drowsy man, who only tries to shake off the object which
may rouse him, and composes himself afresh to sleep.

A quick and sudden movement would, however, alarm the reptile, which
would strike in self-defence, and, sluggish as are its general
movements, its stroke is delivered with such lightning rapidity that
it would be sure to inflict its fatal wound before it was seized.

If, therefore, Mr. Waterton saw a Serpent which he desired to
catch, he would creep very quietly up to it, and with a gentle,
slow movement place his fingers round its neck just behind the
head. If it happened to be coiled up in such a manner that he could
not get at its neck, he had only to touch it gently until it moved
sufficiently for his purpose.

When he had once placed his hand on the Serpent, it was in his
power. He would then grasp it very lightly indeed, and raise it
gently from the ground, trusting that the reptile would be more
inclined to be carried quietly than to summon up sufficient energy
to bite. Even if it had tried to use its fangs, it could not have
done so as long as its captor's fingers were round its neck.

As a rule, a great amount of provocation is needed before a venomous
Serpent will use its teeth. One of my friends, when a boy, caught a
viper, mistaking it for a common snake. He tied it round his neck,
coiled it on his wrist by way of a bracelet, and so took it home,
playing many similar tricks with it as he went. After arrival in the
house, he produced the viper for the amusement of his brothers and
sisters, and, after repeating his performances, tried to tie the
snake in a double knot. This, however, was enough to provoke the
most pacific of creatures, and in consequence he received a bite on
his finger.

The poison was not slow to take effect; first, the wound looked
and felt like a nettle sting, then like a wasp sting, and in the
course of a few minutes the whole finger was swollen. At this
juncture his father, a medical man, fortunately arrived, and set the
approved antidotes, ammonia, oil, and lunar caustic, to the wound,
having previously made incisions about the punctured spot, and with
paternal affection attempted to suck out the poison. In spite of
these remedies a serious illness was the result of the bite, from
which the boy did not recover for several weeks.

[Illustration: snake]

There is no doubt that the snake-charmers trust chiefly to this
sluggish nature of the reptile, but they certainly go through
some ceremonies by which they believe themselves to be rendered
impervious to snake-bites. They will coil the cobra round their
naked bodies, they will irritate the reptile until it is in a state
of fury; they will even allow it to bite them, and yet be none the
worse for the wound. Then, as if to show that the venomous teeth
have not been abstracted, as is possibly supposed to be the case,
they will make the cobra bite a fowl, which speedily dies from the
effects of the poison.

Even if the fangs were extracted, the Serpents would lose little
of their venomous power. These reptiles are furnished with a whole
series of fangs in different stages of development, so that when the
one in use is broken or shed in the course of nature, another comes
forward and fills its place. There is now before me a row of four
fangs, which I took from the right upper jawbone of a viper which I
recently caught.

In her interesting "Letters from Egypt," Lady Duff-Gordon gives an
amusing account of the manner in which she was formally initiated
into the mysteries of snake-charming, and made ever afterwards
impervious to the bite of venomous Serpents:--

"At Kóm Omboo, we met with a Rifáee darweesh with his basket of tame
snakes. After a little talk, he proposed to initiate me: and so we
sat down and held hands like people marrying. Omar [her attendant]
sat behind me, and repeated the words as my 'wakeel.' Then the
Rifáee twisted a cobra round our joined hands, and requested me to
spit on it; he did the same, and I was pronounced safe and enveloped
in snakes. My sailors groaned, and Omar shuddered as the snakes put
out their tongues; the darweesh and I smiled at each other like
Roman augurs."

She believed that the snakes were toothless; and perhaps on this
occasion they may have been so. Extracting the teeth of the Serpent
is an easy business in experienced hands, and is conducted in two
ways. Those snake-charmers who are confident of their own powers
merely grasp the reptile by the neck, force open its jaws with a
piece of stick, and break off the fangs, which are but loosely
attached to the jaw. Those who are not so sure of themselves
irritate the snake, and offer it a piece of cloth, generally the
corner of their mantle, to bite. The snake darts at it, and, as it
seizes the garment, the man gives the cloth a sudden jerk, and so
tears away the fangs.

Still, although some of the performers employ mutilated snakes,
there is no doubt that others do not trouble themselves to remove
the fangs of the Serpents, but handle with impunity the cobra or the
cerastes with all its venomous apparatus in good order.

We now come to the second branch of the subject, namely, the
influence of sound upon the cobra and other Serpents. The charmers
are always provided with musical instruments, of which a sort of
flute with a loud shrill sound is the one which is mostly used in
the performances. Having ascertained, from slight marks which their
practised eyes easily discover, that a Serpent is hidden in some
crevice, the charmer plays upon his flute, and in a short time the
snake is sure to make its appearance.

As soon as it is fairly out, the man seizes it by the end of the
tail, and holds it up in the air at arm's length. In this position
it is helpless, having no leverage, and merely wriggles about in
fruitless struggles to escape. Having allowed it to exhaust its
strength by its efforts, the man lowers it into a basket, where
it is only too glad to find a refuge, and closes the lid. After a
while, he raises the lid and begins to play the flute.


The Serpent tries to glide out of the basket, but, as soon as it
does so, the lid is shut down again, and in a very short time the
reptile finds that escape is impossible, and, as long as it hears
the sound of the flute, only raises its head in the air, supporting
itself on the lower portion of its tail, and continues to wave its
head from side to side as long as it hears the sound of the music.

The rapidity with which a cobra learns this lesson is extraordinary,
the charmers being as willing to show their mastery over
newly-caught Serpents as over those which have been long in their

The colour of the Cobra is in most cases a brownish olive. The most
noted peculiarity is the expansion of the neck, popularly called
the hood. This phenomenon is attributable not only to the skin and
muscles, but to the skeleton. About twenty pairs of the ribs of
the neck and fore part of the back are flat instead of curved, and
increase gradually from the head to the eleventh or twelfth pair,
from which they decrease until they are merged into the ordinary
curved ribs of the body. When the snake is excited, it brings these
ribs forward so as to spread the skin, and then displays the oval
hood to best advantage.

In the Cobra di Capello the back of the hood is ornamented by two
large eye-like spots, united by a curved black stripe, so formed
that the whole mark bears a singular resemblance to a pair of


The word _shephiphon_, which evidently signifies some species of
snake, only occurs once in the Scriptures, but fortunately that
single passage contains an allusion to the habits of the serpent
which makes identification nearly certain. The passage in question
occurs in Gen. xlix. 17, and forms part of the prophecy of Jacob
respecting his children: "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an
adder in the path, that biteth the horse's heels, so that his rider
shall fall backward."

Putting aside the deeper meaning of this prophecy, there is here an
evident allusion to the habits of the CERASTES, or HORNED VIPER, a
species of venomous serpent, which is plentiful in Northern Africa,
and is found also in Palestine and Syria. It is a very conspicuous
reptile, and is easily recognised by the two horn-like projections
over the eyes. The name Cerastes, or horned, has been given to it
on account of these projections.

This snake has a custom of lying half buried in the sand, awaiting
the approach of some animal on which it can feed. Its usual diet
consists of the jerboas and other small mammalia, and as they are
exceedingly active, while the Cerastes is slow and sluggish, its
only chance of obtaining food is to lie in wait. It will always take
advantage of any small depression, such as the print of a camel's
foot, and, as it finds many of these depressions in the line of the
caravans, it is literally "a serpent by the way, an adder in the

[Illustration: HORNED VIPER.]

According to the accounts of travellers, the Cerastes is much more
irritable than the cobra, and is very apt to strike at any object
which may disturb it. Therefore, whenever a horseman passes along
the usual route, his steed is very likely to disturb a Cerastes
lying in the path, and to be liable to the attack of the irritated
reptile. Horses are instinctively aware of the presence of the
snake, and mostly perceive it in time to avoid its stroke. Its
small dimensions, the snake rarely exceeding two feet in length,
enable it to conceal itself in a very small hollow, and its
brownish-white colour, diversified with darker spots, causes it to
harmonize so thoroughly with the loose sand in which it lies buried,
that, even when it is pointed out, an unpractised eye does not
readily perceive it.

Even the cobra is scarcely so dreaded as this little snake, whose
bite is so deadly, and whose habits are such as to cause travellers
considerable risk of being bitten.

The head of the Viper affords a very good example of the venomous
apparatus of the poisonous serpents, and is well worthy of
description. The poison fangs or teeth lie on the sides of the upper
jaw, folded back, and almost undistinguishable until lifted with a
needle. They are singularly fine and delicate, hardly larger than a
lady's needle, and are covered almost to their tips with a muscular
envelope, through which the points just peer.

