(פֶּרֶד, pe'red, 2Sa 13:29; and often elsewhere; fem. פַּרדָּה, piirdah', 1Ki 1:33,38,44; so called from their quick pace, or from carrying loads; but רֶכֶשׁ, rekesh, Es 8:10,14, denotes a steed or nobler horse; "swift beast" in Mic 1:13; "dromedary" in 1Ki 4:28), a hybrid animal, the offspring of a horse and an ass (comp. Varro, De re rustica, 2:8; Pliny, 8:69; Colum. 6:36; AEsop, Fab. 140; AElian, Anim. 12:16; Strabo, 5:212). Of this animal there are two kinds: one is the produce of a he-ass with a mare; the other the produce of a she-ass and a stallion. The former is the mule, commonly so called. That in respect to swiftness the hybrid between the ass and the mare is much superior to the hybrid between the horse and the sheass is abundantly attested (Aristot. Rhetor. 3:2; Pliny, Hist. Nat. 8:44, etc.), which is in favor of Bochart's hypothesis that mules are meant by the אֲחִשׁתּרָנַים., A.V. "camels" of Es 8:10,14. SEE CAMEL. A mule is smaller than a horse, and is a remarkably hardy, patient, obstinate, sure-footed animal, living ordinarily twice as long as a horse. These animals are mostly sterile; as distinct species of animals do not freely intermix their breed, and hybrid animals do not propagate their kind beyond at most a very few generations, and no real hybrid races are perpetuated. The claim of Anah, son of Zibeon, to the discovery of breeding mules, as asserted in the Talmuds, may be regarded as an expression of national vanity (see Bochart, Hieroz. 1:221 sq.; Dougtaei Anal. 1:41 sq.). It rests on Ge 36:24, where יֵמַם, yenzim', is rendered mules; but it more probably means water — meaning the warm springs of Callirrhoe on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.' SEE ANAH. There is no probability that the Hebrews bred mules, because it was expressly forbidden by the Mosaic law to couple animals of different species (Le 19:19). But they were not forbidden to use them (Philo, Opp. 2:307); and we find under the monarchy that mules were common among the Hebrews (see also Josephus, Life, 26), and they were probably known much earlier. Even the kings and most distinguished nobles were accustomed to ride upon mules (and apparently they only), although at first they used only male and female asses (2Sa 18:9; 1Ki 1:33,38,44; 1Ki 18:5; 2Ki 5:17; 2Ch 9:24; Ps 32:9). "It is an interesting fact that we do not read of mules till the time of David (as to the yenzim, A.V. 'mules,' of Ge 36:24, see above), just at the time when the Israelites were becoming well acquainted with horses. After this time horses and mules are in Scripture often mentioned together. After the first half of David's reign, as Michaelis (Comment. on Laws of Moses, 2:477) observes, they became all at once very common. In Ezr 2:66; Ne 7:68, we read of two hundred and forty-five mules; in 2Sa 13:29, 'all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule.' Absalom rode on a mule in the battle of the wood of Ephraim, at the time when the animal went away from under him, and so caused his death. Mules were among the presents which were brought year by year to Solomon (1Ki 10:25). From the above-cited Levitical law we must suppose that the mules were imported, unless the Jews became subsequently less strict in their observance of the ceremonial injunctions, and bred their mules. We learn from Ezekiel (Eze 27:14) that the Tyrians, after the time of Solomon, were' supplied with both horses and mules from Armenia (Togarmah), which country was celebrated for its good horses (see Strabo, 11:13, 7, ed. Kramer; comp. also Xenoph. Anab. 4:5, 36; Herod. 7:40). Michaelis conjectures that the Israelites first became acquainted with mules in the war which David carried on with the king of Nisibis (Zobah) (2Sa 8:3-4). In Solomon's time it is possible that mules from Egypt occasionally accompanied the horses which we know the king of Israel obtained from that country; for though the mule is not of frequent occurrence on the monuments of Egypt (Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt. 1:386 [Lond. 1854]), yet it is not easy to believe that the Egyptians were not well acquainted with this animal. That a friendship existed between Solomon and Pharaoh is clear from 1Ki 9:16, as well as from the fact of Solomon having married the daughter of the king of Egypt; but after Shishak came to the throne a very different spirit prevailed between the two kingdoms: perhaps, therefore, from this date mules were obtained from Armenia." In latter times (eventually, at all events) the Hebrews appear to have obtained the more valuable mules from Assyria and Persia (Isa 66:20; Es 8:10,14; comp. Ctes. Pers. 44; see Host, Marohk, page 292). We do not read of mules at all in the N.T.; perhaps, therefore, they had ceased to be imported. SEE HORSE.
Mules are represented on some of the ancient Assyrian bass-reliefs; they are seen in procession, belonging to a captured people (Layard's Nineveh, 2:323, 324). They were also ridden in battle and by kings (ibid. 2d ser. pages 446, 449). There are various breeds of mules in Syria. Some very beautiful animals are produced from high-blood Arab mares, but they are few in number, and can only be possessed by the wealthy. Burckhardt states that the breed of the Baalbek mules is highly esteemed, and that he had seen some which were worth from thirty to five-and-thirty pounds (Trav. 1:57). The more ordinary sort of mules, which are capable of carrying heavy loads, are employed in the caravans; and they are of great service for the mill and waterwheels. The domestic trade with the maritime towns and the mountains is not only carried on chiefly by mule caravans, but they are sent even to Erzerum, Constantinople, and other remote towns (Russell, Aleppo, 2:50 sq.). In these caravans the male travellers are mounted on mules lightly laden, generally the mere personal luggage of the rider. Persons of rank travel in a kind of litter, carried by two mules. Within the towns, and in short excursions, asses are generally preferred, and the mules bear the luggage. In modern times the breeding of mules in Southern Europe and Western Asia has been greatly increased. Those of Persia are described as of large size, and of amazing strength and power of endurance. They will travel the stony and steep roads over rocky mountains, day after day, at the rate of from twenty-five to fifty miles per diem, loaded with a weight of 300 pounds. They require more food than the horse. The muleteers never remove the pack-saddles from their backs, except when cleaning or currying them. If the men find that the back has been galled, they take away some of the stuffing from the pack-saddle, where it presses on the sore part, and then put the saddle on again, experience having taught them that such sores, unless healed under the saddle, are apt to break out again. See Ugolino, De re rustica Hebr., in his Thesaur. 29, part 4, 10; Bochart, Hieroz. 1:209 sq.; Robinson, Researches, passim. See Ass.