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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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שה , occurs frequently, and צאן , a general name for both sheep and goats, considered collectively in a flock, Arabic zain. The sheep is a well known animal. The benefits which mankind owe to it are numerous. Its fleece, its skin, its flesh, its tallow, and even its horns and bowels are articles of great utility to human life and happiness. Its mildness and inoffensiveness of temper strongly recommend it to human affection and regard; and have designated it the pattern and emblem of meekness, innocence, patience, and submission. It is a social animal. The flock follow the ram as their leader; who frequently displays the most impetuous courage in their defence: dogs, and even men, when attempting to molest them, have often suffered from his sagacious and generous valour. There are two varieties of sheep found in Syria. The first, called the "Bidoween sheep," differs little from the large breed among us, except that the tail is somewhat longer and thicker. The second is much more common, and is more valued on account of the extraordinary bulk of its tail, which has been remarked by all the eastern travellers. The carcass of one of these sheep, without including the head, feet, entrails, and skin, weighs from fifty to sixty pounds, of which the tail makes up fifteen pounds. Some of a larger size, fattened with care, will sometimes weigh one hundred and fifty pounds, the tail alone composing one third of the whole weight. It is of a substance between fat and marrow, and is not eaten separately, but mixed with the lean meat in many of their dishes, and often also used instead of butter. A reference to this part is made in Exodus 29:22 ; Leviticus 3:9 ; where the fat and the tail were to be burnt on the altar of sacrifice. Mr. Street considers this precept to have had respect to the health of the Israelites; observing that "bilious disorders are very frequent in hot countries; the eating of fat meat is a great encouragement and excitement to them; and though the fat of the tail is now considered as a delicacy, it is really unwholesome." The conclusion of the seventeenth verse, which is, "Ye shall eat neither fat nor blood," justifies this opinion. The prohibition of eating fat, that is of fat unmixed with the flesh, the omentum or caul, is given also, Leviticus 7:23 .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Sheep'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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