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Zoology (of the Bible)

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Easton's Bible Dictionary

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Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names

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Smith's Bible Dictionary

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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

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A systematic list of the animals of the Bible includes representatives of the principal orders of mammals, birds and reptiles, and not a few of the lower animals. For further notices of animals in the following list, see the articles referring to them:

Mammals:

PRIMATES:
(a) Ape

INSECTIVORA:
(a) Hedgehog.
(b) Mole (which see) not found in Israel

CHIROPTERA:
(a) Bat

CARNIVORA:
(a) Felidae, Cat, Lion, Leopard
(b) Hyaenidae, Hyena
(c) Canidae, Dog (including Greyhound), Fox, Jackal, Wolf
(d) Mustelidae, Ferret, Badger, Marten (s.v. CAT)
(e) Ursidae, Bear

UNGULATA:
(a) Odd-toed: Horse, Ass, Mule, Rhinoceros
(b) Even-toed non-ruminants: Swine, Hippopotamus (Behemoth)
(c) Ruminants:
(1) Bovidae, Domestic Cattle, Wild Ox or Unicorn, Sinaitic Ibex (s.v. GOAT), Persian Wild Goat (s.v. CHAMOIS), Gazelle, Arabian Oryx (s.v. ANTELOPE), Chamois
(2) Cervidae, Roe Deer, Fallow Deer, Red Deer (s.v. DEER)
(3) Camelidae, Camel

PROBOSCIDEA:
(a) Elephant

HYRACOIDEA:
(a) Coney

SIRENIA:
(a) Dugong (s.v. BADGER)

CETACNA:
(a) Whale
(b) Dolphin
(c) Porpoise

RODENTIA:
(a) Mouse
(b) Mole-Rat (s.v. MOLE)
(c) Porcupine
(d) Hare

Birds:


PASSERES:
(a) Sparrow
(b) Swallow
(c) Raven
(d) Hoopoe
(e) Night Hawk

RAPTORES:
(a) Great Owl
(b) Little Owl
(c) Horned Owl
(d) Eagle
(e) Vulture
(f) Gier-Eagle
(g) Osprey
(h) Kite
(i) Glede
(j) Hawk
(k) Falcon

COLUMBAE:
(a) Dove
(b) Turtle-Dove

GALLINAE:
(a) Cock
(b) Partridge
(c) Quail
(d) Peacock

GRALLATORES:
(a) Crane
(b) Heron
(c) Stork

STEGANOPODES:
(a) Pelican
(b) Cormorant

RATTAE:
(a) Ostrich

Reptiles:

CROCODILIA:
(a) Crocodile (Leviathan)

CHELONIA:
(a) Tortoise

OPHIDIA:
(a) Serpent
(b) Fiery Serpent
(c) Adder
(d) Asp
(e) Vipet (s.v. SERPENT)

LACERTILIA:
(a) Lizard
(b) Great Lizard
(c) Gecko
(d) Chameleon
(e) Land Crocodile
(f) Sand Lizard (s.v. LIZARD)

Amphibians:

[sic]
(a) Frog

Fishes:

(a) Fish (in general)

Mollusks:

(a) Snail
(b) Murex (Purple)

Insects:

HYMENOPTERA:
(a) Ant
(b) Bee
(c) Hornet

LEPIDOPTERA:
(a) Clothes-Moth (s.v. MOTH)
(b) Silk-Worm, Worm (Larva)

SIPHONAPTERA:
(a) Flea

DIPTERA:
(a) Fly

RHYNCHOTA:
(a) Louse
(b) Scarlet-Worm

ORTHOPTERA:
(a) Grasshopper
(b) Locust (s.v. INSECTS)

Arachnida:
(a) Spider
(b) Scorpion

Coelenterata:
(a) Coral

Porifera:
(a) Sponge

Some interesting problems arise in connection with the lists of clean and unclean animals in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The list of clean animals in Deuteronomy 14:4-5 is as follows: Probably the most valuable modern work on Bible animals is Tristram's Natural History of the Bible, published in 1867 and to a great extent followed in the Revised Version (British and American) and in articles in various Biblical encyclopedias. In the table given above, the Revised Version (British and American) really differs from Tristram only in 6, 8 and 10. Hart is the male of the red deer, the ibex is a kind of wild goat, and the oryx is a kind of antelope. The first three in the table are domestic animals whose identification is not questioned. The other seven are presumably wild animals, regarding every one of which there is more or less uncertainty. 'Aqqo, dishon and zemer occur only in this passage, te'o only here and in Isa 51:20. 'Ayyal occurs 22 times, tsebhi 16 times, yachmur only twice. The problem is to find seven ruminant mammals to correspond to these names. The camel (Deuteronomy 14:7) is excluded as unclean. The gazelle, the Sinaitic ibex, and the Persian wild goat are common. The roe deer was fairly common in Carmel and Southern Lebanon 20 years ago, but is now nearly or quita extinct. The fallow deer exists in Mesopotamia, and Tristram says that he saw it in Galilee, though the writer is inclined to question the accuracy of the observation. The oryx is fairly common in Northwestern Arabia, approaching the limits of Edom. Here, then, are six animals, the gazelle, ibex, Persian wild goat, roe deer, fallow deer, and oryx, whose existence in or near Israel is undisputed.

