Hyenas in the Bible. The word hyena does not occur in A.V. but is probably referred to under the rendering " wild beasts of the desert " in Isaiah, and is wrongly translated as " speckled bird in Jeremiah. - Animal Life in the Scriptures
Hyaena in Smiths Bible Dictionary
Authorities differ as to whether the term tzabu'a in Jer 12:9
means a "hyaena" or a "speckled bird." The only other instance
in which it occurs is as a proper name, Zeboim, 1Sa 13:18 "the
valley of hyaenas, "Aquila; Ne 11:34 The striped hyaena
(Hyaena striata) is found in Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia and
Persia, and is more common in Israel than any other
carnivorous animals except perhaps the jackal. The hyaena is
among the mammals what the vulture is among birds, --the
scavenger of the wilderness, the woods and the shore. --It
often attacks animals, and Sometimes digs up the dead bodies
of men and beasts. From this last habit the hyaena has been
regarded as a horrible and mysterious creature. Its teeth are
so powerful that they can crack the bones of an ox with ease.
--Appelton's Encyc. The hyaena was common in ancient as in
modern Egypt, and is constantly depicted upon monuments; it
must therefore have been well known to the Jews.
Hyena in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Jeremiah 12:9, "speckled bird." But Septuagint "the hyena," in
parallelism to the "lion" in Jeremiah 12:8; tsabuwa the Arabic
word for hyena corresponds. Zeboim (1 Samuel 13:18) means "the
valley of hyenas." But the Hebrew 'ayit joined to it always
means a bird; and "speckled" symbolizes the blending of
paganism with the utterly diverse, divinely-ordained law.
Hyena in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
hi-e'-na (tsabhua` (Jer 12:9); Septuagint huaine (Jer 12:9;
Ecclesiasticus 13:18); compare Arabic dab` or dabu`,
"hyaena"; compare tsebho`im, Zeboim (1 Sam 13:18; Neh
11:34); also compare tsibh`on, Zibeon (Gen 36:2,14,20; 1 Ch
1:38); but not tsebhoyim, Zeboiim (Gen 10:19; 14:2, etc.)):
English Versions of the Bible does not contain the word
"hyena," except in Ecclesiasticus 13:18, "What peace is
there between the hyena and the dog? and what; peace between
the rich man and the poor?" In Jer 12:9, where the Hebrew
has ha-`ayiT tsabhua` (the Revised Version (British and
American) "a speckled bird of prey"), Septuagint has
spelaion huaines, "a hyena's den," as if from a Hebrew
original having me`arah, "cave," instead of ha-`ayiT,
"bird." The root tsabha` may mean "to seize as prey"
(compare Arabic seb`, "lion" or "rapacious animal"), or "to
dip" or "to dye" (compare Arabic cabagh, "to dye"), hence,
the two translations of tsabhua` as "hyena" and as
"speckled" (Vulgate versicolor).
The hyena of Israel is the striped hyena (Hyaena striata)
which ranges from India to North Africa. The striped, the
spotted, and the brown hyenas constitute a distinct family
of the order of Carnivora, having certain peculiarities of
dentition and having four toes on each foot, instead of four
behind and five in front, as in most of the order. The hyena
is a nocturnal animal, rarely seen though fairly abundant,
powerful but cowardly, a feeder on carrion and addicted to
grave-robbing. The last habit in particular has won it the
abhorrence of the natives of the countries which it
inhabits. In the passage cited in Ecclus, it is to be noted
that it is to the hyena that the rich man is compared. The
jaws and teeth of the hyena are exceedingly strong and
fitted for crushing bones which have resisted the efforts of
dogs and jackals. Its dens are in desolate places and are
littered with fragments of skeletons. "Is my heritage unto
me as a speckled bird of prey?" (Jer 12:9) becomes a more
striking passage if the Septuagint is followed, "Is my
heritage unto me as a hyena's den?"
Shaqq-ud-Diba`, "Cleft of the hyenas," is the name of a
valley north of Wadi-ul-Qelt, and Wadi-Abu-Diba` (of similar
meaning) is the name of an affluent of Wadi-ul-Qelt. Either
of these, or possibly Wadi-ul-Qelt itself, may be the valley
of Zeboim (valley of hyenas) of 1 Sam 13:18.
The name of Zibeon the Horite (Gen 36:2, etc.) is more
doubtfully connected with "hyena."
Alfred Ely Day
Hyena in Wikipedia
Hyena. — This word is not to be found in any of the English translations of the Bible; it occurs twice in the Septuagint, Jer., xii, 9, and Ecclus., xiii, 22, being in both places the rendering for the Hebrew name çãbhûá. The hyenas are very numerous in the Holy Land, where they are most active scavengers; they feed upon dead bodies, and sometimes dig the tombs open to get at the corpses therein buried. Two Hebrew names are supposed to designate the hyena:
(1) çãbhûá'. This word, which has been interpreted "speckled bird", Jer., xii, 9, by modern translators following the Vulgate, has been rendered by "holy man", Ecclus., xiii, 22. Despite the authorities that favour the above mentioned translation of Jer., xii, 9, the consistency of the Septuagint on the one hand, and on the other the parallelism in the latter passage, in addition to the analogy with the Arabic and rabbinical Hebrew names for the hyena, fairly support the identification of the çãbhûá' with this animal.
(2) çíyyím, rendered in divers manners in different places: wild beasts, Is., xiii, 21; demons, Is., xxxiv, 14; dragons, Ps. lxxiii (hebr., lxxiv), 14; Jer., 1, 39.