The poison bags or glands, and the reservoir in which the venom is
stored, are found at the back and sides of the head, and give to the
venomous serpents that peculiar width of head which is so unfailing
a characteristic.

On examining carefully the poison fangs, the structure by which the
venom is injected into the wound will be easily understood. Under a
magnifying glass they will be seen to be hollow, thus affording a
passage for the poison.

When the creature draws back its head and opens its mouth to strike,
the deadly fangs spring up with their points ready for action, and
fully charged with their poisonous distillment.

[Illustration: viper]


     The Sand-Viper, or Toxicoa--Its appearance and habits--Adder's
     poison--The Cockatrice, or Tsepha--The Yellow Viper--Ancient
     ideas concerning the Cockatrice--Power of its venom.

We now come to the species of snake which cannot be identified with
any certainty, and will first take the word _epheh_.

Mr. Tristram believes that he has identified the Epheh of the Old
Testament with the Sand-Viper, or Toxicoa. This reptile, though very
small, and scarcely exceeding a foot in length, is a dangerous one,
but its bite is not so deadly as that of the cobra or cerastes. It
is variable in colour, and has angular white streaks on its body,
with a row of whitish spots along the back. The top of the head is
dark, and variegated with arrow-shaped white marks.

The Toxicoa is very plentiful in Northern Africa, Palestine, Syria,
and the neighbouring countries, and, as it is exceedingly active, is
held in some dread by the natives.

Another name of a poisonous snake occurs several times in the Old
Testament. The word is _tsepha_, or _tsiphôni_, and it is sometimes
translated as Adder, and sometimes as Cockatrice. The word is
rendered as Adder in Prov. xxiii. 32, where it is said that wine
"biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." Even in this
case, however, the word is rendered as Cockatrice in the marginal

[Illustration: THE TOXICOA. (Supposed to be the viper of Scripture.)]

It is found three times in the Book of Isaiah. Ch. xi. 8: "The
weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den." Also, ch.
xiv. 29: "Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him
that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's (_nachash_) nest
shall come forth a cockatrice (_tsepha_), and his fruit shall be a
fiery flying serpent." The same word occurs again in ch. lix. 5:
"They hatch cockatrice' eggs." In the prophet Jeremiah we again find
the word: "For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices among you,
which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the Lord."

Around this reptile a wonderful variety of legends have been
accumulated. The Cockatrice was said to kill by its very look,
"because the beams of the Cockatrice's eyes do corrupt the visible
spirit of a man, which visible spirit corrupted all the other
spirits coming from the brain and life of the heart, are thereby
corrupted, and so the man dyeth."

The subtle poison of the Cockatrice infected everything near it, so
that a man who killed a Cockatrice with a spear fell dead himself,
by reason of the poison darting up the shaft of the spear and
passing into his hand. Any living thing near which the Cockatrice
passed was instantly slain by the fiery heat of its venom, which was
exhaled not only from its mouth, but its sides. For the old writers,
whose statements are here summarized, contrived to jumble together a
number of miscellaneous facts in natural history, and so to produce
a most extraordinary series of legends.

I should not have given even this limited space to such puerile
legends, but for the fact that such stories as these were fully
believed in the days when the Authorized Version of the Bible was
translated. The translators of the Bible believed most heartily in
the mysterious and baleful reptile, and, as they saw that the Tsepha
of Scripture was an exceptionally venomous serpent, they naturally
rendered it by the word Cockatrice.

[Illustration: viper]

[Illustration: frog]


     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.

Plentiful as is the FROG throughout Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, it
is very remarkable that in the whole of the canonical books of the
Old Testament the word is only mentioned thrice, and each case in
connexion with the same event.

In Exod. viii. we find that the second of the plagues which visited
Egypt came out of the Nile, the sacred river, in the form of
innumerable Frogs. The reader will probably remark, on perusing the
consecutive account of these plagues, that the two first plagues
were connected with that river, and that they were foreshadowed by
the transformation of Aaron's rod.

When Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh to ask him to let
the people go, Pharaoh demanded a miracle from them, as had been
foretold. Following the divine command, Aaron threw down his rod,
which was changed into a serpent.

Next, as was most appropriate, came a transformation wrought on
the river by means of the same rod which had been transformed into
a Serpent, the whole of the fresh-water throughout the land being
turned into blood, and the fish dying and polluting the venerated
river with their putrefying bodies. In Egypt, a partially rainless
country, such a calamity as this was doubly terrible, as it at the
same time desecrated the object of their worship, and menaced them
with perishing by thirst.

The next plague had also its origin in the river, but extended far
beyond the limits of its banks. The frogs, being unable to return to
the contaminated stream wherein they had lived, spread themselves
in all directions, so as to fulfil the words of the prediction: "If
thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders
with frogs:

"And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up
and come into thine house, and into thy bed-chamber, and upon thy
bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and
into thine ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs" (or dough).

Supposing that such a plague was to come upon us at the present
day, we should consider it to be a terrible annoyance, yet scarcely
worthy of the name of plague, and certainly not to be classed with
the turning of a river into blood, with the hail and lightning that
destroyed the crops and cattle, and with the simultaneous death of
the first-born. But the Egyptians suffered most keenly from the
infliction. They were a singularly fastidious people, and abhorred
the contact of anything that they held to be unclean. We may well
realize, therefore, the effect of a visitation of Frogs, which
rendered their houses unclean by entering them, and themselves
unclean by leaping upon them; which deprived them of rest by getting
on their beds, and of food by crawling into their ovens and upon the
dough in the kneading-troughs.

And, as if to make the visitation still worse, when the plague was
removed, the Frogs died in the places into which they had intruded,
so that the Egyptians were obliged to clear their houses of the dead
carcases, and to pile them up in heaps, to be dried by the sun or
eaten by birds and other scavengers of the East.

As to the species of Frog which thus invaded the houses of the
Egyptians, there is no doubt whatever. It can be but the GREEN,
or EDIBLE FROG (_Rana esculenta_), which is so well known for the
delicacy of its flesh. This is believed to be the only aquatic Frog
of Egypt, and therefore must be the species which came out of the
river into the houses.

Both in Egypt and Palestine it exists in very great numbers,
swarming in every marshy place, and inhabiting the pools in such
numbers that the water can scarcely be seen for the Frogs. Thus the
multitudes of the Frogs which invaded the Egyptians was no matter
of wonder, the only miraculous element being that the reptiles were
simultaneously directed to the houses, and their simultaneous death
when the plague was taken away.

Frogs are also mentioned in Rev. xvi. 13: "And I saw three unclean
spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of
the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet."
With the exception of this passage, which is a purely symbolical
one, there is no mention of Frogs in the New Testament. It is
rather remarkable that the Toad, which might be thought to afford
an excellent symbol for various forms of evil, is entirely ignored,
both in the Old and New Testaments. Probably the Frogs and Toads
were all classed together under the same title.

[Illustration: creek]

[Illustration: waterfall]

[Illustration: birds over water]


     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 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.

We now come to the FISHES, a class of animals which are repeatedly
mentioned both in the Old and New Testaments, but only in general
terms, no one species being described so as to give the slightest
indication of its identity.

This is the more remarkable because, although the Jews were, like
all Orientals, utterly unobservant of those characteristics by which
the various species are distinguished from each other, we might
expect that St. Peter and other of the fisher Apostles would have
given the names of some of the Fish which they were in the habit of
catching, and by the sale of which they gained their living.

It is true that the Jews, as a nation, would not distinguish between
the various species of Fishes, except, perhaps, by comparative
size. But professional fishermen would be sure to distinguish one
species from another, if only for the fact that they would sell the
best-flavoured Fish at the highest price.

We might have expected, for example, that the Apostles and disciples
who were present when the miraculous draught of Fishes took place
would have mentioned the technical names by which they were
accustomed to distinguish the different degrees of the saleable and
unsaleable kinds.


Or we might have expected that on the occasion when St. Peter cast
his line and hook into the sea, and drew out a Fish holding the
tribute-money in his mouth, we might have learned the particular
species of Fish which was thus captured. We ourselves would
assuredly have done so. It would not have been thought sufficient
merely to say that a Fish was caught with money in its mouth, but it
would have been considered necessary to mention the particular fish
as well as the particular coin.

But it must be remembered that the whole tone of thought differs in
Orientals and Europeans, and that the exactness required by the one
has no place in the mind of the other. The whole of the Scriptural
narratives are essentially Oriental in their character, bringing
out the salient points in strong relief, but entirely regardless of
minute detail.

