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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Chamois (). Some suppose that the animal meant is the Camelopard, others the Elk. But it is plain that the Mosaic enumeration of clean animals would not include such as were totally out of the reach of the Hebrew people, and at best only known to them from specimens seen in Egypt, consisting of presents sent from Nubia, or in pictures on the walls of temples. The Camelopard or Giraffe is exclusively an inhabitant of Southern Africa, and therefore could not come in the way of the people of Israel. The same objection applies to the Elk, because that species of deer never appears further to the south than Northern Germany and Poland; and with regard to the Chamois, which has been adopted in our version, though it did exist in the mountains of Greece, and is still found in Central Asia, there is no vestige of its having at any time frequented Libanus or any other part of Syria. We may, therefore, with more propriety refer to the ruminants indigenous in the regions which were in the contemplation of the sacred legislator, and the only species that seems to answer to the conditions required is a wild sheep, still not uncommon in the Mokattam rocks near Cairo, found in Sinai, and eastward in the broken ridges of Stony Arabia, where it is known under the name of Kebsch.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Chamois'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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