Manners & Customs: Goats
Goats in ancient Bible times
Use of the meat of kids. The meat of an adult male goat is of course rather tough, and so not ordinarily used. The female goats are seldom killed because they are needed to increase the flock. Thus it is the meat of the young male kid that is largely used in Bible lands. In Old Testament times, when visitors were entertained, often a kid was made ready for the meal (cf. Judges 6:19). The prevalence of the flesh of kids in CHRIST's day is brought out by the reference of the Prodigal's brother. "And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends" (Luke 15:29).
There is sarcasm in this reproval, for the kid was of less value at a banquet than would have been a lamb, and considerably inferior to the fatted calf, which was killed and served on only special occasions to do honor to a very special guest. The brother was objecting to the father serving the fatted calf at the banquet honoring the return of the Prodigal, whereas he as the elder brother had not been given even a kid to make merry with his friends. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Use of goats' hair and goats' skin. The hair of the goat was considered to be of great value to the Hebrew people. When the materials were brought for the construction of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, only the finest and the costliest that could be obtained were accepted; and goats' hair was included in the list of materials the children of Israel offered unto the LORD (See Exodus 35:23). Tabernacle curtains were made of goats' hair (Exodus 26:7). The tents of the Bedouin Arabs are made of goats' hair, just as were similar dwellings in Old and New Testament times. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Goat's Hair in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
('ez): The word for she-goat is used elliptically to mean
goats' hair, which was used in the tabernacle furnishings in
the form of curtains (Ex 26:7; 36:14). Goats' hair was
probably used in the Midianite and Israelite camps in much the
same way as in the Bedouin camps today (compare Nu 31:20). The
tents, tent ropes and rugs are made of spun goats' hair. The
provision sacks which hold wheat, rice, etc., and the
saddlebags are made of the same material. A strip of the cloth
rolled up furnishes a bolster for the head while sleeping
(compare 1 Sam 19:13,16). Goats' hair cloth is admirab1y
suited to stand the hard usage of a frequently shifting
encampment. The children of Israel appreciated its utility,
even for the tabernacle, where to the modern critical eye it
would have looked out of place, matched against scarlet and
fine linen (Ex 25:4; 35:6,26). The fact that goats' hair was
used is good indication of the comparative crudeness of the
tabernacle, when contrasted with present-day furnishings.
Use of goat's milk. The milk derived from goats is especially excellent and rich. Most of the "leben" used today and in Bible times is made from goat's milk. Buttermilk and cheese are also utilized as milk products. The book of Proverbs speaks of the importance of goat's milk to the Hebrew people: "Thou shalt have goat's milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance of thy maidens" (Proverbs 27:27). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Care of goats - leadership ability. There are many goats being cared for by Bible land shepherds. A shepherd looks after them much as he would care for a flock of sheep. Sometimes the goats belong to one flock along with the sheep, and in this case:
It is usually a he-goat that is the special leader of the whole (Jeremiah 50:8; Proverbs 30:31), walking before it as gravely as a sexton before the white flock of a church choir. It is from this custom that Isaiah speaks of kings as "the he-goats of the earth" (Isaiah 14:9, Margin), a name applied to them by Zechariah also (Zechariah 10:3), and to Alexander the Great by Daniel, who describes him as a he-goat from the west, with a notable horn between his eyes (Daniel 8:5): a fitting symbol of his irresistible power at the head of the Macedonian army. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Goats and Sheep
How goats differ from sheep. Most of the Palestinian and Syrian sheep are white, whereas most of the goats are black. The goats like the slopes of the rocky mountains, whereas the sheep prefer the plains or mountain valleys. The goats are especially fond of young leaves of trees, but the sheep would rather have grass.
Goats will feed during all the day without the heat of summer affecting them; but when the sunshine is hot, the sheep will lie down under a tree, or in the shade of a rock, or in a rude shelter prepared by the shepherd for that purpose. Song of Solomon makes mention of this rest time for the sheep: "Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon" (Song of Solomon 1:7). The goats are bolder, more venturesome, more playful, more apt to clamber to dangerous places, more apt to break into the grainfields, more headstrong, more vigorous, and more difficult to control than are the sheep. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Goats in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(1.) Heb. 'ez, the she-goat (Gen. 15:9; 30:35; 31:38). This
Hebrew word is also used for the he-goat (Ex. 12:5;
Num. 28:15), and to denote a kid (Gen. 38:17, 20).