       *       *       *       *       *

We find from many passages both in the Old and New Testaments that
Fish were largely used as food by the Israelites, both when captives
in Egypt and after their arrival in the Promised Land. Take, for
example, Numb. xi. 4, 5: "And the children of Israel also wept
again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?

"We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely." Then, in
the Old Testament, although we do not find many such categorical
statements, there are many passages which allude to professional
fishermen, showing that there was a demand for the Fish which they
caught, sufficient to yield them a maintenance.

In the New Testament, however, there are several passages in which
the Fishes are distinctly mentioned as articles of food. Take, for
example, the well-known miracle of multiplying the loaves and the
Fishes, and the scarcely less familiar passage in John xxi. 9: "As
soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there,
and fish laid thereon, and bread."

We find in all these examples that bread and Fish were eaten
together. Indeed, Fish was eaten with bread just as we eat cheese
or butter; and St. John, in his account of the multiplication of
the loaves and Fishes, does not use the word "fish," but another
word which rather signifies sauce, and was generally employed to
designate the little Fish that were salted down and dried in the
sunbeams for future use.

As to the various species which were used for different purposes, we
know really nothing, the Jews merely dividing their Fish into clean
and unclean.

Some of the species to which the prohibition would extend are
evident enough. There are, for example, the Sheat-fishes, which have
the body naked, and which are therefore taken out of the list of
permitted Fishes. The Sheat-fishes inhabit rivers in many parts of
the world, and often grow to a very considerable size. They may be
at once recognised by their peculiar shape, and by the long, fleshy
tentacles that hang from the mouth. The object of these tentacles
is rather dubious, but as the fish have been seen to direct them at
will to various objects, it is likely that they may answer as organs
of touch.

[Illustration: 1. MURÆNA. 2. LONG-HEADED BARBEL. 3. SHEAT-FISH.]

As might be conjectured from its general appearance, it is one of
the Fishes that love muddy banks, in which it is fond of burrowing
so deeply that, although the river may swarm with Sheat-fishes, a
practised eye is required to see them.

As far as the Sheat-fishes are concerned, there is little need for
the prohibition, inasmuch as the flesh is not at all agreeable
in flavour, and is difficult of digestion, being very fat and
gelatinous. The swimming-bladder of the Sheat-fish is used in some
countries for making a kind of isinglass, similar in character to
that of the sturgeon, but of coarser quality.

The lowermost figure in the above illustration represents a species
which is exceedingly plentiful in the Sea of Galilee.

On account of the mode in which their body is covered, the whole of
the sharks and rays are excluded from the list of permitted Fish,
as, although they have fins, they have no scales, their place being
taken by shields varying greatly in size. The same rule excludes the
whole of the lamprey tribe, although the excellence of their flesh
is well known.

Moreover, the Jews almost universally declare that the Muræna and
Eel tribe are also unclean, because, although it has been proved
that these Fishes really possess scales as well as fins, and are
therefore legally permissible, the scales are hidden under a slimy
covering, and are so minute as to be practically absent.

The uppermost figure in the illustration represents the celebrated
Muræna, one of the fishes of the Mediterranean, in which sea it is
tolerably plentiful. In the days of the old Roman empire, the Muræna
was very highly valued for the table. The wealthier citizens built
ponds in which the Murænæ were kept alive until they were wanted.
This Fish sometimes reaches four feet in length.

The rest of the Fishes which are shown in the three illustrations
belong to the class of clean Fish, and were permitted as food.
The figure of the Fish between the Muræna and Sheat-fish is the
Long-headed Barbel, so called from its curious form.

The Barbels are closely allied to the carps, and are easily known
by the barbs or beards which hang from their lips. Like the
sheat-fishes, the Barbels are fond of grubbing in the mud, for the
purpose of getting at the worms, grubs, and larvæ of aquatic insects
that are always to be found in such places. The Barbels are rather
long in proportion to their depth, a peculiarity which, owing to the
length of the head, is rather exaggerated in this species.

The Long-headed Barbel is extremely common in Palestine, and may be
taken with the very simplest kind of net. Indeed, in some places,
the fish are so numerous that a common sack answers nearly as well
as a net.

It has been mentioned that the ancient Romans were in the habit of
forming ponds in which the Murænæ were kept, and it is evident, from
several passages of Scripture, that the Jews were accustomed to
preserve fish in a similar manner, though they would not restrict
their tanks or ponds to one species.

The accompanying illustration represents Fishes of the Mediterranean
Sea, and it is probable that one of them may be identified, though
the passage in which it is mentioned is only an inferential one. In
the prophecy against Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the prophet Ezekiel
writes as follows: "I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause
the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring
thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy
rivers shall stick unto thy scales" (xxix. 4).



Some believe that the prophet made allusion to the Sucking-fish,
which has the dorsal fins developed into a most curious apparatus
of adhesion, by means of which it can fasten itself at will to any
smooth object, and hold so tightly to it that it can scarcely be
torn away without injury.

The common Sucking-fish is shown in the upper part of the

There are, however, other fish which have powers of adhesion which,
although not so remarkable as those of the Sucking-fish, are yet
very strong. There is, for example, the well-known Lump-sucker, or
Lump-fish, which has the ventral fins modified into a sucker so
powerful that, when one of these fishes has been put into a pail of
water, it has attached itself so firmly to the bottom of the vessel
that when lifted by the tail it raised the pail, together with
several gallons of water.

The Gobies, again, have their ventral fins united and modified into
a single sucker, by means of which the fish is able to secure itself
to a stone, rock, or indeed any tolerably smooth surface. These
fishes are popularly known as Bull-routs.

The centre of the illustration is occupied by another of the
Mediterranean fishes. This is the well-known Tunny, which furnishes
food to the inhabitants of the coasts of this inland sea, and indeed
constitutes one of their principal sources of wealth. This fine fish
is on an average four or five feet in length, and sometimes attains
the length of six or seven feet.

The flesh of the Tunny is excellent, and the fish is so conspicuous,
that the silence of the Scriptures concerning its existence shows
the utter indifference to specific accuracy that prevailed among the
various writers.

The other figure represents the Coryphene, popularly, though very
wrongly, called the Dolphin, and celebrated, under that name, for
the beautiful colours which fly over the surface of the body as it

The flesh of the Coryphene is excellent, and in the times of classic
Rome the epicures were accustomed to keep these fish alive, and at
the beginning of a feast to lay them before the guests, so that they
might, in the first place, witness the magnificent colours of the
dying fish, and, in the second place, might be assured that when it
was cooked it was perfectly fresh. Even during life, the Coryphene
is a most lovely fish, and those who have witnessed it playing round
a ship, or dashing off in chase of a shoal of flying-fishes, can
scarcely find words to express their admiration of its beauty.

[Illustration: fishermen]



     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.

As to the various methods of capturing Fish, we will first take the
simplest plan, that of the hook and line.

Sundry references are made to angling, both in the Old and New
Testaments. See, for example, the well-known passage respecting the
leviathan, in Job xli. 1, 2: "Canst thou draw out leviathan with an
hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?

"Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with
a thorn?"

It is thought that the last clause of this passage refers, not to
the actual capture of the Fish, but to the mode in which they were
kept in the tanks, each being secured by a ring or hook and line, so
that it might be taken when wanted.

On referring to the New Testament, we find that the fisher Apostles
used both the hook and the net. See Matt. xvii. 27: "Go thou to the
sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up."
Now this passage explains one or two points.

In the first place, it is one among others which shows that,
although the Apostles gave up all to follow Christ, they did not
throw away their means of livelihood, as some seem to fancy, nor
exist ever afterwards on the earnings of others. On the contrary,
they retained their fisher equipment, whether boats, nets, or hooks;
and here we find St. Peter, after the way of fishermen, carrying
about with him the more portable implements of his craft.

Next, the phrase "casting" the hook into the sea is exactly
expressive of the mode in which angling is conducted in the sea and
large pieces of water, such as the Lake of Galilee. The fisherman
does not require a rod, but takes his line, which has a weight just
above the hook, coils it on his left arm in lasso fashion, baits the
hook, and then, with a peculiar swing, throws it into the water as
far as it will reach. The hook is allowed to sink for a short time,
and is then drawn towards the shore in a series of jerks, in order
to attract the Fish, so that, although the fisherman does not employ
a rod, he manages his line very much as does an angler of our own
day when "spinning" for pike or trout.

