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Author Topic: Animals of the Bible  (Read 12165 times)
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« on: January 01, 2008, 03:16:01 PM »

THE ANT

If you look at the sixth verse of the sixth chapter of Proverbs, you will read, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise." A sluggard, you know, is a man, or woman, or child, who does not love to read or to do any kind of work, but likes to sleep or be idle all the day long. Do you think you were ever acquainted with one?

       Now see what the Bible tells the sluggard to do. It bids him go to the little ant, and "consider her ways," that is, look on and see what she does. Have you ever watched the ants when they were busy at work? It will give you very pleasant employment for half an hour on a summer's day.

       In some places you may see small ant-hills scattered about, so close together that you can hardly step without treading on them; and you may find other places where there are not so many, but where the hills are much larger.

       I have seen them so large that you could hardly step over one of them without touching it with your foot and breaking some part of it. And then how busy the little creatures are! Just kneel down on the grass beside them, and notice how they work! You will see one little fellow creeping along as fast as he can go, with a grain of sand in his mouth, perhaps as large as his head. He does not stop to rest, but when he has carried his grain to help build the hill, away he goes for another. You may watch them all day and never see them idle at all.

       You see why God tells the sluggard to go and look at the little ants: it is that when he sees them so busy, he may be ashamed of himself for being idle, and learn to be "wise," or diligent in whatever he undertakes. I should not think he could help going to work, after he had looked at them a little while.

       The ants seem to be very happy, and I think it is because they are so busy. God has put nobody in this world to be idle: even children have something to do. The inside of an ant-hill is very curious, but it is not easy to examine it without destroying all the work that the little insects have taken so much pains to finish. There is a kind of ant in warm climates that builds for itself hills as high as a man. They are not made of sand, but of a kind of clay; and have a great many cells or apartments, and many winding passages leading from one part to another.

       All this is done, as the Bible says, without "guide, overseer or ruler;" that is, they have no one to direct them how to do it. God gives them skill just as he does to the honey-bees in building the beautiful cells which you have so often admired; all His works are wonderful.
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2008, 03:16:51 PM »

THE ASS, or DONKEY

Perhaps you may have seen the ass, though it is not very common in this country. It has some resemblance to a horse, but is not as large, and generally seems rather sleepy and dull. In some countries, such as those where the Bible was written, it is a fine large animal, and the people use it for riding.

       Some persons mentioned in the Bible owned a great many asses. Abraham had sheep, and oxen, and asses and camels; and Job had at one time five hundred asses, and afterwards he had a thousand. A great many years ago, long before Christ came into the world, the rich men and the judges used to ride upon asses: so we read in the 10th verse of the 5th chapter of Judges, "Speak, ye that ride upon white asses, ye that sit in judgment." After this time many fine horses were brought into those countries, and the kings and great men liked them for riding: so the ass was used by the poorer people who could not buy a horse.

       You remember that when our blessed Savior was entering Jerusalem a few days before his death, he rode upon an ass; thus showing his meekness and humility, even while the multitude were shouting his praises, and spreading their garments in the way to do him honor. How shall we be like our Savior, if we let pride stay in our hearts?

       The ass is very gentle and patient, and does not seem angry even when he has a very heavy load to carry. I should be very sorry to have him treated unkindly. Though he seems so dull, he loves his master, and will sometimes find him out and run to him even when he is in a crowd of men. God says, in the Bible, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." Is it not a sad thing that the dull ass should be more grateful than we are?

       Would it not seem to you very wonderful to hear a dog or a horse speak, so that you could understand what he said? It would be a strange thing indeed-a miracle; but you will find in the 22d chapter of Numbers that an ass once spoke to his master. The master's name was Balaam. He was a wicked man, and he was riding on an ass to a place where he knew God did not wish him to go. As they were journeying an angel with a drawn sword in his hand stood in the way, but Balaam did not see him. The ass saw him, and was so afraid that she turned aside out of the road, and went into a field; then Balaam was angry and tried to drive her back into the way.

       They had now come to a path of the vineyards, having a wall on each side, and there the ass saw the bright angel again. In trying to avoid the angel, the ass crushed Balaam's foot against the wall; and he was more angry and struck her again. Then the angel went forward a little distance, and stood where the path was so narrow that it was impossible to pass him.

       The ass was now so much frightened that she would go no farther, and fell down in the road; and Balaam beat her in a great passion. Then the ass spoke to Balaam and said, "What have I done to thee that thou hast smitten me these three times?" And when Balaam exclaimed, "I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now would I kill thee," she only replied, "Am I not thine ass upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever wont to do so unto thee?"

