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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
bēst : This word occurs often in both Old and New Testaments and denotes generally a mammal (though sometimes a reptile) in distinction to a man, a bird, or a fish. In this distinction the English is fairly in accord with the Hebrew and Greek originals. The commonest Hebrew words behēmāh and ḥai have their counterpart in the Arabic as do three others less often used, be‛ı̄r (Genesis 45:17; Exodus 22:5; Numbers 20:8 the King James Version), nephesh (Leviticus 24:18 ), and ṭebhaḥ (Proverbs 9:2 ). Behēmāh and Arabic bahı̄mah are from a root signifying vagueness or dumbness and so denote primarily a dumb beast. Ḥai and Arabic ḥaiwān are from the root ḥāyāh (Arabic ḥaya ), "to live," and denote primarily living creatures. Be‛ı̄r , "cattle," and its root-verb, bā‛ar , "to graze," are identical with the Arabic ba‛ı̄r and , ba‛ara , but with a curious difference in meaning. Ba‛ı̄r is a common word for camel among the Bedouin and the root-verb, ba‛ara , means "to drop dung," ba‛rah being a common word for the dung of camels, goats, and sheep. Nephesh corresponds in every way with the Arabic nephs , "breath," "soul" or "self" Ṭebhaḥ from ṭābhaḥ , "to slaughter," is equivalent to the Arabic dhibḥ from dhabaḥa , with the same meaning. Both θηρίον , thērion ("wild beast"), and ζῷον , zō̇on ("living thing"), occur often in the Apocalypse. They are found also in a few other places, as mammals (Hebrews 13:11 ) or figuratively (Titus 1:12 ). Thērion is used also of the viper which fastened on Paul's hand, and this has parallels in classic al Greek. Beasts of burden and beasts used for food were and are an important form of property, hence, κτῆνος , ktḗnos ("possession"), the word used for the good Samaritan's beast (Luke 10:34 ) and for the beasts with which Lysias provided Paul for his journey to Caesarea (Acts 23:24 ).
For "swift beast," kirkārōth , "dromedary" (Isaiah 66:20 the King James Version), see CAMEL . For "swift beast," rekhesh , see HORSE (Micah 1:13 the King James Version; 1 Kings 4:28 the King James Version, margin; compare Esther 8:10 , Esther 8:14 ). See also WILD BEAST .
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Beast'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/b/beast.html. 1915.