Leopard

Leopard

(Heb. נָמֵר, namer', so called as being spotted, Song 4:8; Isa 11:6; Jer 5:6; Jer 13:23; Ho 13:7; Hab 1:8; Chald. נמִר, nemar', Da 7:6; Gr. πάρδαλις, Da 7:6; Re 13:2; Ecclesiasticus 28:23). Though zoologists differ in opinion respecting the identity of the leopard and the panther, and dispute, supposing them to be distinct, how these names should be respectively applied, and by what marks the animals should be distinguished, nevertheless there can be no doubt that the namer of the Bible is that great spotted feline which anciently infested the Syrian mountains, and even now occurs in the wooded ranges of Lebanon, for the Arabs still use nimer, the same word slightly modified, to denote that animal. The Abyssinian name differs scarcely from either; and in all these tongues it means spotted. Pigikris, according to Kirscher, is the Coptic name; and in English "leopard" has been adopted as the most appropriate to represent both the Hebrew word and the Greek πάρδαλις (which is imitated in the Tallmudic ברדלס, Mishna, Baba Mez. 8:2), although the Latin leopardus is not found in any author anterior to the fourth century, and is derived from a gross mistake in natural history. Gesenius (Thes. Heb. p. 443) contends that the scriptural animal was rather striped than spotted (חֲבִרבֻּרוֹת, Jer 13:23), and thinks that not improbably the tiger was also comprised under this name, as the Hebrews had no specific name for that animal (Thesaur. p. 889). The panther (Felis pardus of Linn.) lives in Africa (Strabo, 17:828; Pliny, 10:94), Arabia (Strabo, 16:774, 777), as well as on Lebanon (Seetzen, 18:343; Burckhardt, Trav. 1:99), and the Hills of middle Palestine (Schubert, 3:119), not to mention more distant countries, as India, America, etc. The most graphic description of the (African and Arabian) panther is by Ehrenberg (Symbol. phys. Mammal, lec. 2, pl. 17). The variety of leopard, or rather panther, of Syria is considerably below the stature of a lioness, but very heavy in proportion to its bulk. Its general form is so well known as to require no description beyond stating that the spots are rather more irregular, and the color more mixed with whitish, than in the other pantherine felins, excepting the Felis Uncia or Felis Irbis of High Asia, which is shaggy and almost white (Sonnini, Trav. 1:395). It is a nocturnal, cat-like animal in habits, dangerous to all domestic cattle, and sometimes even to man (comp. Plin. 10:94; Hom. Hymn in Ven. 71; Oppian, Cyneg. 3:76 sq.; Cvrill. Alex. in Hos. l. c.; Tsetz. Chiliad. 2:45; Poiret, Voyage, 1:224). In the Scriptures it is constantly placed in juxtaposition with the lion (Isa 11:6; Jer 5:6; Ho 13:7: Ecclesiasticus 28:23 [27]; comps. AElian, V. H. 14:4) or the wolf. The swiftness of this animal, to which Habakkuk (Hab 1:8) compares the Chaldean horses, and to which Daniel (Da 7:6) alludes in the winged leopard, is well known. So great is the flexibility of its body that it is able to take surprising leaps, to climb trees, or to crawl snake-like upon the ground. Jeremiah and Hosea (as above) allude to the insidious habit of this animal, which is abundantly confirmed by the observations of travelers: the leopard will take up its position in some spot near a village, and watch for some favorable opportunity for plunder. From the Canticles (as above) we learn that the hilly ranges of Lebanon were in ancient times frequented by these animals, and it is now not uncommonly seen in and about Lebanon, and the southern maritime mountains of Syria (Kitto, Pict. Bible, note on Song 4:8). There is in Asia Minor a species or variety of panther, much larger than the Syrian, not unfrequent on the borders of the snowy tracts even of Mount Ida, above ancient Troy; and the group of these spotted animals is spread over the whole of Southern Asia to Africa. From several names of places (e.g. Beth-Nimrah, etc.), it appears that, in the earlier ages of Israelitish dominion, it was sufficiently numerous in Palestine, and recent travelers have encountered it there (see Bibliotheca Sacra, 1848, p. 669; Lynch's Expedition, p. 212). Leopard skins were worn as a part of ceremonial costume by the superiors of the Egyptian priesthood, and by other personages in Nubia; and the animal itself is represented in the processions of tributary nations (Wilkinson, 1:285, 291, 319). In Da 7:7, the third stage of the prophetical vision is symbolized under the form of a leopard with wings, representing the rapidly formed Macedonian empire; its four heads corresponding to the division of Alexander's dominions among his four generals. In Re 13:2, the same animal is made a type of the spiritual power of the Roman hierarchy, supported by the secular power in maintaining Paganism in opposition to Christianity. See generally Bochart, Hieroz. 2:100 sq.; Schoder, Specin. hieroz. 1:46 sq.; Wemyss, Clavis Symbolica, s.v.; Wood, Bible Animals, p. 29 sq.; Thomson, Land and Book, 2:156 sq.

"Leopard." topical outline.

Bible concordance for LEOPARD.

Definition of leopard

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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