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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Bull

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as distinguished from "Ox," occurs but once in the Bible (Job 21:10), as the translation of שׁוֹר (shor, from his strength), which elsewhere denotes any animal of the ox species, and is variously translated accordingly. (See BULLOCK), etc. Other terms occasionally thus rendered are אִבַּיר (abbir', mighty), Psalms 50:13; Psalms 68:30; Isaiah 34:7; Jeremiah 50:11; בָּקָר (bakar', a beeve), Jeremiah 52:20; פִּר or פָּר (par, a bullock), Genesis 32:15; Psalms 22:12; and in the New Test. ταῦρος, Hebrews 9:13; Hebrews 10:4; "ox" in Matthew 22:4; Acts 14:13. (See BEEVE); (See BEAST). The תּוֹא (to), or "wild bull" of Isaiah 51:20, is but another form of תְּאוֹ (tea', "wild ox," Deuteronomy 14:5), a large species of oryx or ox-deer. (See ANTELOPE).

The rearing of horned cattle was encouraged by the people of Israel. These animals were protected in some cases by express provisions of the law; they were held clean, being the usual sacrifice of consideration, and the chief article of flesh diet of the population. (See FOOD). It is contended that the castration of no animal was practiced among the Hebrews (Josephus, Ant. 4, 8, 40). If that was the case, other methods than those generally alluded to must have been adopted to break oxen to labor; for the mere application of a metal ring through the cartilage of the nostrils, although it might have greatly restrained the ferocity of the beasts, would not assuredly have rendered them sufficiently docile to the yoke and goad of a people whose chief dependence for food was in the produce of the plough. (See OX).

Judging from Egyptian remains, there were two great breeds of straight- backed cattle, the long-horned and the short-horned; and in Upper Egypt at least, there was one without horns. Another hunched species existed, which served to draw chariots, yoked in the same manner as the Brahminee bulls of India are at present. It is still abundant in Nubia, and, under the name of Bos sacer, or Indicus, notwithstanding it breeds with the common species, is yet considered distinct. Its calf is born with teeth; and, although in Central Africa, India, and China it is mixed with the other species, and when low in flesh is almost deprived of its hunch, the natural characteristics nevertheless continue; and from the evidence of ancient Egyptian pictures and written documents it must have been propagated for above 3000 years. In Egypt the straight-backed or common cattle appear, from the same evidence, to have formed a very handsome breed with lunate horns. They were generally spotted black or red upon a white ground, and there were, besides, others white, red, or black. They all served for common use, but those without red were selected when new sacred bulls, Apis or Mnevis, were to be supplied; for they alone had the colors which could show the marks made by chance or by art, and required to fit the animal for the purpose intended. See APIS. In Palestine the breed of cattle was most likely in ancient times, as it still is, inferior in size to the Egyptian; and provender must have been abundant indeed if the number of beasts sacrificed at the great Jewish festivals, mentioned in Josephus, be correct, and could be sustained for a succession of years. (See SACRIFICE).

Unless the name be taken synonymously with that of other species, there is not in the Bible any clear indication of the buffalo. (See UNICORN). The Asiatic species was not known in Greece till the time of Aristotle, who first speaks of it by the name of the Arachosian ox. No species of Bos Bubalus is known even at this day in Arabia, although travelers speak of meeting them in Palestine in a domesticated state (See BUFFALO); but in Egypt the Asiatic species has been introduced in consequence of the Mohammedan conquests in the East. The indigenous buffaloes of Africa, amounting, at least, to two very distinct species, appear to have belonged to the south and west of that continent, and only at a later period to have approached Egypt as far as the present Bornou; for none are figured on any known monument in either Upper or Lower Egypt. With regard, however, to wild oxen of the true Taurine genus, some may, at a very remote period, have been found in Bashan, evidently the origin of the name, a region where mountain, wood, and water, all connecting the Syrian Libanus with Taurus, were favorable to their existence; but the wild bulls of the district, mentioned in Psalms 22:12, and in various other passages, appear, nevertheless, to refer to domestic species, probably left to propagate without much human superintendence, except annually marking the increase and selecting a portion for consumption, in the same manner as is still practiced in some parts of Europe. For although the words "fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side" are an indication of wild manners, the word "fat" somewhat weakens the impression; and we know that the half- wild white breed of Scotland likewise retains the character of encompassing objects that excite their distrust. It was therefore natural that in Palestine wild gregarious instincts should have still remained in operation, where real dangers beset herds, which in the time of David were still exposed to lions in the hills around them. (See CALF). Baal (q.v.) is said to have been worshipped in the form of a beeve, and Moloch to have had a calf's or steer's head.

Bull, in a figurative sense, is taken for powerful, fierce, insolent enemies. " Fat bulls (bulls of Bashan) surrounded me on every side," says the Psalmist (Psalms 22:12; Psalms 68:30). "Rebuke the beast of the reeds (Auth. Vers. "spearmen"), the multitude of the bulls;" Lord, smite in thy wrath these animals which feed in large pastures, these herds of bulls (Psalm 63:30). Isaiah says (Isaiah 34:7), "The Lord shall cause his victims to be slain in the land of Edom; a terrible slaughter will he make; he will kill the unicorns and the lulls," meaning those proud and cruel princes who oppressed the weak. (See CATTLE).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Bull'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/b/bull.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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