Manners & Customs: Camels
Camels in the Ancient World
VARIETY OF CAMELS IN BIBLE LANDS. The Arabian or dromedary camel, which has one hump on its back, is the one in use in Syria and Israel to-day, and is the kind found among the desert Arabs of the East. The Bactrian camel, that has two humps, comes from another region altogether, and is rarely seen in Bible lands. It was the Arabian camel that was used in Bible times.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Camel caravans. It is camel caravans that have been largely used to transport goods from one country to another in Bible lands, or to go a great distance especially in desert territory.
Isaiah prophesied to the Dedanites, who were caravan merchants between the shores of the Persian Gulf and Israel:
"In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies [caravans] of Dedanites" (Isaiah 21:13). The number of camels in a caravan in modern times has differed widely, but one writer tells of joining a caravan which was divided into four companies, and the first three of these numbered sixteen hundred camels.
The usual arrangement of a caravan is a string of camels with each one tied to the one before it, and the leader of the caravan either riding on the back of it or walking by the side of a donkey. A cord from the first camel in the line, is tied to a ring that is fastened to leather strips on the hips of the donkey. Thus the camels learn to follow implicitly the donkey that heads the procession.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Camel Caravans and Current Events
The social influence of the caravans. In ancient times as well as today, in large sections of the Orient, the caravans take the place of newspaper, telephone, and radio. Ordinarily, the knowledge of what was going on was limited on the part of the women to what they heard at the village oven, or the village well; and on the part of the men, to what they heard at the village guest room, or at the gates of the city. But when a caravan arrived in the village, it was an event of great importance, because there was always news brought from a distance.15
The familiar proverb must have referred to such an event: "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country" (Proverbs 25:25).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The equipment used by desert Arabs for travel by camel. This includes a camel saddle which has two tall pommels in front and behind; large saddlebags that hang down on each side of the saddle; a leather apron that hangs down in front of the saddle, stretching down on the sides of the camel's neck almost to its knees the camel stick; a leather bag containing dates; and other bags with supplies. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Camel Furniture for Women
Camel furniture for women. Sometimes the women ride the camels in the same way that the men do but more often a special arrangement of saddle takes care of them. "Camel furniture" was a part of Jacob's traveling equipment for his womenfolk, and when such was placed in Rachel's tent, she hid the stolen teraphim therein (Genesis 31:34). They often sit in large basket-like appendages which have been slung on each side of the anima1.
Another common arrangement for the wives of sheiks was:
One made of two slabs, or planks of wood, about ten feet in length, which were fastened upon the frame of the saddle and at right angles to it. From the end of those, ropes were stretched over upright posts fixed above the middle of the saddle, to support an awning under which the women sat upon quilts and cushions.
Such an arrangement served the same purpose as a western umbrella.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Camel in Easton's Bible Dictionary
from the Hebrew _gamal_, "to repay" or "requite," as the
does the care of its master. There are two distinct
camels, having, however, the common characteristics
"ruminants without horns, without muzzle, with
oblique slits, the upper lip divided and separately
extensile, the soles of the feet horny, with two
toes covered by
claws, the limbs long, the abdomen drawn up, while
long and slender, is bent up and down, the reverse
of that of a
horse, which is arched."
(1.) The Bactrian camel is distinguished by two
humps. It is a
native of the high table-lands of Central Asia.
(2.) The Arabian camel or dromedary, from the Greek
"a runner" (Isa. 60:6; Jer. 2:23), has but one hump,
and is a
native of Western Asia or Africa.
The camel was early used both for riding and as a
burden (Gen. 24:64; 37:25), and in war (1 Sam.
