the different terms denoting this family, or part of it, in the A.V. are the renderings of the following Hebrew words:
1. Abbir', אִבַּיר, is translated "bulls" in Ps 22:12; Ps 1; Ps 13; Ps 68:30; Isa 34:7; Jer 1:11. This word is properly an adjective, derived from אָבִר, to be strong, and means mighty; hence transferred to the bull in allusion to his strength. But in Ps 68:30 it should probably be rendered princes (see Gesenius, Thesaur. s.v. אָבִר).
2. E'leph, אֶלֶŠ, which occurs only in the plural, alaphim', אֲלָפַים, derived from אָלִŠ, to learn, in allusion to the domestic and docile ῥdisposition of the animal, and used in the common gender, including the whole family, like the English beeve — an ox or cow. In De 7:13; De 28:4,18,51, it is translated kinze; in Ps 8:7; Pr 14:4; Isa 30:24, oxen.
3. Alluph', אִלּוּŠ. also written, defectively, אִלֻּŠ, is from the same root, in the same signification, but is used in the mascllline gender only, grammatically, while including animals of both genders. It is found in this sense in Jer 11:19, rendered "ox," and in Ps 144:14, in the plural, "oxen;" — but in Jer 11:19 the word is properly an adjective, tame, gentle, and the rendering should be, "I was like a tamed lamb," not, as in the English Version, "I was like a lamb or an ox." See Gesenius. Thesaur. s.v. אָלִŠ.
4. Bakar', בָּקָר, in the common gender, a word for all oxen or neat cattle; generically a herd. The word is derived from בָּקִר, to cleave, to lay open, in allusion to the use of the blast for plowing (comp. Latin armentun, from arare). This very general and very common word is usually rendered head, herds, as Ge 13:5; De 16:2; Hab 3:17; or oxen, as Ge 12:16; 1Sa 11:7; Am 6:12. But two phrases deserve especial notice, the ben-bakar, בֶּןאּבָּקָר, son of the herd, or of a bull, which is translated calf; calves, in Ge 18:7-8; 1Sa 14:32; but bullock in Le 1:5; Nu 15:8-9; and again, par ben-bakal, פִּר בֶּןאּבָקָר, literally, an ox, son of the herd, which is rendered bullock, or young bullock, as Le 4:3; Le 16:3; Eze 43:19,23,25, and often. SEE CATTLE.
5. E'gel, עֵגֶל, from an obsolete root, said to signify to roll (see Gesenius, Thesaur. s.v. עָגִל), a calf possibly from the idea of the embryo as rolled or wrapped together; and so always translated, as Ex 32:4; Isa 11:6; Mal 4:2; except in Jer 31:18; Jer 46:21, where our English Version wrongly has bullock, bullocks. The feminine form, eglah, עֶגלָה is also frequent, and is rightly rendered: heifer, as Ge 15:9; Isa 15:5; but in Ho 10:5 the English Version represents the plural by the word calves. SEE CALF; SEE HEIFER.
6. Par, פָּר or פִּר, probably from the root פָּרִר, to be borne, referring to the bearing of the yoke; but the word usually means a bull, young bullock, and is hence often referred to the root פָּרִר, in its more usual sense, to break, in allusion to the fierceness and violence of his anger. It is usually spoken of bullocks for sacrifice only, as Ex 24:5; Le 4:3-5,7; Nu 28:11,19, and often; so Ho 14:2, where the meaning is, "So will we offer our praise as victims," or sacrificial bullocks. But in Ps 22:13 it means bulls, without reference to sacrifice. (See also No. 4 above.) SEE BULLOCK.
7. Tse'med, צֶמֶד from the root צָמִד, to subject to the yoke; hence a pair or yoke, as of asses, Jg 19:10; 2Sa 16:1; even of horsemen, as Isa 21:7,9; and also of oxen, as 1Sa 11:7; Job 1:3; Job 42:12. SEE YOKE.