       Can we not learn, even from the ass, a lesson of meekness and patience?

       The wild ass is often mentioned in the Bible, as in Psalm 104:11. "They (the springs) give drink to every beast of the field; the wild asses quench their thirst." They live in desert places, and go about in great companies with one for their leader.

       You will find these words about them in the 39th chapter of Job: "Who hath sent out the wild ass free ? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings. He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing." Travellers who have seen great herds of wild asses say that the beautiful animal agrees exactly with this fine description, written so many years ago.
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2008, 03:18:09 PM »

THE BEAR

Did you ever hear children say, "He is as cross as a bear? I hope it will never be said of you, for nobody loves a child who is selfish and unkind, or who speaks cross and angry words. The bear is certainly a very cross animal; the name that was given to it in Bible times means a grumbler or growler.

       It does not even like other bears, excepting its own young ones, but chooses to live by itself in the gloomiest woods- often in a dark cave, or in the hollow part of some great old tree. When winter begins, it lies down to sleep, and does not wake up till warm weather comes again; then it creeps out of its retreat, lean and hungry enough-and cross enough, too.

       It is not a handsome animal; its hair is rough and almost as close as wool, and its limbs are thick and clumsy. It eats nuts, juicy leaves, and such fruits and berries as grow in the woods; it is fond of honey, and will climb the highest trees to reach it; and when it is very hungry, it will kill any animal that comes in its way and is not too strong for it to conquer.

       The bear loves its young ones more than almost any other animal does, as this little story will show you. A bear with two cubs or young ones once came over the ice near to a ship where the sailors had just killed a large animal. The bears were very hungry, and the sailors threw over some pieces of flesh for them; the old bear would tear them up, giving most of the meat to the cubs, and keeping but little for herself. Presently some one in the ship cruelly shot both the young ones-then their mother was full of sorrow.

       She had been hurt herself by the guns, but she crawled along to her cubs, put her paw upon them, and tried to have them get up; and when she found that they did not move, she went a few steps off, and then looked back with a sad, moaning noise, as though she expected them to get up and follow her. When she saw that all her efforts were useless, she walked around them several times, turned towards the vessel with a terrible growl-for she was angry enough to tear in pieces the men who had killed her young-and then lay down between her cubs and died.

       Does not his help you to understand this verse in the 17th chapter of 2d Samuel? "For thou knowest thy father and his men, that they are mighty men, and they are chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps (or cubs) in the field;"-and this also, Hosea 13:8, "I will meet them as a bear bereaved of her whelps." Such verses as these show that the writers of the Bible were acquainted with the habits of different animals: we never find any mistakes in what they say about them.

       Solomon says in his Proverbs, "As a roaring lion and a ranging bear, so is a wicked ruler over the poor people."

       You have often read or heard the sad story in the 2d of Kings, how forty -two children were killed at one time by two bears out of the wood. Do you understand why God allowed this? Elijah, a holy servant of God, had just been taken up to heaven in a bright chariot with horses of fire; and these rude and wicked children called out to Elisha, "Go up, thou bald head!"-that is, "Go up, as Elijah did, to heaven." This mockery would have been very wrong, even if Elisha had not been a holy prophet, for God has said, "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man;" but the children were really dishonoring God in their treatment of his servant, and it was for this reason that He was so displeased with them.

       Do you remember what David said when he was trying to persuade king Saul to let him go and fight with the great giant Goliath? Saul thought he was too young, and by no means strong enough; but David said, "Thy servant was keeping his father's sheep, and there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock, and thy servant slew both the lion and the bear." He said also, "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine."

       You see why David was not afraid to meet the giant. It was not because he felt strong of himself, but he believed that God would be near to help him; and it was the same feeling that led him to say afterwards, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me."

       Happy will it be for you, dear child, if you can say the same words, with peace in your heart, when you lie down to die.
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2008, 03:19:07 PM »

THE BEE

Although the bee is so small an animal, it is very well known; and many learned men have spent a great deal of time in observing it, and have written many very curious things about it. They tell us that there is in every hive a queen, larger than the rest, whom they all follow and obey; and that if she dies or is carried away, they all leave their work and unless the queen is restored or another one provided, they refuse to eat, and soon die.

       Only one queen is allowed in a hive at a time. She does not go out to gather honey, but those who attend upon her bring to her cell as much as she wants.

       It is very pleasant to watch the bees at their work, for they are quite as busy as the ants, and as they are so much larger, it is more easy to see what they are doing. Every thing about them seems curious and beautiful; their waxen cells, their manner of gathering honey and storing it up, their neatness and order, all are admirable.