Sometimes the fisherman has a number of lines to manage, and in this
case he acts in a slightly different manner. After throwing out the
loaded hook, as above mentioned, he takes a short stick, notched at
one end, and pointed at the other, thrusts the sharp end into the
ground at the margin of the water, and hitches the line on the notch.

He then proceeds to do the same with all his lines in succession,
and when he has flung the last hook into the water, he sits down
on a heap of leaves and grass which he has gathered together, and
watches the lines to see if either of them is moved in the peculiar
jerking manner which is characteristic of a "bite." After a while,
he hauls them in successively, removes the Fish that may have been
caught, and throws the lines into the water afresh.

       *       *       *       *       *

We now come to the practice of catching Fish by the net, a custom
to which the various Scriptural writers frequently refer, sometimes
in course of historical narrative, and sometimes by way of allegory
or metaphor. The reader will remember that the net was also used on
land for the purpose of catching wild animals, and that many of the
allusions to the net which occur in the Old Testament refer to the
land and not to the water.

The commonest kind of net, which was used in the olden times as it
is now, was the casting-net. This kind of net is circular, and is
loaded all round its edge with weights, and suspended by the middle
to a cord. When the fisherman throws this net, he gathers it up in
folds in his arms, and, with a peculiar swing of the arms, only to
be learned by long practice, flings it so that it spreads out and
falls in its circular form upon the surface of the water. It rapidly
sinks to the bottom, the loaded circumference causing it to assume
a cup-like form, enclosing within its meshes all the Fish that
happen to be under it as it falls. When it has reached the bottom,
the fisherman cautiously hauls in the rope, so that the loaded
edges gradually approach each other, and by their own weight cling
together and prevent the Fish from escaping as the net is slowly
drawn ashore.

This kind of net is found, with certain modifications, in nearly
all parts of the world. The Chinese are perhaps supreme in their
management of it. They have a net of extraordinary size, and cast it
by flinging it over their backs, the huge circle spreading itself
out in the most perfect manner as it falls on the water.

At the present day, when the fishermen use this net they wade into
the sea as far as they can, and then cast it. In consequence of this
custom, the fishermen are always naked while engaged in their work,
wearing nothing but a thick cap in order to save themselves from
sun-stroke. It is probable that on the memorable occasion mentioned
by St. John, in chap. xxi., all the fishermen were absolutely,
and not relatively naked, wearing no clothes at all, not even the
ordinary tunic.

That a great variety of nets was used by the ancient Jews is
evident from the fact that there are no less than ten words to
signify different kinds of net. At the present day we have very
great difficulty in deciding upon the exact interpretation of these
technical terms, especially as in very few cases are we assisted
either by the context or by the etymology of the words. It is the
same in all trades or pursuits, and we can easily understand how our
own names of drag-net, seine, trawl, and keer-drag would perplex
any commentator who happened to live some two thousand years after
English had ceased to be a living language.


The Sagene, or seine-net, was made in lengths, any number of which
could be joined together, so as to enclose a large space of water.
The upper edge was kept at the surface of the water by floats, and
the lower edge sunk by weights.

This net was always taken to sea in vessels, and when "shot" the
various lengths were joined together, and the net extended in a
line, with a boat at each end. The boats then gradually approached
each other, so as to bring the net into a semicircle, and finally
met, enclosing thereby a vast number of Fishes in their meshen
walls. The water was then beaten, so as to frighten the Fishes
and drive them into the meshes, and the net was then either taken
ashore, or lifted by degrees on board the boats, and the Fish
removed from it.

As in a net of this kind Fishes of all sorts are enclosed, the
contents are carefully examined, and those which are unfit for
eating are thrown away. Even at the present day much care is taken
in the selection, but in the ancient times the fishermen were still
more cautious, every Fish having to be separately examined in order
that the presence both of fins and scales might be assured before
the captors could send it to the market.

It is to this custom that Christ alludes in the well-known parable
of the net: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that
was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind;

"Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and
gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away."

       *       *       *       *       *

Lastly, we come to the religious, or rather superstitious, part
played by Fish in the ancient times. That the Egyptians employed
Fish as material symbols of Divine attributes we learn from secular
writers, such as Herodotus and Strabo.

The Jews, who seem to have had an irrepressible tendency to
idolatry, and to have adopted the idols of every people with whom
they came in contact, resuscitated the Fish-worship of Egypt as soon
as they found themselves among the Philistines. We might naturally
imagine that as the Israelites were bitterly opposed to their
persistent enemy, who trod them under foot and crushed every attempt
at rebellion for more than three hundred years, they would repudiate
the worship as well as the rule of their conquerors. But, on the
contrary, they adopted the worship of Dagon, the Fish-god, who was
the principal deity of the Philistines, and erected temples in his

We find precisely the same worship at the present day in Siam, where
Dagon has exactly the same form as among the Philistines of old.
There is now before me a photograph of a great temple at Ayutia, the
entrance to which is guarded by two huge images of the Fish-god.
They are about sixty feet in height, and have both legs and feet
like man, but in addition the lower part of the body is modified
into the tail of a Fish, which, in common with the whole of the
body, is covered with gilded scales.

In order that the reader may see examples of the typical Fish which
are to be found in Egypt and Palestine, I have added three more
species, which are represented in the following illustration.



The uppermost figure represents the NILE PERCH. This Fish is
plentiful in the Nile, and in the mouths of many Asiatic rivers. It
is brown above, silvery white below, and may be distinguished by the
armed gill-covers, and the three strong spines of the anal fin. The
tongue is smooth.

Immediately below the Nile Perch is the STAR-GAZER.

This Fish is found in the Mediterranean, and derives its name from
the singular mode in which the eyes are set in the head, so that it
looks upwards instead of sideways. It is one of the mud-lovers,
a fact which accounts for the peculiar position of the eyes. It
is said to feed after the fashion of the fishing-frog--_i.e._ by
burying itself in the mud and attracting other Fishes by a worm-like
appendage of its mouth, and pouncing on them before they are aware
of their danger.

This is not a pretty Fish, and as it is very spiny, is not pleasant
to the grasp, but its flesh is very good, and it is much valued by
those who can obtain it.

The last Fish to be noticed is the SURMULLET, a Fish that is equally
remarkable for the beauty of its colours and the excellence of its

[Illustration: man]


     The purple of Scripture--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.

Leaving the higher forms of animal life, we now pass to the
Invertebrated Animals which are mentioned in Scripture.

As may be inferred from the extreme looseness of nomenclature
which prevails among the higher animals, the species which can be
identified are comparatively few, and of them but a very few details
are given in the Scriptures.

Taking them in their zoological order, we will begin with the

       *       *       *       *       *

We are all familiar with the value which was set by the ancients
upon the peculiar dye which may be called by the name of Imperial
Purple. In the first place, it was exceedingly costly, not only
for its richness of hue, but from the great difficulty with which
a sufficient quantity could be procured for staining a dress.
Purple was exclusively a royal colour, which might not be worn by a
subject. Among the ancient Romans, during the times of the Cæsars,
any one who ventured to appear in a dress of purple would do so at
the peril of his life. In the consular days of Rome, the dress of
the consuls was white, striped with purple; but the Cæsars advanced
another step in luxury, and dyed the whole toga of this costly hue.

The colour of the dye is scarcely what we understand by the term
"purple," _i.e._ a mixture of blue and red. It has but very little
blue in it, and has been compared by the ancients to the colour
of newly-clotted blood. It is obtained from several Shell Fish
belonging to the great Whelk family, the chief of which is the
_Murex brandaris_.

The shell is shaped something like that of a whelk, but is very
smooth and porcelain-like, and is generally white, ornamented with
several coloured bands. It is, however, one of the most variable of
shells, differing not only in colour but in form. It always inhabits
the belt of the shore between tide-marks, and preys upon other
Molluscs, such as the mussel and periwinkle, literally licking them
to pieces with its long riband tongue.

This tongue is beset with rows of hooked teeth, exactly like the
shark-tooth weapons of the Samoan and Mangaian Islanders, and with
it the creature is enabled to bore through the shells of mussels
and similar Molluscs, and to eat the enclosed animal. It is very
destructive to periwinkles, thrusting its tongue through the mouth
of the shell, piercing easily the operculum by which the entrance is
closed, and gradually scooping out the unfortunate inmate.

Even the bivalves, which can shut themselves up between two shells,
fare no better, the tongue of the Dog-Whelk rasping a hole in the
hard shell in eight-and-forty hours.

