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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Goat

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עז . There are other names or appellations given to the goat, as,

1. חשופּ? , 1 Kings 20:27 , which means the ram-goat, or leader of the flock.

2. עתודים , a word which never occurs but in the plural, and means, the best prepared, or choicest of the flock; and metaphorically princes, as, Zechariah 10:3 , "I will visit the goats, saith the Lord," that is, I will begin my vengeance with the princes of the people. "Hell from beneath is moved for thee, to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the great goats of the earth," Isaiah 14:9 ; all the kings, all the great men. And Jeremiah, speaking of the princes of the Jews, says, "Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and be as the he-goats before the flocks," Jeremiah 1, 8.

3. צפיר , a name for the goat, of Chaldee origin, and found only in Ezra 6:17 ; Ezra 8:35 ; Daniel 8:5 ; Daniel 8:21 .

4. עזאזל , from עז , a goat, and אזל , to wander about, Leviticus 16:8 , "the scape-goat."

5. שער , hairy, or shaggy, whence שעירים , "the shaggy ones." In Leviticus 17:7 , it is said, "And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils," ( seirim, "hairy ones,") "after whom they have gone a whoring." The word here means idolatrous images of goats, worshipped by the Egyptians. It is the same word that is translated satyrs, in Isaiah 13:21 ; where the LXX render it δαιμονια , demons. But here they have ματαιοις , to vain things or idols, which comes to the same sense. What gives light to so obscure a passage is what we read in Maimonides, that the Zabian idolaters worshipped demons under the figure of goats, imagining them to appear in that form, whence they called them by the names of seirim; and that this custom, being spread among other nations, gave occasion to this precept. In like manner we learn from Herodotus, that the Egyptians of Mendes held goats to be sacred animals, and represented the god Pan with the legs and head of that animal. From those ancient idolaters the same notion seems to have been derived by the Greeks and Romans, who represented their Pan, their fauns, satyrs, and other idols, in the form of goats: from all which it is highly probable, that the Israelites had learned in Egypt to worship certain demons, or sylvan deities, under the symbolical figure of goats. Though the phrase, "after whom they have gone a whoring," is equivalent in Scripture to that of committing idolatry, yet we are not to suppose that it is not to be taken in a literal sense in many places, even where it is used in connection with idolatrous acts of worship. It is well known that Baal-peor and Ashtaroth were worshipped with unclean rites, and that public prostitution formed a grand part of the worship of many deities among the Egyptians, Moabites, Canaanites, &c.

The goat was one of the clean beasts which the Israelites might both eat and offer in sacrifice. The kid, גדי , is often mentioned as a food, in a way that implies that it was considered as a delicacy. The אקו , or wild goat, mentioned Deuteronomy 14:5 , and no where else in the Hebrew Bible, is supposed to be the tragelaphus, or "goat-deer." Schultens conjectures that this animal might have its name, ob fugacitatem, from its shyness, or running away. The word יעל , occurs 1 Samuel 24:3 ; Job 39:1 ; Psalms 104:18 ; Proverbs 5:19 : and various have been the sentiments of interpreters on the animal intended by it. Bochart insists that it is the ibex, or "rock-goat." The root whence the name is derived, signifies to ascend, to mount; and the ibex is famous for clambering, climbing, and leaping, on the most craggy precipices. The Arab writers attribute to the jaal very long horns, bending backward; consequently it cannot be the chamois. The horns of the jaal are reckoned among the valuable articles of traffic, Ezekiel 27:15 . The ibex is finely shaped, graceful in its motions, and gentle in its manners. The female is particularly celebrated by natural historians for tender affection to her young, and the incessant vigilance with which she watches over their safety; and also for ardent attachment and fidelity to her mate.


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Goat'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/g/goat.html. 1831-2.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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