Ass (properly חֲמוֹר, chamor', from the reddish dun color of the hair of the wild ass; female אָתוֹן, athon'; Gr. ὄνος),
(I.) a domestic animal (Ge 12:16; Ge 24:35; Ge 30:43; Ge 32:5; Jos 6:21; Jos 7:24; comp. Ex 20:17; Ex 22:4; Ex 23:4 sq.; 1Sa 8:16; Lu 13:15; Lu 14:5), found generally in the East (comp. 1Ch 27:30; for Mosaic precepts respecting the animal, see Ex 20:17; Ex 21:33; Ex 22:10; Ex 23:4 sq.; De 22:3 sq.; comp. Mishna, Baba Mtez. 6:3; Baba Bathra, v, 2), and very serviceable (particularly in the cultivation of the soil, Varro, R. R. ii, 6; Pallad. 18:14), although not to be compared with the modern ass of northern countries, but by far more stately (Olear. Trav. p. 301, estimates a Persian ass to be worth nearly $100; comp. Plin. 8:68; see Hasselquist, Tray. p. 67), more active, more mettlesome, and quicker (according to Niebuhr, Reisen, i, 311, an ass of ordinary speed will go over 1750 double paces of a man in half an hour: comp. Abdallatif, Denkw. p. 1375; Sonini, ii, 89 sq.). Asses were therefore (as still) held in great estimation; so that while with us the word ass is a low term of contempt, with the Orientals anciently as now the very opposite was the case (Ge 49:14; comp. Iliad, 11:588 sq.; see D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Or. s.v. Hamar; Freytag, Ad select. ex histor. Halebi, p. 59; Gessner, in the Commentar. Soc. Gott. ii, 32 sq.; Jablonski, Panth. DEg. iii, 45; Michaelis, in the Commentar. Soc. Gott. 4:6 sq.). The ass (perhaps the young ass, Job 1:3; Nu 22:21; 2Ki 4:24; Mt 21:2 sq.) was, on account of his sure step over hilly tracts, the usual animal for riding (Ex 4:20; Nu 22:21; Jg 10:4; Jg 12:14; 1Ki 2:40; 1Ki 13:27; 2Sa 19:26), even for ladies (Jos 15:18; Jg 1:14; 1Sa 25:23; 2Ki 4:22,24; comp. Fabric. Cod. Apogr. i, 104; see Niebuhr, Beschr. p. 44; Schwei- ger,'Reisen, p. 272; Rosenmuller, Morgenl. iii, 222) and nobles (2Sa 17:23; 1Ki 13:13,23; Zec 9:9; comp. Mt 21:2 sq. [see Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. in loc. p. 408; Schottgen, i, 169 sq.]; Mr 11:1 sq.; Lu 19:29 sq.; Joh 12:14 sq.; see Russel, Aleppo, ii, 49; Pococke, East, i, 309). The last preferred dappled asses, i.e. such as had a brownish-red skin marked with white streaks (Jg 5:10; comp. Morier, Trav. p. 136; Paulus, Samil. i, 244). No saddle, however, was used from the earliest time (Hasselquist, Trav. p. 66), but simply a covering consisting of a piece of cloth or a cushion (hence חֲמֹר חָבוּשׁ, a bound or girt ass, means a beast saddled and bridled, Ge 21:3; Nu 22:21; Jg 19:10), so that the driver (Jg 19:3; 2Ki 4:24; Talm. חִמָּר, chammar', Mishna, Erub. 4:10, etc.) ran beside or behind the rider (Hasselquist, Trav. p. 66). The ass, moreover, was not only employed for bearing burdens (Ne 13:15; Jos 9:4; 1Sa 16:20; 1Sa 25:18), but even for distant journeys (Ge 43:26; Ge 44:3,13; Ge 45:23; comp. Josephus, Life, 24; Mishna. Parah, 12:9), and also for drawing the plough (De 22:10; comp. Ex 23:12; Isa 30:24; Isa 32:20; so, too, among the Romans, Plin. 8:68; 17:3; Varro, R. R. ii, 6; Colum. 7:1) and in mills (Mt 18:6; Lu 17:2; "asinus molarius," Colum. 7:2; חמור הריחיים, Buxtorf, Floril. Hebr. p. 308; comp. Brouckhus, ad Tibull. ii, 1, 8). In war they carried the baggage (2Ki 7:7; comp. Polluc. Onom. i, 10); but, according to Isa 21:7, the Persian king Cyrus had cavalry mounted on asses; and not only Strabo (xv, 726) assures us that the Caramanians, a people forming part of the Persian empire, rode on asses ina battle, but Herodotus (iv, 129) expressly states that Darius Hystaspis made use of the ass in a fight with the Scythians (comp. Allian, Anim. 12:32). See, generally, Bochart, Hieroz. i, 148 sq.; ii, 214 sq.; Lengerke, Kenaan, i, 140 sq., 146, 165.-Winer,i, 346.