21:7). Mention is made of the camel among the cattle
Pharaoh to Abraham (Gen. 12:16). Its flesh was not
to be eaten,
as it was ranked among unclean animals (Lev. 11:4;
Abraham's servant rode on a camel when he went to
fetch a wife
for Isaac (Gen. 24:10, 11). Jacob had camels as a
portion of his
wealth (30:43), as Abraham also had (24:35). He sent
of thirty milch camels to his brother Esau (32:15).
to have been little in use among the Jews after the
is, however, mentioned in the history of David (1
and after the Exile (Ezra 2:67; Neh. 7:69). Camels
were much in
use among other nations in the East. The queen of
with a caravan of camels when she came to see the
Solomon (1 Kings 10:2; 2 Chr. 9:1). Benhadad of
sent a present to Elisha, "forty camels' burden" (2
To show the difficulty in the way of a rich man's
into the kingdom, our Lord uses the proverbial
it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a
To strain at (rather, out) a gnat and swallow a
camel was also
a proverbial expression (Matt. 23:24), used with
those who were careful to avoid small faults, and
yet did not
hesitate to commit the greatest sins. The Jews
filtered their wine before drinking it, for fear of
along with it some insect forbidden in the law as
yet they omitted openly the "weightier matters" of
The raiment worn by John the Baptist was made of
(Matt. 3:4; Mark 1:6), by which he was distinguished
who resided in royal palaces and wore soft raiment.
also the case with Elijah (2 Kings 1:8), who is
called "a hairy
man," from his wearing such raiment. "This is one of
admirable materials for clothing; it keeps out the
and rain." The "sackcloth" so often alluded to (2
Isa. 15:3; Zech. 13:4, etc.) was probably made of
Camel in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
gamal. A ruminant animal, the chief means of communication
between places separated by sandy deserts in Asia, owing to
its amazing powers of endurance. The "ship of the desert,"
able to go without food, and water for days, the cellular
stomach containing a reservoir for water, and its fatty hump
a supply of nourishment; and content with such coarse,
prickly shrubs as the desert yields and its incisor teeth
enable it to divide. Their natural posture of rest is lying
down on the breast; on which, as well as on the joints of
the legs, are callosities. Thus, Providence by their
formation adapts them for carriers; and their broad,
cushioned, elastic feet enable them to tread sure-footedly
upon the sinking sands and gravel. They can close their
nostrils against the drifting sand of the parching simoom.
Their habitat is Arabia, Syria, Asia Minor, S. Tartary, and
part of India; in Africa from the Mediterranean to Senegal,
and from Egypt and Abyssinia to Algiers and Morocco.
The dromedary (beeker) is from a better breed, and
swifter; from the Greek dromas, a runner; going often at a
pace of nine miles an hour (Esther 8:10; Esther 8:14). The
Bactrian two-humped camel is a variety. Used in Abraham's
time for riding and burdens (Genesis 24:64; Genesis 37:25);
also in war (1 Samuel 30:17; Isaiah 21:7). Camel's hair was
woven into coarse cloth, such as what John the Baptist wore
(Matthew 3:4). The Hebrew gamal is from a root "to revenge,"
because of its remembrance of injuries and vindictiveness,
or else "to carry." In Isaiah 60:6 and Jeremiah 2:23 beeker
should be translated not "dromedary," but "young camel." In
Isaiah 66:20 kirkaroth, from karar to bound, "swift beasts,"
i.e. dromedaries. Its milk is used for drink as that of the
goats and sheep for butter.
Camel in Naves Topical Bible
Ge 12:16; 24:35; 30:43; 1Sa 30:17; 1Ch 27:30; Job
Ge 24:10,61,64; 31:17
Es 8:10,14; Jer 2:23
For carrying burdens
Ge 24:10; 37:25; 1Ki 10:2; 2Ki 8:9; 1Ch 12:40; Isa
-Forbidden as food
-Hair of, made into cloth
Mt 3:4; Mr 1:6
Camel in Smiths Bible Dictionary
The species of camel which was in common use among the Jews
and the heathen nations of Israel was the Arabian or one-
humped camel, Camelus arabicus. The dromedary is a swifter
animal than the baggage-camel, and is used chiefly for
riding purposes; it is merely a finer breed than the other.
The Arabs call it the heirie. The speed, of the dromedary
has been greatly exaggerated, the Arabs asserting that it is
swifter than the horse. Eight or nine miles an hour is the
utmost it is able to perform; this pace, however, it is able
to keep up for hours together. The Arabian camel carries
about 500 pounds. "The hump on the camel's back is chiefly a
store of fat, from which the animal draws as the wants of
his system require; and the Arab is careful to see that the
hump is in good condition before a long journey. Another
interesting adaptation is the thick sole which protects the
foot of the camel from the burning sand. The nostrils may be
closed by valves against blasts of sand. Most interesting is
the provision for drought made by providing the second
stomach with great cells in which water is long retained.
