the rendering in the Auth. Vers. at De 19:5, of the Hebrews זֶמֶר, ze'mer (so called from leaping; Sept. and Vulg. understand the giraffe, καμηλοπάρδαλις, camelopardalus; Luther "elend" or elk). The enumeration there requires us to understand zemer to be a clean ruminant; but it is plain that the Mosaic list of clean animals would not include such as were totally out of the reach of the Hebrew people, and at best only known to them from specimens seen in Egypt, consisting of presents sent from Nubia, or in pictures on the walls of temples. The camelopard is exclusively an inhabitant of Southern Africa (comp. Strabo. 16:771; 17:827; Pliny, 8:27), and therefore could not come in the way of the people of Israel (see Michaelis, Suppl. 3:628). The same objection applies to the elk, because that species of deer never appears further south than Northern Germany and Poland (Cuvier, Anim. Kingd. 1:376 sq.). As to the chamois (Gesenius, Thes. 1:420), though it did exist in the mountains of Greece, and is still found in Central Asia, there is no vestige of its having at any time frequented Libanus or any other part of Syria. Zammer is still used in Persia and India for any large species of ruminants, particularly those of the stag kind. In the sacred text, however, the word zemer is not generical, but strictly specific. Ail, or "stag," is mentioned, as well as several Antilopidae, in the same verse; we must, therefore, look for an animal not hitherto noticed, and withal sufficiently important to merit being named in such an ordinance. SEE DEER; SEE GOAT; SEE GAZELLE, etc.

The only species that seems to answer the conditions required is a wild sheep, still not uncommon in the Mokattam rocks near Cairo, found in Sinai, and eastward in the broken ridges of Stony Arabia, where it is known under the name of kebsh, a slight mutation of the old Hebrew כֶּשֶׂב, keseb, or rather, כֶּבֶשׂ, kebes, which is applied, indeed, to a domestic sheep, one that grazed. This animal is frequently represented and hieroglyphically named on Egyptian monuments (Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 3:19). It is a fearless climber, and secure on its feet, among the sharpest and most elevated ridges. In stature the animal exceeds a large domestic sheep, though it is not more bulky of body. Instead of wool, it is covered with close, fine, rufous hair: from the throat to the breast, and on the upper arms above the knees, there is abundance of long, loose, reddish hair, forming a compact protection to the knees and brisket, and indicating that the habits of the species require extraordinary defense while sporting among the most rugged cliffs (see Bochart, Hieroz. 2:273 sq.; Rosenmüller, Alterth. IV, 2:186 sq.). The head and face are perfectly ovine, the eyes are bluish, and the horns, of a yellowish color, are set on as in sheep; they rise obliquely, and are directed backward and outward, with the points bending downward. The tail, about nine inches long, is heavy and round. SEE ANTELOPE.

Bible concordance for CHAMOIS.

Definition of chamois

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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