Ass We give the following additional particulars on this animal:
I. This is the rendering in the A. V. of several Hebrew and Greek words.
Chamor (חֲמוֹר, from the reddish color; Sept. ὄνος, ὑποζύγιον, γομάρ in 1Sa 16:20; Vulg. asinus; A.V. " ass," "he-ass") denotes the male domestic ass, though the word was no doubt used in a general sense to express any ass, whether male or female. The ass is frequently mentioned in the Bible; it was used
(a) for carrying burdens (1Sa 25:18; Ge 42:26; Ge 45:23; 2Sa 16:1,20; 1Ch 12:40; Ne 13:15); (b) for riding (Ge 22:3, etc.); (c) for ploughing (De 22:10; Isa 33:20);
(d) for grinding at the mill (Mt 18:6; Lu 17:2); (e) for war baggage (2Ki 7:7,10); (f) for breeding mules (Ge 36:24; 1Ki 4:28; Es 8:10, etc.).
Although the flesh of the wild ass was deemed a luxury among the Persians and Tartars, yet it does not appear that any of the nations of Canaan used the ass for food. The Mosaic law considered it unclean, as " not dividing the hoof and chewing the cud." In extreme cases, however, as in the great famine of Samaria, when "an ass's head was sold for eighty pieces of silver" (2Ki 6:25), the flesh of the ass was eaten. Many commentators on this passage, following the Sept., have understood a measure (a chomer of bread) by the Hebrew word.. Dr. Harris says, "no kind of extremity could compel the Jews to eat any part of this animal for food;" but it mast be remembered that in cases of extreme need parents ate their own offspring (ver. 29; Eze 5:10). This argument, therefore, falls to the ground; nor is there sufficient reason for abandoning the common acceptation of these passages (1Sa 16:20; 1Sa 25:18), and for understanding a measure and not the animal. For. an example to illustrate 2 Kings loc. cit., comp. Plutarch, Artax. i, 1023, " An ass's head could hardly be bought for sixty drachms." The Talmudists say the flesh of the ass causes avarice in those who eat it; but it cures the avaricious of the complaint (Lewysohn, Zool. des Talm. § 165).
The Jews were accused of worshipping the head of an ass.- Josephus (Contr. Apion. ii, 7) very indignantly blames Apion for having the impudence to pretend that the Jews placed an ass's head of gold in their holy place, which the grammarian asserted Antiochus Epiphanes discovered when he spoiled the Temple. Plutarch (Sympos. 4:5) and Tacitus (Hist. v, 3,4) seem to have believed in this slander. It would be out of place here to enter further into this question, as it has no scriptural bearing; but the reader may find much curious matter relating to this subject in Bochart (Hieroz. iii, 199 sq.). SEE ASS-WORSHIP.
2. Athon (אָתוֹן, of uncertain etymology; Sept. ἡ ὄνος, ὄνος, ὄνος θηλεία ἡμίονος, ὄνος θηλεία νομάς; Vulg. asina, asinus; A.'V. "ass," "she-ass"). There can be no doubt that this name represents the common domestic she-ass, nor do we think there are any grounds for believing that
ath6n indicates some particular valuable breed which judges and great men only possessed, as Dr. Kitto (Phys. Hist. Pal. p. 383) and Dr. Harris (Nat. Hist. of the Bible, art. "Ass") have supposed. Athon in Ge 12:16; Ge 45:23, is clearly contrasted with chamor. Balaam rode on a she-ass (athon). The asses of Kish which Saul sought were she-asses. The Shunammite (2Ki 4:22,24) rode on one when she went to seek Elisha. They were she-asses which formed the especial care of one of David's officers (1Ch 27:30). On the other hand, Abraham (Ge 22:3, etc.), Achsah (Jos 15:18), Abigail (1Sa 25:20), and the disobedient prophet (1Ki 13:23) rode on a chamor.