8. Shor, שׁוֹר, from a root denoting to be strong or bold. It is a general term for animals of the beeve kind, without distinction of age or sex, and hence is variously rendered, according to the context: ox, oxen, as Ge 32:5; Ex 20:17; Ex 22:1,4; De 5:14; Eze 1:10; bullock, Le 4:10; Le 9:4; Le 22:23; Ho 12:11; cow, Nu 18:17. In Le 22:27, where the English Version has bullock, the context requires calf; and in Job 21:10, where it renders bull, the cow is meant. SEE BULL.
9. Teo', תּאוֹ, only in De 14:5, where our version has wild ox, and with transposition of the last letters, t6, תּוֹא, only in Isa 51:20 — rendered "wild bull;" probably means a species of antelope or mountain-goat; so called from its swiftness, from the root תָּאָה, to outrun. Yet the ancient interpreters generally render wild ox, and the exact meaning is uncertain (comp. Bochart, Hieroz. 1:973; Gesenius, Thesaur. s.v. תָּאָה). SEE ANTELOPE.
10. Tor, תּוֹר, the Chaldee term for ox, corresponding to the Hebrew שׁוֹר, No. 8, above. It is found only in the plural, in Ezr 6:9,17; Ezr 7:17, where it is translated "bullocks," and in Da 4:25,32-33; Da 5:21, where our version has "oxen."
Natural History of the Bovidoe (scientifically considered). — The earliest pastoral tribes appear to have had domesticated cattle in the herd; and judging from the manners of South Africa, where we find nations still retaining in many respects primeval usages, it is likely that the patriarchal families, or at least their movables, were transported on the backs of oxen in the manner which the Kaffres still practice, as also the Gwallahs and grain-merchants in India, who come down from the interior with whole droves bearing burdens. But, as the Hebrews did not castrate their bulls, it is plain some other method of enervation (bistournure?) was necessary in order to render their violent and brutal indocility sufficiently tractable to permit the use of a, metal ring or twisted rope passed, through the nostrils, and to insure something like safety and command to their owners. In Egypt, emasculation, no doubt, was resorted to, for no ring is observable in the numerous representations of cattle, while many of these indicate even more entire docility in these animals than is now attained.
The breeds of Egypt were various, differing in the length and flexure of the horns. There were some with long horns, others with short, and even none, while a hunched race of Nubia reveals an Indian origin, and indicates that at least one of the nations on the Upper Nile had come from the valleys of the Ganges; for it is to the east of the Indus alone that that species is to be found whose original stock appears to be the mountain yak (Bos grunniens). It is born with two teeth ill the mouth, has a groaning voice, and is possessed of other distinctive characteristics. Figures of this species or variety bear the significant lotus flower suspended from the neck, and, as is still practiced in India, they are harnessed to the cars of princesses of Nubia. These, as well as the straight-backed cattle of Egypt, are all figured with evident indications of beauty in their form, and they are in general painted white, with black or rufous clouds, or entirely red, speckled, or grandinated, that is, black, with numerous small white specks; and there are also beeves with white and black occasionally marked in a peculiar manner, seemingly the kind of tokens by which the priesthood pretended to recognize their sacred individuals. The cattle of Egypt continued to be remarkable for beauty for some ages after the Moslem conquest.