       They are perfectly harmless when left to themselves; but if they are attacked, they fly around the person who disturbs them, in great numbers, and sometimes sting him very severely. David once said of his enemies, "They compassed me about like bees."

       Honey is often spoken of in the Bible. When Jacob wished his sons to go down into Egypt a second time to buy food, he said to them, "Take of the best fruits of the land in your vessels, and carry down the man (Joseph) a present; a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, nuts and almonds." God told the children of Israel that he would give them "a land flowing with milk and honey," meaning one that was beautiful and fertile, producing abundantly every thing that would be needed for their comfort.

       When David had been obliged to flee from Jerusalem to escape his wicked son Absalom, he was in great want of provisions for himself and his followers. After a long and fatiguing march he reached a certain city; and there three rich men who were friendly to him, sent "wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese," besides beds for them to rest on; "for they said, The people is hungry, and wary, and thirsty in the wilderness."

       Perhaps no man ever loved the commandments of God more truly than king David. He says in the Psalms, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" and again he says of God's judgments, "More are they to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb."

       Besides the bees that live in hives, there are many called wild bees, which live in the woods, and put their honey in the clefts of rocks, or in old trees and other similar places. In the fourteenth chapter of Judges you will find this story: There was a very strong man named Samson, and once when he was travelling by himself in a lonely place, a young lion came roaring along in the very path where he was going. Would you not have been afraid?

       I suppose Samson was, at first, for the lion was very strong and very hungry, and Samson had nothing in his hand to kill him with. But God gave him strength, and when the lion came up, Samson caught hold of him and tore him in pieces, as you would tear a piece of cloth. Then he left him dead on the ground. Sometime after he came back the same way, and thought he would look after the lion that he had killed.

       He soon found the skeleton, that is, the dry bones without any flesh on them; and when he looked at the parts of the dead lion he found that a swarm of bees had been there, and laid up a great plenty of honey. So he took some of it in his hands to eat as he went along.

       You can learn of the little bee to try to be useful.
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2008, 03:20:01 PM »

THE CAMEL

There are two or three varieties of the camel, but they do not differ from each other much more than our horses, some of which, the stout and strong, we use to draw heavy loads; others, more slender and graceful, we use for riding.

       The swift camel is called a Dromedary; it will carry its rider a hundred miles a day. Dromedaries are mentioned in the book of Esther, where messages were to be sent in haste to all parts of a vast kingdom; the messengers rode "on mules, and camels, and young dromedaries."

       This is a very large animal and is mentioned a great many times in the Bible. I think you will like to find all these places, and see what is said about the camel. It seems as though God made it to live in just such countries as it does, for it can go a great many days without drinking any water; and if it were not for this, it would die of thirst, because the wells and springs are so far apart.

       If the people of those countries had not the camel they could not travel; so you see how kind God is to them.

       The foot of the camel is curious. It is very broad, having two divisions with a horny tip at the end of each; and underneath is a sort of elastic cushion, like a sponge, on which the animal treads. It is very strange to see a dozen or twenty large and heavy camels pass along almost without any noise; so still that you would hardly know they were coming if you did not look up.

       There is a very beautiful story in the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis, in which there is something about camels. I will tell you part of it. In the country where it happened a man does not generally choose a wife for himself, but his father or some other friend chooses for him. You have heard about Abraham, and know that he was a good man and a friend of God.

       When his son Isaac was forty years old, Abraham wished to find a wife for him, but he was not willing to take one from among the people where he lived, because they were very wicked. So he called a good old servant that he had-a gray-headed man-and told him that he wished him to go to a distant country and bring a wife for Isaac from there.

       Then Eliezer, the servant, took several other servants, and ten of his master's camels, and many presents, and started on his journey. After they had travelled a great many days, they came near to the city where Abraham had told them to go.

       It was just before night, and that was the time when the young women used to go out of the city to draw water. I have told you that there are not many wells in that country, so that a great many persons draw water at one place. It is the custom for females to go for it, and they usually carry it in pitchers on their heads.

       Eliezer made his camels lie down by this well, because they had come to the end of their journey and were very tired. But how was he to know who would be a good wife for Isaac, among all the women of this large city? He did not know; but he was a good man, and he prayed to God to choose one for him, and let him know which she was.

       And he asked God to let him know in this way which I will tell you. When the young women came out to the well, he was going to ask them for some water, and he prayed that the one who answered him kindly, and gave him drink, might be the right one for Isaac's wife. Pretty soon he saw a young woman coming with her pitcher on her head, and she was very fair and handsome; but this alone did not satisfy Eliezer.

