Bible History Online
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
kat'-'-l (behemah, "a dumb beast"; miqneh, "a possession" from qanah, "to acquire" (compare Arabic qana', "to acquire," and Greek kienos, "beast," and plural ktenea, "flocks," from ktaomai, "to acquire," flocks being both with the Homeric peoples and with the patriarchs an important form of property; compare English "fee"); tso'n "small cattle," "sheep" or goats (compare Arabic da'n, "sheep"); seh, a single sheep or goat (compare Arabic shah); mela'khah, "property," from la'akh, "to minister" (compare Arabic malakah and mulk, "property," from malak, "to possess"); meri' "fatling" (1 Ki 19); thremma (Jn 4:12), "cattle," i.e. "that which is nourished," from trepho, "to nourish"; baqar, "kine," "oxen" (compare Arabic baqar, "cattle"); shor, tor (Dan 4:25), tauros (Mt 22:4), "ox" or "bull"; bous, "ox" (Lk 13:15); 'eleph, only in the plural, 'alaphim, "oxen" (Ps 8:7)): From the foregoing and by examination of the many references to "cattle," "kine" or "oxen" it is apparent that there are important points of contact in derivation and usage in the Hebrew, Greek and English terms. It is evident that neat cattle were possessed in abundance by the patriarchs and later Israelites, which is fax from being the case in Israel at the present day. The Bedouin usually have no cattle. The fellachin in most parts of the country keep them in small numbers, mostly for plowing, and but little for milk or for slaughtering. Travelers in the Holy Land realize that goat's milk is in most places easier to obtain than cow's milk. The commonest cattle of the fellachin are a small black breed. In the vicinity of Damascus are many large, fine milch cattle which furnish the delicious milk and cream of the Damascus bazaars. For some reason, probably because they are not confined and highly fed, the bulls of Israel are meek creatures as compared with their European or American fellows.
In English Versions of the Bible the word "cattle" is more often used in a wide sense to include sheep and goats than to denote merely neat cattle. In fact, baqar, which distinctively denotes neat cattle, is often rendered "herds," as tso'n, literally "sheep," is in a large number of instances translated "flocks." A good illustration is found in Gen 32:7: "Then Jacob .... divided the, people (`am) that were with him, and the flocks (tso'n), and the herds (baqar), and the camels (gemallim), into two companies (machanoth)." For the last word the King James Version has "drove" in Gen 33:8, the Revised Version (British and American) "company." Next to tso'n, the word most commonly rendered "flock" in English Versions of the Bible is `edher, from root "to arrange," "to set in order." `Edher is rendered "herd" in Prov 27:23, and in Joel 1:18 it occurs twice, being rendered "herds of cattle," `edhre baqar, and "flocks of sheep," `edhre ha-tso'n. Miqneh is rendered "flock" in Nu 32:26, "herd" in Gen 47:18, and "cattle" in a large number of passages. Other words rendered "flock" are: mar`ith (r. ra`ah (Arabic ra`a), "to pasture"), once in Jer 10:21; `ashteroth tso'n, "flocks of thy sheep," the Revised Version (British and American) "young of thy flock," in Dt 7:13, etc., `ashiaroth being plural of `ashtoreth, or Ashtoreth; chasiph, once in 1 Ki 20:27: "The Children of Israel encamped before them (the Syrians) like two little flocks of kids," chasiph signifying "something stripped off or separated," from root chasaph, "to strip" or "to peel," like the Arabic qaTi`, "flock," from root qaTa`, "to cut off"; poimne (Mt 26:31): "The sheep of the flock shall be scattered," and (Lk 2:8): "keeping watch by night over their flock"; poimnion (Lk 12:32): "Fear not, little flock," and (1 Pet 5:2): "Tend the flock of God which is among you."
Figurative: Not only poimne and poimnion but also `edher and tso'n are used figuratively of God's people; e.g. Isa 40:11: "He will feed his flock (`edher) like a shepherd"; Zec 10:3: "Yahweh of hosts hath visited his flock ([`edher]), the house of Judah"; Isa 65:10: "And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks" (tso'n); Jer 23:2: "Ye have scattered my flock" (tso'n); Ezek 34:22: "Therefore will I save my flock" (tso'n); Mic 7:14: "Feed .... the flock (tso'n) of thy heritage."
The wild ox or wild bull, the Revised Version (British and American) "antelope" (te'o or to' of Dt 14:5 and Isa 51:20), is considered by the writer to be probably the Arabian oryx, and in this he is in agreement with Tristram (NHB). Tristram however thinks that the unicorn (rem or re'em), the Revised Version (British and American) "wild ox," was the aurochs, while the present writer believes that this also may well have been the oryx, which at the present day has at least three names in Arabic, one of which, baqar-ul-wachsh, means "wild ox."
Our domestic cattle are believed by some of the best authorities to be of the same species as the ancient European wild ox or aurochs, Bos taurus, which is by others counted as a distinct species under the title of Bos primigeniusú The aurochs was widely spread over Europe in Roman times, but is now extinct. Some degenerate wild cattle are preserved in some British parks, but these according to Lydekker in the Royal Natural History are probably feral descendants of early domestic breeds. Tristram cites the occurrence in the Dog River bone breccia of teeth which may be those of the aurochs, but this is a deposit accumulated by prehistoric man of an unknown antiquity to be variously estimated according to the predilections of the geologist at a few thousands or a few score of thousands of years, and is far from proving that this animal existed in Israel in Bible times or at any time.
The European bison (Bos or Bison bonassus) is thought by some to be the wild ox of the Bible. This is a forest-dwelling species and is now confined to the forests of Lithuania and the Caucasus. It was formerly more widely distributed, but there is no certain evidence that it ever lived as far South as Israel, and there have probably never existed in Israel forests suitable to be the haunts of this animal.
About the Sea of Tiberias and the Jordan valley and in the plain of Coele-Syria there exist today Indian buffaloes (Bos bubalus) some feral and some in a state of domestication, which are believed to have been introduced in comparatively recent times.
See BEAST; CALF.
Alfred Ely Day
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'CATTLE'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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