Sight and smell is exceedingly acute in the camel." --
Johnson's Encyc. It is clear from Ge 12:16 that camels were
early known to the Egyptians. The importance of the camel is
shown by Ge 24:64; 37:25; Jud 7:12; 1Sa 27:9; 1Ki 19:2; 2Ch
14:15; Job 1:3; Jer 49:29,32 and many other texts. John the
Baptist wore a garment made of camel hair, Mt 3:4; Mr 1:6
the coarser hairs of the camel; and some have supposed that
Elijah was clad in a dress of the same stuff.
Camel in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
kam'-el (gamal; kamelos; bekher, and bikhrah (Isa 60:6; Jer
2:23 "dromedary," the American Revised Version, margin
"young camel"), rekhesh (1 Ki 4:28; see HORSE), kirkaroth
(Isa 66:20, "swift beasts," the American Standard Revised
ersion. "dromedaries"); bene ha-rammakhim (Est 8:10, "young
dromedaries," the American Standard Revised Version "bred of
the stud"); achashteranim (Est 8:10,14, the King James
Version "camels," the American Standard Revised Version
"that were used in the king's service")): There are two
species of camel, the Arabian or one-humped camel or
dromedary, Camelus dromedarius, and the Bactrian or two-
humped camel, Camelus bactrianus. The latter inhabits the
temperate and cold parts of central Asia and is not likely
to have been known to Biblical writers. The Arabian camel
inhabits southwestern Asia and northern Africa and has
recently been introduced into parts of America and
Australia. Its hoofs are not typical of ungulates but are
rather like great claws. The toes are not completely
separated and the main part of the foot which is applied to
the ground is a large pad which underlies the proximal
joints of the digits. It may be that this incomplete
separation of the two toes is a sufficient explanation of
the words "parteth not the hoof," in Lev 11:4 and Dt 14:7.
Otherwise these words present a difficulty, because the
hoofs are completely separated though the toes are not. The
camel is a ruminant and chews the cud like a sheep or ox,
but the stomach possesses only three compartments instead of
four, as in other ruminants. The first two compartments
contain in their walls small pouches, each of which can be
closed by a sphincter muscle. The fluid retained in these
pouches may account in part for the power of the camel to go
for a relatively long time without drinking.
The Arabian camel is often compared with justice to the
reindeer of the Esquimaux. It furnishes hair for spinning
and weaving, milk, flesh and leather, as well as being an
invaluable means of transportation in the arid desert. There
are many Arabic names for the camel, the commonest of which
is jamal (in Egypt gamal), the root being common to Arabic,
Hebrew and other Semitic languages. From it the names in
Latin, Greek, English and various European languages are
derived. There are various breeds of camels, as there are of
horses. The riding camels or dromedaries, commonly called
hajin, can go, even at a walk, much faster than the pack
camels. The males are mostly used for carrying burdens, the
females being kept with the herds. Camels are used to a
surprising extent on the rough roads of the mountains, and
one finds in the possession of fellachin in the mountains
and on the littoral plain larger and stronger pack camels
than are often found among the Bedouin. Camels were
apparently not much used by the Israelites after the time of
the patriarchs. They were taken as spoil of war from the
Amalekites and other tribes, but nearly the only reference
to their use by the later Israelites was when David was made
king over all Israel at Hebron, when camels are mentioned
among the animals used for bringing food for the celebration
(1 Ch 12:40). David had a herd of camels, but the herdsman
was Obil, an Ishmaelite (1 Ch 27:30). Nearly all the other
Biblical references to camels are to those possessed by
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Ishmaelites, Amalekites,
Midianites, Hagrites and the "children of the East" (see
EAST). Two references to camels (Gen 12:16; Ex 9:3) are
regarded as puzzling because the testimony of the Egyptian
monuments is said to be against the presence of camels in
ancient Egypt. For this reason, Gen 12 through 16, in
connection with Abram's visit to Egypt, is turned to account
by Canon Cheyne to substantiate his theory that the
Israelites were not in Egypt but in a north Arabian land of
Mucri (Encyclopaedia Biblica under the word "Camel," 4).