The bubale, addax and Barbary sheep of Tristram's list are North African species which the writer believes do not range as far East as Egypt, and which he believes should therefore be excluded. In Asia Miner are found the red deer, the chamois and the Armenian wild sheep, but there is no proof that any of these ever ranged as far South as Israel. The bison exists in the Caucasus, and the wild ox, urus or aurochs, seems to be depicted in Assyrian sculptures. The buffalo is found in Israel, but is believed to have been introduced since Bible times. The Tartarian roe is named Cervus pygargus, and there is a South African antelope named Bubalis pygargus, but the pygarg of English Versions of the Bible has no real existence. The word means "white-rumped," and might apply to various deer and antelopes. To complete the list of seven we are therefore driven to one of the following: the red deer, the chamois, the Armenian wild sheep, the bison and the aurochs, no one of which has a very good claim to be included; The writer considers that the roe, which has been the commonest deer of Israel, is the 'ayyal (compare Arabic 'aiyil, "deer"). Tsebhi is very near to Arabic zabi, "gazelle," and, with its 16 occurrences in the Old Testament, may well be that common animal. There is reason to think that yachmur is the name of a deer, and the writer prefers to apply it to the fallow deer of Mesopotamia, as being more likely to have inhabited Israel than the red deer of Asia Minor. There is little evidence regarding 'aqqo, which occurs only here. The etymology is uncertain. Septuagint has tragelaphos, "goat-stag." Targum and Syriac VSS, according to BDB, have ibex. Ya'el (Job 39:1; Psalm 104:18; 1 Samuel 24:2), English Versions of the Bible "wild goat," is quite certainly the ibex, but it is possible that 'aqqo may be another name for the same animal, ya'el not occurring in this list. In BDB dishon is derived from dush, "to tread," and is considered to be a kind of wild goat. Since we have assigned 'aqqo to the ibex, we may then assign this name to the other wild goat of the country, the Persian wild goat or pasang. Te'o is in the Revised Version (British and American) antelope and in the Septuagint orux, "oryx." This is a possible identification which suits also, Isa 51:20, and does not preclude the possibility that the re'em, the King James Version "unicorn," the Revised Version (British and American) "wild-ox," may also be the oryx. The oryx is known to the Arabs under at least three names, the most common of which, baqr el-wachsh, means "wild-ox." Under CHAMOIS, the writer suggests that zemer may be the pasang or Persian wild goat, which is figured in that article. There is little to choose in the assignment of the names, but as dishon has here been provisionally assigned to the pasang, nothing better is left for zemer than the "chamois" of English Versions of the Bible, the claims of which are referred to above. The list of unclean animals is considered in the article on LIZARD.

Prophecies of the desolation of Babylon and Edom in Isaiah 13:21, 22; 34:11-15 contain names of animals, some of which present apparently insuperable difficulties. See under JACKAL and SATYR. The Book of Job contains some remarkable references to animals, especially in chapters 39; 40; 41: to the wild goat, the wild ass, the wild ox, the ostrich, the horse, the hawk, the behemoth and the leviathan.

Proverbs 30 contains some curious allusions to natural history:

".... Things which are too wonderful for me ....
The way of an eagle in the air;
The way of a serpent upon a rock (see EAGLE; WAY);
There are four things which are little upon the earth,
But they are exceeding wise:
The ants are a people not strong,
Yet they provide their food in the summer;
The conies are but a feeble folk,
Yet they make their houses in the rocks;
The locusts have no king,
Yet go they forth all of them by bands;
The lizard taketh hold with her hands,
Yet is she in kings' palaces.
There are three things which are stately in their march,
Yea, four which are stately in going:
The lion, which is might, lest among beasts,
And turneth not away for any;
The greyhound; the he-goat also;
And the king against whom there is no rising up."

An interesting grouping is found in the prophecy in Isaiah 11:6-8 (compare Isaiah 65:25): "And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den."

The fauna of Israel is mainly European and Asiatic, but resembles in some important points the fauna of Africa. The Syrian coney is not found elsewhere and its only near allies are the conies of Africa. The gazelle and oryx belong to the group of antelopes which is especially African. The lion and leopard range throughout Africa and Southwest Asia. The ostrich is found outside of Africa only in Arabia. Some of the smaller birds, as for instance the sun-bird, have their nearest allies in Africa. The fish of the Sea of Tiberias and the Jordan present important resemblances to African fishes. The same is true of some of the butterflies of Israel. Allying the fauna of Israel with that of Europe and North Asia may be noted the deer, bear, wolf, fox, hare and others. The ibex and Persian wild goat constitute links with central Asia, which is regarded as the center of distribution of the goat tribe.

The fauna of Israel has undoubtedly changed since Bible times. Lions have disappeared, bears and leopards have become scarce, the roe deer has nearly or quite disappeared within recent years. It is doubtful whether the aurochs, the chamois and the red deer were ever found in Israel, but if so they are entirely gone. The buffalo has been introduced and has become common in some regions. Domestic cats, common now, were perhaps not indigenous to ancient Israel. In prehistoric times, or it may be before the advent of man, the glacial period had an influence upon the fauna of this country, traces of which still persist. On the summits of Lebanon are found two species of butterfly, Pieris callidice, found also in Siberia, and Vanessa urticae, common in Europe. When the glacial period came on, these butterflies with a host of other creatures were driven down from the North. When the cold receded northward they moved back again, except for these, and perhaps others since become extinct, which found the congenial cold in ascending the mountains where they became isolated. Syria and Israel were never covered with a sheet of ice, but the famous cedar grove of Lebanon stands on the terminal moraine of what was once an extensive glacier.




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bible commentary, bible reference, bible study, define, list of animals in the bible, zoology

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