antelope

Antelope.

Antelope are cud-chewing, hollow horned animals related to goats. Early European Bible translators were not acquainted with antelope, which roam the grassy plains and forests of Asia and Africa; so they called the antelope deer instead. Antelope are listed among clean wild game (Deut. 14:5), and among King Solomon’s table provisions (1 Kin. 4:23).
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Ostrich

Ostrich.

Several Scripture passages that refer to owls in the KJV are rendered ostrich in the RSV. This strange bird was a common sight in the deserts of Israel and Sinai in Bible times. Earth’s largest living bird, the ostrich may stand about 2.5 meters (eight feet) tall. While it cannot fly, this unusual animal with its long steps, which can cover 15 feet per stride at top speed, can outrun a horse. Sometimes an ostrich will use its wings as a sail to achieve even greater speed. An adult ostrich fears only man and lions, and it may live as long as 70 years.

The popular belief that ostriches hide their heads in the sand is not true. However, when a young ostrich senses danger, it will crouch near the ground and stretch out its long neck to lessen the possibility of being seen.

This enormous bird has only a walnut-sized brain. But God has given it certain helpful instincts, along with its great physical stamina. Like a camel, the ostrich is fitted for desert life. It eats coarse food and can go for a long time without water. Its head, neck, and powerful legs have no feathers. This helps to keep the bird cool in the hot desert climate. Its huge eyes enable it to spot danger from a great distance, and its long eyelashes protect its eyes from dust and sand. The male ostrich has a cry that is similar to a lion’s roar.

Unlike most other birds, the ostrich does not build a nest to protect its young. The female ostrich deposits her eggs on the desert floor and covers them with sand. These eggs are generally left unattended during the day, since the desert sun serves as a natural incubator. Job compared these habits unfavorably with the more traditional nesting instincts of the stork (Job 39:13-18).

Source: [Anon-Animals]

The Ostrich.

The ostrich is sometimes called the “camel-bird,” because it is so very large, because it can go a long time without water, and because it lives in desert and sandy places, as the camel does. It is often taller than the tallest man you ever saw, and it neck alone is more than a yard in length.

Each of the wings is a yard long when the feathers are spread out; but although the wings are so large, the bird cannot fly at all. One reason of this is, because it is so very heavy, and another is that its wings are not of the right sort for flying. They are made of what we call ostrich-plumes, and if you have ever noticed these beautiful feathers, you will remember that they are very different from others that you have seen. If you take a quill from the wing of a goose, you will find that the parts of the feather lie close together, so that you cannot very easily separate them; but in an ostrich plume they are all loose and open, and would not support the bird at all in flying. The feathers are generally either white or black. There are none under the wings, or on the sides of the body, and only a few small ones on the lower part of the neck. The upper part of the neck, as well as the head, is covered with hair.

Its feet are curious, and different from those of most birds. They are somewhat like the foot of the camel, having a soft pad or cushion underneath, and only two toes. The largest toe is about seven inches long, and has a broad claw at the end; the other is about four inches long, and has no claw.

Although this bird cannot fly, it can run faster than the swiftest horse. If it would keep on in a straight line no animal could overtake it; but it is sometimes so foolish as to run around in a circle, and then, after a long chase, it may perhaps be caught. A traveller speaking of the ostrich, says, “She sets off at a hard gallop; but she afterwards spreads her wings as if to catch the wind, and goes so rapidly that she seems not to touch the ground.” This explains what is meant by the verse, “When she lifteth up herself on high she scorneth the horse and his rider.”

The ostrich has but little to eat in the desert places where it lives: only some coarse grass, or rough, thorny plants, with a kind of snail which is sometimes found upon them; and perhaps it sometimes eats lizards and serpents.

The voice of the ostrich is very mournful, especially when heard at night in a lonely desert. It is said to be like the crying of a hoarse child. It is on this account that the prophet Micah says, “I will make a mourning like the ostrich.”

In the 39th chapter of Job we read, “Gavest thou wings and feathers unto the ostrich ? which 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.” See how well this agrees with the accounts given by travellers. They say that the ostrich is frightened by the least noise, and runs away from her nest, leaving the eggs or young ones without any protection; and very often she does not return for a long time, perhaps not until the young birds have died of hunger. The eggs are cream-colored, and large enough to hold about a quart of water. The shell is very hard, and as smooth as ivory. It is often made into a drinking-cup, with a rim of gold or silver.

[Cook, Scripture Alphabet of Animals]

Mouse

Mouse.

About 40 kinds of mice are found in the Holy Land. These include house and field mice, moles, small rats, jerboas, and even hamsters. Arabs ate hamsters, but the Hebrew people considered all rodents unclean (Lev. 11:29; Is. 66:17).