The domestic buffalo was unknown to Western Asia and Egypt till after the Arabian conquest: it is now common in the last-mentioned region and far to the south, but not beyond the equator; and from structural differences it may be surmised that there was in early ages a domesticated distinct species of this animal in Africa. The buffalo (Bos bubalis) is not uncommon in Palestine; the Arabs call it jamus. Robinson (Bib. Res. 3:306) notices buffaloes around the lake el-Huleh as being mingled with the neat cattle, and applied in general to the same uses. They are a shy, ill- looking, ill-tempered animal." These animals love to wallow and lie for hours in water or mud, with barely the nostrils above the surface. In Syria and Egypt the present races of domestic cattle are somewhat less than thee large breeds of Europe, and those of Palestine appear to be of at least two forms, both with short horns and both used to the plow, one being tall and lank, the other more compact; and we possess figures of the present Egyptian cattle with long horns bent down and forwards. From Egyptian pictures it is to be inferred that large droves of fine cattle were imported from Abyssinia, and that in the valley of the Nile they were in general stall- fed, used exclusively for the plow, and treated with humanity. There are now fine cattle in Egypt; but the Palestine cattle appear to have deteriorated, in size at least, since Biblical times. "Herds of cattle," says Schubert (Oriental Christian Spectator, April, 1853), "are seldom to be seen; the bullock of the neighborhood of Jerusalem is small and insignificant; beef and veal are but rare dainties. Yet the bullock thrives better, and is more frequently seen, in the upper valley of the Jordan, also on Mount Tabor and near Nazareth but particularly east of the Jordan on the road from Jacob's-bridge to Damascus." See also Thomson (Land and Book, 1, 518), who observes that danger from being gored has not ceased "among the half-wild droves that range over the luxuriant pastures in certain parts of the country." In Palestine the Mosaic law provided with care for the kind treatment of cattle; for in treading out corn — the Oriental mode of separating the grain from the straw — it was enjoined that the ox should not be muzzled (De 25:4), and old cattle that had long served in tillage were often suffered to wander at large till their death — a practice still in vogue, though from a different motive, in India. But the Hebrews and other nations of Syria grazed their domestic stock, particularly those tribes which, residing to the east of the Jordan, had fertile districts for that purpose. Here, of course, the droves became shy and wild; and though we are inclined to apply the passage in Ps 22:12 to wild species, yet old bulls, roaming at large in a land where the lion still abounded, no doubt became fierce and as they would obtain cows from the pastures, there must have been wild breeds in the woods, as fierce and resolute as real wild Uri which ancient name may be a mere modification of Reem. SEE UNICORN.
There was no animal in the rural economy of the Israelites, or indeed in that of the ancient Orientals generally, that was held in higher esteem than the ox; and deservedly so, for the ox was the animal upon whose patient labors depended all the ordinary operations of farming. Ploughing with horses was a thing never thought of in those days. Asses, indeed, were used for this purpose, SEE ASS; but it was the ox upon whom devolved for the most part this important service. The pre-eminent value of the ox to "a nation of husbandmen like the Israelites," to use an expression of Michaelis in his article on this subject, will be at once evident from the scriptural account of the various uses to which it is applied. Animals of the ox family were used for ploughing (De 22:10; 1Sa 14:14; 1Ki 19:19; Job 1:14; Am 6:12, etc.); for treading out corn (De 25:4; Ho 10:11; Mic 4:13; 1Co 9:9; 1Ti 5:18), SEE AGRICULTURE; for draught purposes, when they were generally yoked in pairs (Nu 7:3; 1Sa 6:7; 2Sa 6:6); as beasts of burden (1Ch 12:40); their flesh was eaten (De 14:4; 1Ki 1:9; 1Ki 4:23; 1Ki 19:21; Isa 22:13; Pr 15:17; Ne 5:18); they were used in the sacrifices, SEE SACRIFICE; they supplied milk, butter, etc. (De 32:14; Isa 7:22; 2Sa 17:29). SEE BUTTER; SEE MILK.
The law which prohibited the slaughter of any clean animal, excepting as "an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle," during the time that the Israelites abode in the wilderness (Le 17:1-6), although expressly designed to keep the people from idolatry, no doubt contributed to the preservation of their oxen and sheep, which they were not allowed to kill excepting in public. There can be little doubt that during the forty years' wanderings oxen and sheep were rarely used as food, whence it was flesh that they so often lusted after. (See Michaelis, Laws of Moses, art. 169.) SEE FLESH.