Hence it may
be regarded as the generic name of the animal as
It literally means "strength," and points to the
strength of the goat as compared with the sheep.
(2.) Heb. 'attud, only in plural; rendered "rams"
31:10,12); he-goats (Num. 7:17-88; Isa. 1:11); goats
32:14; Ps. 50:13). They were used in sacrifice (Ps.
word is used metaphorically for princes or chiefs in
and in Zech. 10:3 as leaders. (Comp. Jer. 50:8.)
(3.) Heb. gedi, properly a kid. Its flesh was a
the Hebrews (Gen. 27:9, 14, 17; Judg. 6:19).
(4.) Heb. sa'ir, meaning the "shaggy," a hairy goat,
(2 Chr. 29:23); "a goat" (Lev. 4:24); "satyr" (Isa.
"devils" (Lev. 17:7). It is the goat of the sin-
9:3, 15; 10:16).
(5.) Heb. tsaphir, a he-goat of the goats (2 Chr.
Dan. 8:5, 8 it is used as a symbol of the Macedonian
(6.) Heb. tayish, a "striker" or "butter," rendered
(Gen. 30:35; 32:14).
(7.) Heb. 'azazel (q.v.), the "scapegoat" (Lev.
(8.) There are two Hebrew words used to denote the
undomesticated goat:, _Yael_, only in plural
mountain goats (1
Sam. 24:2; Job 39:1; Ps.104:18). It is derived from
meaning "to climb." It is the ibex, which abounded
mountainous parts of Moab. And _'akko_, only in
Deut. 14:5, the
Goats are mentioned in the New Testament in Matt.
Heb. 9:12,13, 19; 10:4. They represent oppressors
and wicked men
(Ezek. 34:17; 39:18; Matt. 25:33).
Several varieties of the goat were familiar to the
They had an important place in their rural economy
on account of
the milk they afforded and the excellency of the
flesh of the
kid. They formed an important part of pastoral
31:10, 12;32:14; 1 Sam. 25:2).
Goats in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
1. Wild goat, yeliym, the ibex of ancient Moab.
2. The goat deer, or else gazelle, aqow.
3. The atuwd, "he goat", the leader of the flock;
hence the chief ones of the earth, leaders in mighty
wickedness; the ram represents headstrong wantonness and
offensive lust (Isaiah 14:9; Zechariah 10:3; compare Matthew
25:32-33; Ezekiel 34:17). As the word "shepherds" describes
what they ought to have been, so "he goats" what they were;
heading the flock, they were foremost in sin, so they shall
be foremost in punishment. In Song of Solomon 4:1 the hair
of the bride is said to be "as a flock of goats that appear
from mount Gilead," alluding to the fine silky hair of some
breeds of goat, the angora and others. Amos (Amos 3:12)
speaks of a shepherd "taking out of the mouth of the lion a
piece of an ear," alluding to the long pendulous ears of the
Syrian breed. In Proverbs 30:31 a he goat is mentioned as
one of the "four things comely in going," in allusion to the
stately march of the leader of the flock.
4. Sair, the goat of the sin-offering (Leviticus
9:3), "the rough hairy goat" (Daniel 8:21). Sa'ir is used of
devils (Leviticus 17:7), "the evil spirits of the desert"
(Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14).
5. Azazeel, "the scape-goat" (Leviticus 16:8;
Leviticus 16:10; Leviticus 16:26 margin) frontATONEMENT, DAY
OF.) The "he goat" represented Graeco-Macedonia; Caranus,
the first king of Macedon, was in legend led by goats to
Edessa, his capital, which he named "the goat city." The
one-horned goat is on coins of Archclaus king of Macedon,
and a pilaster of Persepolis. So Daniel 8:5.
