Beast the translation of בּהֵמָה, behemah', dumb animals, quadrupeds, the most usual term; also of בִּעִיר, beir', grazing animals, locks or herds, Ex 22:5; Nu 20:4,8,11; Ps 78:48; once beasts of burden, Ge 45:17; חִי, chay, Chaldee חִיָּא, chaya', a wild beast, frequently occurring; נֶפֶשׁ, ne'phesh, creature or soul, only once in the phrase "beast for beast," Le 24:18; טֶבִח, to'bach, slaughter, once only for eatable beasts, Pr 9:2; and כִּרכָּרוֹת, kirkaroth', "swift beasts," i.e. dromedaries, Isa 9:20, SEE CATTLE; in the New Test. properly ζῶον, an animal; θηρίον, a wild beast, often; κτῆνος, a domestic animal, as property, for merchandise, Re 18:13; for food, 1Co 15:39; or for service, Lu 10:34; Ac 23:24; and σφάγιον, an animal for sacrifice, a victim, Ac 7:42. In the Bible, this word, when used in contradistinction to man (Ps 36:6), denotes a brute creature generally; when in contradistinction to creeping things (Le 11:2-7; Le 27:26), it has reference to four-footed animals; and when to wild mammalia, as in Ge 1:25, it means domesticated cattle. TSIYIM', צִיִּים ("wild beasts," Isa 13:21; Isa 34:14; Jer 40:16), denotes wild animals of the upland wilderness. OCHIM', ‹חִים("doleful creatures," Isa 13:21), may, perhaps, with more propriety be considered as "poisonous and offensive reptiles." SEIRIM', שׂעִירִים, shaggy ones, is a general term for apes — not satyrs (Isa 13:21; Isa 34:14; much less "devils," 2Ch 11:15), a pagan poetical creation unfit for Scriptural language; it includes SHEDIM', שֵׁדִים ("devils," De 32:17; Ps 106:37), as a species. SEE APE. TANNIM', תִּנִּים, are monsters of the deep and of the wilderness — boas, serpents, crocodiles, dolphins, and sharks. SEE ANIMAL.
The zoology of Scripture may, in a general sense, be said to embrace the whole range of animated nature; but, after the first brief notice of the creation of animals recorded in Genesis, it is limited more particularly to the animals found in Egypt, Arabia, Palestine, Syria, and the countries eastward, in some cases to those beyond the Euphrates. It comprehends mammilla, birds, reptiles, fishes, and invertebrate animals. See each animal in its alphabetical order. Thus, in animated nature, beginning with the lowest organized in the watery element, we have first שֶׁרֶוֹ, SHE'RETS, "the moving creature that hath life," animalcula, crustacea, insecta, etc.; second, תִּנִּינִם, TANNINIM', fishes and amphibia, including the huge tenants of the waters, whether they also frequent the land or not, crocodiles, python- serpents, and perhaps even those which are now considered as of a more ancient zoology than the present system, the great Saurians of geology; and third, it appears, birds, עוֹŠ OPH, "flying creatures" (Ge 1:20); and, still advancing (cetaceans, pinnatipeds, whales, and seals being excluded), we have quadrupeds, forming three other divisions or orders:
(1st.) cattle, בֵּהֵמָה, BEHEMAH', embracing the ruminant herbivora, generally gregarious and capable of domesticity;
(2d.) wild beasts, חִיּה, CHAYAH', carnivora, including all beasts of prey; and
(3d.) reptiles, רֶמֶשׂ, RE'MES, minor quadrupeds, such as creep by means of many feet, or glide along the surface of the soil, serpents, annelides, etc.; finally, we have man, אָדָם, ADAM', standing alone in intellectual supremacy.
The classification of Moses, as it may be drawn from Deuteronomy, appears to be confined to Vertebrata alone, or animals having a spine and ribs, although the fourth class might include others. Taking man as one, it forms five classes:
(1st.) Man; (2d.) Beasts; (3d.) Birds; (4th.) Reptiles; (5th.) Fishes.
It is the same as that in Leviticus 11, where beasts are further distinguished into those with solid hoofs, the solipedes of systematists, and those with cloven feet (bisulci), or ruminantia. But the passage specially refers to animals that might be lawfully eaten because they were clean, and to others prohibited because they were declared unclean, although some of them, according to the common belief of the time, might ruminate; for the Scriptures were not intended to embrace anatomical disquisitions aiming at the advancement of human science, but to convey moral and religious truth without disturbing the received opinions of the time on questions having little or no relation to their main object. The Scriptures, therefore, contain no minute details on natural history, and notice only a small proportion of the animals inhabiting the regions alluded to. Notwithstanding the subsequent progress of science, the observation of Dr. Adam Clarke is still in a great measure true, that "of a few animals and vegetables we are comparatively certain, but of the great majority we know almost nothing. Guessing and conjecture are endless, and they have on these subjects been already sufficiently employed. What learning — deep, solid, extensive learning and judgment could do, has already been done by the incomparable Bochart in his Hierozoicon. The learned reader may consult this work, and, while he gains much general information, will have to regret that he can apply so little of it to the main and grand question." The chief cause of this is doubtless the general want of a personal and exact knowledge of natural history on the part of those who have discussed these questions SEE ZOOLOGY.
