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comrade, and either avenging its death or taking warning by its fate.
Superstitions seem to be singularly prevalent concerning the Hyæna. In Palestine, there is a prevalent idea that if a Hyæna meets a solitary man at night, it can enchant him in such a manner as to make him follow it through thickets and over rocks, until he is quite exhausted, and falls an unresisting prey; but that over two persons he has no such influence, and therefore a solitary traveller is gravely advised to call for help as soon as he sees a Hyæna, because the fascination of the beast would be neutralized by the presence of a second person. So firmly is this idea rooted in the minds of the inhabitants, that they will never travel by night, unless they can find at least one companion in their journey.
In Northern Africa there are many strange superstitions connected with this animal, one of the most curious of which is founded on its well-known cowardice. The Arabs fancy that any weapon which has killed a Hyæna, whether it be gun, sword, spear, or dagger, is thenceforth unfit to be used in warfare. “Throw away that sword,” said an Arab to a French
. officer, who had killed a Hyæna, “ it has slain the Hyæna, and it will be treacherous to you.”
At the present day, its numbers are not nearly so great in Palestine as they used to be, and are decreasing annually. The cause of this diminution lies, according to Signor Pierotti, more in the destruction of forests than in the increase of population and the use of fire-arms, though the two latter causes have undoubtedly considerable influence.
There is a very interesting account by Mr. Tristram of the haunt of these animals. While exploring the deserted quarries of Es Sumrah, between Beth-arabah and Bethel, he came upon a wonderful mass of hyænine relics. The quarries in which were lying the half-hewn blocks, scored with the marks of wedges, had evidently formed the resort of Hyænas for a long series of years,
“Vast heaps of bones of camels, oxen, and sheep had been collected by these animals, in some places to the depth of two or three feet, and on one spot I counted the skulls of seven camels. There were no traces whatever of any human remains. We had here a beautiful recent illustration of the mode of foundation of the old bone caverns, so valuable to the geologist. These bones must all have been brought in by the Hyænas, as no camel or sheep could possibly have entered the caverns alive, nor could any floods have washed them in. Near the entrance where the water percolates, they were already forming a soft breccia.”
The second allusion to the Hyæna is made in 1 Sam. xiii. 18, « Another company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the Valley of Zeboim towards the wilderness," i.e. to the Valley of Hyænas.
The colour of the Striped Hyæna varies according to its age. When young, as is the case with many creatures, birds as well as mammals, the stripes from which it derives its name are much more strongly marked than in the adult specimen. The general hue of the fur is a pale grey-brown, over which are drawn a number of dark stripes, extending along the ribs and across the limbs.
In the young animal these stripes are nearly twice as dark and twice as wide as in the adult, and they likewise appear on the face and on other parts of the body, whence they afterwards vanish. The fur is always rough; and along the spine, and especially over the neck and shoulders, it is developed into a kind of mane, which gives a very fierce aspect to the animal. The illustration shows a group of Hyænas coming to feed on the relics of a dead animal. The jackals and vultures have eaten as much of the flesh as they can manage, and the vultures are sitting, gorged, round the stripped bones. The Hyænas are now coming up to play their part as scavengers, and have already begun to break up the bones in their crushing-mills of jaws.
Difficulty of identifying the Weasel of Scripture—The Weasel of Palestine
Suggested identity with the Ichneumon.
The word Weasel occurs once in the Holy Scriptures, and therefore it is necessary that the animal should be mentioned. There is a great controversy respecting the identification of the animal, inasmuch as there is nothing in the context which gives the slightest indication of its appearance or habits.
The passage in question is that which prohibits the Weasel and the mouse as unclean animals (see Lev. xi. 29). Now the word which is here translated Weasel is Choled, or Chold; and, I believe, never occurs again in the whole of the Old Testament. Mr. W. Houghton conjectures that the Hebrew word Choled is identical with the Arabic Chuld and the Syriac Chuldo, both words signifying a mole; and therefore infers that the unclean animal in question is not a Weasel, but a kind of mole.