While the flesh of the camel was forbidden to the
Israelites, it is freely eaten by the Arabs.
There are three references to the camel in New Testament:
(1) to John's raiment of camel's hair (Mt 3:4; Mk 1:6); (2)
the words of Jesus that "it is easier for a camel to go
through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into
the kingdom of God" (Mt 19:24; Mk 10:25; Lk 18:25); (3) the
proverb applied to the Pharisees as blind guides, "that
strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel" (Mt 23:24). Some
manuscripts read ho kamilos, "a cable," in Mt 19:24 and Lk
There are a few unusual words which have been translated
"camel" in text or margin of one or the other version. (See
list of words at beginning of the article) Bekher and
bikhrah clearly mean a young animal, and the Arabic root
word and derivatives are used similarly to the Hebrew.
Rakhash, the root of rekhesh, is compared with the Arabic
rakad, "to run," and, in the Revised Version (British and
American), rekhesh is translated "swift steeds." Kirkaroth,
rammakhim and 'achashteranim must be admitted to be of
doubtful etymology and uncertain meaning.
Camel ornaments. These have been widely used in the East. Owners of camels often put various ornaments on their favorite animals. Sometimes they cover the collars with cowrie shells which are sewn on them according to a pattern. Ornaments that are crescent-shaped are sewn on red cloth and make a jingling sound with each step of the animal. Often, ornaments of silver are displayed on the camel's neck. Concerning Gideon, Scripture says: "And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the ornaments [crescents] that were on their camels' necks (Judges 8:21). Thus the camel's ornaments of that day were the same as used by the Arabs of today. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Various camel products. The Arab of today makes use of camel meat and camel milk. The Mosaic law forbade the Jews to use camel meat "because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you" (Leviticus 11:4). It is possible that they did use the milk, at least in patriarchal times (cf. Genesis 32:15). Camel's hair serves many purposes in the Orient.
At the right season of the year it is removed in tufts and the women spin it into strong thread.
Various coarse fabrics are made from this thread. The Bedouin tents are sometimes made of camel's hair, as are also carpets, rugs, "abayas" or the outer garments, and other items. Matthew says of John the Baptist that he "had his raiment of camel's hair" (Matthew 3:4). The camel's skin is made into leather and from this material are made sandals, leggings, and water bottles. Even the dung of camels is commonly used for fuel.
.[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The camel's food. Under ordinary conditions, the camels are fed teben, which is the short straw that comes from the Oriental threshing floors. Each camel caravan will carry some of this packed closely in bags. But when on a journey and it becomes necessary, the camel often lives on what can be found by it along the way, even in desert country. It is able to make good use of the scanty herbage to be found in those regions. Under these circumstances its favorite food is a shrub that is called ghada, that has slender little green twigs. It also makes use of a thornbush which it is able to devour because it has a hard and horny palate. Camels have been known to travel for twenty days without receiving anything for food except what they discovered for themselves along the way. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The camel's hump. This serves important purposes. It makes it possible for the back of the animal to receive burdens that are to be transported. And the fatty matter that accumulates in the hump provides a supply of reserve energy which can be utilized by the animal as occasion demands. The condition of the hump is always examined when an Oriental buys a camel. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The swift Arabian camel. This animal is often called the deloul, has long and wiry limbs, and is without superfluous fat. Its shoulders are broad and its hump small, although hard and firm. It is an ungainly looking creature, but the Arab is very fond of this animal.
