Easton's Bible Dictionary
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(1) tannim, "jackals," the King James Version "dragons"; compare Arabic tinan,
"wolf"; and compare tannin, Arab tinnin, "sea monster" or "monster" the English
Revised Version "dragon" (Job 7:12 ; Psalms 74:13 ; 148:7 ; Isaiah 27:1 ; 51:9
; Jeremiah 51:34), "serpent" (Exodus 7:9 , 10 , 12 ; Deuteronomy 32:33 ; Psalms
91:13), the King James Version "whale" (Genesis 1:21 ; Job 7:12); but tannin,
"jackals," the King James Version "sea monsters" (Lamentations 4:3), "jackal's
well," the King James Version "dragon well" (Nehemiah 2:13), and tannim, "monster,"
the King James Version and the English Revised Version "dragon" (Ezekiel 29:3
(2) 'iyim, "wolves," the King James Version "wild beasts of the islands"; compare
'i, plural iyim, "island"; also 'ayyah, "a cry," 'awah, "to cry," "to howl"; Arabic
'auwa', "to bark" (of dogs, wolves, or jackals); 'ibn 'awa', colloquially wawi,
(3) tsiyim, "wild beasts of the desert."
(4) 'ochim, "doleful creatures."
"Jackals" occurs as a translation of tannim, the King James Version "dragons,"
in Job 30:29 ; Psalms 44:19 ; Isaiah 13:22 ; 34:13 ; 35:7 ; 43:20 ; Jeremiah 9:11
; 10:22 ; 14:6 ; 49:33 ; 51:37 ; of the feminine plural form tannoth in Malachi
1:3, and of tannin in Nehemiah 2:13 and Lamentations 4:3. Tannim is variously
referred to a root meaning "to howl," and to a root meaning "to stretch out" trop.
"to run swiftly, i.e. with outstretched neck and limb extended" (Gesenius). Either
derivation would suit "wolf" equally as well as "jackal." The expression in Jeremiah
10:22, "to make the cities of Judah a desolation, a dwelling-place of jackals,"
seems, however, especially appropriate of jackals. The same is true of Isaiah
34:13 ; Jeremiah 9:11 ; 49:33 , and 51:37.
The jackal (from Persian shaghal), Canis aureus, is found about the Mediterranean
except in Western Europe. It ranges southward to Abyssinia, and eastward, in Southern
Asia, to farther India. It is smaller than a large dog, has a moderately bushy
tail, and is reddish brown with dark shadings above. It is cowardly and nocturnal.
Like the fox, it is destructive to poultry, grapes, and vegetables, but is less
fastidious, and readily devours the remains of others' feasts. Jackals generally
go about in small companies. Their peculiar howl may frequently be heard in the
evening and at any time in the night. It begins with a high-pitched, long-drawn-out
cry. This is repeated two or three times, each time in a higher key than before.
Finally there are several short, loud, yelping barks. Often when one raises the
cry others join in. Jackals are not infrequently confounded with foxes. They breed
freely with dogs.
While tannim is the only word translated "jackal" in English Versions of the Bible,
the words 'iyim, tsiyim, and 'ochim deserve attention. They, as well as tannim,
evidently refer to wild creatures inhabiting desert places, but it is difficult
to say for what animal each of the words stands. All four (together with benoth
ya`anah and se`irim) are found in Isaiah 13:21 , 22:
"But wild beasts of the desert (tsiyim) shall lie there; and their houses shall
be full of doleful creatures ('ochim); and ostriches (benoth ya`anah) shall dwell
there, and wild goats (se'irim) shall dance there. And wolves ('iyim) shall cry
in their castles, and jackals (tannim) in the pleasant palaces."
In the King James Version 'iyim (Isaiah 13:22 ; 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39) is translated
"wild beasts of the islands" (compare 'iyim, "islands"). the King James Version
margin has merely the transliteration iim, the Revised Version (British and American)
"wolves," the Revised Version margin "howling creatures." Gesenius suggests the
jackal, which is certainly a howler. While the wolf has a blood-curdling howl,
it is much more rarely heard than the jackal.
Tsiyim (Psalms 72:9 ; 74:14 ; Isaiah 13:21 ; 23:13 ; 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39) has
been considered akin to tsiyah, "drought" (compare 'erets tsiyah, "a dry land"
(Psalms 63:1)), and is translated in the Revised Version (British and American)
Psalms 72:9, "they that dwell in the wilderness"; 74:14, "the people inhabiting
the wilderness"; Isaiah 23:13, "them that dwell in the wilderness," the Revised
Version margin "the beasts of the wilderness"; Isaiah 13:21; 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39,
"wild beasts of the desert." There would be some difficulty in referring tsiyim
in Psalms 72:9 to beasts rather than to men, but that is not the case in Psalms
74:14 and Isaiah 23:13. "Wild cats" have been suggested.
'Ochim, "doleful creatures," perhaps onomatopoetic, occurs only in Isaiah 13:21.
The translation "owls" has been suggested, and is not unsuitable to the context.
It is not impossible that tannim and 'iyim may be different names of the jackals.
'Iyim, tsiyim, and tannim occur together also in Isaiah 34:13,14, and 'iyim and
tsiyim in Jeremiah 50:39. Their similarity in sound may have much to do with their
collocation. The recognized word for "wolf," ze'ebh (compare Arabic dhi'b), occurs
7 times in the Old Testament.
See DRAGON; WOLF; ZOOLOGY.
Alfred Ely Day
beasts of the wilderness, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, doleful creatures, dragons, howl, jackal, wild beasts