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would, however, have had no effect for deterring Samson from employing them. The Orientals are never sparing of pain, even when inflicted upon human beings, and in too many cases they seem utterly unable even to comprehend the cruelty of which they are guilty. And Samson was by no means a favourable specimen of his countrymen. He was the very incarnation of strength, but was as morally weak as he was corporeally powerful; and to that weakness he owed his fall. Neither does he seem to possess the least trace of forbearance any more than of self-control, but he yields to his own undisciplined nature, places himself, and through him the whole Israelitish nation, in jeopardy, and then, with a grim humour, scatters destruction on every side in revenge for the troubles which he has brought upon himself by his own acts.
There is a passage in the Old Testament which is tolerably familiar to most students of the Scriptures : “ Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes” (Solomon's Song, ii. 15). In this passage allusion is made to the peculiar fondness for grapes and several other fruits which exist both in the Fox and the Jackal. Even the domesticated dog is often fond of ripe fruits, and will make great havoc among the gooseberry bushes and the strawberry beds. But both the Fox and the Jackal display a wonderful predilection for the grape above all other fruit, and even when confined and partly tamed, it is scarcely possible to please them better than by offering them a bunch of perfectly ripe grapes. The well-known fable of the fox and the grapes will occur to the mind of every one who reads the passage which has just been quoted.
There are two instances in the New Testament where the Fox is mentioned, and in both cases the allusion is made by the Lord himself. The first of these passages is the touching and wellknown reproach, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. viii. 20). The second passage is that in which He speaks of Herod as “that fox,” selecting a term which well expressed the character of the cruel and cunning ruler to whom it was applied.
The reader will remember that, in the history of the lastmentioned animal an anecdote is told of a semi-tamed wolf that
used to come every evening for the purpose of receiving a piece of bread. At the same monastery, three foxes used to enjoy a similar privilege. They came regularly to the appointed place, which was not that which the wolf frequented, and used to howl until their expected meal was given to thein. Several companions generally accompanied them, but were always jealously driven away before the inonks appeared with the bread.
The Hyæna not mentioned by name, but evidently alluded to—Signification of
the word Zahua-Translated in the Septuagint as Hyæna--A scene described by the prophet Isaiah—The Hyæna plentiful in Palestine at the present day -its well-known cowardice and fear of man—The uses of the Hyæna and the services which it renders—The particular species of Hyæna—The Hyæna in the burial-grounds-Hunting the Hyæna - Curious superstition respecting the talismanic properties of its skin -Precautions adopted in flaying it-Popular legends of the Hyæna and its magical powers—The cavern home of the Hyæna ---The valley of Zeboim.
ALTHOUGH in our version of the Scriptures the Hyæna is not mentioned by that name, there are two passages in the Old Testament which evidently refer to that animal, and therefore it is described in these pages. If the reader will refer to the prophet Jeremiah, xii. 7-9, he will find these words : “I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies. Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it. Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird; the birds round about are against her :
: come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.” Now, the word zabua signifies soniething that is streaked, and in the Authorized Version it is rendered as a speckled bird. But in the Septuagint it is rendered as Hyæna, and this translation is thought by many critical writers to be the true one. It is certain that the word zabua is one of the four names by which the Talmudical writers mention the Hyæna, when treating of ius character; and it is equally certain that such a rendering makes the passage more forcible, and is in perfect accordance with the habits of predacious animals.
The whole scene which the Prophet thus describes was evidently familiar to him. First, we have the image of a deserted country, allowed to be overrun with wild beasts. Then we have the lion, which has struck down its prey, roaring with exultation, and defying any adversary to take it from him. Then, the lion having eaten his fill and gone away, we have the Hyænás, vultures, and other carrion-eating creatures, assembling around the carcase, and hastening to devour it. This is a scene which has been witnessed by many hunters who have pursued their sport in lands where lions, hyænas, and vultures are found ; and all these creatures were inhabitants of Palestine at the time when Jeremiah wrote.
At the present day, the Hyæna is still plentiful in Palestine, though in the course of the last few years its numbers have sensibly diminished. The solitary traveller, when passing by night from one town to another, often falls in with the Hyæna, but need suffer no fear, as it will not attack a human being, and prefers to slink out of his way. But dead, and dying, or wounded animals are the objects for which it searches; and when it finds them, it devours the whole of its prey. The lion will strike down an antelope, an ox, or a goat-will tear off its flesh with its long fangs, and lick the bones with its rough tongue until they are quite cleaned. The wolves and jackals will follow the lion, and eat every soft portion of the deaci animal, while the vultures will fight with them for the coveted morsels. But the Hyæna is a more accomplished scavenger than lion, wolf, jackal, or vulture; for it will eat the very bones themselves, its tremendously-powerful jaws and firmly-set teeth enabling it to crush even the leg-bone of an ox, and its unparalleled digestive powers enabling it to assimilate the sharp and hard fragments which would kill any creature not constituted like itself.
In a wild, or even a partially-inhabited country, the Hyæna is, therefore, a most useful animal. It may occasionally kill a crippled or weakly ox, and sometimes carry off a sheep; but, even in that case, no very great harm is done, for it does not meddle with any animal that can resist. But these few delinquencies are more than compensated by the great services which it renders as scavenger, consuming those substances which even the lion cannot eat, and thus acting as a scavenger in removing objects which would be offensive to sight and injurious to health.
The species which is mentioned in the Scriptures is the Striped Hyæna (Hyæna striata); but the habits of all the species are almost exactly similar. We are told by travellers of certain towns in different parts of Africa which would be unendurable but for the Hyænas. With the disregard for human life which prevails throughout all savage portions of that country, the rulers of these towns order executions almost daily, the bodies of the victims being allowed to lie where they happened to fall. No one chooses to touch them, lest they should also be added to the list of victims, and the decomposing bodies would soon cause a pestilence but for the Hyænas, who assemble at night round the bodies, and by the next morning have left scarcely a trace of the murdered men.
Even in Palestine, and in the present day, the Hyæna will endeavour to rifle the grave, and to drag out the interred corpse. The bodies of the rich are buried in rocky caves, whose entrances are closed with heavy stones, which the Hyæna cannot move; but those of the poor, which are buried in the ground, must be defended by stones heaped over them. Even when this precaution is taken, the Hyæna will sometimes find out a weak spot, drag out the body, and devour it.
In consequence of this propensity, the inhabitants have an utter detestation of the animal. They catch it whenever they can, in pitfalls or snares, using precisely the same means as were employed two thousand years ago; or they hunt it to its den, and then kill it, stripping off the hide, and carrying it about still wet, receiving a small sum of money from those to whom they show it. Afterwards the skin is dressed, by rubbing it with lime and salt, and steeping it in the waters of the Dead Sea. It is then made into sandals and leggings, which are thought to be powerful charms, and to defend the wearer from the Hyæna's bite.
They always observe certain superstitious precautions in flaying the dead animal. Believing that the scent of the flesh would corrupt the air, they invariably take the carcase to the leeward of the tents before they strip off the skin. Even in the animal which has been kept for years in a cage, and has eaten nothing but fresh meat, the odour is too powerful to be agreeable,
as I can testify from practical experience when dissecting a Hyæna that had died in the Zoological Gardens; and it is evident that the scent of an animal that has lived all its life on carrion must be almost unbearable. The skin being removed, the carcase is burnt, because the hunters think that by this process the other Hyænas are prevented from finding the body of their