The rendering in Isa 13:21; Isa 34:14, of the Hebrews word 'שָׂעַיר, sair', which properly means hairy; hence a goat, especially a he-goat (comp. Lat. hircus, from hirsutus, hirtus), and is so rendered in Le 4:24; 2Ch 29:23, and often. The Sept. has, in the passages in Isaiah, δαιμόνιον, demon; and so the Eng. A.V., in 2Ch 11:15, 'devil.' These beings are mentioned in Isaiah as the inhabitants of desert places, but particularly the ruins of Babylon and Petra, where they dance and call to each other. The Greeks probably derived their belief in the existence of beings half men and half goats from the Eastern nations, whose mythology abounds with such fabulous animals, but there is no reason to believe that they formed any part of the Jewish superstitions. Yet it has been supposed by some that Isaiah alludes to the spectral beings which the ancient Persians, the Jews, and the Mohammedans believe to haunt the ruins of Babylon. SEE SUPERSTITION. But in those passages where the prophet predicts the desolation of Babylon, there is probably no allusion to any species of goat, whether wild or tame. According to the old versions, and nearly all the commentators, our own translation is correct, and satyrs — that is, daemons of woods and desert places, half men and half goats — are intended. Comp. Jerome (Comment. ad Isaiah xiii): 'Seirim vel incubones vel satyros vel sylvestres quosdam homines quos nonnulli fatuos ficarios vocant, aut daemonum genera intelligunt.' This explanation receives confirmation from a passage in Le 17:7, 'They shall no more offer their sacrifices unto seirim,' and from a similar one in 2Ch 11:15. The Israelites, it is probable, had become acquainted with a form of goat worship from the Egyptians (see Bochart, Hieroz. 3, 825; Jablonski, Pant. Egypt. 1, 273 sq.). The opinion held by Michaelis (Supp. p. 23-42) and Lichtenstein (Commentat. de Simiarum, etc. § 4, p. 50 sq.), that the seirim probably denote some species of ape, has been sanctioned by some modern scientists from a few passages in Pliny (Hist. Nat. 5, 8; 7, 2; 8, 54). SEE APE. That some species of cynocephalus (dog-faced baboon) was an animal that entered into the theology of the ancient Egyptians is evident from the monuments and from what Horapollo (1, 14-16) has told us. The other explanation, however, has the sanction of Gesenius, Bochart, Rosenmüller, Parkhurst, Maurer, Fürst, and others. As to the 'dancing' satyrs, comp. Virgil, Ecl. 5, 73. SEE GOAT.

Bible concordance for SATYR.

Definition of satyr

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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