(אִיָּל, ayal', always masc., but in Ps 42:1, joined with a fem. noun to denote a hind), a stag or male deer, but used by the Hebrews also to denote all the various species of deer and antelopes, which resemble large rams. SEE DEER. The hart is reckoned among the clean animals (De 12:15; De 14:5; De 15:22), and seems, from the passages quoted, as well as from 1Ki 4:23, to have been commonly killed for food. Its activity furnishes an apt comparison in Isa 35:6, though in this respect the hind was more commonly selected by the sacred writers. The proper name Ajalon is derived from ayal, and implies that harts were numerous in the neighborhood. SEE GOAT. The Heb. masc. noun ayal, which is always rendered ἔλαφος by the Sept., denotes, there can be no doubt, some species of Cervidae (deer tribe), either the Dama vulgaris, fallow-deer, or the Cervus Barbarus, the Barbary deer, the southern representative of the European stag (Celaphus), which occurs in Tunis and the coast of Barbary. We have, however, no evidence that the Barbary deer ever inhabited Palestine, though it may have done so in primitive times.
Hasselquist (Trav. p. 211) observed the fallow-deer on Mount Tabor. Sir G. Wilkinson says (Anc. Egypt. 1, 227, abridgm.), "The stag with branching horns figured at Beni Hassan is also unknown in the valley of the Nile, but it is still seen in the vicinity of the Natrona lakes, as about Tunis, though not in the desert between the river and the Red Sea." This is doubtless the Cervus Barbarus. SEE STAG.
Most of the deer tribe are careful to conceal their calves after birth for a time. May there not be some allusion to this circumstance in Job 39:1, "Canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?" etc. Perhaps, as the Sept. uniformly renders ayal by ἔλαφος, we may incline to the belief that the Cervus Barbarus is the deer denoted. The feminine noun אִיָּלָה, ayaldh, occurs frequently in the O.T. SEE HIND.