In order to procure the animal, the shell must be broken with a
sharp blow of a small hammer, and the receptacle of the colouring
matter can then be seen behind the head, and recognised by its
lighter hue.

When it is opened, a creamy sort of matter exudes. It is yellowish,
and gives no promise of its future richness of hue. There is only
one drop of this matter in each animal, and it is about sufficient
in quantity to stain a piece of linen the size of a dime.

The best mode of seeing the full beauty of the purple is to take a
number of the Molluscs, and to stain as large a surface as possible.
The piece of linen should then be exposed to the rays of the sun,
when it will go through a most curious series of colours. The yellow
begins to turn green, and, after a while, the stained portions of
the linen will be entirely green, the yellow having been vanquished
by the blue. By degrees the blue predominates more and more over the
yellow, until the linen is no more green, but blue. Then, just as
the yellow yielded to the blue, the blue yields to red, and becomes
first violet, then purple, and lastly assumes the blood-red hue of

The colour is very permanent, and, instead of fading by time, seems
rather to brighten.

In some cases the ancients appear not to have troubled themselves
with the complicated operation of taking the animal out of the
shell, opening the receptacle, and squeezing the contents on the
fabric to be dyed, but simply crushed the whole of the Mollusc,
so as to set the colouring matter free, and steeped the cloth
in the pulp. Tyre was one of the most celebrated spots for this
manufacture, the "Tyrian dye" being celebrated for its richness.
Heaps of broken shells remain to the present day as memorials of the
long-perished manufacture.

The value which the ancients set upon this dye is shown by many
passages in various books. Among others we may refer to Herodotus.

Cambyses, it appears, had a design to make war upon three
nations, the Ammonians, the Carthaginians, and the Ethiopians. He
determined to invade the first by land, and the second by sea;
but, being ignorant of the best method of reaching the Ethiopians,
he dispatched messengers to them, nominally as ambassadors, but
practically as spies. He sent to the King of Ethiopia valuable
presents--namely, a purple mantle, a golden necklace and bracelet,
an elaborate box of perfumed ointment, and a cask of palm-wine,
these evidently being considered a proof of imperial magnificence.

The Ethiopian king ridiculed the jewels, praised the wine, and
asked curiously concerning the dye with which the purple mantle
was stained. On being told the mode of preparation, he refused
to believe the visitors, and, referring to the changing hues of
the mantle and to the perfume of the ointment, he showed his
appreciation of their real character by saying that the goods were
deceptive, and so were the bearers.

The Hebrew word _argaman_, which signifies the regal purple, occurs
several times in Scripture, and takes a slightly different form
according to the Chaldaic or Hebraic idiom.

For example, we find it in Exod. xxv. 4: "This is the offering which
ye shall take of them: gold, and silver, and brass,

"And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen," &c. &c.

It occurs again in 2 Chron. ii. 7: "Send me now therefore a man
cunning to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in iron,
and in purple, and crimson, and blue."


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

There is a very remarkable and not very intelligible passage in Ps.
lviii. 8: "As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass
away." The Jewish Bible renders the passage in a way which explains
the idea which evidently prevailed at the time when the Psalms were
composed: "As a snail let him melt as he passeth on."

The ancients had an idea that the slimy track made by a Snail as it
crawled along was subtracted from the substance of its body, and
that in consequence the farther it crept, the smaller it became,
until at last it wasted entirely away. The commentators on the
Talmud took this view of the case. The Hebrew word _shablul_, which
undoubtedly does signify a Snail of some kind, is thus explained:
"The Shablul is a creeping thing: when it comes out of its shell,
saliva pours from itself, until it becomes liquid, and so dies."

Other explanations of this passage have been offered, but there is
no doubt that the view taken by these commentators is the correct
one, and that the Psalmist, when he wrote the terrible series of
denunciations in which the passage in question occurs, had in his
mind the popular belief regarding the gradual wasting away of the
Snail as it "passeth on."

It is needless to say that no particular species of Snail is
mentioned, and almost as needless to state that in Palestine there
are many species of Snails, to any or all of which these words are
equally applicable.

[Illustration: PEARL OYSTER.]


     The Pearl of Scripture--Wisdom compared to Pearl--Metaphorical
     uses of the Pearl--The Pearl of great price--Casting Pearls
     before swine.

There is only one passage in the Old Testament in which can be found
the word which is translated as PEARL, and it is certain that the
word in question may have another interpretation.

The word in question is _gabish_, and occurs in Job xxviii.
18. Treating of wisdom, in that magnificent passage beginning,
"But where shall Wisdom be found, and where is the place of
understanding?" the sacred writer uses these words, "No mention
shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is
above rubies."

In consequence of the labour and research required for seeking
wisdom, it was proverbially likened to a Pearl, and in this sense
we must understand the warning of our Lord, not to cast Pearls
before swine. The "pearl of great price" is another form of the same

       *       *       *       *       *

The substance of Pearls is essentially the same as that which lines
many shells, and is known as "mother of pearl."

Although a large number of shell-fish secrete "mother of pearl,"
only a few of them yield true Pearls. The finest are obtained from
the so-called Pearl oyster, an illustration of which is given on the
preceding page.

The Ancients obtained their Pearls chiefly from India and the
Persian Gulf, where to this day the industry of Pearl-fishing is
still carried on by the natives.

The oysters containing the Pearls are brought up from the bottom of
the sea by divers, who go out in boats to the fishing-grounds, which
are some distance from the shore.

Leaping naked into the water, carrying a heavy stone to enable him
to sink quickly to the bottom, the diver descends to where the
oysters lie, and secures as many of them as possible during the
limited time that his breath lasts. On an average the divers remain
under water from fifty to eighty seconds, though some can endure a
much longer period.

Sharks are the special dread of Pearl-divers, and many are carried
off by this fierce monster of the deep. To arm himself against their
attack the diver carries a sharp knife, and instances are known of
his having attacked and fairly defeated the dread destroyer in its
own element.

Not only is the diver exposed to the danger of attack from sharks,
but his hazardous calling is necessarily exhausting, and, as a rule,
he is a short-lived man.

There are some kinds of fresh-water mussels which contain Pearls of
an inferior quality; perhaps the most celebrated of these is the
Pearl Mussel of the Chinese, who make a singular use of it. They
string a number of globular pellets, and introduce them between
the valves of the mussel, so that in course of time the creature
deposits a coating of pearly substance upon them, and forms a very
good imitation of real Pearls.

[Illustration: insects]

[Illustration: butterfly]



     Insects--The Locust-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 John the Baptist.

Of the LOCUSTS there are several species in Palestine, two of which
are represented in the accompanying plate. Those on the ground are
the common Migratory Locusts, while those on the wing, which have
long heads, are a species of _Truxalis_.

The Locust belongs to the great order of Orthoptera, or
straight-winged insects. They have, when fully developed, four
wings, the two front being thick and membraneous, while the
two hinder wings are large, delicate, translucent, and folded
longitudinally under the front pair of wings when the insect is at
rest. In the Locusts these characteristics are admirably shown. The
appearance of a Locust when at rest and when flying is so different
that the creature is at first sight scarcely recognisable as the
same creature. When at rest, it is a compact and tolerably stout
insect, with a dull though delicately coloured body; but when it
takes flight it appears to attain twice its previous dimensions.

The front pair of wings, which alone were seen before they were
expanded, became comparatively insignificant, while the hinder
pair, which were before invisible, became the most prominent part
of the insect, their translucent folds being coloured with the most
brilliant hues, according to the species. The body seems to have
shrunk as the wings have increased, and to have diminished to half
its previous size, while the long legs that previously were so
conspicuous are stretched out like the legs of a flying heron.

All the Locusts are vegetable-feeders, and do great harm wherever
they happen to be plentiful, their powerful jaws severing even the
thick grass stems as if cut by scissors. But it is only when they
invade a country that their real power is felt. They come flying
with the wind in such vast multitudes that the sky is darkened as
if by thunder-clouds; and when they settle, every vestige of green
disappears off the face of the earth.

Mr. Gordon Cumming once saw a flight of these Locusts. They flew
about three hundred feet from the ground, and came on in thick,
solid masses, forming one unbroken cloud. On all sides nothing was
to be seen but Locusts. The air was full of them, and the plain was
covered with them, and for more than an hour the insect army flew
past him. When the Locusts settle, they eat with such voracity that
the sound caused by their jaws cutting the leaves and grass can be
heard at a great distance; and even the young Locusts, which have no
wings, and are graphically termed by the Dutch colonists of Southern
Africa "voet-gangers," or foot-goers, are little inferior in power
of jaw to the fully-developed insect.

