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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


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tāl ( אליה , 'alyāh ; זנב , zānābh ; οὐρά , ourá ): The broad tail of the Syrian sheep, wrongly rendered "rump" (which see) in the King James Version, is mentioned as one of the portions of sacrifice which was burned on the altar as a sweet savor to God ( Exodus 29:22 ). The 2nd Hebrew word is used of the tails of serpents (Exodus 4:4 ), of foxes, which Samson tied together in his cruel sport, in order to destroy the grainfields of the Philistines by means of attached firebrands (Judges 15:4 , etc.). The following seems to be an allusion to this incident: "Fear not, neither let thy heart be faint, because of these two tails of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and of the son of Remaliah" (Isaiah 7:4 ).

Figurative : "Tail" = inferiority, as opposed to "head" = superiority, leadership. "Yahweh will make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if thou shalt hearken unto the commandments of Yahweh" ( Deuteronomy 28:13; compare also Deuteronomy 28:44 ).

In the New Testament we find oura used of the apocalyptic animals, scorpions, horses, and the dragon ( Revelation 9:10 , Revelation 9:19; Revelation 12:4 ).

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Tail'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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