is properly the rendering in the A.V. of צבַיָּה, tsebiyah (Song 4:5; Song 7:3), which is the fem. of צבַי, tsebi, the ROE-buck (so called from its beauty, De 12:15,22; De 14:5; De 15:22; 1Ki 4:23; elsewhere improperly "roe," 2Sa 2:18; 1Ch 12:8; Pr 6:5; Song 2:7,9,17; Song 3:5; Song 8:14; Isa 13:14; "beauty," 2Sa 1:19). These are the masculine and feminine appellations of an antelope, which was considered the very impersonation of beauty; and so, in the later Hebrew Scriptures, i.e. from Isaiah downward; it is always used in an abstract sense, and is rendered by such terms as "glory," "beauty," "ornament," "delight," etc. The word was not only found in the various Aramaean dialects of Western Asia, but has spread to nations where we should have little expected to find it, as those of the extreme south of Africa. Thus the elegant springbok of the Cape Colony (Antilope euchore), an animal nearly allied to the gazelles of Asia, is named tsebi by the Bechuanas, and tesbe by the Caffres. The Sept. generally renders the word by δορκάς; and this is given in the New Test. as the Greek equivalent of the Syriac tabitha (Ac 9:36), which is but the feminine form with the ts softened to t by the dropping of the sibilant.
The animal in question is the dorcas gazelle of the modern Orientals (Antilope dorcas), the most abundant of all the ruminants inhabiting Palestine and its vicinity in a state of freedom. It appears to be replaced in the surrounding regions by what some naturalists consider as distinct, though closely allied, species, and others are disposed to view as only local varieties of the same. Thus in Asia Minor, extending southward into Syria and eastward into Central Asia, there is the ahu (Antilope subgutturosa), with rather stouter horns than the gazelle; in Western India the kalsepi (A. Bennettii, Sykes; A. cora, H. Smith), closely like the gazelle, but higher on the limbs, with the tail entirely black, and scarcely gregarious; all along the eastern shore of the Red Sea lives the ariel gazelle (A. Arabica), scarcely to be distinguished from A. dorcas except by being somewhat darker in color, and usually a little slighter in form. On the continent of Africa we have, in the north of Abyssinia, the A. Soemmeringii of Rüppel, an animal considerably larger than the gazelle, with boldly lyrate horns, and associating in pairs; on the western side of the desert, the kevel (A. kevella), nearer the gazelle, but with the horns compressed, more annulated, and lyrate; and, finally, in the southern half of the continent, the springbok (A. euchore) and the blessbok (A. pygarga), large species with lyrate horns, and the sides and flanks marked with conspicuous dark bands, which enclose a white patch on the buttocks. These merge into another group, chiefly inhabiting North Africa, containing the mhorr and the addra. SEE PYGARG. Of all these species the tsebi properly includes only the A. dorcas and A. Arabica; and in all probability these were not distinguished, but supposed. Stanley (Syr. and Palest. p. 207) says that the signification of the word Ajalon, the valley "of stags," is still justified by "the gazelles which the peasants hunt on its mountain slopes." Thomson (Land and Book, 1, 252) says that the mountains of Naphtali "abound in gazelles to this day." SEE ANTELOPE.
So elegant is the form, so light and slender the limbs, so graceful the movements, so shy and timid the disposition, of the gazelle that the Oriental genius has ever delighted to make it the representative of female loveliness. The eye in particular is large, soft, liquid, languishing, and of the deepest black--qualities which are so admired in the eyes of an Oriental woman that to say "she has the eyes of a gazelle" is the most flattering compliment that can be paid to beauty. The poetry of the Arabs and Persians is full of such allusions, while the lightness and fleetness of the creature afford similes by which to illustrate the activity and grace of the youthful man. David, in his exquisite elegy on the death of Saul and Jonathan, calls his friend "the gazelle of Israel" (2Sa 1:19); and in the Song of Songs the comparison is frequently interchanged between the bridegroom and the bride. What can be more exquisite than the compound simile in ch. 4:5? Ashael, the brother of Joab, was "as light of foot as one of the gazelles in the field" (2Sa 2:18); and the Gadites who gathered to David in the wilderness were "men of might, . . . whose faces were like the faces of lions, and who were as swift as gazelles upon the mountains" (1Ch 12:8). The gentle Tabitha of Joppa, the loving and beloved (Ac 9:36), was doubtless so named because of her beauty, real or fancied. The gazelle was permitted to be eaten by the law of Moses, as it is a typical ruminant. It seems to have even been a standard of lawful and proper food — "Thou mayest eat flesh,... even as the gazelle ... is eaten" (De 12:15,22). Whereas hitherto they had eaten the flesh of their flocks and herds only on occasions of these being offered in sacrifice, now that they were about to become a settled and an agricultural people, they might kill and eat their domestic animals without any such restriction, as freely as they had been accustomed to eat the gazelles which they took in hunting. It is probable that this animal formed a considerable portion of the animal food of the Hebrews, not only in their desert wanderings, but before and after their captivity in Egypt. The venison which Isaac loved, and which Esau took with his quiver and his bow, and which could not be distinguished from kid when this latter was suitably dressed (Genesis 27), was doubtless the flesh of the gazelle. To this day the valley of Gerar and the plains of Beersheba are the haunts of vast flocks of these agile creatures, and still the pastoral Arabs hunt them there and make savory meat. SEE GAZELLE.
