International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(1) tannim, "jackals," the King James Version "dragons"; compare Arabic tinan, "wolf"; and compare tannin, Arab tinnin, "sea monster" or "monster" the English Revised Version "dragon" (Job 7:12 m; Ps 74:13; 148:7; Isa 27:1; 51:9; Jer 51:34), "serpent" (Ex 7:9,10,12; Dt 32:33; Ps 91:13), the King James Version "whale" (Gen 1:21; Job 7:12); but tannin, "jackals," the King James Version "sea monsters" (Lam 4:3), "jackal's well," the King James Version "dragon well" (Neh 2:13), and tannim, "monster," the King James Version and the English Revised Version "dragon" (Ezek 29:3; 32:2).
(2) 'iyim, "wolves," the King James Version "wild beasts of the islands"; compare 'i, plural iyim, "island"; also 'ayyah, "a cry," 'awah, "to cry," "to howl"; Arabic `auwa', "to bark" (of dogs, wolves, or jackals); 'ibn 'awa', colloquially wawi, "jackal."
(3) tsiyim, "wild beasts of the desert."
(4) 'ochim, "doleful creatures."
"Jackals" occurs as a translation of tannim, the King James Version "dragons," in Job 30:29; Ps 44:19; Isa 13:22; 34:13; 35:7; 43:20; Jer 9:11; 10:22; 14:6; 49:33; 51:37; of the feminine plural form tannoth in Mal 1:3, and of tannin in Neh 2:13 and Lam 4:3. Tannim is variously referred to a root meaning "to howl," and to a root meaning "to stretch out" trop. "to run swiftly, i.e. with outstretched neck and limb extended" (Gesenius). Either derivation would suit "wolf" equally as well as "jackal." The expression in Jer 10:22, "to make the cities of Judah a desolation, a dwelling-place of jackals," seems, however, especially appropriate of jackals. The same is true of Isa 34:13; Jer 9:11; 49:33, and 51:37.
The jackal (from Persian shaghal), Canis aureus, is found about the Mediterranean except in Western Europe. It ranges southward to Abyssinia, and eastward, in Southern Asia, to farther India. It is smaller than a large dog, has a moderately bushy tail, and is reddish brown with dark shadings above. It is cowardly and nocturnal. Like the fox, it is destructive to poultry, grapes, and vegetables, but is less fastidious, and readily devours the remains of others' feasts. Jackals generally go about in small companies. Their peculiar howl may frequently be heard in the evening and at any time in the night. It begins with a high-pitched, long-drawn-out cry. This is repeated two or three times, each time in a higher key than before. Finally there are several short, loud, yelping barks. Often when one raises the cry others join in. Jackals are not infrequently confounded with foxes. They breed freely with dogs.
While tannim is the only word translated "jackal" in English Versions of the Bible, the words 'iyim, tsiyim, and 'ochim deserve attention. They, as well as tannim, evidently refer to wild creatures inhabiting desert places, but it is difficult to say for what animal each of the words stands. All four (together with benoth ya`anah and se`irim) are found in Isa 13:21,22: "But wild beasts of the desert (tsiyim) shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures ('ochim); and ostriches (benoth ya`anah) shall dwell there, and wild goats (se`irim) shall dance there. And wolves ('iyim) shall cry in their castles, and jackals (tannim) in the pleasant palaces."
In the King James Version 'iyim (Isa 13:22; 34:14; Jer 50:39) is translated "wild beasts of the islands" (compare 'iyim, "islands"). the King James Version margin has merely the transliteration iim, the Revised Version (British and American) "wolves," the Revised Version margin "howling creatures." Gesenius suggests the jackal, which is certainly a howler. While the wolf has a blood-curdling howl, it is much more rarely heard than the jackal.
Tsiyim (Ps 72:9; 74:14; Isa 13:21; 23:13; 34:14; Jer 50:39) has been considered akin to tsiyah, "drought" (compare 'erets tsiyah, "a dry land" (Ps 63:1)), and is translated in the Revised Version (British and American) as follows: Ps 72:9, "they that dwell in the wilderness"; 74:14, "the people inhabiting the wilderness"; Isa 23:13, "them that dwell in the wilderness," the Revised Version margin "the beasts of the wilderness"; Isa 13:21; 34:14; Jer 50:39, "wild beasts of the desert." There would be some difficulty in referring tsiyim in Ps 72:9 to beasts rather than to men, but that is not the case in Ps 74:14 and Isa 23:13. "Wild cats" have been suggested.
'Ochim, "doleful creatures," perhaps onomatopoetic, occurs only in Isa 13:21. The translation "owls" has been suggested, and is not unsuitable to the context.
It is not impossible that tannim and 'iyim may be different names of the jackals. 'Iyim, tsiyim, and tannim occur together also in Isa 34:13,14, and 'iyim and tsiyim in Jer 50:39. Their similarity in sound may have much to do with their collocation. The recognized word for "wolf," ze'ebh (compare Arabic dhi'b), occurs 7 times in the Old Testament.
See DRAGON; WOLF; ZOOLOGY.
Alfred Ely Day
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'jackal'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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