In spite of its small size, the mouse is one of the most destructive animals in the world. Swarms of mice threatened grain crops in ancient times. When the Philistines stole the ARK OF THE COVENANT, God punished them by sending a swarm of mice which infected them with a disease (1 Sam. 6:4-5, 11,18); (rats, NKJV).

Source: [Anon-Animals]

The Jerboa or Mouse.

See Jerboa

You will not find the name of the Jerboa in the Bible; but it is supposed to be the same animal that is called a mouse in the 17th verse of the 66th chapter of Isaiah, “They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord;” and also in Leviticus, where God is telling the children of Israel what animals they may be allowed to eat, and also what they must not taste. He says, “These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind.” Whether the Jerboa is the same animal or not, the Israelites must have been well acquainted with it, for it is found in great numbers in Syria and Egypt, and other countries mentioned in the Bible. They like to live where the soil is sandy, and make their burrows, or holes to live in, in the sides of sand-hills. These burrows are often several yards long, and the part where they sleep is made soft with grass.

The Jerboa is about as large as a rat, and its color is a tawny yellow, something like that of dried lemon-peel. Its fur is very smooth and soft; its eyes are full and round, and its head is much like that of a young rabbit. When it eats, it sits and hold its food in its fore-paws, very much as a squirrel does.

There is a very great and curious difference in the length of its legs; those in front being so short that you would hardly notice them, and those behind very long. It bounds along over the ground very rapidly; so that the greyhound, which is one of the swiftest of dogs, is often unable to overtake it. It seems, when you first look at it, to use only its hind legs in jumping, but his is not so. When it is about to take a leap, it raises its body upon the toes of its hind feet, keeping the balance by the help of its long tail. It springs and comes down on its short fore legs, but does it so very quickly that you can hardly see how it is done, and the animal seems to be upright all the time.

They appear to be very fond of each other’s company, and great numbers are usually found together. They sleep during the day, but like the hare and rabbit, go out of their burrows to eat and to play as soon as it begins to be dark.

[Cook, Scripture Alphabet of Animals]

A mouse or mice are known for their ability to enter a house no matter how well it is guarded. Yet they enter undetected and eat the food of the house.

Scorpion

Scorpion.

The scorpion is a small crawling animal that looks like a flat lobster. A member of the spider family, it has eight legs, two sets of pincers, and a tail with a poisonous stinger. A scorpion feeds on spiders and insects, which it rips apart with its claws. It uses its poisonous sting only when threatened or when it attacks large prey. This sting is seldom fatal, but it can be very painful (Rev. 9:5).

During the day, scorpions escape the desert heat by hiding under rocks. They come out at night to hunt and eat. Inhabitants of Bible lands feared scorpions. These animals were an ever-present danger when Moses led the children of Israel through the hot, rocky wilderness (Deut. 8:15).

Jesus’ words in (Luke 11:12) about giving a person a scorpion instead of an egg may refer to a light-colored scorpion, which could be mistaken for an egg when in a coiled position. The prophet Ezekiel was told by God not to be afraid of his enemies, who were referred to symbolically as scorpions (Ezek. 2:6). King Rehoboam’s threat did not mean he would use scorpions as whips (1 Kin. 12:14). In those days a barbed whip or scourge was called a “scorpion.”

Source: [Anon-Animals]

The Scorpion.

This frightful creature is several times mentioned in the Bible. It is the largest among insects, and more dangerous than any of them. It is sometimes found in Europe, and is there about four inches long; but those of hot countries are sometimes more than a foot in length.

The scorpion is very easily made angry, and then its sting is terrible; it very often causes death, but not always. In Revelation, 9:5, 6, we read, “And their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man; and in those days shall men seek death and shall not find it: and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” This shows that the pain caused by their sting is very great. When a person has been stung by a scorpion, the part around the wound swells and becomes very painful, the hands and feet become cold, the skin is pale, and there is a feeling as though there were needles in every part of it. This pain often increases and rages until the person dies in great suffering.

It is well for man that scorpions destroy each other as readily as they do animals of a different kind. It is said that a hundred were once put together under a glass, where they immediately began to attack and kill each other; so that in a few days only fourteen were left alive. I have heard that if a circle of alcohol or spirit of any sort, is set on fire, and a scorpion placed within it so that he cannot get out on any side, he will sting himself so as to cause his death. I am not certain that this is true, and it would be a very cruel thing to try it even upon so dangerous an animal as the scorpion.

