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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Beast

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Behêmâh (בְּהֵמָה, Strong's #929), “beast; animal; domesticated animal; cattle; riding beast; wild beast.” A cognate of this word appears in Arabic. Biblical Hebrew uses behêmâh about 185 times and in all periods of history.

In Exod. 9:25, this word clearly embraces even the larger “animals,” all the animals in Egypt: “And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast.…” This meaning is especially clear in Gen. 6:7: “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air.…” In 1 Kings 4:33, this word seems to exclude birds, fish, and reptiles: “He [Solomon] spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.”

The word behêmâh can be used of all the domesticated beasts or animals other than man: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and [wild] beast of the earth after his kind …” (Gen. 1:24, first occurrence). Psalm 8:7 uses behêmâh in synonymous parallelism with “oxen” and “sheep,” as though it includes both: “All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field.” The word can, however, be used of cattle only: “Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs [NASB, “animals”] be ours?” (Gen. 34:23).

In a rare use of the word, it signifies a “riding animal,” such as a horse or mule: “And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon” (Neh. 2:12).

Infrequently, behêmâh represents any wild, four-footed, undomesticated beast: “And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall [frighten] them away” (Deut. 28:26).

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Beast'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/b/beast.html. 1940.

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