The Weasel does exist in Palestine, and seems to be as plentiful there as in our own country. Indeed, the whole tribe of Weasels is well represented, and the polecat is seen there as well as the Weasel.
It has been suggested with much probability, that, as is clearly the case in many instances, several animals have been included in the general term Weasel, and that among them may be reckoned the common ichneumon (Herpestes), which is one of the most plentiful of animals in Palestine, and which may be met daily.
The Septuagint favours the interpretation of Weasel, and, as there is no evidence on either side, there we may allow the question to rest. As, however, the word only occurs once, and as the animal, whatever it may be, is evidently of no particular importance, we may reserve our space for the animals which have more important bearings upon the Holy Scriptures. The subject will be again mentioned in the account of the Mole of the Old Testament.
Translation of the Hebrew word Anakah—The Shrew-mouse of Palestine
Etymology of the word— The Gecko or Fan-foot, its habits and peculiar cryRepugnance felt by the Arabs of the present day towards the Gecko.
Why the Hebrew word Anakah should have been translated in our version as Ferret there is little ground for conjecture.
The name occurs among the various creeping things that were reckoned as unclean, and were prohibited as food (see Lev. xi. 29, 30): “ These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creepeth upon the earth : the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind, and the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.” Now the word in question is translated in the Septuagint as the Mygale, or Shrew-mouse, and it is probable that this animal was accepted by the Jews as the Anakah. But, whether or not it was the Shrew-mouse, it is certain that it is not the animal which we call the Ferret. Mr. Tristram suggests that the etymology of the name, i.e. Anâkah, the Groaner, or Sigher, points to some creature which utters a mournful cry. And as the animal in
. question is classed among the creeping things, he offers a conjecture that the Gecko, Wall-lizard, or Fan-foot, may be the true interpretation of the word.
Being one of the lizards, it belongs to the “creeping things,” and frequently utters a mournful sound like the word “geck-o." It is exceedingly plentiful, and inhabits the interior of houses, where it can find the flies and other insects on which it lives. On account of the structure of the toes, each of which is flattened into a disk-like form, and furnished on the under surface with a series of plates like those on the back of the sucking-fish, it can walk up a smooth, perpendicular wall with perfect ease, and can even cling to the ceiling like the flies on which it feeds.
The structure of the feet enables it to move about without the least sound, and at first an observer is apt to be rather startled at the mournful cry, and at the silent rapidity with which it darts from place to place.
The Arabs of the present day are horribly afraid of the Gecko, thinking that it poisons everything that it touches, and are even more terrified than are ignorant people in England when they see a toad. Both creatures are equally repulsive in aspect, and equally harmless towards the human race.
Difficulty in identifying the Tachash of Scripture- References to “Badgers'
skins”—The Dugong thought to be the Badger–The Bedouin sandalsNature of the materials for the Tabernacle-Habits of the Badger—The species found in Palestine-Uses of the Badgers' skins-Looseness of zoological terms.
UNTIL very lately, there was much difficulty in ascertaining whether the word Tachash has been rightly translated as Badger. It occurs in several parts of the Scriptures, and almost invariably is used in relation to a skin or fur of some sort. We will first examine the passages in which the Badger is mentioned, and then proceed to identify the animal.
Nearly all the references to the Badger occur in the book of Exodus, and form part of the directions for constructing the Tabernacle and its contents. The first notice of the word occurs in Exodus xxv. 5, where the people of Israel are ordered to bring their offerings for the sanctuary, among which offerings are gold, silver, and brass, blue, purple, and scarlet, fine linen, goats' hair, rams' skins dyed red, badgers' skins, and shittim wood-all these to be used in the construction of the Tabernacle. Then a little farther on, in chapter xxvi. 14, we find one of the special uses to which the badgers' skins were to be put, namely, to make the outer covering or roof of the tabernacle. Another use for the badgers' skins was to form an outer covering for the ark, table