It seems that this creature was sometimes seen in the wilderness through which the children of Israel passed. When they had nearly reached the end of their journey, Moses reminded them to praise God for having kept them safely in so many dangers, while passing through “that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions and drought; where there was no water.”

Our Savior asks, “If a son shall ask of his father an egg, will he give him a scorpion?” The scorpions in that country are about as large as an egg, and when rolled up look a little like one. Yet no father would be so wicked as to give one to his child instead of the egg which he needed for food.

Christ once said to his disciples, when they were going out to preach and to heal the diseases of the people, “Behold I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” This was a very wonderful power; and whoever should see one of those disciples tread on the terrible scorpion without being hurt, would know that Christ was surely with him to take care of him.

[Cook, Scripture Alphabet of Animals]

Locust

Locust (see Grasshopper).

Source: [Anon-Animals]

* Attacus (Leviticus 11:22). — Instead of this Latin word, the A.V. reads bald-locust. According to the tradition enshrined in the Talmud, the common truxalis, a locust with a very long smooth head is probably signified.

Source: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_animals_in_the_Bible]

The Locust.

The locust is called an insect, as well as the ant and the bee, but instead of being harmless, as they usually are, it does a great deal of injury. It is also much larger than they; for it is generally three inches long, and sometimes as much as four or five. The plague of the locusts was the eighth that God sent upon the Egyptians, because they would not let the children of Israel go, as he commanded; and it was a very terrible one indeed. The Bible says, “They covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left; and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field through all the land of Egypt.” This is the way they often do in those countries, though perhaps it is not common for so many to come at once.

They fly in companies of thousands together, and so close that they look like a great black cloud. When they alight on the ground they all come down in a body, and immediately begin to devour the grass and grain; they also eat the leaves of the trees, and every green thing they can find. The people dread them more than they do the most terrible fire or storm; because though they are so small, they destroy all the food, and leave the people ready to starve. When the inhabitants see them coming over their fields, they try to drive them away by making loud noises or by kindling fires; but this does little good.

It is said that a great army of locusts came over the northern part of Africa about a hundred years before the birth of Christ. They consumed every blade of grass wherever they alighted; also the roots, and bark, and even the hard wood of the trees. After they had thus eaten up every thing, a strong wind arose, and after tossing them about awhile, it blew them over the sea, and great numbers of them were drowned. Then the waves threw them back upon the land, all along the sea-coast, and their dead bodies made the air so unwholesome that a frightful pestilence commenced, and great numbers of men and animals died.

Many travellers have seen these great clouds of locusts, and describe them in their books. One says that he saw a company consisting of so many that they were an hour in passing over the place where he was. They seemed to extend a mile in length and half a mile in width. When he first noticed them, they looked like a black cloud rising in the east; and when they came over head, they shut out the light of the sun, and made a noise with their wings like the rushing of a water-fall. Another swarm is mentioned which took four hours to pass over one spot; and they made the sky so dark that one person could not see another at twenty steps off.

You can now understand two or three passages from the Bible which I will mention. David says in the 23d verse of the 109th Psalm, “I am tossed up and down as the locust;” that is, as the clouds of locusts are tossed about by the wind. In the first chapters of Joel God threatens to send the locust among the people, because of their wickedness; and he says of them, “Before their faces the people shall be much pained; all faces shall gather blackness. They (the locusts,) shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall; they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.” An English clergyman who visited countries where the locusts are found, a few years ago, says that these verses describe them exactly as he has himself seen them.

Locusts are sometimes used for food. The Arabs boil them with salt, and then add a little oil or butter; sometimes they toast them by the fire before eating them. A traveller speaks of seeing the Arab women employed in filling bags with locusts, which were to be used for food. You know it is said in the New Testament that John the Baptist “did eat locusts and wild honey,” but it is not quite certain that this insect was meant; perhaps it was the fruit of the locust-tree that he ate.

[Cook, Scripture Alphabet of Animals]

Wolf

Wolf.

Wolves were a menace to the sheep farmers of Palestine. Man’s first dogs were probably tamed wolf pups. Perhaps this kinship enabled wolves to lurk near sheepfolds and gain their reputation for treachery.

Of his youngest son, the patriarch Jacob said: “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf” (Gen. 49:27). The Hebrew word translated ravenous means “to rip and tear,” indicating the bloodthirsty nature of the wolf. Wolves seem particularly cruel because they seek out the weak, old, and defenseless as victims. The flow of blood incites them to rip and tear even more with their powerful jaws.

In many Bible references, wolves represent ruthless enemies. Jesus warned of false prophets “who come… in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly… are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15).

