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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Fig. 150—Dog

Dog occurs in many places of Scripture (;;;;;;;; , etc.). An animal so well known, whose numerous varieties come under daily observation, requires no detailed description. There is, however, in Asia still extant one, perhaps more than one species, that never have been the companions of man, and there are races of uncertain origin, that may have been formerly domesticated, but which are now feral, and as fierce as wolves; while, from the particular opinions of Oriental nations, there are others, exceedingly numerous, neither wild nor domesticated, but existing in all the cities and towns of the Levant, without owners; feeding on carrion and offal, and still having the true instinct of protecting property, guarding the inhabitants of the district or quarter where they are tolerated; and so far cherished, that water and some food are not unusually placed within their reach.

The true wild species of Upper and Eastern Asia is a low, sharp-nosed, reddish cur-dog, not unlike a fox, but with less tail. In Persia and Turkey there exists a larger dog resembling a wolf, exceedingly savage. Both are gregarious, hunt in packs, but are occasionally seen alone. They are readily distinguished from a wolf by their shorter unfurnished tails. In the time of the sojourning of Israel in Egypt, there were already in existence domestic dogs of the principal races now extant—the cur-dog or fox-dog, the hound, the greyhound, and even a kind of low-legged turnspit. All the above, both wild and reclaimed, there is every reason to believe, were known to the Hebrews, and, notwithstanding the presumed Mosaic prohibition, anterior habits, and, in some measure, the necessity of their condition, must have caused cattle-dogs to be retained as property (); for we find one of that race, or a house-dog, actually attending on travelers (; ). It is to be presumed that practically the street-dogs alone were considered as absolutely unclean; though all, as is the case among Muhammadans, were excluded from familiarity.

Beside the cattle-dog, the Egyptian hound and one or two varieties of greyhound were most likely used for hunting—a pastime, however, which the Hebrews mostly pursued on foot.

The street-dog, without master, apparently derived from the rufous cur, and in Egypt partaking of the mongrel greyhound, often more or less bare, with a mangy unctuous skin, frequently with several teeth wanting, was, as it now is, considered a defiling animal. It is to animals of this class, which no doubt followed the camp of Israel, and hung on its skirts, that allusion is more particularly made in; for the same custom exists at this day, and the race of street-dogs still retains their ancient habits. But with regard to the dogs that devoured Jezebel, and licked up Ahab's blood (), they may have been of the wild races, a species of which is reported to have particularly infested the banks of the Kishon and the district of Jezreel.

The cities of the East are still greatly disturbed in the night by the howlings of street-dogs, who, it seems, were similarly noisy in ancient times, the fact being noticed in;; and dumb or silent dogs are not infrequently seen, such as Isaiah alludes to ().





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Dog'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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