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OWING to the conditions of time, language, country, and race under which the various books of the Holy Scriptures were written, it is impossible that they should be rightly understood at the present day, and in this land, without the aid of many departments of knowledge. Contemporary history, philology, geography, and ethnology must all be pressed into the service of the true Biblical scholar; and there is yet another science which is to the full as important as either of the others. This is Natural History, in its widest sense.
The Oriental character of the Scriptural books causes them to abound with metaphors and symbols, taken from the common life of the time. They embrace the barren precipitous rocks alternating with the green and fertile valleys, the trees, flowers, and herbage, the creeping things of the earth, the fishes of the sea, the birds of the air, and the beasts which abode with man or dwelt in the deserts and forests. Unless, therefore, we understand these writings as those understood them for whom they were written, it is evident that we shall misinterpret instead of rightly comprehending them. Even with secular books of equally ancient date, the right understanding of them would be important, but in the case of the Holy Scriptures it is more than important, and becomes a duty. The field which is laid open to us is so large that only one department of Natural History, namely Zoology, can be treated in this work, although it is
illustrated by many references to other branches of Natural History, to the physical geography of Palestine, Egypt, and Syria, the race-character of the inhabitants, and historical parallels. The importance of Zoology in elucidating the Scriptures cannot be overrated, and without its aid we shall not only miss the point of innumerable passages of the Old and New Testament, but the words of our Lord Himself will either be totally misinterpreted, or at least lose the greater part of their significance.
The object of the present work is therefore to take, in its proper succession, every creature whose name is given in the Scriptures, and to supply so much of its history as will enable the reader to understand all the passages in which it is mentioned. A general account of each animal will be first given, followed by special explanations (wherever required) of those texts in which pointed reference is made to it, but of which the full force canuot be gathered without a knowledge of Natural History
The illustrations are all taken from the living animals, while the accessory details have been obtained either from the Egyptian or Assyrian monuments, from actual specimens, or from the photographs and drawings of the latest travellers. They have been selected and arranged so that each illustration explains one or more passages of Scripture, and it is hoped that the work will possess equal interest for the natural historian and the Biblical student.
The Monkey tribe rarely mentioned in Scripture—Why the Ape was introduced
into Palestine-Solomon's ships, and their cargo of Apes, peacocks, ivory, and gold—Various species of Monkey that might have been imported—The Rhesus Monkey—The Hoonuman, or Entellus-Habits of the Monkey, and reverence in which it is held by the natives—The Egyptians and their Baboon worship-Idols and memorials—The Wanderoo-Its singular aspect—Reasons why it should be introduced into Palestine–General habits of the Wanderoo --Its love of curiosities—Probability that Solomon had a menagerie—Various species of Monkey that may be included in the term Kophim— The Satyr of Scripture-Babylon in its glory and fall— Fulfilment of prophecy--Judaic ideas of the Satyrs, or Seirim
The Bat mentioned always with abhorrence - Meaning of the Hebrew name-The
prohibition against eating Bats—The edible species, their food and mode of life—The noisome character of the Bat, and the nature of its dwelling-placeIts hatred of light-Baruch and his prophecy--Appropriateness of the prophecy--Singular Mahommedan legend respecting the original creation of the Bat—The legend compared with the apocryphal gospels—The Bats of Palestine -Mr. Tristram's discoveries, Bats found in the quarries from which the stone of the Temple was hewn-Edible Bats in a cave near the centre of Palestine Another species of long-tailed Bat captured in the rock caves where hermits had been buried-Other species which probably inhabit Palestine ... 11
Frequent mention of the Lion in the Scriptures—Probability that it was once
a common animal, though now extinct-Reasons for its disappearance-The Lion employed as an emblem in the Bible-Similarity of the African and Asiatic species---The chief characteristics of the Lion-Its strength, activity,
and mode of seizing its prey-Various names of the Lion-Its courage when roused --Its roar, and peculiar mode of utterance-Invisibility of the Lion at dusk-The Lion lying in wait-The dwelling-place of the Lion-Its restlessness at night-.Passages illustrative of these characteristies-- Modes of capturing the Lion—The pitfall and the net-Lions kept as curiosities—The Lion-hunt as depicted on the buildings of aucient Nineveh .
The Leopard not often mentioned in the Scriptures-Its attributes exactly
described – Probability that several animals were classed under the nameHow the Leopard takes its prey-Craft of the Leopard-Its ravages among the flocks—The empire of man over the beast - The Leopard at bayLocalities wherein the Leopard lives - The skin of the Leopard-Various passages of Scripture explained .
The Cat never mentioned by name in the canonical Scriptures, and only once in
the Apocrypha - The Cat domesticated among the Egyptians, and trained in bird-catching-Neglected capabilities of the Cat ---Anecdote of an English Cat that caught fish for her master-Presumed reasoa why the Scriptures are silent about the l'at-The Cat mentioned by Baruch
Antipathy displayed by Orientals towards the Dog, and manifested throughout
the Scriptures-Contrast between European and Oriental Dogs--Habits of the Dogs of Palestine–The city Dogs and their singular organization - The herdsman's Dog - Various passages of Scripture - Dogs and the crumbs Their numbers-Signor Pierotti's experience of the Dogs-Possibility of their perfect domestication - The peculiar humiliation of Lazarus-Voracity of the Wild Dogs-The fate of Ahab and Jezebel-Anecdote of a volunteer Watch. dog-Innate affection of the Dog towards mankind-Peculiar local instinct of the Oriental Dog-Albert Smith's account of the Dogs at ConstantinopleThe Dervish and his Dogs—The Greyhound-l'ncertainty of the word . 39
Identity of the animal indisputable--Its numbers, past and present - The Wolf
never mentioned directly-Its general habits --References in Scripture—Its mingled ferocity and cowardice--Its association into packs-The Wolf's bite -How it takes its prey-Its ravages among the flocks-Allusions to this habit---The shepherd and his nightly enemies-- Mr. Tristram and the WolfA semi-tanied Wolf at Marsala .