The ordinary camel travels along at the rate of about three miles an hour, whereas the deloul if not heavily loaded will traverse nine or ten miles an hour. Some of the natives even claim that this animal can outrun a race horse. Jeremiah the prophet speaks of "a swift dromedary traversing her ways" (Jeremiah 2:23). The movements of this swift animal are hard on the rider, who usually prepares for the trip by "belting himself tightly with two leathern bands, one just under the arms, and the other round the pit of the stomach." [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Camels and Burdens
The camel as a beast of burden. Through the centuries the camel has been used for carrying burdens. In the Bible, "forty camels' burden," is referred to in one passage (II Kings 8:9); and in another, bread was carried on "asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen" (I Chronicles 12:40). In still another, treasures were to be carried on the humps of camels (Isaiah 30:6).
A special packsaddle is used when the animals carry:
A narrow bag about eight feet long is made, and rather loosely stuffed with straw or similar material. It is then doubled, and the ends firmly sewn together, so as to form a great ring, which is placed over the hump, and forms a tolerably flat surface. A wooden framework is tied on the packsaddle, and is kept in its place by a girth and a crupper. The packages which the camel is to carry are fastened together by cords, and slung over the saddle. They are only connected by those semiknots called "hitches," so that when the camel is to be unloaded, all that is needed is to pull the lower end of the rope, and the packages fall on either side of the animal. So quickly is the operation of loading performed, that a couple of experienced men can load a camel in very little more than a minute.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The camel's feet. These are indeed made for desert traveling. They consist of two toes that are long and that rest upon hard elastic cushions that have a horny and tough sole. The soft cushions of their feet cause their tread to be as noiseless as that of a cat. Thus the camels do not sink in the desert sands, and the toughness of their feet enables them to stand the burning soil, and the stones that are often mixed with the sand. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Camels Scripture - 1 Chronicles 12:40
Moreover they that were nigh them, [even] unto Issachar and
Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels,
and on mules, and on oxen, [and] meat, meal, cakes of figs,
and bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep
abundantly: for [there was] joy in Israel.
Camels Scripture - 1 Chronicles 5:21
And they took away their cattle; of their camels fifty
thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of
asses two thousand, and of men an hundred thousand.
Camels Scripture - 2 Chronicles 9:1
And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she
came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a
very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in
abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to
Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
Camels Scripture - Genesis 24:11
And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a
well of water at the time of the evening, [even] the time that
women go out to draw [water].
Camels Scripture - Genesis 24:14
And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say,
Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she
shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: [let
the same be] she [that] thou hast appointed for thy servant
Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness
unto my master.
Camels Scripture - Isaiah 21:7
And he saw a chariot [with] a couple of horsemen, a chariot
of asses, [and] a chariot of camels; and he hearkened
diligently with much heed:
Camels Scripture - Isaiah 30:6
The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of
trouble and anguish, from whence [come] the young and old
lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry
their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their
treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people [that] shall
not profit [them].
Camels Scripture - Job 1:3
His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three
thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five
hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this
man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
Camels Scripture - Job 42:12
So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his
beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six
thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand
Camels Scripture - Judges 8:21
Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for
as the man [is, so is] his strength. And Gideon arose, and
slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that
[were] on their camels' necks.
Camels Water Consumption
The camels use of water. Surely, this animal was divinely designated for desert country. Its remarkable characteristic is of course its ability to go for a long time without drinking water. This does not mean that it can get along with less water than other animals, but simply that it has the ability to store up water in a series of cells or sacks with which its interior region is furnished. The camel is able to consume as much as nine gallons at a single drink, and this water taken in a few minutes will last it for several days. A camel that is thirsty for water has been known to scent water at a great distance, and will go at great speed to the spot where the water is located. When camel caravans unexpectedly run out of water, the men will sometimes kill one of the camels and extract from its stomach water enough to save the life of the people in the caravan. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Jesus Mentioned Camels
Two references to the camel in Christ's sermons. The first reference is given by all three synoptic Gospel writers: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24; Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25). It must be remembered that Orientals are very fond of exaggeration as a figure of speech, and so would appreciate this hyperbole that JESUS used. In Luke's account, the word ordinarily referring to a surgeon's needle was the one used by the writer of the third Gospel, who was himself a physician.
The words that Jesus added, need to be taken with his statement: "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). The other reference to the camel was given when Jesus was denouncing the Scribes and Pharisees, and said to them: "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel" (Matthew 23:24).