The Mosaic regulations respecting domestic animals exhibit a great superiority over the enactments of other ancient nations (for those of the Areopagus, see Quintil. Justit. 5, 9, 13; for those of the Zend-avesta, see Rhode, Heil. Sage, p. 438, 441, 445), and contain the following directions:
1. Beasts of labor must have rest on the Sabbath (Ex 20:10; Ex 23:12), and in the sabbatical year cattle were allowed to roam free and eat whatever grew in the untilled fields (Ex 23:11; Le 25:7). SEE SABBATH.
2. No animal could be castrated (Le 22:24); for that this is the sense of the passage (which Le Clerc combats) is evident not only from tie interpretation of Josephus (Ant. 5, 8, 10), but also from the invariable practice of the Jews themselves. SEE OX. The scruples that may have led to the disuse of mutilated beasts of burden are enumerated by Michaelis (Mos. Recht, 3, 161 sq.). The prohibition itself must have greatly subserved a higher and different object, namely, the prevention of eunuchs; but its principal ground is certainly a religious, or, at least, a humane one (see Hottinger, Leges Hebr. p. 374 sq.).
3. Animals of different kinds were not to be allowed to mix in breeding, nor even to be yoked together to the plough (Le 19:19; De 20:10). SEE DIVERSE.
4. Oxen in threshing were not to be muzzled, or prevented from eating the provender on the floor (De 25:4; 1Co 9:9). SEE THRESHING.
5. No (domestic) animal should be killed on the same day with its young (Le 22:28), as this would imply barbarity (see Jonathan's Targum in loc.; Philo, Opp. 2, 398). The Jews appear to have understood this enactment to apply to the slaughtering (שָׁחִט) of animals for ordinary use as well as for sacrifice (Mishna, Chollin, ch. v). Respecting the ancient law referred to in Ex 23:19, SEE VICTUALS. (Comp. generally Schwabe, in the Kirchenzeit. 1834, No. 20). Other precepts seem not to have had the force of civil statutes, but to have been merely injunctions of compassion (e.g. Ex 23:5; De 22:4,6-7). The sense of the former of these last prescriptions is not very clear in the original (see Rosenmuller in loc.), as the Jews apply it to all beasts of burden as well as the ass (see Josephus, Ant. 4, 8, 30; comp. Philo, Opp. 2, 39). De 6:7 sq., however, appears to be analogous to the other regulations under this class (Winer, 2:610). SEE FOWL.
The word "beast" is sometimes used figuratively for brutal, savage men. Hence the phrase, "I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus," alluding to the infuriated multitude, who may have demanded that Paul should be thus exposed in the amphitheatre to fight as a gladiator (1Co 15:32; Ac 19:29). A similar use of the word occurs in Ps 22:12,16; Ec 3:18; Isa 11:6-8; and in 2Pe 2:12; Jude 1:10, to denote a class of wicked men. A wild beast is the symbol of a tyrannical, usurping power or monarchy, that destroys its neighbors or subjects, and preys upon all about it. The four beasts in Da 7:3,17,23, represent four kings or kingdoms (Eze 34:28; Jer 12:9). Wild beasts are generally, in the Scriptures, to be understood of enemies, whose malice and power are to be judged of in proportion to the nature and magnitude of the wild beasts by which they are represented; similar comparisons occur in/profane authors (Ps 74:14). In like manner the King of Egypt is compared to the crocodile (Ps 68:31). The rising of a beast signifies the rise of some new dominion or government; the rising of a wild beast, the rise of a tyrannical government;
and the rising out of the sea, that it should owe its origin to the commotions of the people. So the waters are interpreted by the angel (Re 17:15). In the visions of Daniel, the four great beasts, the symbols of the four great monarchies, are represented rising out of the sea in a storm: "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea, and four great beasts came up from the sea" (Da 7:2-3). In various passages of the Revelation (4:6, etc.) this word is improperly used by our translators to designate the living creatures (ζῶα) that symbolize the providential agencies of the Almighty, as in the vision of Ezekiel (ch. i). The "beast" elsewhere spoken of with such denunciatory emphasis in that book doubtless denotes the heathen political power of persecuting Rome. See Wemys's Symbol. Dict. s.v.