Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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DOG . All the Bible references to dogs breathe the modern Oriental feeling with regard to them; they refer to the common pariah dogs. These creatures are in all their ways repulsive, and in the majority of cases they have not even outward attractiveness. They live in and around the streets, and act as scavengers. In the environs of Jerusalem, e.g. the Valley of Hinnom, where carcases are cast out, they may be seen prowling around and consuming horrible, putrid bodies, or lying stretched near the remains of their meal, satiated with their loathsome repast. Whole companies of dogs consume the offal of the slaughter-house. There is not the slightest doubt that they would consume human bodies to-day had they the opportunity; indeed, cases do occur from time to time (cf. 1 Kings 14:11; 1Ki 16:4; 1 Kings 21:19; 1 Kings 21:23; 1Ki 22:38 , 2 Kings 9:10; 2 Kings 9:36 , Jeremiah 15:3 , Psalms 68:23 ). All night they parade the streets ( Psalms 59:6; Psalms 59:14-15 ), each company jealously guarding that district which they have annexed, and fighting with noisy onslaught any canine stranger who ventures to invade their territory. Such a quarrel may start all the dogs in the city into a hideous chorus of furious barks. In many parts these creatures are a real danger, and the wise man leaves them alone ( Proverbs 26:17 ). When they attach themselves, quite uninvited, to certain houses or encampments, they defend them from all intruders ( Isaiah 56:10 ). To call a man a ‘dog’ is a dire insult, but by no means an uncommon one from an arrogant superior to one much below him, and to apply such an epithet to himself on the part of an inferior is an expression of humility ( 2 Kings 8:13 etc.). A ‘dead dog’ is an even lower stage; it is an all too common object, an unclean animal in a condition of putridity left unconsumed even by his companions ( 1 Samuel 24:14 etc.). The feeling against casting bread to a dog is a strong one; bread is sacred, and to cast it to dogs is even to-day strongly condemned in Palestine ( Mark 7:27 ).

The shepherd dog (Job 30:1 ) is, as a rule, a very superior animal; many of these are handsome beasts of a Kurdish breed, and have the intelligent ways and habits of our best shepherds’ dogs at home.

Greyhounds are still bred by some Bedouin in S. Palestine, and are used for hunting the gazelle; they are treated very differently from the pariah dogs. Proverbs 30:31 is a very doubtful reference to the greyhound; RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] has ‘war horse,’ LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ‘cock.’

The ‘price of a dog’ (Deuteronomy 23:18 ) evidently has reference to degraded practices of the qedçshîm (‘male prostitutes’) connected with the worship at ‘Baal’ temples.

E. W. G. Masterman.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Dog'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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