       He waited till she had drawn some water and placed it upon her head. Then he said to her, "I pray thee let me drink a little water from they pitcher;"-and she took it down and resting it on her hand, answered very pleasantly and kindly, "Drink, my lord." While he was drinking, she saw that he looked like a stranger, and that his camels seemed tired with the journey, and she was sorry from them.

       So she said, "I will draw water for the camels too;"- and she did draw enough for all the ten camels, though she must have been pretty tired when it was done, for these animals drink a great deal. From all these circumstances Eliezer felt sure that God had heard his prayer; and it gave him pleasure to think that if this young woman was willing to take so much trouble for a traveller whom she did not know, she would be a very kind and good wife.

       I cannot tell you all; but Eliezer found that the young woman, whose name was Rebekah, was willing to go with him to be Isaac's wife. When all was ready for the journey she was seated upon one of the ten camels, and her nurse upon another, and some of her female servants upon others. After they had been riding some days, they came, just at evening, near the place where Isaac lived, and saw him walking in the field. He came to meet Rebekah, and was very glad to see her, and when she became his wife he loved her very much.
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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2008, 03:23:36 PM »

THE DOG

There are many dogs in the countries where the Bible was written, but the people do not like them as well as we do, and do not let them live about their yards and houses. So the dogs go wandering about without any master, and live on whatever they can find in the streets or around the markets.

       In the fifty-ninth Psalm you will find the verse: "They return at evening; they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city,"-and a little farther on you will see, "Let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied." These verses show that the dogs wandered about in those days just as they do now. Sometimes when they do not find enough to eat, they become very fierce and cruel, so that you would be afraid to meet one of them.

       There is a sad story in some of the chapters of the two books of Kings, in which you will find these dogs mentioned. There was a very proud and wicked queen, named Jezebel, and she tried to make her husband, king Ahab, do all the evil she could.

       Once Ahab wanted a piece of ground that was near his palace, so that he might have it made into a garden, and he asked the owner of it, whose name was Naboth, to sell it to him. But Naboth was not willing, because he used it for his vineyard, and because his father had given it to him before he died. Then Ahab was very angry about it, and acted just as I have seen some foolish children do when they were not pleased.

       He went into his great splendid house, and laid himself down on the bed; then he turned his face towards the wall, and when it was dinner time he would not get up or eat any thing. So his wife Jezebel asked him what was the matter; and when she found out, she told him that he need not be troubled, for she could get that vineyard for him. Then she contrived to have Naboth killed by stoning, and when he was dead king Ahab took the vineyard.

       Now you may be sure God was displeased with such wickedness as this, and you will think it was very right that he should punish the cruel Jezebel. Do you think her husband Ahab ought to be punished too? I do; because he knew that his wife was going to kill Naboth, and yet he did not try to keep her from doing it.

       I think he was as wicked as she. After Ahab had taken the vineyard, God sent to him the prophet Elijah to say to him these words, "Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine." And of Jezebel he said, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel." Now see how the word of God was fulfilled, just as he had said.

       Pretty soon after this, king Ahab went out to fight with his enemies, and as he was riding along in his carriage a man drew his great, strong bow, and shot an arrow which pierced the king and almost killed him. He lived a few hours, until nearly night, and then he died. The blood had run down from his wound into the carriage, and after the king was dead they took it to the pool of Samaria to wash it: there the dogs came and licked up the blood of Ahab.

       The wicked Jezebel lived some years after this, and one of her sons became king; but God raised up another king, named Jehu, who slew this son, and then went to Jezreel, the city where Jezebel lived. She heard he was coming, and feared that he meant to put her to death; but she determined that, instead of begging him to spare her life, she would act as though she was still a queen, and then perhaps he would not dare to injure her.

       So she put ornaments on her head, and painted her face, and then sat down by an upper window in all the splendor of a queen. When Jehu came near, she called out to him in great anger and scorn, to reproach him for having put her son to death.

       When Jehu heard her voice and saw her sitting at the window, he cried out, "Who is on my side?" and two or three of the queen's officers looked out at the windows. Then he said to them, "Throw her down." They were very glad to get rid of the proud and cruel queen, and so they threw her down, as he had said.

       It was so far to the ground that she was killed immediately, and her blood was sprinkled upon the walls. But Jehu did not care for this; he went into the house to eat and drink. After he had taken his dinner, he thought of Jezebel, and told some of his servants that they must go and bury her: but in the mean time a terrible thing had happened.

