International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ga-zel' (tsebhi, and feminine tsebhiyah; compare Tabeitha (Acts 9:36), and Arabic zabi; also Arabic ghazal; Dorkas (Acts 9:36); modern Greek zarkadi): The word "gazelle" does not occur in the King James Version, where tsebhi and tsebhiyah, in the 16 passages where they occur, are uniformly translated "roe" or "roebuck." In the Revised Version (British and American) the treatment is not uniform. We find "gazelle" without comment in Dt 12:15,22; 14:5; 15:22; 1 Ki 4:23. We find "roe," with marginal note "or gazelle," in Prov 6:5; Song 2:7,9,17; 4:5; 8:14; Isa 13:14. We find "roe" without comment in 2 Sam 2:18; 1 Ch 12:8; Song 3:5; 7:3. In the last passage cited, Song 7:3, while the American Standard Revised Version has no note, the English Revised Version refers to Song 4:5, where "gazelle" is graven in the margin. In the opinion of the writer, the rendering should be "gazelle" in all of these passages. It must be acknowledged, however, that the gazelle and the roe-deer are of about the same size, and are sometimes confused with each other. The Greek dorkas may refer to either, and in Syria the roe-deer is sometimes called ghazal or even wa`l, which is the proper name of the Persian wild goat.
The gazelle is an antelope belonging to the bovine family of the even-toed ruminants. There are more than twenty species of gazelle, all belonging to Asia and Africa. The species found in Syria and Israel is the Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas). It is 2 ft. high at the shoulders. Both sexes have unbranched, lyrate, ringed horns, which may be a foot long. The general coloration is tawny, but it is creamy white below and on the rump, and has a narrow white line from above the eye to the nostril. Several varieties have been distinguished, but they will not bear elevation to the rank of species, except perhaps Gazelle merilli a form of which a few specimens have been obtained from the Judean hills, having distinctly different horns from those of the common gazelle. The gazelle is found singly or in small groups on the interior plains and the uplands, but not in the high mountains. It is a marvel of lightness and grace, and a herd, when alarmed, makes off with great rapidity over the roughest country (2 Sam 2:18; 1 Ch 12:8; Prov 6:5; Song 8:14). The beauty of the eyes is proverbial. The skin is used for floor coverings, pouches or shoes, and the flesh is eaten, though not highly esteemed.
See DEER; GOAT; ZOOLOGY.
Alfred Ely Day
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'GAZELLE'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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