The domestic ass, being an animal of a patient, laborious, and stupid nature, the emblem of persons of a similar disposition. Issachar is called a strong ass (Ge 49:14), in reference to his descendants, as being a settled agricultural tribe, who cultivated their own territory with patient labor, emblematized by the ass. We rarely read of Issachar being engaged in any war, which is ever hostile to agriculture. Of Jehoiakim it is said, in Jer 22:19, " With the burial of an ass shall he be buried, dragged along, and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem;" an event mentioned by Josephus, who says that "the king of Babylon advanced with an army, that Jehoiakim admitted him readily into Jerusalem, and that Nebuchadnezzar, having entered the city, instantly put him to death, and cast his dead body unburied without the walls." It is recorded of Christ in Zec 9:9, and quoted thence in Mt 21:5, that he should be "humble, and sitting on an ass, even on a colt the foal of an ass." As horses were used in war, Christ may be supposed, by this action, to have shown the humble and peaceable nature of his kingdom. On the contrary, Ephraim is compared to a wild ass, in Ho 8:9, i.e. he was untamed to the yoke, and traversed the desert as earnestly in the pursuit of idols as the onager in quest of his mates.
In the gospels is mentioned the , μύλος ἰνικός (Mt 18:6; Mr 9:41), to express a large mill-stone, turned by asses, heavier than that turned by women or by slaves. See Jahn's Archceol. § 118, 189.
(II.) The ass is the Equus Asinus of Linnaeus; I y some formed into a sub- genus, containing that group of the Equidae which are not striped like zebras, and have forms and characters distinguishable from true horses, such as a peculiar shape of body and limbs, long ears, an upright mane, a tail only tufted at the end, a streak along the spine, often crossed with another on the shoulders, a braying voice, etc. To designate these animals the Hebrews used various terms, by which, no doubt, though not with the strict precision of science, different species and distinct races of the group, as well as qualities of sex and age, were indicated; but the contexts in general afford only slight assistance in discriminating them; and reliance on cognate languages is often unavailing, since we find that similar words frequently point to secondary and not to identical acceptations. The name is assigned by the' Auth. Vers. to several distinct Heb. words, viz. אָתוֹן, חֲמוֹר, עִיִר, עָרוֹד, and פֶּרֶא, and the Greek words. It occurs also in two passages of Ecclus. 13:19; 33:24, in the first of which it stands for ovaypog. SEE HE-ASS; SEE SHE-ASS; SEE FOAL.
1. The ordinary term חֲמוֹר (chamor', ὄνος) we take to be the name of the common working ass of Western Asia, an animal of small stature, frequenly represented on Egyptian monuments with panniers on the back, usually of a reddish color (the Arabic hamar and chanara denoting red), and the same as the Turkish hymar. It appears to be a domesticated race of the wild ass of Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Southern Persia, where it is denominated gour. In Scripture this wild original variety is distinguished by the name עָרוֹד (arod', Job 39:5; Chald. עֲרָד, arad', Da 5:21; both rendered "wild ass"), a term most likely derived from the braying voice of the animal. In its natural state it never seeks woody, but upland pasture, mountainous and rocky retreats; and it is habituated to stand on the brink of precipices (a practice not entirely obliterated in oar own domestic races), whence, with protruded ears, it surveys the scene below, blowing and at length braying in extreme excitement. This habit is beautifully depicted by Jeremiah (Jer 17:6; Jer 48:6). Varieties of this species are designated by the following terms: עִיִר (ayir) is translated in the Auth. Vers. young ass," "colt," "foal ;" but this rendering does not appear on all occasions to be correct, the word being sometimes used for animals that carry loads and till the ground, which seems to afford evidence of at least full growth (Isa 30:6,24). אָתוֹן (athon', usually "ass" simply) is sometimes unsatisfactorily rendered "she-ass," unless we suppose it to refer to a breed of greater beauty and importance than the common, namely, the silver-gray of Africa, which, being large and indocile, the females were anciently selected in preference for riding, and on that account formed a valuable kind of property. From early ages a white breed of this race was reared at Zobeir, the ancient Dassora and capital