As long as they have a favourable wind, nothing stops the progress
of the Locusts. They press forward just like the vast herds of
antelopes that cover the plains of Africa, or the bisons that once
blackened the prairies of America, and the progress of even the
wingless young is as irresistible as that of the adult insects.
Regiments of soldiers have in vain attempted to stop them. Trenches
have been dug across their path, only to be filled up in a few
minutes with the advancing hosts, over whose bodies the millions of
survivors continued their march. When the trenches were filled with
water, the result was the same; and even when fire was substituted
for water, the flames were quenched by the masses of Locusts that
fell into them. When they come to a tree, they climb up it in
swarms, and devour every particle of foliage, not even sparing the
bark of the smaller branches. They ascend the walls of houses that
come in the line of their march, swarming in at the windows, and
gnawing in their hunger the very woodwork of the furniture.

We shall now see how true to nature is the terrible prophecy of
Joel. "A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of
thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great
people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither
shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

[Illustration: LOCUSTS.]

"A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth:
the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a
desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.

"And the Lord shall utter His voice before His army: for His camp is
very great" (Joel ii. 2-11).

Nothing can be more vividly accurate than this splendid description
of the Locust armies. First we have the darkness caused by them as
they fly like black clouds between the sun and the earth. Then comes
the contrast between the blooming and fertile aspect of the land
before they settle on it, and its utter desolation when they leave

There is one passage in the Scriptures which at first sight seems
rather obscure, but is clear enough when we understand the character
of the insect to which it refers: "I am gone like the shadow when it
declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust" (Ps. cix. 23).

Although the Locusts have sufficient strength of flight to remain
on the wing for a considerable period, and to pass over great
distances, they have little or no command over the direction of
their flight, and always travel with the wind, just as has been
mentioned regarding the quail. So entirely are they at the mercy
of the wind, that if a sudden gust arises the Locusts are tossed
about in the most helpless manner; and if they should happen to come
across one of the circular air-currents that are so frequently found
in the countries which they inhabit, they are whirled round and
round without the least power of extricating themselves.

In the account of the great plague of Locusts, the wind is mentioned
as the proximate cause both of their arrival and their departure.
See, for example, Exod. x. 12, 13:

"And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land
of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of
Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath

"And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the
Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that
night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts."

Afterwards, when Moses was brought before Pharaoh, and entreated to
remove the plague which had been brought upon the land, the west
wind was employed to take the Locusts away, just as the east wind
had brought them.

"He went out from Pharaoh, and entreated the Lord.

"And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the
locusts, and cast them into the Red Sea; there remained not one
locust in all the coasts of Egypt" (Exod. x. 18, 19).

Modern travellers have given accounts of these Locust armies, which
exactly correspond with the sacred narrative. One traveller mentions
that, after a severe storm, the Locusts were destroyed in such
multitudes, that they were heaped in a sort of wall, varying from
three to four feet in height, fifty miles in length, and almost
unapproachable, on account of the odour of their decomposing bodies.

       *       *       *       *       *

We now come to the use of Locusts as food.

Very few insects have been recognised as fit for human food, even
among uncivilized nations, and it is rather singular that the
Israelites, whose dietary was so scrupulously limited, should have
been permitted the use of the Locust. These insects are, however,
eaten in all parts of the world which they frequent, and in some
places form an important article of diet, thus compensating in some
way for the amount of vegetable food which they consume.

When their captors have roasted and eaten as many as they can manage
to devour, they dry the rest over the fires, pulverize them between
two stones, and keep the meal for future use, mixing it with water,
or, if they can get it, with milk.

We will now take a few accounts given by travellers of the present
day, selecting one or two from many. Mr. W. G. Palgrave, in his
"Central and Eastern Arabia," gives a description of the custom of
eating Locusts. "On a sloping bank, at a short distance in front, we
discerned certain large black patches, in strong contrast with the
white glisten of the soil around, and at the same time our attention
was attracted by a strange whizzing, like that of a flight of
hornets, close along the ground, while our dromedaries capered and
started as though struck with sudden insanity.

"The cause of all this was a vast swarm of locusts, here alighted
in their northerly wanderings from their birthplace in the Dahna;
their camp extended far and wide, and we had already disturbed their
outposts. These insects are wont to settle on the ground after
sunset, and there, half-stupified by the night chill, await the
morning rays, which warm them once more into life and movement.

"This time, the dromedaries did the work of the sun, and it would be
hard to say which of the two were the most frightened, they or the
locusts. It was truly laughable to see so huge a beast lose his wits
for fear at the flight of a harmless, stingless insect, for, of all
timid creatures, none equal this 'ship of the desert' for cowardice.

"But, if the beasts were frightened, not so their masters. I really
thought they would have gone mad for joy. Locusts are here an
article of food, nay, a dainty, and a good swarm of them is begged
of Heaven in Arabia....

"The locust, when boiled or fried, is said to be delicious, and
boiled and fried accordingly they are to an incredible extent.
However, I never could persuade myself to taste them, whatever
invitations the inhabitants of the land, smacking their lips over
large dishes full of entomological 'delicatesses,' would make me to
join them. Barakàt ventured on one for a trial. He pronounced it
oily and disgusting, nor added a second to the first: it is caviare
to unaccustomed palates.

"The swarm now before us was a thorough godsend for our Arabs, on no
account to be neglected. Thirst, weariness, all were forgotten, and
down the riders leaped from their starting camels. This one spread
out a cloak, that one a saddle-bag, a third his shirt, over the
unlucky creatures, destined for the morning meal. Some flew away,
whizzing across our feet; others were caught, and tied up in sacks."

Mr. Mansfield Parkyns, in his "Life in Abyssinia," mentions that the
true Abyssinian will not eat the Locust, but that the negroes and
Arabs do so. He describes the flavour as being something between
the burnt end of a quill and a crumb of linseed cake. The flavour,
however, depends much on the mode of cooking, and, as some say, on
the nature of the Locusts' food.

Signor Pierotti states, in his "Customs and Traditions of
Palestine," that Locusts are really excellent food, and that he was
accustomed to eat them, not from necessity, but from choice, and
compares their flavour to that of shrimps.

Dr. Livingstone makes a similar comparison. In Palestine, Locusts
are eaten either roasted or boiled in salt and water, but, when
preserved for future use, they are dried in the sun, their heads,
wings, and legs picked off, and their bodies ground into dust. This
dust has naturally a rather bitter flavour, which is corrected by
mixing it with camel's milk or honey, the latter being the favourite

We may now see that the food of John the Baptist was, like his
dress, that of a people who lived at a distance from towns, and
that there was no more hardship in the one than in the other.
Some commentators have tried to prove that he fed on the fruit of
the locust or carob tree--the same that is used in some countries
for feeding cattle; but there is not the least ground for such
an explanation. The account of his life, indeed, requires no
explanation; Locust-dust, mixed with honey, being an ordinary
article of food even at the present day.

[Illustration: locust]

[Illustration: flowers]


     The Honey Bee of Palestine--Abundance of Bees in the
     Holy Land--Habitations of the wild Bee--The honey of
     Scripture--Domesticated Bees and their hives--Stores of wild
     honey--The story of Jonathan--The Crusaders and the honey.

Fortunately, there is no doubt about the rendering of the Hebrew
word _debôrah,_ which has always been acknowledged to be rightly
translated as "Bee."

The Honey Bee is exceedingly plentiful in Palestine, and in some
parts of the country multiplying to such an extent that the
precipitous ravines in which it takes up its residence are almost
impassable by human beings, so jealous are the Bees of their
domains. Although the Bee is not exactly the same species as that
of our own country, being the Banded Bee _(Apis fasciata),_ and not
the _Apis mellifica,_ the two insects very much resemble each other
in shape, colour, and habits. Both of them share the instinctive
dislike of strangers and jealousy of intrusion, and the Banded Bee
of Palestine has as great an objection to intrusion as its congener
in this country.

Several allusions are made in the Scriptures to this trait in the
character of the Bee. See, for example, Deut. i. 44: "And the
Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you,
and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto
Hormah." All those who have had the misfortune to offend Bees will
recognise the truth of this metaphor, the Amorites swarming out of
the mountain like wild Bees out of the rocky clefts which serve them
as hives, and chasing the intruder fairly out of their domains.

[Illustration: THE BEE]

A similar metaphor is employed in the Psalms: "They compassed me
about; yea, they compassed me about; but in the name of the Lord I
will destroy them.

"They compassed me about like bees, they are quick as the fire of
thorns, but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them."

