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one of the ruminant animals, but belongs to the same order as the rat, rabbit, beaver, and other rodents. Neither its teeth nor its stomach are constructed for the purpose of enabling it to ruminate, i.e. to return into the mouth the partially-digested food, and then to masticate it afresh; and therefore it has been thought that either there is some inistake in the sacred narrative, or that the Hebrew word has been mistranslated.
“ Nevertheless, these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven
hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney."
Taking the latter point first, as being the simplest of the two, we find that the Hebrew word which is rendered as Hare is Arnebeth, and that it is rendered in the Septuagint as Dasypus, or the Hare,-a rendering which the Jewish Bible adopts. That the Arnebeth is really the Hare may also be conjectured from the fact that the Arabic name for that animal is Arneb. In consequence of the rather wide sense to which the Greek word Dasypus (i.e. hairy-foot) is used, some commentators have suggested that the rabbit may have been included in the same title. This, however, is not at all likely, inasmuch as the Hare
is very plentiful in Palestine, and the rabbit is believed not to be indigenous to that part of the world. And, even if the two animals had been classed under the same title, the physiological difficulty would not be removed.
Before proceeding further, it will be as well to give a brief description of the curious act called rumination, or "chewing the cud.”
There are certain animals, such as the oxen, antelopes, deer, sheep, goats, camels, &c. which have teeth unfitted for the rapid mastication of food, and which therefore are supplied with a remarkable apparatus by which the food can be returned into the mouth when the animal has leisure, and be re-masticated before it passes into the true digestive organs.
For this purpose they are furnished with four stomachs, which are arranged in the following order. First comes the paunch or “rumen” (whence the word “ruminating"), into which passes the food in a very rough state, just as it is torn, rather than bitten, from the herbage, and which is analogous to the crop in birds. It thence passes into the second stomach, or “honeycomb,” the walls of which are covered with small angular cells. Into those cells the food is received from the first stomach, and compressed into little balls, which can be voluntarily returned into the niouth for mastication.
After the second mastication has been completed, the food passes at once into the third stomach, and thence into the fourth, which is the true digesting cavity. By a peculiar structure of these organs, the animal is able to convey its food either into the first or third stomach, at will, i.e. into the first when the grass is eaten, and into the third after rumination. Thus it will be that an animal which chews the cud must have teeth of a certain character, and be possessed of the fourfold stomach which has just been described.
Two points are conceded which seem to be utterly irreconcilable with each other. The first is that the Mosaic law distinctly states that the Hare chews the cud; the second is, that in point of fact the Hare is not, and cannot be, a ruminating animal, possessing neither the teeth nor the digestive organs which are indispensable for that process. Yet, totally opposed as these statements appear to be, they are in fact, not so irreconcilable as they seem.
Why the flesh of certain animals was prohibited, we do not at the present time know. That the flesh of swine should be forbidden food is likely enough, considering the effects which the habitual eating of swine's flesh is said to produce in hot countries. But it does seem very strange that the Israelites should have been forbidden to eat the flesh of the camel, the coney (or hyrax), and the Hare, and that these animals should have been specified is a proof that the eating or refraining from their flesh was not a mere sanitary regulation, but was a matter of importance. The flesh of all these three animals is quite as good and nutritious as that of the oxen, or goats, which are eaten in Palestine, and that of the Hare is far superior to them. Therefore, the people of Israel, who were always apt to take liberties with the restrictive laws, and were crafty enough to evade them on so many occasions, would have been likely to pronounce that the flesh of the Hare was lawful meat; because the animal chewed the cud, or appeared to do so, and they would discreetly have omitted the passage which alluded to the division of the hoof.
. To a non-scientific observer the Hare really does appear to chew the cud. When it is reposing at its ease, it continually moves its jaws about as if eating something, an action which may readily be mistaken for true rumination. Even Cowper, the poet, who kept some hares for several years, and had them always before his eyes, was deceived by this mumbling movement of the jaws. Speaking of his favourite hare, “Puss,” he proceeds as follows: “Finding him exceedingly tractable, I made it my custom to carry him always after breakfast into the garden, where he hid himself generally under the leaves of a cucumber vine, sleeping, or chewing the cud, till evening.”
