Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/584

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ANIMALS 518 ANIMALS serpent-charmers [Ps.. Ivii (Hebr.. Iviii), 5, 6], it appears that the cobra (naja aspis) is most probably signified. Safely to step upon its body, or even linger by the hole where it coils itself, is manifestly a sign of God's particular protection [Ps., xe (Hebr., xci), 13; Is., xi, 8]. Sophar, one of Job's friend.s, speaks of the wicked as sucking the venom of pdhin, in punishment whereof the food he takes shall be turned witliin him into the gall of this poisonous reptile (Job, xx, 16, 14). (2) 'Akhshubh. mentioned only once in the Hebrew Bible, namely Ps., cxl (Vulg., cxx.xix), 4, but manifestly alluded to in Ps., xiii, 3, and Kom., iii, 13, seems to have been one of the most highly poisonous kinds of viper, perhaps the toxicoa, also called cchis arenicola or scytale of the PjTamids, very common in Syria and North Africa. (3) ShdMl is also found only once to signify a snake, Ps., xci (Vulg., xc). 13; but what particular kind of snake we are unable to determine. The word shtihdl might possibly, owing to some copyist's mistake, have crept into the place of another name now im- possible to restore. (4) (phmi (Is., hx, 5), "the nisser", generallj' rendered by basilisk in D.V. and in ancient translations, the latter sometimes calling it regulus. This snake was deemed so deadly that, according to the common saying, its hissing alone, even its look, was fatal. It was probably a small viper, perhaps a cerastes, possibly the daboia zan- thina, according to Chejme. Ass. — The ass has always enjoyed a marked favour above all other beasts of burden in Palestine. This is evidenced by two very simple remarks. While, on the one hand, mention of this animal occurs over a himdred and thirty times in Holy Writ; on the other hand, the Hebrew vocabularj- possesses, to designate the ass, according to its colour, sex, age, etc., a supply of words in striking contrast with the ordinary penury of the sacred language. Of these various names the most common is h&mor, "reddish", the hair of the Eastern ass being generally of that colour. White asses, more rare, were also more appreciated and reserved for the of the nobles (Judges, v, 10). The custom was introduced very early, as it seems, and still prevails, to paint the most shapely and valuable donkeys in stripes of different colours. In the East the ass is much larger and finer than in other countries, and in several places the pedigrees of the best breeds are carefully preserved. Asses have always been an important item in the resources of the Eastern peoples, and w'c are repeatedly told in the Bible about the herds of these animals owned by the patriarchs (Gen., xii, 16; xxx, 43; xxx'i, 24, etc.), and wealthy Israehtes (I K., ix, 3; I Par., xxvii, 30, etc.). Hence the several regulations brought forth by Israel's lawgiver on this subject: the neighbour's a-ss should not be coveted (Exod., xx, 17); moreover, should the neighbour's stray ass be found, it should be taken care of, and its owner assisted in tending this part of his herd (Deut., xxii, 3, 4). The ass serves in the East for many purposes. Its even gait and surefootedness, so well suited to the rough paths of the Holy Land, made it at all times the most popular of all the animals for riding in hilly regions (Gen., xxii, 3; Luke, xix, 30). Neither was it ridden only by the common people, but also by persons of the highest rank (Judges, v, 10; x, 4; II K., xvii, 23; xix, 26, etc.). No wonder therefore that Our Lord about to come triumphantly to Jeru- salem, commanded Ilis di.sciples to bring itim an ass and her colt; no lesson of humility, as is sometimes asserted, but the adirmalion of the peaceful character of His kingdom should be .>cought there. Although the Scripture speaks of "saddling" the ass, usually no saddle was used by the rider; a cloth .spread upon the back of the and fastened by a .strap was all the eriuipment. Upon this cloth the rider sat, a Bervaut usually walkitig alongside. Should a family journey, the women and children would ride the asses, attended by the father (Exo<l., iv, 20). This mode of travelling has been popularized by Christian painters, who copied the eastern customs in their representations of the Holy Family's fliglit to Egj'i^t. Scores of passages in the Bible alhule to carrj-- ing burdens; the Gospels, at least in the Greek text, speak of millstones run by a.sses (Matt., xviii, 6; Mark, i.x, 41; Luke, xvii, 2); Josephus and the Egj'ptian monuments teach us that this animal was used for threshing wheat; finally, we repeatedly read in the O. T. of asses hitched to a plougli (Deut., xxii, 10; Is., xxx, 24, etc.), and in reference to this custom, the Law forbade ploughing with an ox and an together (Deut., xxii. 10). From Is., xxi, 7, confirmed by the statements of Greek W'riters, we learn that part of the cavalrj' force in the Persian army rode donkeys; we should perhaps understand from IV K., vii, 7, that the Syrian armies followed the same practice; but no such custom seems to have ever prevailed among the Hebrews. With them the ass was essentially for peaceful use, the emblem of peace, as the horse was the symbol of war. The flesh of the ass was unclean and forbidden by the Law. In some particular circumstances, however, no law could prevail over necessity, and we read that during Joram's reign, when Benadad be.sieged Samaria, the famine was so extreme in this city, that the head of an ass w^as sold for fourscore pieces of silver (IV K., -i, 25). Ass's Colt. — This is more specially the symbol of peace and meek obedi- ence (Jolm, xii, 15). Ass, Wild, corresponds in the O. T. to two words, peri' and 'arodh. Miether these two names refer to different species, or are, the one. the genuine Hebrew name, the other, the Ara- maic equivalent for the same animal, is uncertain. Both signify one of the wildest and most untamable animals. The wild ass is larger and more shapely than the domestic one, and outruns the fleetest horse. Its untaraableness joined to its nimbleness made it a fit symbol for the wild and plunder-loving Israael (Gen., xvi, 12). The wild ass, extinct in western Asia, still exists in central A.sia and the deserts of Africa. Att.^cus (Lev., xi. 22). — Instead of this Latin word, the A.V. reads bald-locust. .c- cording to the tradition enshrined in the Talmud, the common trujcalis, a locust with a very long smooth head is probably signified. Aurochs, or wild ox {urus, bos priniigenius), is iradoubtedly the rimu of the Assyrian inscriptions, and consequently corresponds to the re'cm or rim of the Hebrews. The latter word is translated sometimes in oiu' V.. by rhinoceros (Num., xxiii, 22; xxiv, 8; Deut., xxxiii, 17; Job, xxxix, 9, 10), sometimes by unicorn (Ps., xxi, 22; xxviii, 6; xci, 11; Is., xxxiv, 7). That the re'i-m, far from being unicorn, a two- horned animal, is suggested by Ps., xxi, 22, anil forcibly evidenced by Deut., xxxiii, 17, where its horns represent the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasses; that, moreover, it was akin to the domes- tic ox is shown from such parallelisms as we find in Ps., xxviii, 6, where we read, according to the critical editions of the Hebrew text: "The voice of Yahweli makes Lebanon skip Uke a bullock, and Sirion like a young re'cm"; or Is., x.xxiv, 7: "And the rc'im sliall go down with them, and the bulls with tlio mighty"; and still more convincingly by such imphcit ilescrip- tions as that of Job, xxxix, 9, 10: "Shall the rn/i be willing to ser'C thee, or will he .stay at thy crib'? Canst thou bind the rvm with thy thong to i)lough, or will he break the clods of the valleys after tliee? These references will be very clear, the last espiciallv, once we admit the re'cm is an almost untaniable wikl ox, which one would try in vain to submit to the same work as its domestic kin. Hence there is very little doubt that in all the above-mentioned jilaces the word aurochs should be substituted for