The custom of swarming is mentioned in one of the earlier books of
Scripture. The reader will remember that, after Samson had killed
the lion which met him on the way, he left the carcase alone.
The various carnivorous beasts and birds at once discover such a
banquet, and in a very short time the body of a dead animal is
reduced to a hollow skeleton, partially or entirely covered with
skin, the rays of the sun drying and hardening the skin until it is
like horn.

In exceptionally hot weather, the same result occurs even in this
country. Some years before this account was written there was a
very hot and dry summer, and a great mortality took place among the
sheep. So many indeed died that at last their owners merely flayed
them, and left their bodies to perish. One of the dead sheep had
been thrown into a rather thick copse, and had fallen in a spot
where it was sheltered from the wind, and yet exposed to the fierce
heat of the summer's sun. The consequence was that in a few days
it was reduced to a mere shell. The heat hardened and dried the
external layer of flesh so that not even the carnivorous beetles
could penetrate it, while the whole of the interior dissolved into
a semi-putrescent state, and was rapidly devoured by myriads of
blue-bottles and other larvæ.

It was so thoroughly dried that scarcely any evil odour clung to
it, and as soon as I came across it the story of Samson received a
simple elucidation. In the hotter Eastern lands, the whole process
would have been more rapid and more complete, and the skeleton of
the lion, with the hard and horny skin strained over it, would
afford exactly the habitation of which a wandering swarm of Bees
would take advantage. At the present day swarms of wild Bees often
make their habitations within the desiccated bodies of dead camels
that have perished on the way.

As to the expression "hissing" for the Bee, the reader must bear in
mind that a sharp, short hiss is the ordinary call in Palestine,
when one person desires to attract the attention of another. A
similar sound, which may perhaps be expressed by the letters _tst_,
prevails on the Continent at the present day. Signor Pierotti
remarks that the inhabitants of Palestine are even now accustomed to
summon Bees by a sort of hissing sound.

Whether the honey spoken of in the Scriptures was obtained from wild
or domesticated Bees is not very certain, but, as the manners of the
East are much the same now as they were three thousand years ago,
it is probable that Bees were kept then as they are now. The hives
are not in the least like ours, but are cylindrical vases of coarse
earthenware, laid horizontally, much like the bark hives employed in
many parts of Southern Africa.

In some places the hives are actually built into the walls of the
houses, the closed end of the cylinder projecting into the interior,
while an entrance is made for the Bees in the other end, so that the
insects have no business in the house. When the inhabitants wish to
take the honey, they resort to the operation which is technically
termed "driving" by bee-masters.

They gently tap the end within the house, and continue the tapping
until the Bees, annoyed by the sound, have left the hive. They then
take out the circular door that closes the end of the hive, remove
as much comb as they want, carefully put back those portions which
contain grubs and bee-bread, and replace the door, when the Bees
soon return and fill up the gaps in the combs. As to the wasteful,
cruel, and foolish custom of "burning" the Bees, the Orientals never
think of practising it.

In many places the culture of Bees is carried out to a very great
extent, numbers of the earthenware cylinders being piled on one
another, and a quantity of mud thrown over them in order to defend
them from the rays of the sun, which would soon melt the wax of the

In consequence of the geographical characteristics of the Holy Land,
which supplies not only convenient receptacles for the Bees in the
rocks, but abundance of thyme and similar plants, vast stores of
bee-comb are to be found in the cliffs, and form no small part of
the wealth of the people.

The abundance of wild honey is shown by the memorable events
recorded in 1 Sam. xiv. Saul had prohibited all the people
from eating until the evening. Jonathan, who had not heard the
prohibition, was faint and weary, and, seeing honey dripping on the
ground from the abundance and weight of the comb, he took it up on
the end of his staff, and ate sufficient to restore his strength.

Thus, if we refer again to the history of John the Baptist and his
food, we shall find that he was in no danger of starving for want
of nourishment, the Bees breeding abundantly in the desert places
he frequented, and affording him a plentiful supply of the very
material which was needed to correct the deficiencies of the dried
locusts which he used instead of bread.

The expression "a land flowing with milk and honey" has become
proverbial as a metaphor expressive of plenty. Those to whom the
words were spoken understood it as something more than a metaphor.
In the work to which reference has already been made Signor Pierotti
writes as follows:--"Let us now see how far the land could be said
to flow with milk and honey during the latter part of its history
and at the present day.

"We find that honey was abundant in the time of the Crusades, for
the English, who followed Edward I. to Palestine, died in great
numbers from the excessive heat, and from eating too much fruit and

"At the present day, after traversing the country in every
direction, I am able to affirm that in the south-east and
north-east, where the ancient customs of the patriarchs are most
fully preserved, and the effects of civilization have been felt
least, milk and honey may still be said to flow, as they form a
portion of every meal, and may even be more abundant than water,
which fails occasionally in the heat of summer.... I have often
eaten of the comb, which I found very good and of delicious

       *       *       *       *       *

The Bee represented in the illustration is the common Bee of
Palestine, _Apis fasciata_. The lowest figure in the corner, with
a long body and shut wings, is the queen. The central figure
represents the drone, conspicuous by means of his large eyes, that
almost join each other at the top of the head, and for his thicker
and stouter body, while the third figure represents the worker Bee.
Near them is shown the entrance to one of the natural hives which
are so plentiful in the Holy Land, and are made in the "clefts of
the rocks." A number of Bees are shown issuing from the hole.

[Illustration: THE HORNET AND ITS NEST.]


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

Still keeping to the hymenopterous insects, we come to the Hornet.
There are three passages in which occurs the word _tzirah_, which
has been translated as Hornet. In every case when the word is
mentioned the insect is employed in a metaphorical sense. See, for
example, Exod. xxiii. 27, 28: "I will send my fear before thee, and
will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come; and I will make
all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.

"And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the
Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee."

The Hornet affords a most appropriate image for such a promise
as was made to the Israelites, and was one which they must
have thoroughly comprehended. The Hornets of Palestine and the
neighbouring countries are far more common than our own Hornets
here, and they evidently infested some parts to such an extent that
they gave their name to those spots. Thus the word _Zoreah_, which
is mentioned in Josh. xv. 33, signifies the "place of Hornets."

They make their nests in various ways; some species placing them
underground, and others disposing them as shown in the illustration,
and merely sheltering them from the elements by a paper cover.
Such nests as these would easily be disturbed by the animals which
accompanied the Israelites on their journeys, even if the people
were careful to avoid them. In such a case, the irritated insects
rush out at the intruders; and so great is the terror of their
stings, that men and beasts fly promiscuously in every direction,
each only anxious to escape from the winged foes.

The recollection of such scenes would necessarily dwell in the
memory of those who had taken part in them, and cause the metaphor
to impress itself strongly upon them.

It is needless to say that the passages in question might be literal
statements of facts, and that the various nations were actually
driven out of their countries by Hornets. Let the insects be brought
upon the land in sufficient numbers, and neither man nor beast
could stay in it. It is not likely, however, that such a series of
miracles, far exceeding the insect-plagues of Egypt, would have been
worked without frequent references to them in the subsequent books
of the Scriptures; and, moreover, the quick, short, and headlong
flight of the attack of Hornets is a very different thing from
the emigration which is mentioned in the Scriptures, and the long
journeys which such a proceeding involved.

[Illustration: ANTS ON THE MARCH.]


     The Ant of Scripture--Habit of laying up stores of food--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--The winged Ants.

One of the best-known and most frequently quoted passages of
Scripture is found in Proverbs, chap. vi. 6-8: "Go to the ant, thou
sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

"Which, having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

"Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the

       *       *       *       *       *

In Palestine Ants abound, and the species are tolerably numerous.
Among them are found some species which do convey seeds into their
subterranean home; and if their stores should be wetted by the heavy
rains which sometimes prevail in that country, bring them to the
outer air, as soon as the weather clears up, and dry them in the

The writer of the Proverbs was therefore perfectly right when he
alluded to the vegetable stores within the nest, and only spoke
the truth when he wrote of the Ant that it was exceeding wise. Any
one who wishes to test the truth of his words can easily do so by
watching the first Ants' nest which he finds, the species of the Ant
not being of much consequence. The nests of the Wood-Ant are perhaps
the best suited for investigation, partly because the insect and its
habitation are comparatively large, and, secondly, because so much
of the work is done above-ground.