The real object of this continual grinding or mumbling movement is simple enough. The chisel-like incisor teeth of the rodent animals need to be rubbed against each other, in order to preserve their edge and shape, and if perchance such friction should be wanting to a tooth, as, for example, by the breaking of the opposite tooth, it becomes greatly elongated, and sometimes grows to such a length as to prevent the animal from eating. Instinctively, therefore, the Hare, as well as the rabbit and other rodents, always likes to be nibbling at something, as any one knows who has kept rabbits in wooden hutches, the object of
this nibbling not being to eat the wood, but to keep the teeth in order.
But we may naturally ask ourselves, why the Mosaic law, an emanation from heaven, should mention an animal as being a ruminant, when its very structure shows that such an act was utterly imposible? The answer is clear enough. The law was suited to the capacity of those for whom it was intended, and was never meant to be a handbook of science, as well as a code of religious duties and maxims. The Jews, like other Orientals, were indifferent to that branch of knowledge which we designate by the name of physical science, and it was necessary that the language in which the law was conveyed to them should be accommodated to their capabilities of receiving it.
It would have been worse than useless to have interrupted the solemn revelation of Divine will with a lesson in comparative anatomy; the object of the passage in question being, not to teach the Jews the distinctive characteristics of a rodent and a ruminant, but to guard against their mistaking the Hare for one of the ruminants which were permitted as food.
That they would in all probability have fallen into that mistake is evident from the fact that the Arabs are exceedingly fond of the flesh of the Hare, and accept it, as well as the camel, as lawful food, because it chews the cud, the division of the hoof not being considered by them as an essential.
Hares are very plentiful in Palestine, and at least two species are found in that country. One of them, which inhabits the more northern and hilly portion of Palestine, closely resembles our own species, but has not ears quite so long in proportion, while the head is broader. The second species, which lives in the south, and in the valley of the Jordan, is very small, is of a light dun colour, and has very long ears.
In their general habits, these Hares resemble the Hare of England.
The cattle of Palestine, and their decadence at the present day-Ox-flesh not used
for food in modern times-Oxen of the stall, and oxen of the pasture—The use of the ox in agriculture—The yoke and its structure — The plough and the goad
– The latter capable of being used as a weapon—Treading out the corn- The cart and its wheels_The ox used as a beast of burden-Cattle turned loose to graze—The bulls of Bashan—Curiosity of the ox-tribe-A season of droughtBranding the cattle-An Egyptian field scene-Cattle-keeping an honourable post—The ox as used for sacrifice-Ox-worship— The bull Apis, and his history
- Persistency of the bull-worship, Jeroboam's sin—Various names of cattleThe Indian buffalo.
UNDER this head we shall treat of the domesticated oxen of Scripture, whether mentioned as Bull, Cow, Ox, Calf, Heifer, &c.
Two distinct species of cattle are found in Palestine, namely, the ordinary domesticated ox, and the Indian buffalo, which lives in the low-lying and marshy valley of the Jordan. Of this species we shall treat presently.
The domesticated cattle are very much like our own, but there is not among them that diversity of breed for which this country is famous; nor is there even any distinction of long and short horned cattle. There are some places where the animals are larger than in others, but this difference is occasioned simply by the better quality and greater quantity of the food.
As is the case in most parts of the world where civilization has made any progress, Domesticated Cattle were, and still are, plentiful in Palestine. Even at the present time the cattle are in common use, though it is evident, from many passages of Holy Writ, that in the days of Judæa's prosperity cattle were far more numerous than they are now, and were treated in a better fashion.
To take their most sacred use first, a constant supply of cattle was needed for the sacrifices, and, as it was necessary that every animal which was brought to the altar should be absolutely perfect, it is evident that great care was required in order