Dog. In ancient Israel, the dog was not “man’s best friend.” In fact, calling someone a dog was one of the most offensive ways of insulting that person. The Bible mentions dogs frequently; most of the references are derogatory. Even in New Testament times, Jews called Gentiles “dogs” (Matt. 15:26). The term “dog” also referred to a male prostitute (Deut. 23:18). Unbelievers who were shut out of the New Jerusalem were also termed “dogs” (Rev. 22:15)– probably a reference to their sexual immorality. Moslems later applied the insult to Christians.
The dog may have been the first animal in the ancient world to be tamed. Ancient Egyptians raced greyhounds, mentioned by Solomon in his Proverbs (Prov. 30:31), (NKJV), and the Greeks raised mastiffs. But dogs in Palestine were more wild than tame. They often banded together in packs and lived off the refuse and food supplies of a village. Some dogs were useful as watchdogs or guardians of sheep, but even they were not altogether reliable (Is. 56:10).
There are many dogs in the countries where the Bible was written, but the people do not like them as well as we do, and do not let them live about their yards and houses. So the dogs go wandering about without any master, and live on whatever they can find in the streets or around the markets. In the fifty-ninth Psalm you will find the verse: “They return at evening; they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city,”-and a little farther on you will see, “Let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied.” These verses show that the dogs wandered about in those days just as they do now. Sometimes when they do not find enough to eat, they become very fierce and cruel, so that you would be afraid to meet one of them.
There is a sad story in some of the chapters of the two books of Kings, in which you will find these dogs mentioned. There was a very proud and wicked queen, named Jezebel, and she tried to make her husband, king Ahab, do all the evil she could. Once Ahab wanted a piece of ground that was near his palace, so that he might have it made into a garden, and he asked the owner of it, whose name was Naboth, to sell it to him. But Naboth was not willing, because he used it for his vineyard, and because his father had given it to him before he died. Then Ahab was very angry about it, and acted just as I have seen some foolish children do when they were not pleased. He went into his great splendid house, and laid himself down on the bed; then he turned his face towards the wall, and when it was dinner time he would not get up or eat any thing. So his wife Jezebel asked him what was the matter; and when she found out, she told him that he need not be troubled, for she could get that vineyard for him. Then she contrived to have Naboth killed by stoning, and when he was dead king Ahab took the vineyard.
Now you may be sure God was displeased with such wickedness as this, and you will think it was very right that he should punish the cruel Jezebel. Do you think her husband Ahab ought to be punished too? I do; because he knew that his wife was going to kill Naboth, and yet he did not try to keep her from doing it. I think he was as wicked as she. After Ahab had taken the vineyard, God sent to him the prophet Elijah to say to him these words, “Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.” And of Jezebel he said, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.” Now see how the word of God was fulfilled, just as he had said. Pretty soon after this, king Ahab went out to fight with his enemies, and as he was riding along in his carriage a man drew his great, strong bow, and shot an arrow which pierced the king and almost killed him. He lived a few hours, until nearly night, and then he died. The blood had run down from his wound into the carriage, and after the king was dead they took it to the pool of Samaria to wash it: there the dogs came and licked up the blood of Ahab.
The wicked Jezebel lived some years after this, and one of her sons became king; but God raised up another king, named Jehu, who slew this son, and then went to Jezreel, the city where Jezebel lived. She heard he was coming, and feared that he meant to put her to death; but she determined that, instead of begging him to spare her life, she would act as though she was still a queen, and then perhaps he would not dare to injure her. So she put ornaments on her head, and painted her face, and then sat down by an upper window in all the splendor of a queen. When Jehu came near, she called out to him in great anger and scorn, to reproach him for having put her son to death. When Jehu heard her voice and saw her sitting at the window, he cried out, “Who is on my side?” and two or three of the queen’s officers looked out at the windows. Then he said to them, “Throw her down.” They were very glad to get rid of the proud and cruel queen, and so they threw her down, as he had said. It was so far to the ground that she was killed immediately, and her blood was sprinkled upon the walls. But Jehu did not care for this; he went into the house to eat and drink. After he had taken his dinner, he thought of Jezebel, and told some of his servants that they must go and bury her: but in the mean time a terrible thing had happened. The dogs had seized and devoured the body, and nothing was left of it but the feet, and the palms of the hands, and part of the bones of the head. So God’s word came to pass, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel.”
[Cook, Scripture Alphabet of Animals]