Goats in Naves Topical Bible
Designated as one of the ceremonially clean animals to be
De 14:4; with Le 11:1-8
-Used for food
Ge 27:9; 1Sa 16:20
-For the paschal feast
Ex 12:5; 2Ch 35:7
-As a sacrifice by Abraham
-Milk of, used for food
-Hair of, used for clothing
-Curtains of the tabernacle
Ex 26:7; 35:23; 36:14
-Used for tents
-Regulations of Mosaic law required that a baby goat should
be killed for food before it was eight days old
-Nor seethed in its mother's milk
De 32:14; So 4:1; 6:5; 1Sa 25:2; 2Ch 17:11
-Wild, in Palestine
1Sa 24:2; Ps 104:18
Goats in Smiths Bible Dictionary
There appear to be two or three varieties of the common goat,
Hircus agagrus, at present bred in Israel and Syria, but
whether they are identical with those which were reared by the
ancient Hebrews it is not possible to say. The most marked
varieties are the Syrian goat(Capra mammorica, Linn.) and the
Angora goat (Capra angorensis, Linn.), with fine long hair. As
to the "wild goats," 1Sa 24:2; Job 39:1; Ps 104:18 it is not
at all improbable that some species of ibex is denoted.
Goats in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
The common generic word for "goat" is `ez (compare Arabic
`anz, "she-goat"; aix), used often for "she-goat" (Gen 15:9;
Nu 15:27), also with gedhi, "kid," as gedhi `izzim, "kid of
the goats" (Gen 38:17), also with sa`ir, "he-goat," as se`ir
`izzim, "kid of the goats" or "he-goat," or translated
simply "kids," as in 1 Ki 20:27, "The children of Israel
encamped before them like two little flocks of kids." Next,
frequently used is sa`ir, literally, "hairy" (compare Arabic
sha`r, "hair"; cher, "hedgehog"; Latin hircus, "goat";
hirtus, "hairy"; also German Haar; English "hair"), like `ez
and `attudh used of goats for offerings. The goat which is
sent into the wilderness bearing the sins of the people is
sa`ir (Lev 16:7-22). The same name is used of devils (Lev
17:7; 2 Ch 11:15, the Revised Version (British and American)
"he-goats") and of satyrs (Isa 13:21; 34:14, the Revised
Version, margin "he-goats," the American Standard Revised
Version "wild goats"). Compare also se`irath `izzim, "a
female from the flock" (Lev 4:28; 5:6). The male or leader
of the flock is `attudh; Arabic `atud, "yearling he-goat";
figuratively "chief ones" (Isa 14:9; compare Jer 50:8). A
later word for "he-goat," used also figuratively, is tsaphir
(2 Ch 29:21; Ezr 8:35; Dan 8:5,8,21). In Prov 30:31, one of
the four things "which are stately in going" is the he-goat,
tayish (Arabic tais, "he-goat"), also mentioned in Gen
30:35; 32:14 among the possessions of Laban and Jacob, and
in 2 Ch 17:11 among the animals given as tribute by the
Arabians to Jehoshaphat. In Heb 9:12,13,19; 10:4, we have
tragos, the ordinary Greek word for "goat"; in Mt 25:32,33,
eriphos, and its diminutive eriphion; in Heb 11:37 derma
aigeion, "goatskin," from aix (see supra). "Kid" is gedhi
(compare En-gedi (1 Sam 23:29), etc.), feminine gedhiyah
(Song 1:8), but also `ez, gedhi `izzim, se'-ir `izzim, se`ir
`izzim, se`irath `izzim, bene `izzim, and eriphos. There
remain ya`el (1 Sam 24:2; Job 39:1; Ps 104:18), English
Versions of the Bible "wild goat"; ya`alah (Prov 5:19), the
King James Version "roe," the Revised Version (British and
American) "doe"; 'aqqo (Dt 14:5), English Versions of the
Bible "wild goat"; and zemer (Dt 14:5), English Versions of
the Bible "chamois."
2. Wild Goats:
The original of our domestic goats is believed to be the
Persian wild goat or pasang, Capra aegagrus, which inhabits
some of the Greek islands, Asia Minor, Syria, Mesopotamia,
Persia, Afghanistan, and Northwestern India. It is called
wa'l (compare Hebrew ya`el) by the Arabs, who in the North
apply the same name to its near relative, the Sinaitic ibex,
Capra beden. The last, doubtless the "wild goat" (ya`el) of
the Bible, inhabits Southern Israel, Arabia, Sinai, and
Eastern Egypt, and within its range is uniformly called
beden by the Arabs. It is thought by the writer that the
"chamois" (zemer) of Dt 14:5 may be the Persian wild goat.