       The dogs had seized and devoured the body, and nothing was left of it but the feet, and the palms of the hands, and part of the bones of the head. So God's word came to pass, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel."
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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2008, 03:24:25 PM »

THE EAGLE

Did you ever see an eagle? There were once a great many among the rocks and mountains of our own country, but they will not stay where there are many people; so they are seldom seen here now. They like to make their nests in high and rocky places, where nobody can find them; as a verse in the Bible says, "Though thou shouldest make thy nest on high as the eagle, yet will I bring thee down from thence."

       Their nests are not usually made in trees like those of many other birds, neither are they shaped in the same way: they are nothing but a layer of sticks spread flat upon the rock, and covered with some hay or straw.

       The care of the eagle for her young is spoken of in Deut. 32:11. "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings; so the Lord alone did lead him." This beautifully describes God's care over the children of Israel while they were passing through the wilderness; does it not also well express his kindness to us?

       These birds fly very swiftly, and you will find verses in the Bible that speak of this. One is the forty-ninth verse of the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy. "The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, as swift as the eagle flieth."

       In another place it is said, "His horses are swifter than eagles." Job says, "My days are swifter than a post, (or post-rider;) they are passed away as the swift ships, as an eagle that hasteth to the prey."

       The eye of the eagle is very curious. It has something like an inner eyelid, only it is very thin; and the eagle can draw this over its eye, like a curtain, whenever there is too much light.

       You have heard perhaps that it can look directly at the bright sun; and this is the reason. It can see a great deal farther than we can; and when it is very high in the air, so that it would look to you but little larger than a speck, it often sees some small animal on the ground and flies down to catch it.

       See how well this bird was described a great many years ago: these are the last verses of the thirty-ninth chapter of Job: "Doth the eagle mount up at thy command and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth upon the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. Her young ones also suck up blood; and where the slain are, there is she."

       The eagle lives a great many years; sometimes more than seventy, I believe. It sheds its feathers every spring, and new ones come out; then it looks like a young bird. This is why David says in the Psalms, "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed, (or comes again,) like the eagle's."

       There is this beautiful verse in Isaiah, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." How blessed and happy a thing it is to be a christian indeed! to "wait upon the Lord" every day for the strength we need; and to be always preparing for that world where the inhabitants are for ever young, for ever active, for ever holy, for ever happy.
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« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2008, 03:25:26 PM »

THE FOX, or JACKAL.

It is not quite certain if the fox mentioned in the Bible is the same animal that we now call by that name. It probably means what we now call the jackal. This animal is about as large as a common sized dog, and its color is yellow, or reddish brown.

       It never goes out alone to seek its food, but always in companies of forty or fifty together. Then they make strange noises, which sound very much like the crying of children.

       They do not go out for their food in the daytime, but wait till it begins to be dark; and then they kill all the animals they can find that are not too strong for them. Sometimes a large animal like the lion will hear the cries that they make when they are hunting, and will come and snatch away from them whatever they have found.

       These foxes or jackals have been known to scratch away the earth from graves that have been lately made, and then devour the bodies of the dead. This explains a verse in the sixty-second Psalm, where David says of those who "seek his soul to destroy it,"-"They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for foxes."

       They eat plants of different kinds; sometimes roots, and sometimes fruits. This is one of the verses in Solomon's Song, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes which spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes."

       These animals are often found in great numbers around the walls and ruins of old cities; they live in holes or burrows which they dig in the ground. Our Savior says, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."

       We have read this verse so many times that we scarcely think how much it means; but was it not a wonderful thing that when Christ came from his bright throne in heaven to this poor earth, he should not find even a home here?

       Every animal on all the hills has its shelter and hiding-place; every little bird in all the forest has its comfortable nest; but our Savior "had not where to lay his head." During all his life he was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." For whom did he suffer all this?-and when his sorrowful life was ended, for whom did he die? I need not tell you this, dear child, but I may ask you,

"Is there nothing we can do
"To prove our grateful love?"
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« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2008, 03:26:14 PM »

THE GOAT

There are two kinds of goat in the countries where the Bible was written; one very much like those that we sometimes see; the other differing from it in several respects, especially in the greater length of its ears.

       It is supposed that the prophet Amos speaks of the latter kind when he says, "As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion, two legs or a piece of an ear." The ear of this kind of goat is so long that a large piece might easily be bitten off; it sometimes measures more than a foot.

       Solomon says, in the Proverbs, when speaking to a man who is diligent in his work, "Thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance of thy maidens." This seems strange to us, because we are not much used to it; but in those countries the milk of the goat is very sweet and good, and is often made into cheese.

       The people there often have a great number of goats. Jacob sent a present of two hundred and twenty to his brother Esau; and a great king, mentioned in the Bible, once received seven thousand seven hundred as a gift.

