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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Beasts

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When this word is used in opposition to man, as Psalms 36:5 , any brute creature is signified; when to creeping things, as Leviticus 11:2; Leviticus 11:7; four-looted animals, from the size of the hare and upward, are intended; and when to wild creatures, as Genesis 1:25 , cattle, or tame animals, are spoken of. In Isaiah 13:21 , several wild animals are mentioned as dwelling among the ruins of Babylon: "Wild beasts of the desert," ציים , those of the dry wilderness, as the root of the word implies, "shall dwell there. Their houses shall be full of doleful creatures," אתים , marsh animals. "Owls shall dwell there," ostriches, "and satyrs," שעירים , shaggy ones, "shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands," איים , oases of the desert, "shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons," תנים , crocodiles, or amphibious animals, "shall be in their desolate places." St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:32 , speaks of fighting with beasts, &c: by which he does not mean his having been exposed in the amphitheatre to fight as a gladiator, as some have conjectured, but that he had to contend at Ephesus with the fierce uproar of Demetrius and his associates. Ignatius uses the same figure in his epistle to the Romans: "From Syria even unto Rome I fight with wild beasts, both by sea and land, both night and day, being bound to ten leopards;" that is, to a band of soldiers. So Lucian, in like manner, says, "For I am not to fight with ordinary wild beasts, but with men, insolent and hard to be convinced." In Revelation 4, 5, 6, mention is made of four beasts, or rather, as the word ζωα signifies, living creatures, as in Ezekiel 1; and so the word might have been less harshly translated. Wild beasts are used in Scripture as emblems of tyrannical and persecuting powers. The most illustrious conquerors of antiquity also have not a more honourable emblem.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Beasts'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/b/beasts.html. 1831-2.

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