The reference here is to the ancient custom of filtering wine. The gnat and the camel are in striking contrast to each other in size. The use of the camel here was obviously a hyperbole, but was appropriate, not only because of its great size, but because to the Jews it was an unclean animal (because it does not divide the hoof, although it does chew the cud). The Pharisees were careful to strain out the smallest creature, but swallowed the larger one. They were scrupulous about small things, but very careless about the more important matters. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Modes of Travel
Methods of travel. Traveling is sometimes done on foot, but more often on the backs of horses, mules, or donkeys, and when traveling in the desert, camels are mostly used. In order to avoid the intense heat, and to escape detection by robber tribes, traveling is often done by night. The guide will get his direction from the stars. Summer is the usual time for traveling in order to avoid the many inconveniences connected with the winter months. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Mounting a camel. This is not an easy art for a Westerner to learn. It would be impossible to do this while the animal is standing, and so it is trained to kneel and stay in this position until the rider has mounted it. It is natural for the camel to kneel because it is born with warts on the legs and breast which serve as cushions to rest its weight when kneeling. When it kneels it begins by dropping on its knees, and then on the joints of the hind legs, then it drops on its breast, and finally on its hind legs that are bent. In rising, the process is reversed: the hind quarters rise first, tending to throw the rider forward, after which the front quarters rise rapidly, tending to throw the rider backward, then the forward movement of the animal would tend to throw the rider forward again.
An experienced camel rider sways to and fro, yielding his body to the movements of the animal. This movement of the camel causes some inexperienced riders to have "seasickness." Most Westerners who attempt to ride the camel find the journey to be a very uncomfortable one.
Abraham's servant "made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water" (Genesis 24:11).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Transporting the Grain
Transportation of grain to the threshing floor. The usual method of transporting the grain to the threshing floor is as follows: two large bundles of the grain are made secure by a network of rope and then placed a few feet apart. Then a camel is made to kneel in the space between them, and then the bundles are fastened to the animal's packsaddle. The driver gives his signal, and the camel rises and begins to march off to the threshing floor, which is usually located not far from the village. Here he kneels again and is relieved of his burden of grain, and goes back for another load.
When a camel was to be had, this was the method of transportation that was doubtless used in Bible times. Otherwise the much-used donkey was utilized for the purpose. When sheaves of grain are loaded on the donkey, a sort of cradle is suspended to the flat saddle, and the cut grain is thrown over this and tied by a rope.
The brothers of Joseph used asses to carry sacks of grain and also straw for them to eat (Genesis 42:26, 27).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The process of watering the camels. Genesis tells how Rebekah watered the camels of Abraham's servant: "And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels" (Genesis 24:20). The Bedouin Arab of the desert do not water their camels at all in winter if their grazing is good. When the weather begins to warm up, they water them every week or nine days. As the summer becomes hotter, the camels are watered oftener, until the very hot weather when they are watered under ordinary conditions every other day. Leather buckets are usually utilized to draw the water out of the well, and a leather receptacle serves as a trough, out of which the camels drink the water poured therein. This trough is supported by wooden stands, and is kept in the tent of the desert Arab ready for use when it comes time to water the camels. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Who Rode Camels in Bible Times
By whom the camel was used. The camel was used largely by the early Hebrew patriarchs.
These men measured their wealth by the number of domestic animals they possessed, and camels were included among them. "Abram had sheep, oxen, she-asses, and camels" (Genesis 12:16). Rebekah rode on a camel on her trip to become the bride of Isaac (Genesis 24:64).
"Jacob had much cattle, asses, and camels" (Genesis 30:43). It was a company of Ishmeelites with their caravan of camels that carried Joseph down into Egypt (Genesis 31:25, 28). The patriarch Job had three thousand camels before his testing experience, and this number was doubled afterwards (Job 1:3; 42:12).
The Hebrew people as a whole during most of the Old Testament times did not make large use of the camel. Living in hilly country, and being a pastoral and agricultural people, they did not have so much need for the camel. Their kings usually possessed camels which were used for travel and transport purposes. Thus Scripture says King David had many camels, some of which had been captured in war (I Samuel 21:9).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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