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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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The original terms Ajal and Ajalah are rendered in our common version by the names hart and hind (;;;;;;;;;; ).

Sir J.G. Wilkinson believes Ajal to be the Ethiopian oryx, with nearly straight horns. But an Ethiopian species could not well be meant where the clean animals fit for the food of Hebrews are pointed out, nor where allusion is made to suffering from thirst, and to high and rocky places as the refuge of females, or of both, since all the species of oryx inhabit the open plains, and are not remarkable for the desire of drinking; nor can either of these propensities be properly ascribed to the true antelopes, or gazelles, of Arabia and Syria, all being residents of the plain and the desert; like the oryges, often seen at immense distances from water, and unwilling to venture into forests, where their velocity of flight and delicacy of structure impede and destroy them. Animals of the stag kind prefer the security of forests, are always most robust in rocky mountain covers, and seek water with considerable anxiety; for of all the light-footed ruminants, they alone protrude the tongue when hard pressed in the chase. Now, comparing these qualities with several texts, we find them perfectly appropriate to the species of these genera alone.

The first species here referred to is now known by the name of Cervus Barbarus, or Barbary stag, in size between our red and fallow deer, distinguished by the want of a bisantler, or second branch on the horns, reckoning from below, and a spotted livery, which is effaced only in the third or fourth year. This species is figured on Egyptian monuments, is still occasionally seen about the Natron lakes west of the Nile, and, it seems, was observed by a reverend friend in the desert east of the Dead Sea on his route from Cairo towards Damascus. We take this to be the Igial or Ajal of the Arabs, the same which they accuse of eating fish—that is, the seps, lizards, and snakes, a propensity common to other species, and similarly ascribed to the Virginian and Mexican deer.

The other is the Persian stag, or Maral of the Tahtar nations, and Gewazen of Armenia, larger than the stag of Europe, clothed with a heavy mane, and likewise destitute of bisantlers. We believe this species to be the Soegur of Asiatic Turkey, and many of the Arabs, therefore, residing on the borders of the mountain forests of Syria and Palestine. One or both of these species were dedicated to the local bona dea on Mount Libanus—a kind of proof that deer were found in the vicinity.

Of the hind it is unnecessary to say more than that she is the female of stag, or hart, and that in the manners of these animals the males always are the last to hurry into cover.





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

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