The most wonderful Ant in the world is one which hitherto is only
known in some parts of America. Its scientific name is _Atta
malefaciens_, and it has been called by various popular names, such
as the Mound-making Ant and the Agricultural Ant on account of its
habits, and the Stinging Ant on account of the pungency of its
venom. This characteristic has gained for it the scientific name of
_malefaciens_, or villanous.

The habits of this Ant were studied in Texas by Dr. Lincecum for
the space of twelve years, and the result of his investigations was
communicated to the Linnæan Society by C. Darwin, Esq. It is so
extraordinary an account that it must be given the narrator's own

"The species which I have named 'Agricultural' is a large brownish
ant. It dwells in what may be termed paved cities, and, like a
thrifty, diligent, provident farmer, makes suitable and timely
arrangements for the changing seasons. It is, in short, endowed
with skill, ingenuity, and untiring patience sufficient to enable
it successfully to contend with the varying exigencies which it may
have to encounter in the life-conflict.

"When it has selected a situation for its habitation, if on ordinary
dry ground, it bores a hole, around which it raises the surface
three and sometimes six inches, forming a low circular mound having
a very gentle inclination from the centre to the outer border, which
on an average is three or four feet from the entrance. But if the
location is chosen on low, flat, wet land liable to inundation,
though the ground may be perfectly dry at the time the ant sets to
work, it nevertheless elevates the mound, in the form of a pretty
sharp cone, to the height of fifteen to twenty inches or more, and
makes the entrance near the summit. Around the mound in either case
the ant clears the ground of all obstructions, levels and smooths
the surface to the distance of three or four feet from the gate of
the city, giving the space the appearance of a handsome pavement, as
it really is.

"Within this paved area not a blade of any green thing is allowed to
grow, except a single species of grain-bearing grass. Having planted
this crop in a circle around, and two or three feet from, the centre
of the mound, the insect tends and cultivates it with constant care,
cutting away all other grasses and weeds that may spring up amongst
it and all around outside of the farm-circle to the extent of one or
two feet more.

"The cultivated grass grows luxuriantly, and produces a heavy
crop of small, white, flinty seeds, which under the microscope
very closely resemble ordinary rice. When ripe, it is carefully
harvested, and carried by the workers, chaff and all, into the
granary cells, where it is divested of the chaff and packed away.
The chaff is taken out and thrown beyond the limits of the paved

"During protracted wet weather, it sometimes happens that the
provision stores become damp, and are liable to sprout and spoil.
In this case, on the first fine day the ants bring out the damp and
damaged grain, and expose it to the sun till it is dry, when they
carry it back and pack away all the sound seeds, leaving those that
had sprouted to waste.

"In a peach-orchard not far from my house is a considerable
elevation, on which is an extensive bed of rock. In the sand-beds
overlying portions of this rock are fine cities of the Agricultural
ants, evidently very ancient. My observations on their manners
and customs have been limited to the last twelve years, during
which time the enclosure surrounding the orchard has prevented the
approach of cattle to the ant-farms. The cities which are outside
of the enclosure as well as those protected in it are, at the
proper season, invariably planted with the ant-rice. The crop may
accordingly always be seen springing up within the circle about the
1st of November every year.

"Of late years, however, since the number of farms and cattle has
greatly increased, and the latter are eating off the grass much
closer than formerly, thus preventing the ripening of the seeds, I
notice that the Agricultural ant is placing its cities along the
turn-rows in the fields, walks in gardens, inside about the gates,
&c., where they can cultivate their farms without molestation from
the cattle.

"There can be no doubt of the fact, that the particular species of
grain-bearing grass mentioned above is intentionally planted. In
farmer-like manner the ground upon which it stands is carefully
divested of all other grasses and weeds during the time it is
growing. When it is ripe the grain is taken care of, the dry stubble
cut away and carried off, the paved area being left unencumbered
until the ensuing autumn, when the same 'ant-rice' reappears within
the same circle, and receives the same agricultural attention as was
bestowed upon the previous crop; and so on year after year, as I
_know_ to be the case, in all situations where the ants' settlements
are protected from graminivorous animals."

In a second letter, Dr. Lincecum, in reply to an inquiry from Mr.
Darwin, whether he supposed that the Ants plant seeds for the
ensuing crop, says, "I have not the slightest doubt of it. And
my conclusions have not been arrived at from hasty or careless
observation, nor from seeing the ants do something that looked a
little like it, and then guessing at the results. I have at all
seasons watched the same ant-cities during the last twelve years,
and I know that what I stated in my former letter is true. I visited
the same cities yesterday, and found the crop of ant-rice growing
finely, and exhibiting also the signs of high cultivation, and not
a blade of any other kind of grass or weed was to be seen within
twelve inches of the circular row of ant-rice."

The economical habits of this wonderful insect far surpass anything
that Solomon has written of the Ant, and it is not too much to say
that if any of the Scriptural writers had ventured to speak of an
Ant that not only laid up stores of grain, but actually prepared
the soil for the crop, planted the seed, kept the ground free from
weeds, and finally reaped the harvest, the statement would have been
utterly disbelieved, and the credibility not only of that particular
writer but of the rest of Scripture severely endangered.

As may be inferred from the above description, the habits of Ants
vary greatly according to their species and the climate in which
they live. All, however, are wonderful creatures; and whether we
look at their varied architecture, their mode of procuring food,
the system of slave-catching adopted by some, the "milking" of
aphides practised by others, their astonishing mode of communicating
thought to each other, and their perfect system of discipline, we
feel how true were the words of the royal naturalist, that the Ants
are "little upon earth, but are exceeding wise."

[Illustration: ANT OF PALESTINE.]

There is one point of their economy in which all known species
agree. Only those which are destined to become perfectly developed
males and females attain the winged state. Before they assume the
transitional or pupal condition, each spins around itself a slight
but tough silken cocoon, in which it lies secure during the time
which is consumed in developing its full perfection of form.

When it is ready to emerge, the labourer Ants aid in freeing it
from the cocoon, and in a short time it is ready to fly. Millions of
these winged ants rise into the air, seeking their mates, and, as
they are not strong on the wing, and are liable to be tossed about
by every gust of wind, vast numbers of them perish. Whole armies of
them fall into the water and are drowned or devoured by fish, while
the insectivorous birds hold great festival on so abundant a supply
of food. As soon as they are mated they bend their wings forward,
snap them off, and pass the rest of their lives on the ground.

In consequence of the destruction that takes place among the winged
Ants, the Arabs have a proverb which is applied to those who are
over-ambitious: "If God purposes the destruction of an ant, He
permits wings to grow upon her."


     The scarlet or crimson of Scripture--The Coccus or Cochineal of
     Palestine compared with that of Mexico--Difference between the
     sexes--Mode of preparing the insect.

We now come to another order of insects.

Just as the purple dye was obtained from a shell-fish, the scarcely
less valuable crimson or scarlet was obtained from an insect. This
is an insect popularly known as the Crimson Worm. It is closely
allied to the cochineal insect of Mexico, which gives a more
brilliant dye, and has at the present day nearly superseded the
native insect. It is, however, still employed as a dye in some parts
of the country.

Like the cochineal insect of Mexico, the female is very much larger
than her mate, and it is only from her that the dye is procured. At
the proper season of year the females are gathered off the trees
and carefully dried, the mode of drying having some effect upon the
quality of the dye. During the process of drying the insect alters
greatly, both in colour and size, shrinking to less than half its
original dimensions, and assuming a greyish brown hue instead of
a deep red. When placed in water it soon gives out its colouring
matter, and communicates to the water the rich colour with which
we are familiar under the name of carmine, or crimson. This latter
name, by the way, is only a corruption of the Arabic _kermes_, which
is the name of the insect.

[Illustration: THE CRIMSON WORM.]

The reader will remember that this was one of the three sacred
colours--scarlet, purple, and blue--used in the vestments of the
priests and the hangings of the tabernacle, the white not taking
rank as a colour.


     The Moth of Scripture evidently the Clothes Moth--Moths and
     garments--Accumulation of clothes in the East--Various uses of
     the hoarded robes--The Moths, the rust, and the thief.

One of the insects mentioned by name in the Scriptures is the MOTH,
by which we must always understand some species of Clothes Moth.
These are as plentiful and destructive in Palestine as in this

Several references are made to the Moth in the Scriptures, and
nearly all have reference to its destructive habits. The solitary
exceptions occur in the Book of Job, "Behold, He put no trust in His
servants; and His angels He charged with folly: how much less in
them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust,
which are crushed before the moth?"

In the New Testament reference is made several times to the Moth.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust
doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal" (Matt. vi.

Even to ourselves these passages are significant enough, but to the
Jews and the inh