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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Fig. 243—Leopard

Leopard (; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ). Though zoologists differ in opinion respecting the identity of the leopard and the panther, and dispute, supposing them to be distinct, how these names should be respectively applied, and by what marks the animals should be distinguished, nevertheless there can be no doubt that the leopard of the Bible is that great spotted feline which anciently infested the Syrian mountains, and even now occurs in the wooded ranges of Libanus. The variety of leopard, or rather panther, of Syria, is considerably below the stature of a lioness, but very heavy in proportion to its bulk. Its general form is so well known as to require no description beyond stating, that the spots are rather more irregular, and the color more mixed with whitish, than in the other pantherine felinae, excepting the Felis Uncia, or Felis Irbis, of High Asia, which is shaggy and almost white. It is a nocturnal, catlike animal in habits, dangerous to all domestic cattle, and sometimes even to man. In the Scriptures it is constantly placed in juxtaposition with the lion or the wolf; which last, if the hyena be intended, forms a natural association. There is in Asia Minor a species or variety of panther, much larger than the Syrian, not infrequent on the borders of the snowy tracts even of Mount Ida, above ancient Troy; and the group of these spotted animals is spread over the whole of Southern Asia to Africa. From several names of places, it appears that, in the earlier ages of Israelitish dominion, it was sufficiently numerous in Palestine. Leopard skins were worn as a part of ceremonial costume by the superiors of the Egyptian priesthood, and by other personages in Nubia; and the animal itself is represented in the processions of tributary nations.





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

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