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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

 

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LEOPARD

lep'-erd ((1) namer (Song 4:8; Isa 11:6; Jer 5:6; 13:23; Hos 13:7; Hab 1:8); compare Arabic nimr, "leopard." (2) Chaldaic nemar (Dan 7:6). (3) pardalis (Rev 13:2; Ecclesiasticus 28:23); compare nimrim Nimrim (Isa 15:6; Jer 48:34), nimrah, Nimrah (Nu 32:3), and beth-nimrah, Beth-nimrah (Nu 32:36; Josh 13:27)): The leopard is found throughout Africa and ranges through Southern Asia from Asia Minor to Japan, being absent from Siberia and Central Asia. Its range is much the same as that of the lion, which latter, however, does not extend so far to the East. Like other animals of wide range, it has local varieties, but these shade into each other imperceptibly, and the one specific name, Felis pardus, includes all. Leopards live in some of the valleys East and South of the Dead Sea, and in the mountains of Sinai and Northwestern Arabia. They have but rarely been seen of recent years in Lebanon or the more settled portions of Israel. So far as can be judged from skins which are available for comparison, the leopard of Israel is rather light in color, and is not as large as. some found in Africa or India. It is not certain that the place-names, NIMRIM, NIMRAH, and BETH-NIMRAH (which see), have to do with namer, "leopard," but their location is in Moab, where leopards are well known, even at the present day. One of the valleys entering the Dead Sea from the East, South of the Arnon, is called Wadi-en-Numeir ("valley of the little leopard"; numeir, diminutive of nimr).
In the Bible "leopard" occurs mainly in figurative expressions, as a large and fierce beast. The leopard is mentioned with the lion and bear in Dan 7:6; Hos 13:7; Rev 13:2; with the lion, wolf and bear in Isa 11:6; with the lion and wolf in Jer 5:6; with the lion alone in Ecclesiasticus 28:23; with the wolf alone in Hab 1:8. The leopard is smaller than the lion and the tiger, but is more active than either. Its swiftness is referred to in Hab 1:8: "Their horses also (of the Chaldeans) are swifter than leopards." The spots of the leopard are referred to in Jer 13:23: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?"
The Greek pardalis, and panther, were both applied to the leopard. "Panther" is sometimes used of large leopards, while in America, with its corrupt form "painter," it is one of the names applied to the cougar or puma, Felis concolor, which, as the specific name implies, is not spotted like the leopard, or striped like the tiger.
Alfred Ely Day

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'LEOPARD'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE; 1915.

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