(צִיַד, Gr. ἄγρα). The pursuit and capture of beasts of the field was one of the first means of sustenance to which the human race had recourse. In process of time, however, when civilization had made some: progress, when cities were built and lands cultivated, hunting was carried on not so much for the food which it brought as for the recreation it gave and its conduciveness to health. Hunting has always borne somewhat of a regal character, and in Persia immense parks (παράδεισοι) were enclosed for nurturing and preserving beasts of the chase. The monarch himself led the way to the sport, not only in these preserves, but also over the wide surface of the country, being attended by his nobles, especially by the younger aspirants to fame and warlike renown (Xenoph. Cyr. 8, 1, 38). Scenes of this character are abundantly portrayed on the Assyrian and Babylonian monuments recently discovered by Botta and Layard. The king is represented as pursuing not only smaller game on horseback, but also engaged in the chase of more formidable animals, such as lions and wild bulls, in the chariot (Layard's Nineveh, 1st ser. ii, 328). SEE LION. This was especially a favorite employment of princes, and Darius caused to be engraved on his tomb an epitaph recording his proficiency as an archer and hunter (Strabo, 15, 212).
In the Bible we find hunting connected with royalty as early as in Ge 10:9. The great founder of Babel was in general repute as "a mighty hunter before the Lord." SEE NIMROD. The patriarchs, however, are to be regarded rather as herdsmen than hunters, if respect is had to their habitual mode of life. The condition of the herdsman ensues next to that of the hunter in the early stages of civilization, and so we find that even Cain was a keeper of sheep. This, and the fact that Abel is designated "a tiller of the ground," would seem to indicate a very rapid progress in the arts and pursuits of social life. The same contrast and similar hostility we find somewhat later in the case of Jacob and Esau; the first "a plain man dwelling in tents," the second "a cunning hunter, a man of the field" (Genesis 25 sq.). The account given of Esau in connection with his father seems to show that hunting was, conjointly with tillage, pursued at that time as a means of subsistence, and that hunting had not then passed into its secondary state, and become an amusement.
In Egypt the children of Israel doubtless were spectators of hunting carried on extensively and pursued in different methods, but chiefly, as appears probable, with a view rather to recreation than subsistence (Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt. vol. 3). Wild oxen are represented on the Egyptian sculptures as captured by means of the lasso, but dogs appear to have been usually employed in the chase. SEE DOG. That the land of promise into which the Hebrews were conducted on leaving Egypt was plentifully supplied with beasts of the chase appears clear from Ex 23:29, "I will not drive them out in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beast of the field multiply against thee" (comp. De 3:22). Also from the regulation given in Le 17:15, it is manifest that hunting was practiced after the settlement in Canaan, and was pursued with the view of obtaining food. Pr 12:27 proves that hunting animals for their flesh was an established custom among the Hebrews, though the turn of the passage may serve to show that at the time it was penned sport was the chief aim. If hunting was not forbidden in the "year of rest," special provision was made that not only the cattle, but the beast of the field," should be allowed to enjoy and flourish on the uncropped spontaneous produce of the land (Ex 23:11; Le 25:7). Harmer (iv, 357) says, "There are various sorts of creatures in the Holy Land proper for hunting; wild boars, antelopes, hares, etc., are in considerable numbers there, and one of the Christian kings of Jerusalem lost his life (Gesta Dei, p. 887) in pursuing a hare." That the lion and other ravenous beasts of prey were not wanting in Palestine many passages of the Bible make obvious (1Sa 17:34; 2Sa 23:20; 1Ki 13:24; Harris, Natural History of the Bible; Kitto's Pictorial Palestine). The lion was even made use of to catch other animals (Eze 19:3), and Harmer long ago remarked that as in the vicinity of Gaza, so also in Judmea, leopards were trained and used for the same purpose (Harmer, 4, 358; Hab 1:8). That lions were taken by pitfalls as well as by nets appears from Eze 19:4,8 (Shaw, p. 172). In the latter verse the words of the prophet, "and spread their net over him" (comp. 2Sa 22:6), allude to the custom of inclosing a wide extent of country with nets, into which the animals were driven by hunters (Wilkinson, Anc. Egyptians, 3:4). The spots thus enclosed were usually in a hilly country and in the vicinity of water-brooks; whence the propriety' and force of the language of Ps 42:1, "As the (hunted) hart panteth after the water-brooks." These places were selected because they were those to which the animals were in the habit of repairing in the morning and evening. Scenes like the one now supposed are found portrayed in the Egyptian paintings (Wilkinson). Hounds were used for hunting in Egypt, and, if the passage in Josephus (Ant. 4, 8, 9) may be considered decisive, in Palestine as well. From Ge 27:3, "Now take thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow," we learn what arms were employed at least in capturing game. Bulls, after being taken, were kept at least for a time in a net (Isa 51:20). Various missiles, pitfalls, snares, and gins were made use of in hunting (Ps 91:3; Am 3:5; 2Sa 23:20). See the various animals and means of capture enumerated above in their alphabetical place. That hunting continued to be followed till towards the end of the Jewish state appears from Josephus (War, 1, 20, 13), where the historian speaks of Herod as "ever a most excellent hunter, for in one day he caught forty wild beasts." The same passage makes it clear that horses were employed in the pursuits of the chase (compare Josephus, Ant. 15, 7, 7; 16:10, 3). SEE CHASE.
The prophets sometimes depict war under the idea of hunting: "I will send for many hunters," says Jeremiah. "and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks" (16:16), referring to the Chaldaeans, who held the Jews under their dominion, or, according to others, to the Persians, who set the Hebrews at liberty. Ezekiel also (Eze 32:30) speaks of the kings, who were persecutors of the Jews, under the name of hunters. The psalmist thanks God for having delivered him from the snares of the hunters [Eng. trans. "fowler"] (Ps 91:3). Micah complains (Mic 7:2) that every one lays ambuscades for his neighbor, and that one brother hunts after another to destroy him. Jeremiah (La 3:52) represents Jerusalem as complaining of her enemies, who have taken her, like a bird, in their nets. SEE NET.