חֲמוֹר, chanmor' (Ge 12:16; elsewhere simply "ass"), the general designation of the donkey (Ex 13:13, etc.) for carrying burdens (Exodus 42:26) and ploughing (Isa 30:24),being regarded as a patient (Ge 49:14) and contented animal for riding in time of peace (2Sa 19:27; Zec 9:9); different from the proud (Ec 10:9) and warlike horse (Isa 20:6). As a beast of burden, it was eaten only in times of famine (2Ki 6:25). SEE ASS'S HEAD.
The prohibition of the use of horses to Israel caused the ass to be held in higher estimation than it holds in our times. It was, at least down to the days of Solomon, the principal beast of burden. But we must not attribute this election wholly to the absence or scarcity of the horse, for in Western Asia the ass is still largely used for the saddle. Though inferior in dignity to the horse, he is still, in his native regions, a very superior animal to the poor, weather-beaten, stunted, half-starved beast of our commons. Chardin and others describe the Arabian ass as a really elegant creature. The coat is smooth and clean, the carriage is erect and proud; the limbs are clean, well formed, and muscular, and are well thrown out in walking or galloping. Asses of this Arab breed are used exclusively for the saddle, and are imported into Syria and Persia, where they are highly valued, especially by the mollahs or lawyers, the sheiks or religious teachers, and elderly persons of the opulent classes. They are fed and dressed with the same care as horses, the headgear is highly ornamented, and the saddle is covered with a fine carpet. They are active, spirited, and yet sufficiently docile. Other breeds are equally useful in the more humble labors of ploughing and carrying burdens. White asses, distinguished not only by their color, but by their stature and symmetry, are frequently seen in Western Asia, and are always more highly esteemed than those of more ordinary hue. The editor of the Pictorial Bible says that these "are usually in every respect the finest of their species, and their owners certainly take more pride in them than in any other of their asses. They sell at a much higher price; and those hackney ass-men who make a livelihood by hiring out their asses to persons who want a ride, always expect better pay for the white ass than for any of the others." After describing their more highly ornamented trappings, he observes, "But, above all, their white hides are fantastically streaked and spotted with the red stains of the henna plant, a barbarous kind of ornament which the Western Asiatics are fond of applying to their own beards, and to the manes and tails of their white horses." SEE HORSE.
The constitution of the ass is formed for a dry, rugged region, a rocky wilderness. Its hoofs are long, hollow beneath, with very sharp edges, a peculiarity which makes it sure-footed in ascending and descending steep mountain passes, where the flat hoof of the horse would be insecure. It prefers aromatic, dry, prickly herbs to the most succulent and tender grass; is fond of rolling in the dry dust; suffers but little from thirst or heat; drinks seldom and little; and seems to have no sensible perspiration, its skin being hard, tough, and insensitive. All these characters suit the arid, rocky wildernesses of Persia and Western Asia, the native country of this valuable animal SEE ASS.