Source: [Anon-Animals]

The Wolf

The wolf is rather larger than our largest dogs, and looks somewhat like them; but he seems more wild, savage and cruel. The wolves go in large companies, making a terrible howling noise; and though they are in general cowardly, yet when they are very hungry they attack large animals, and even men. They almost always go out by night, and the Bible refers to this when it says, “Their horses are more fierce than the evening wolves.” Jacob, just before his death, said of one of his sons, “Benjamin shall raven as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at evening he shall divide the spoil.”

There were once a great many wolves in New England and in other parts of the United States, and some are left yet, although many have been killed or driven away. There are still great numbers of them in some countries. In England the month of January used to be called Wolf- monat, or wolf-month; “because,” as an old book says, “people are wont in that moneth to be more in danger to be devoured of wolves than in any season els of the yeare, for that through the extremity of cold and snow those ravenous creatures could not find other beasts sufficient to feed upon.”

A sad story is told of something that happened in Russia a few years since. A woman was one day riding on a sledge with her three children over a lonely road, when suddenly she heard the noise of wolves behind her. She was not very far from home, and tried to urge her horse on, to get out of their reach; but they gained upon her every moment, and were just on the point of rushing on the sledge, when the poor woman, to save the lives of the rest, caught up one of the children and threw it to the wolves. This stopped them but a short time; they devoured it at once and again ran howling after the sledge. The mother threw out a second child, hoping to escape with the other; but in vain. Again the cruel animals were close behind her, and to save her own life, hardly knowing what she did, she threw over her only remaining child. She succeeded in reaching home herself, in safety, but where were her children? She told the terrible story; but while she was endeavoring to excuse herself by telling of her exceeding fright and danger, a man who stood by struck her on the head with an axe and killed her at one blow-saying that a woman who would thus give up her children to save her life, was not fit to live.

The Bible tells us of a time yet to come, when “The wolf shall feed with the lamb.” Perhaps this will be exactly true of the animals in those days, though it now seems so unlikely; but I suppose it means also that wicked and cruel men shall become holy and Christ-like. Then all will be peace on earth, and “none shall hurt or destroy in all” God’s “holy mountain.”

[Cook, Scripture Alphabet of Animals]

Vulture

Vulture.

Vultures are large, loathsome members of the hawk family. The largest species have a wingspread of about 32 meters (9 to 10 feet). Most vultures have bare heads and necks. However, the lammergeier (bearded vulture) has dirty-white neck feathers and a tassel of dark feathers hanging from its beak. The Egyptian vulture likewise has neck feathers. A griffon’s long neck is covered with fine white down.

The lammergeier is also called the ossifrage (see (Lev. 11:13; Deut. 14:12)) or the gier eagle (Lev. 11:18; Deut. 14:17).
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Peacock

Peacock.

According to the KJV, Solomon imported peacocks from other nations for his royal courts in Israel (1 Kin. 10:22; 2 Chr. 9:21). A peacock, the male of the species, is about the size of a turkey, with feathers of brilliant blue, green, and purple. He parades in front of the female, spreading his train of gorgeous long plumes behind him like a huge fan. Some versions of the Bible translate this term as monkeys, peacocks, or baboons.

Source: [Anon-Animals]
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Nighthawk

Nighthawk.

This is another bird mentioned in the Bible only on the list of unclean birds (Lev. 11:16; Deut. 14:15). No specific characteristics are given which might help to identify the bird. Nighthawks, also called nightjars, are found in the Holy Land, but they are not predators. There is no obvious reason why nighthawks would be considered unclean by the Israelites. Other translations render the Hebrew word for nighthawk as owl (NASB) or screech owl (NIV). After sunset, nighthawks fly high into the air to hunt for insects. They build nests near the ground in thickets or hedges.

Source: [Anon-Animals]

The Night-Hawk.

I believe this is the only animal of any kind mentioned in the Bible, the name of which begins with N. It is named in the 11th chapter of Leviticus, among other birds, such as the owl, the cuckoo and the raven, which the children of Israel were not allowed to eat.

It is somewhat like the owl in its shape, and in its large, full, round eyes. It flies at evening, and hides itself during the day from the bright light of the sun. It likes to live in lonely, dark woods, and when it comes out at twilight to get the insects that it lives upon, you could hardly hear the sound of its wings, it flies so very gently. It has a very wide, gaping mouth, which helps it to seize upon moths and flies, and its mouth is bordered with a row of stiff bristles, so that the insects may not escape again after they have been caught.

The night-hawk belongs to the same family with the whip-poor-will; and, like that bird, it places its eggs on the ground in the shade of some thicket, with only a layer of withered leaves under them instead of making a nest.

[Cook, Scripture Alphabet of Animals]

Nighthawk