       A man is mentioned in the first book of Samuel who owned a thousand goats: perhaps you can find the place; and if you do, you will see in the next verse what his name was, and also the name of his wife.

       There are two kinds of hair upon the goat; one is long and coarse, the other soft and fine. Of the first kind the people make a kind of rough, coarse cloth; the other is made into very fine cloth, almost as soft as silk. A part of the curtains for the tabernacle were made of goats' hair.

       The bottles mentioned in the Bible were usually made of goat-skins: the people in those days had not learned to make glass. When they had been used a long time, they became worn, so that they would not hold what was put in them.

       Our Savior once said, "Neither do men put new wine into old bottles;" this was because the new wine would ferment and the leathern bottles would burst. There is a story in the Old Testament about some men who wished to deceive Joshua, and lead him to think that they lived at a very great distance from him, when they really lived very near.

       So it is said, (Josh. 9:4, 5) "They took old sacks upon their asses, and wine-bottles, old and rent, and bound up; and old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy" Then they said to Joshua, (verses 12 and 13) "This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold it is dry, and it is mouldy.

       And these bottles of wine which we filled were new, and behold they be rent; and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey."

       The Israelites had a singular custom in ancient times, about which you may read in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus. It was commanded by God, and was to be observed once in every year.

       On the morning of the day appointed for it, the high-priest was to wash in pure water, and clothe himself in a dress of clean white linen. Then two fair and handsome young goats were brought to him, one of which was to be killed. The priest was to cast lots, that he might know which of them it should be; then he was to kill him, sprinkle his blood upon the altar seven times, and burn the flesh.

       Afterwards he was to take the live goat, lay both hands upon his head, and confess over him the sins of the Israelites, "putting them upon the head of the goat." Then the animal was given into the care of a man who led him away and let him go in the wilderness, "bearing upon him all the iniquities" of the people.

       This goat was a type of our Savior; that is, it represented what he afterwards did, when he came into the world and "bore our sins."
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« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2008, 03:27:07 PM »

THE HART AND HIND

Several animals of the deer kind are mentioned in the Bible under the names of Fallow-deer, Hart, Hind, and Roe-buck. They were all numbered among the clean animals, or those which the Israelites were allowed to eat; as we see in Deut. 14:4, 5, "These are the beasts which ye shall eat; the ox, the sheep, the goat, the hart, the roe-buck and the fallow- deer."

       In 1st Kings, 4:23, we read of the daily provision which was made for king Solomon's table, and among the rest were "ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and a hundred sheep, besides harts, and roe-bucks, and fallow-deer."

       These animals are all harmless, gentle, timid, loving and beautiful; noted for their branching horns, for the elegance of their form, and for their surprisingly swift and graceful motion. It has long been a favorite amusement in eastern countries to pursue them in the chase; and as the swiftest greyhound can scarcely overtake them, it is usual to train hawks or falcons to attack them, and so delay them till the dogs come up.

       They bound along over the plains, "fleet as the wind," seeming scarcely to touch the ground: no motion can be more beautiful. In the last verse of Solomon's Song we read, "Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart on the mountains of spices."

       The 35th chapter of Isaiah contains a beautiful description of the peaceful kingdom which Christ will one day establish in the earth; and among other things it is said, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing."

       The hart or hind is remarkably sure-footed as well as swift: this may explain one or two verses in the Bible. David says, 2d Sam. 22:33, 34, "God is my strength and power, and he maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places." In the last verse of Habakkuk we read, "The Lord is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet."

       The male deer is called a hart, the female a hind; and their affection for each other is beautiful. Solomon says in the Proverbs, "Rejoice with the wife of thy youth; let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe."

       The hart often suffers from thirst in the dry and sandy countries where it lives-especially when pursued by the hunters; it then longs for water, and plunges with the greatest eagerness into the cooling stream. David says in the 42d Psalm, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

       My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?" Nothing could more strongly express his love to God, or his ardent desire for communion with him.

       Happy is the child who has in his heart such feelings towards God, and who finds pleasure in praying to him, from day to day; he has been taught by the Holy Spirit, and is preparing to meet God in peace.
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« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2008, 03:28:11 PM »

THE HORSE

There is a fine description of a war-horse in the book of Job-a book which some think to be the oldest in the world. It is in the thirty- ninth chapter. "Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? The glory of his nostrils is terrible.

       He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength; he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him; the glittering spear and the shield.

       He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains and the shouting."