3. Ayir (עִיַי, from 'its heat; Sept. πῶλος, πῶλος νέος, ὄνος, βοῦς [in Isa 30:24]; Vulg. pullus asince, pullus onagri, jumentum,pullis asini; A. V. "foal," "ass colt," "young ass," "colt"), the name of a young ass, which occurs Ge 49:11; Ge 32:16; Jg 10:4; Jg 12:14; Job 11:12; Isa 30:6,24; Zec 9:9. In the passages of the books of Judges and Zechariah the 'ayir is spoken of as being old enough for riding upon; in Isa 30:6 for carrying' burdens, and in ver. 24 for tilling the ground. Perhaps the word 'dyer is intended to denote an ass rather older than the age we now understand by the term foal or colt; the derivation " to be spirited" or " impetuous" would then be peculiarly appropriate.
4. Pere (פֶּרֶא; Sept. ὄνος ἄγριος, ὄνος ἐν ἀγρῷ, ὄναγρος, ὄνος ἐρημίτης, ἄγροικος ἄνθρωπος; Vulg. ferus homo; A. V. "wild man," in Ge 16:12; elsewhere onager, " wild ass"), the name of a species of wild ass mentioned in Ge 16:12; .Job 6:5; Job 11:12; Job 24:5; Job 39:5; Ps 104:11; Isa 32:14; Jer 2:24; Ho 8:9. In Ge 16:12, Pegr Adam, a " wild-ass man," is applied to Ishmael and his descendants, a character that is well suited to the Arabs at this day. Hosea (Ho 8:9) compares Israel to a wild ass of the desert; and Job (Job 39:5) gives an animated description of this animal, and one which is amply confirmed by both ancient and modem writers.
5. 'Arod (עָרוֹד, perhaps from its flight; omitted by the Sept. and Vulg., which versions probably supposed arod and pere to be synonymous; A. V. " wild ass"). The Hebrew word occurs only in Job 39:5: " Who hath sent out the pere free, or who hath loosed the band of the 'arod ?"- The Chaldee plural 'aradaydh (עֲרָדִיָּא) occurs in Da 5:21; Nebuchadnezzar's " dwelling was with the wild asses." Bochart (Hiemoz. ii, 218), Rosenmuller (Schol. in V. T. loc. cit.), Lee (Comment. on Job, loc. cit.), and Gesenius (Thesaur. s.v.) suppose arid and pegr to be identical in meaning. The last-named writer says that pewr is the Hebrew and 'arod the Aramsman; but it is not improbable that the two names stand for different animals.
II. The subject which relates to the different animals known as wild asses has recently received very valuable elucidation from Mr. Blythe, in a paper contributed to the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1859, a reprint of which appears in the October number of The Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 1860. This writer enumerates seven species of the division Asinus. In all probability the species known to the ancient Jews are Asinus hemippus, which inhabits the deserts of Syria, Mesopotamia, and the northern parts of Arabia; and a Asinus vulgaris of North-east Africa, the true onager or aboriginal wild ass, whence the domesticated breed is sprung; probably, also, the Asinus onager, the koulan, or ghorkhur, which is found in Western Asia from 48° north latitude southward to Persia, Beluchistan, and Western India, was not unknown to the ancient Hebrews, though in all probability they confounded these species. - The Asinus hemionus, or jiggetai, which was separated. from Asinus hemippus (with which it had long been confounded) by Is. Saint-Hilaire could hardly have been known to the Jews, as this animal, which is, perhaps, only a variety of Asinus onager, inhabits Thibet, Mongolia, and Southern Siberia - countries with which the Jews were not familiar. We may therefore safely conclude that the Athon and Pgre of the sacred writings stand for the different species now discriminated under the names of Asinus hemippus, the Assyrian wild ass; Asinus vulgaris, the true onager; and, perhaps, A sinus onager, the koulan, or ghorkhur, of Persia and Western India. SEE WILD ASS.