of the Orcheni, from which place civil dignitaries still obtain their white asses and white mules. It is now the fashion, as it was during the Parthian empire, and probably in the time of the judges, to dapple this breed with spots of orange or crimson, or of both colors together; and this is probably the meaning of the word צָחֹר (checkered?), rendered " white" in Jg 5:10; an interpretation which is confirmed by the Babylonian Sanhedrim, who, in answer to King Sapor's offer of a horse to convey the Jewish Messiah, say, " Thou hast not a hundred-spotted horse, such as his (the Messiah's) ass." Horses and asses thus painted occur frequently in Oriental illuminated MSS., and although the taste may be puerile, we conceive that it is the record of remote conquest achieved by a nation of Central Asia, mounted on spotted or clouded horses, and revived by the Parthians, who were similarly equipped (see Introd. to the Hist. of the Horse, in the Naturalist's Library, vol. xii).. No other primeval invasion from the East by horsemen on such animals than that of the so-called Centaurs is recorded; their era coincides nearly with that of the judges (see Kitto, Pict. Bible, at Jg 5:10).
Asses have always been in extensive use in the East (Thomson, Land and Book, ii, 407); and they were employed by Joseph's brethren to carry grain from Egypt -a journey to which they are competent, notwithstanding the intervening deserts (Hackett's Illustra. of Script. p. 29). They were abundant in Ancient Egypt (as donkeys still are, Lane's Mod. Eg. i, 209), where they were employed in treading out grain, and for other purposes (Wilkinson's Anc. Eg. i, 231). They are not represented on the Assyrian monuments (Layard's Nineveh, ii, 323), although the onager or wild ass is still celebrated in that region for its swiftness (ib. i, 265).
2. פֶרֶא, pe're, rendered likewise "wild ass," is a derivative of the same root which in Hebrew has produced paras, horse, and parasim, horsemen, Persians and Parthians. Though evidently a generical term, the Scripture uses it in a specific sense, and seems to intend by it the horse-ass or wild mule, which the Greeks denominated hemionos, and the moderns jiggetai; though we think there still remains some commixture in the descriptions of the species-and those of the koulan, or wild ass of Northern Asia. Both are nearly of the same stature, and not unlike in the general distribution of colors and markings, but the hemionos is distinguished from the other by its neighing voice and the deficiency of two teeth in the jaws. The species is first noticed by Aristotle, who mentions nine of these animals as being brought to Phrygia by Pharnaces the satrap, of which three were livinT in the time of his son Pharnabazus. This was while the onager still roamed wild in Cappadocia and Syria, and proves that it had until then been considered the same species, or that from its rarity it had escaped discrimination, but no doubt remains that it was the gourkhur, or horse-ass, which is implied by the name hemionos. The allusion of Jeremiah, in speaking of the pere (xiv, 6), most forcibly depicts the scarcity of food when this species, inured to the desert and to want of water, are made the prominent example of suffering. SEE MULE. They were most likely used in traces to draw chariots. The animals so noticed in Isa 21:7, and by Herodotus, are the same which Pliny, Strabo, and Arnobius make the Caramanians and Scythians employ in the same way. We claim the pere, and not the arod, to be this species, because the hemionos, or at least the gourkhur, does not bray, as before noticed; and because, notwithstanding its fierceness and velocity, it is actually used at present as a domestic animal at Luckrow, where it was observed by Duvaucel. The hemionos is little inferior to the wild horse; in shape it resembles a mule, in gracefulness a horse, and in color it is silvery, with broad spaces of flaxen or bright bay on the thigh, flank, shoulder, neck, and head; the ears are wide like the zebra's, and the neck is clothed with a vertical dark mane prolonged in a stripe to the tuft of the tail. The company of this animal is liked by horses, and, when domesticated, it is gentle. It is now found wild from the deserts of the Oxus and Jaxartes to China and Central India. In Cutch it is never known to drink, and in whole districts which it frequents water is not to be found; and though the natives talk of the fine flavor of the flesh, and the gour in Persia is the food of heroes, to a European its smell is abominable. SEE WILD ASS.