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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
אילה , Genesis 49:21; 2 Samuel 22:34; Job 39:1; Psalms 18:33; Psalms 29:9; Proverbs 5:19; Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5; Jeremiah 14:5; Habakkuk 3:19; the male or female of the stag. It is a lovely creature, and of an elegant shape. It is noted for its swiftness and the sureness of its step as it jumps among the rocks. David and Habakkuk both allude to this character of the hind. "The Lord maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and causeth me to stand on the high places," Psalms 18:33; Habakkuk 3:19 . The circumstance of their standing on the high places or mountains is applied to these animals by Xenophon. Our translators make Jacob, prophesying of the tribe of Naphtali, say, "Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words." Genesis 49:21 . There is a difficulty and incoherence here which the learned Bochart removes by altering a little the punctuation of the original; and it then reads, "Naphtali is a spreading tree, shooting forth beautiful branches." This, indeed, renders the simile uniform; but another critic has remarked that "the allusion to a tree seems to be purposely reserved by the venerable patriarch for his son Joseph, who is compared to the boughs of a tree; and the repetition of the idea in reference to Naphtali is every way unlikely. Beside," he adds, "the word rendered ‘let loose,' imports an active motion, not like that of the branches of a tree, which, however freely they wave, are yet attached to the parent stock; but an emission, a dismission, or sending forth to a distance: in the present case, a roaming, roaming at liberty. The verb ‘he giveth' may denote shooting forth. It is used of production, as of the earth, which shoots forth, yields, its increase, Leviticus 26:4 . The word rendered ‘goodly' signifies noble, grand, majestic; and the noun translated ‘words' radically signifies divergences, what is spread forth." For these reasons he proposes to read the passage, "Naphtali is a deer roaming at liberty; he shooteth forth spreading branches," or "majestic antlers." Here the distinction of imagery is preserved, and the fecundity of the tribe and the fertility of their lot intimated. In our version of Psalms 29:9 , we read, "The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests." Mr. Merrick, in an ingenious note on the place, attempts to justify the rendering; but Bishop Lowth, in his "Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews," observes that this agrees very little with the rest of the imagery, either in nature or dignity; and that he does not feel himself persuaded, even by the reasonings of the learned Bochart on this subject: whereas the oak, struck with lightning, admirably agrees with the context. The Syriac seems, for אילות , hinds, to have read אלות , oaks, or rather, perhaps, terebinths. The passage may be thus versified:—
"Hark! his voice in thunder breaks, And the lofty mountain quakes; Mighty trees the tempests tear,
And lay the spreading forests bare!"
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Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Hind'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/h/hind.html. 1831-2.