The paintings of ancient Egypt present us with numerous examples of gazelle hunting. Sometimes a battue is depicted, in which all the game of the country is driven before, the hounds. In such scenes the great predominance given to the gazelle shows how large a proportion this animal bore to other quarry. Sometimes the capture of the wild animal alive was the object desired; in this case it was either trapped or snared in some way, or shot with blunt-headed arrows, and the hunter is seen leading home the gentle gazelle by the horns. Occasionally, too, this was accomplished by throwing the lasso, as wild horses are now taken on the South American pampas. Large herds of gazelles were kept by the Egyptian land holders in their parks and preserves, like deer with us. Frequently, however, the hounds, which were held two or three in leash, were loosed after the fleet-footed antelope, and pulled it down by sheer running, the hunter running on foot, which implies that the course could not have been long. At present, however, though large herds of gazelles are common enough, and the sport of chasing them is as keenly relished as ever, no breed of dogs cultivated in the East has a chance of bringing one down in a fair open run. They are hunted by the Arabs with a falcon and a greyhound. The repeated attacks of the bird upon the head of the animal so bewilder it that it falls an easy prey to the greyhound, which is trained to watch the flight of the falcon. Many of these antelopes are also taken in pitfalls, into which they are driven by the shouts of the hunters. (See Addison, Damascus and Palmyra, 2, 340; Kitto, Phys. Hist. of Palest. p. 392; and Burckhardt, Notes, p. 220.) The group of antelopes to which this article is devoted, generically named Gazella by some naturalists, is thus characterized: the horns, which are permanent, and present in both sexes, are lyrate, with solid bony cores. The lachrymal sinuses are distinct and movable, the interdigital pits and inguinal pores are large. The knees are generally furnished with tufts of hair. A dark streak runs through the eye. The inside of the ear is marked with lines, occasioned by the alternation of bands of white hair; the color of the sides and flanks, some hue of warm brown, is separated from the white of the belly by a dark line. The nose is sheep like. See Tristram. Nat Hist. of the Bible, p. 127 sq.; Bible Educator, 2, 135 SEE DEER.
In Pr 5:19, the word Roe represents the Heb. yaalah', יִעֲלָה, properly the female ibex or young she-goat; here used as an epithet for a lovely woman (Bochart, Hieroz. 1, 899; Gesen. Thesaur. s.v. יָעִל). SEE GOAT.
YOUNG ROE in the Song of Solomon (4:5) stands for the Heb. o'pher, עֹפֶר (from the root aphar', עָפִר, to be whitish), the Arabic algophro, which denotes the calf or fawn of a stag (ail). It occurs in no other book of Scripture, is unknown in the Syriac and Chaldee, and appears to be only a poetical application of a term more strictly belonging to fawn-like animals; for in the above passage it is applied to couples feeding in a bed of lilies — indications not descriptive of young goats or stags, but quite applicable to the Antilopine groups which are characterized in Griffith's Cuvier, in subgenus X Cephalophus, and in XI Neotragus, both furnishing species of exceeding delicacy and graceful diminutive structures, several of which habitually feed in pairs among shrubs and geraniums on the hilly plains of Africa. And as they have always been, and still are, in request among the wealthy in warm climates for domestication, we may conjecture that a species designated by the name of Opher (עפר, perhaps alluding to איפיר, Ophir, or even Africa) was to be found in the parks or royal gardens of a sovereign so interested in natural history as Solomon was, and from the sovereign's own observation became alluded to in the truly apposite imagery of his poetical diction (Song 4:12). Among the species in question, in which both male and female are exceedingly similar, and which might have reached him by sea or by caravan, we may reckon Cephalophus Grimmia, C. perpusilla, C. philantomba, all marked by a small black tuft of hair between their very short horns; as also the Neotragus pygmea, or guevei, the smallest of cloven-footed animals; and the madolka, with speckled legs; all these species being natives of Central Africa, and from time immemorial brought by caravans from the interior for sale or presents. SEE HIND.