hyaena Summary and Overview
hyaena in Smith's 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.
hyaena in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
HYAE'NA . "Speckled bird" in Jer 12:9 means, according to some, a vulture or other bird of prey, but according to other excellent authorities (the Septuagint, Gesenius, etc.), it should be translated "hyaena." "Zeboim," which occurs in 1 Sam 13:18; Neh 11:34, means hyaenas. Otherwise there is no reference to this animal in the Bible. The striped species (Hysena striata) is found in all Oriental countries, especially in Egypt and the desert. In Palestine it is more common than any carnivorous animal except the jackal. In general appearance it resembles the wolf, but it is of a dirty gray color, with dark transverse stripes upon the sides and limbs. The body is high at the shoulders (about 3 feet), declines rapidly toward the tail. It has a mane of erect, bristly hair along the back. What the vulture is among birds this creature is among animals. The odor from its food of carrion adds to the disgust caused by its hideous appearance. The hyaena, in spite of every precaution, often succeeds in digging up and devouring human corpses. Though cowardly in its nature, it is very savage. When driven by hunger, it will sometimes kill cattle. The strength of its jaws is so great that it can crack the bones of an ox with ease, but as the hyaena is neither swift nor courageous, it is not dreaded by man. When in bands, however, it fears neither the lion nor the tiger. It inhabits the numerous tombs of the Holy Land, the caves, and even the open desert.