The word occurs only in this passage in the list of clean
animals. See CHAMOIS; DEER; ZOOLOGY. Wild goats are found
only in Southern Europe, Southwestern Asia, and Northeastern
Africa. They include the well-known, but now nearly extinct,
Alpine ibex, steinbok, or bouquetin, the markhor, and the
Goats Scripture - 1 Samuel 25:2
And [there was] a man in Maon, whose possessions [were] in
Carmel; and the man [was] very great, and he had three
thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his
sheep in Carmel.
Goats Scripture - 2 Chronicles 17:11
Also [some] of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents,
and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven
thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven
hundred he goats.
Goats Scripture - Exodus 26:7
And thou shalt make curtains [of] goats' [hair] to be a
covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make.
Goats Scripture - Ezekiel 45:23
And seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering
to the LORD, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish
daily the seven days; and a kid of the goats daily [for] a sin
Goats Scripture - Ezra 8:35
[Also] the children of those that had been carried away, which
were come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto
the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and
six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he goats [for] a sin
offering: all [this was] a burnt offering unto the LORD.
Goats Scripture - Genesis 30:32
I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence
all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle
among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats:
and [of such] shall be my hire.
Goats Scripture - Numbers 15:24
Then it shall be, if [ought] be committed by ignorance without
the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation
shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a
sweet savour unto the LORD, with his meat offering, and his
drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the
goats for a sin offering.
Goats Scripture - Numbers 29:16
And one kid of the goats [for] a sin offering; beside the
continual burnt offering, his meat offering, and his drink
Goats Scripture - Numbers 7:87
All the oxen for the burnt offering [were] twelve bullocks,
the rams twelve, the lambs of the first year twelve, with
their meat offering: and the kids of the goats for sin
Goats Scripture - Song of Solomon 4:1
Behold, thou [art] fair, my love; behold, thou [art] fair;
thou [hast] doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair [is] as a
flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.
Goats' skins have been used widely in Bible lands for leather, and are considered to be better for this purpose than the skin of sheep. This leather is used in making the Oriental "bottle" for carrying or storing water or other liquids. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Goatskins are used largely for the making of bottles for carrying water or other liquids. Except for the neck, legs, and tail, the goatskins are stripped off whole. the holes where the legs and tail were located are sewn up, and the end where the neck was, becomes the mouth of the bottle. These goatskins when laid out in rows for the sun to cure them, look much like pigs with head and legs missing. Sheepskins are treated in a similar way and made soft, and then they are dyed a yellow or red color when used in the making of shoes. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Goatskins in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
got'-skinz (en aigeiois dermasin): Such skins are mentioned
only once (Heb 11:37), where the wearing of goatskins,
indicating extreme poverty, is referred to, by implication, as
the possible lot of the faithful Christian, even as it had
been of others. Ascetics of different religions, especially of
the Moslem sects, are frequently seen going about Syria and
Israel today, clad in sheepskins or goatskins, a sign of their
renunciation of all things worldly.
Scapegoat and Goat Sacrifices
Use of goats for sacrifices. The Levitical Code often allowed the Hebrews a choice of a sheep or of a goat for the offering. "If his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice" (Leviticus 1:10). On the Day of Atonement, it was required that a goat be sacrificed by the high priest, and that another goat should be "the scapegoat." "And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness" (Leviticus 16:22). Moses had ordered that the scapegoat should be taken out into the wilderness and turned loose. But in order to prevent its return to Jerusalem, it became customary to lead the creature to the height of a mountain, where it was pushed over and would be certainly killed.
This was the symbol of the forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice of CHRIST. Although John the Baptist spoke of JESUS as the Lamb of GOD, he may have had in mind also the picture of the scapegoat when he said: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Separating Sheep and Goats
Separating goats from sheep. At certain times it becomes necessary to separate the goats from the sheep, although they may be cared for by the same shepherd that cares for the sheep. They do not graze well together, and so it frequently becomes necessary to keep them apart from the sheep while they are grazing. Dr. John A. Broadus, when visiting Israel, reported seeing a shepherd leading his flock of white sheep and black goats all mingled together. When he turned into a valley, having led them across the Plain of Sharon, he turned around and faced his flock: "When a sheep came up, he tapped it with his long staff on the right side of the head, and it quickly moved off to his right; a goat he tapped on the other side, and it went to his left."
This is the picture the Saviour had in mind when he spoke the solemn words: "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left" (Matthew 25:32-33).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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