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covered with myrtle, bay, and caper hanging from the fissures, while the opposite side was perforated with many shallow caves, the inaccessible eyries of vultures, eagles, and lanner falcons, which were sailing in multitudes around. The lower part had many ledges clad with shrubs, the strongholds of the Syrian Bear, though inaccessible even to goats. Far beneath dashed the milk-white river, a silver line in a ruby setting of oleanders, roaring doubtless fiercely, but too distant to be heard at the height on which we stood. This cleft of the Leontes was the only true Alpine scenery we had met with in Palestine, and in any country, and amidst any mountains, it would attract admiration.”
On those elevated spots the Bear loves to dwell, and throughout the summer-time generally remains in such localities. For the Bear is one of the omnivorous animals, and is able to feed on vegetable as well as animal substances, preferring the former when they can be found. There is nothing that a Bear likes better than strawberries and similar fruits, among which it will revel throughout the whole fruit season, daintily picking the ripest berries, and becoming wonderfully fat by the constant banquet. Sometimes, when the fruits fail, it makes incursions among the cultivated grounds, and is noted for the ravages which it makes among a sort of vetch which is much grown in the Holy Land.
But during the colder months of the year the Bear changes its diet, and becomes carnivorous. Sometimes it contents itself with the various wild animals which it can secure, but sometimes it descends to the lower plains, and seizes upon the goats and sheep in their pastures. This habit is referred to by David, , in his well-known speech to Saul, when the king was trying to dissuade him from matching himself against the gigantic Philistine. “And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him : for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his hand; and when he arose
l against me, I caught him by the beard, and smote him, and slew
I him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear : and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.”—1 Sam. xvii. 33–36.
Though not generally apt to attack mankind, it will do so if first attacked, and then becomes a most dangerous enemy. See, for example, that most graphic passage in the book of the prophet Amos, whose business as a herdsman must have made him conversant with the habits, not only of the flocks and herds which he kept, but of the wild beasts which might devour them :—“ Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord ! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into a house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.” (v. 19.)
Another reference to the dangerous character of the Bear is made in 2 Kings ii. 23, 24, in which is recorded that two shebears came out of the wood near Bethel, and killed forty-two of the children that mocked at Elisha.
As the Bear is not swift of foot, but rather clumsy in its movements, it cannot hope to take the nimbler animals in open chase. It prefers to lie in wait for them in the bushes, and to strike them down with a sudden blow of its paw, a terrible weapon, which it can wield as effectively as the lion uses its claws. An allusion to this habit is made in the Lamentations of Jeremiah (iii. 10), “ He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places.”
Harmless to man as it generally is, there are occasions on which it becomes a terrible and relentless foe, not seeking to avoid his presence, but even searching for him, and attacking him as soon as seen. In the proper season of the year, hunters, or those who are travelling through those parts of the country infested by the Bear, will sometimes find the cubs, generally
number, their mother having left them in the den while she has gone to search for food. Although they would not venture to take the initiative in an attack upon either of the parents, they are glad of an opportunity which enables them to destroy one or two Bears without danger to themselves. The young Bears are easily killed or carried off, because at a very early age they are as confident as they are weak, and do not try to escape when they see the hunters approaching.
The only danger lies in the possibility that their deed may be discovered by the mother before they can escape from the locality, and, if she should happen to return while the robbers
are still in the neighbourhood, a severe conflict is sure to follow. At any time an angry Bear is a terrible antagonist, especially if it be wounded with sufficient severity to cause pain, and not severely enough to cripple its movements. But, when to this easily-roused ferocity is added the fury of maternal feelings, it may be imagined that the hunters have good reason to fear its attack.
To all animals that rear their young is given a sublime and almost supernatural courage in defending their offspring, and from the lioness, that charges a host of armed men when her cubs are in danger, to the hen, which defies the soaring kite or prowling fox, or to the spider, that will give up her life rather than abandon her yet unhatched brood, the same self-sacrificing spirit actuates them all. Most terrible therefore is the wrath of a creature which possesses, as is the case of the Bear, the strongest maternal affections, added to great size, tremendous weapons, and gigantic strength. That the sight of a Bear bereaved of her young was well known to both writers and contemporary readers of the Old Testament, is evident from the fact that it is mentioned by several writers, and always as a familiar illustration of furious anger. See for example 2 Sam. xvii. 8, when Hushai is dissuading Absalom from following the cautious counsel of Ahithophel, “For thou knowest
“ thy father and his men, that they be mighty men of war, and they be chafed in their minds as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field.” Solomon also, in the Proverbs (xvii. 12), uses the same image, “Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.”
When the Bear fights, it delivers rapid strokes with its armed paw, tearing and rending away everything that it strikes. A blow from a bear's paw has been several times known to strip the entire skin, together with the hair, from a man's head, and, when fighting with dogs, to tear its enemies open as if each claw were a chisel. This mode of fighting is clearly alluded to by the prophet Hosea, who seems, from the graphic force of his sentences, to have been an actual spectator of some such combat, “I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart” (Hos. xiii. 8).
That the Bear was a well-known animal both in the earlier and later times of the Scripture is also evident from the fact that it was twice used as a symbol exhibited to a seer in a vision. The first of these passages occurs in the book of Daniel (vii. 5), when the prophet is describing the wonderful vision of the four beasts :- “ And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it, between the teeth of it, and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.” The second allusion occurs in the Revelation, the seven-headed and tencrowned beast having a form like that of a leopard, but feet like those of a Bear.
THE HEDGEHOG, OR BITTERN.
Various readings of the word Kippod—The Jewish Bible and its object, The
Syrian Hedgehog and its appearance-Its fondness for dry spots—The prophecies of Isaiah and Zephaniah, and their bearing on the subject--The Porcupine supposed to be the Kippôd—The Hedgehog and Porcupine called by the same name in Greek and Arabic—Habits of the Porcupine-Its quills, and the manner of their shedding.
In our Authorized Bible, there are one or two passages where the Hebrew word Kippôd is translated as BITTERN. For example, there is Isaiah xiv. 22, 23, “I will cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son and nephew, saith the Lord. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Then there is another passage of the same prophet (xxxiv. 11), “ But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it (i.e. Idumea), the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it.” The last mention of this creature occurs in Zephaniah ii. 14, “And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her i.e. Nineveh), all the beasts of the nations : both the bittern and the cormorant shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in
the windows ; desolation shall be in the thresholds; for he shall uncover the cedar-work."
Now, in the “ Jewish School and Family Bible," a new literal translation by Dr. A. Benisch, under the superintendence of the Chief Rabbi, the word Kippôd is translated, not as Bittern, but Hedgehog. As I shall have to refer to this translation repeatedly in the course of the present work, I will give a few remarks made by the translator in the preface.
After premising that both Christian and Jew agree in considering the Old Testament as emanating from God, and reverencing it as such, he proceeds to say that the former, as holding himself absolved from the ceremonial law of the Mosaic dispensation, has not the interest in the exact signification of every letter of the law which necessarily attaches itself to the Jew, who considers himself bound by that law, although some ceremonies, " by their special reference to the Temple in Jerusalem and the actual existence of Israel in the Holy Land, are at present not practicable."