       In the fifth chapter of Judges you will find this verse. "Then were the horse-hoofs broken by the means of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones." And it seems likely from this, that it was not the custom to shoe horses in those days, so that their hoofs were more easily broken.

       They had horses in Egypt in very ancient times, as you will find if you read the first part of the book of Exodus. You will see there how the children of Israel escaped from Egypt, after they had been kept in hard bondage a great many years; and how when they had gone only a short distance, the wicked king Pharaoh went after them to try to get them back.

       There was a great company of the Israelites, men, women and children; they had nothing to ride on, and had their flocks and herds with them, so that they could not go very fast. They took the course which God directed, and it brought them to the Red Sea, where there were neither boats nor bridges for them to go over.

       Just then they heard that Pharaoh and his army were coming after them. Some came in chariots of war, and of these there were six hundred drawn by horses; and a great many more came on horseback.

       Now what could these people do? If they went on, they would be drowned; and if they went back, or stayed where they were, they would fall into the hands of the Egyptians. God told them not to be afraid, for he would take care of them; so he divided the waters of the sea, and made a dry road for them to go through, while the water stood up like a wall on each side of them.

       Then the Egyptians followed on, and God let the waters flow down upon them, so that they were all drowned. Think what a sight it must have been, when the chariots, and horses, and men, were all surrounded by that great, mighty water, and then sunk down one after another, so that they could be seen no more.

       The children of Israel sang a psalm of praise after God had saved them in this wonderful manner, and these words are a part of it: "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."

       In one of the last chapters in the Old Testament you will find these words, "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD." This speaks of a time which has not yet come, but for which christians are looking, when this world will not be wicked as it now is; but when every thing, even the bells of the horses, shall be holy unto the Lord.
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« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2008, 03:43:44 PM »

THE IBEX, or WILD GOAT

The Ibex is a kind of goat, but different from the one described before. It is sometimes called the Rock Goat, or Wild Goat; and the last is the name given it in the Bible.

       It resembles the common goat, but is larger, and its horns are much longer; they are sometimes considerably more than a yard in length, beautifully curved, and surrounded by many curious rings or ridges.

       It lives in places where you would think no animal could get without falling and breaking its neck; you would be frightened to see it sometimes, when it climbs up rough and narrow places, or jumps from one great rock to another. But God has given it just such a kind of foot as it needs; it has a small hoof, something like those of a sheep, excepting that it is hollow underneath, and has a sort of ridge around it by which the animal can cling to the rock, and so keep from slipping. I never heard of such a thing as one of them sliding off the rocks, unless it was pursued by the hunters.

       Two goats once met on a high narrow path, where there was just room for one to walk. There was a high rock rising close to their shoulders on one side, and on the other was a place so steep that it would have made you dizzy to look down. They could not go back without danger of falling, and they could not pass each other; what do you think they could do, but stay there and starve?

       It seemed for a little while as if they were considering about it; at last one bent his knees and laid down, and the other walked safely over his back.

       The ibex feeds during the night in the highest woods that grow on the mountains; but as soon as the sun rises it begins to climb, eating the grass or whatever it finds, till it has got up where it is too high for trees to grow.

       They go in small companies of eight or ten, and lie down in sunny places among the rocks while the sun is hot; but about three or four o'clock in the afternoon they begin to go down again towards the woods. They can climb up rather more easily than they can get down, because their fore legs are shorter than the others.

       See how the ibex or wild goat is spoken of in the Bible. In the one hundred and fourth Psalm you may find the words, "The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats;" and another place where the animal is mentioned is in the twenty-fourth chapter of first Samuel: "Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats."

       I should like to have you read with me the whole history of Saul and David in the Bible, so that we might talk about it, for it is very interesting; but now I can only write down what this one verse means.

       David had been made king over Israel by the command of God; but Saul, who was a very wicked man, was determined to kill him. So David was obliged to fly for his life, with only a few faithful friends; and month after month he hid himself in one place and another, so that Saul might not find him.

       At last he came to a wild, gloomy place, where nobody lived, near the Dead Sea: it was rocky, and there were many wild goats there. He thought he was safe now; but Saul heard where he was and came after him.

       One night Saul and his men went into a large dark cave among the mountains, and behold David and his friends were already there; but they were hidden, so that Saul did not know it. David's men wanted very much to kill Saul, now that he was in their power, but David would not allow them.

       He only cut off a small piece from the robe that Saul wore, and he was sorry afterwards that he had done even as much as this He did not hurt Saul in the least, but allowed him to go safely out of the cave, though he might have killed him as easily as not.

