Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Hebrew. shu'al, a name derived from its digging or burrowing
under ground), the Vulpes thaleb, or Syrian fox, the only species of this animal
indigenous to Palestine. It burrows, is silent and solitary in its habits, is
destructive to vineyards, being a plunderer of ripe grapes (Cant 2:15 ). The Vulpes
Niloticus, or Egyptian dog-fox, and the Vulpes vulgaris, or common fox, are also
found in Palestine.
The proverbial cunning of the fox is alluded to in Ezekiel
13:4 , and in Luke
13:32 , where our Lord calls Herod "that fox." In Judges
15:4 , 15:5
, the reference is in all probability to the jackal. The Hebrew word shu'al_ through
the Persian _schagal becomes our jackal (Canis aureus), so that the word may bear
that signification here.
The reasons for preferring the rendering "jackal" are
|(1) that it is more easily caught
than the fox;
(2) that the fox is shy and suspicious, and flies mankind, while the jackal does
(3) that foxes are difficult, jackals comparatively easy, to treat in the way
Jackals hunt in large numbers, and are still very numerous in Southern Palestine.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(Hebrew. shual) Probably the jackal is the animal signified
in almost all the passages in the Old Testament where the Hebrew term occurs.
Though both foxes and jackals abound in Palestine, the shualim (foxes) of ( Judges
15:4 ) are evidently jackals and not foxes, for the former animal is gregarious,
whereas the latter is solitary in its habits; and Samson could not, for that reason,
have easily caught three hundred foxes, but it was easy to catch that number of
jackals, which are concealed by hundreds in caves and ruins of Syria. It is not
probable, however, that Samson sent out the whole three hundred at once. With
respect to the jackals and foxes of Palestine, there is no doubt that the common
jackal of the country is the Canis aureus , which may be heard every night in
the villages. It is like a medium-sized dog, with a head like a wolf, and is of
a bright-yellow color. These beasts devour the bodies of the dead, and even dig
them up from their graves.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(shu'al; compare Arabic tha'lab (Judges 15:4 ; Nehemiah
4:3 ; Psalms 63:10 ; Song of Solomon 2:15 ; Lamentations 5:18 ; Ezekiel 13:4);
alopex (Matthew 8:20 ; Luke 9:58 ; 13:32)):
The foxes of different parts of Europe and Western Asia differ more or less from
each other, and some authors have given the local types distinct specific names.
Tristram, for instance, distinguishes the Egyptian fox, Vulpes nilotica, of Southern
Palestine, and the tawny fox, Vulpes flavescens, of the North and East It is possible
that the range of the desert fox, Vulpes leucopus, of Southwestern Asia may also
reach Syria. We have, however, the authority of the Royal Natural History for
considering all these as merely local races of one species, the common fox, Vulpes
alopex or Canis vulpes. The natives of Syria and Palestine do not always distinguish
the fox and jackal although the two animals are markedly different. The jackal
and wolf also are frequently confounded.
See DRAGON; JACKAL.
In Psalms 63:9 we have, "Those that seek my soul, to destroy it, .... shall be
given over to the power of the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes" (shu'alim).
It has been thought that the jackal is meant here (Revised Version margin), and
that may well be, though it is also true that the fox does not refuse carrion.
In the Revised Version, margin, "jackal" is suggested in two other passages, though
why is not clear, since the rendering "fox" seems quite appropriate in both. They
are Nehemiah 4:3, ".... if a fox go up, he shall break down their stone wall,"
and Lamentations 5:17, ".... our eyes are dim; for the mountain of Zion which
is desolate: the foxes walk upon it." the Revised Version, margin also has "jackals"
in Judges 15:4, where Samson "caught three hundred foxes .... and put a firebrand
in the midst between every two tails .... and let them go into the standing grain
of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks and the standing grain, and also
the oliveyards." Jackals are probably more numerous than foxes, but the substitution
does not appreciably diminish the difficulties in the way of any natural explanation
of the story. In Song of Solomon 2:15 we have a reference to the fondness of the
fox for grapes. In Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58 Jesus says in warning to a would-be
follower, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the
Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Foxes differ from most of the Canidae
in burrowing holes for their lairs, unless indeed they take possession of the
burrow of another animal, such as the badger. In Luke 13:32 Jesus compares Herod
to a fox.
Alfred Ely Day
bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, fox, jackal, shual