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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


Having already noticed the domestic beeves under Calf (to which we refer), the few words added here will apply to the breeds of Western Asia and the manner of treating them. The earliest pastoral tribes appear to have had domesticated cattle in the herd; and judging from the manners of South Africa, where we find nations still retaining in many respects primeval usages, it is likely that the patriarchal families, or at least their moveables, were transported on the backs of oxen in the manner which the Caffres still practice, as also the Gwallahs and grain-merchants in India, who come down from the interior with whole droves bearing burdens.

The breeds of Egypt were various, differing in the length and flexures of the horns. There were some with long horns, others with short, and even none, while a hunched race of Nubia reveals an Indian origin, and indicates that at least one of the nations on the Upper Nile had come from the valleys of the Ganges; for it is to the east of the Indus alone that that species is to be found whose original stock appears to be the mountain yak.

The domestic buffalo was unknown to Western Asia and Egypt till after the Arabian conquest: it is now common in the last-mentioned region and far to the south, but not beyond the equator; and from structural differences it may be surmised that there was in early ages a domesticated distinct species of this animal in Africa. In Syria and Egypt the present races of domestic cattle are somewhat less than the large breeds of Europe, and those of Palestine appear to be of at least two forms, both with short horns and both used to the plow, one being tall and lanky, the other more compact; and we possess figures of the present Egyptian cattle with long horns bent down and forwards. From Egyptian pictures it is to be inferred that large droves of fine cattle were imported from Abyssinia, and that in the valley of the Nile they were in general stall-fed, used exclusively for the plow, and treated with humanity. In Palestine the Mosaic law provided with care for the kind treatment of cattle; for in treading out corn—the Oriental mode of separating the grain from the straw—it was enjoined that the ox should not be muzzled (), and old cattle that had long served in tillage were often suffered to wander at large till their death—a practice still in vogue, though from a different motive, in India. But the Hebrews and other nations of Syria grazed their domestic stock, particularly those tribes which, residing to the east of the Jordan, had fertile districts for that purpose. Here, of course, the droves became shy and wild; and though we are inclined to apply the passage in , to wild species, yet old bulls, roaming at large in a land where the lion still abounded, no doubt became fierce; and as they would obtain cows from the pastures, there must have been feral breeds in the woods, as fierce and resolute as real wild Uri.





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

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