       Was not this returning good for evil?
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« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2008, 03:47:44 PM »

THE JERBOA, or MOUSE

You will not find the name of the Jerboa in the Bible; but it is supposed to be the same animal that is called a mouse in the 17th verse of the 66th chapter of Isaiah, "They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord;" and also in Leviticus, where God is telling the children of Israel what animals they may be allowed to eat, and also what they must not taste. He says, "These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind."

       Whether the Jerboa is the same animal or not, the Israelites must have been well acquainted with it, for it is found in great numbers in Syria and Egypt, and other countries mentioned in the Bible.

       They like to live where the soil is sandy, and make their burrows, or holes to live in, in the sides of sand-hills. These burrows are often several yards long, and the part where they sleep is made soft with grass.

       The Jerboa is about as large as a rat, and its color is a tawny yellow, something like that of dried lemon-peel. Its fur is very smooth and soft; its eyes are full and round, and its head is much like that of a young rabbit. When it eats, it sits and hold its food in its fore-paws, very much as a squirrel does.

       There is a very great and curious difference in the length of its legs; those in front being so short that you would hardly notice them, and those behind very long. It bounds along over the ground very rapidly; so that the greyhound, which is one of the swiftest of dogs, is often unable to overtake it.

       It seems, when you first look at it, to use only its hind legs in jumping, but his is not so. When it is about to take a leap, it raises its body upon the toes of its hind feet, keeping the balance by the help of its long tail.

       It springs and comes down on its short fore legs, but does it so very quickly that you can hardly see how it is done, and the animal seems to be upright all the time.

       They appear to be very fond of each other's company, and great numbers are usually found together. They sleep during the day, but like the hare and rabbit, go out of their burrows to eat and to play as soon as it begins to be dark.
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« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2008, 03:48:40 PM »

THE KITE

The kite is mentioned but once or twice in the Bible. In Leviticus, 11:13,14, it is named among the birds which the Israelites were not allowed to use for food.

       "And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination; the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, and the vulture, and the kite after its kind."

       These are all birds of prey, that is, they live by destroying other animals, and some of them are very fierce and cruel; I suppose this is one reason why they were not to be eaten.

       The kite is a large bird, more than two feet long; and when its wings are spread it would take a string five feet and a half long to stretch from the tip of one across to the other.

       It does not fly very rapidly, but its motion in the air is very graceful and beautiful. On this account it has sometimes been called the Gled, or the gliding bird.

       The kite is very much dreaded and disliked by those who have ducks and chickens, because it carries them off for food.

       It also eats frogs and moles: it is said that more than twenty of the latter have been found in one Kite's nest.

       It is a cowardly bird, and does not attack any animal that is strong enough to defend itself.

       Its nest is usually built between the forked branches of some tall tree in the thickest part of the forest; and if you could look into one of them in the spring, you would probably see three eggs, almost white, but a little tinged with blue.
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« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2008, 03:49:32 PM »

THE LEOPARD

The leopard is a beautiful animal, though very savage and cruel. It is about as large as the largest of our dogs, but it looks much more like a cat than a dog. You have watched kittens at their play a hundred times, and you know how very quick, and pretty, and graceful all their motions are.

       It is just so with the leopard; and it can creep along too, as softly as a cat, and run up a tree after a monkey, as easily as a cat does after a bird. It lives mostly upon young antelopes and deer, and it often lies still a long time watching one till it comes near, and then springs out upon it.

       The Bible says in one place, "A leopard shall watch over their cities; every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces;" and in another, "Therefore will I be to them as a lion; as a leopard by the way will I observe (or watch for) them."

       The leopard runs very swiftly when it is trying to overtake any animal: the Bible says, "Their horses are swifter than leopards."

       Its color is a clear, handsome yellow, spotted with black; the spots are found in little groups, two, or three, or four together, and the skin is very smooth and shining. There is such a great difference between the color of the spots and the rest of the skin, that you would think it a very curious looking animal.

       The 23d verse of the 13th chapter of Jeremiah is this: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil." It would be no easy thing to wash away the leopard's black spots; indeed nothing but God's power could do it.

       So it is not easy to do right when we have been used to do wrong, and have loved to do it: this is why we need to pray that God will "create a clean heart and renew a right spirit within" us. Should we not be careful about every sinful habit? Remember, dear child, that such a habit in you may become fixed, almost like the leopard's spots; and pray God to help you love every thing that is "pure, and lovely, and of good report."

       What a peaceful and happy time that will be, when Jesus our Savior shall reign in all the earth-when all men shall love him and each other-when "the leopard (fierce and cruel as it is now) shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them."

       That bright day is coming; and if you love Christ, even you-a child-can do something to prepare for it.
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