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MULE:

A hybrid between the ass and horse. The Hebrew term is "pered"; feminine, "pirdah." (For "rekesh," which some render by "mule," see Horse.) "Yemim" (Gen. xxxvi. 24), which Targ. Yer., Arabic version, and Greek Venetus translate by "mules," is generally admitted to mean "hot springs"; so Vulgate, "aquæ calidæ." The mule is first mentioned in the time of David. It was used as a riding-animal for kings (I Kings i. 33, 38, 44), for the royal household at large (II Sam. xiii. 29), and in war (II Sam. xviii. 9; comp. Isa. lxvi. 20; Zech. xiv. 15). It formed part of the royal stud (I Kings xviii. 5); and among the tribute paid to Solomon by subject tribes were included mules (ib. x. 25). The mule is also referred to as a beast of burden (II Kings v. 17; comp. Josephus, "Vita," § 26). Togarmah (Armenia) was the staple market for mules (Ezek. xxvii. 14). The Jews were prevented from breeding the mule themselves by the prohibition of Lev. xix. 19 (comp. Philo, ii. 307). Still it was a favorite animal with them, as it still is in the East, on account of its sure-footedness, hardiness, and endurance; and among the stock brought on the return from Babylon are mentioned 245 mules (Ezra ii. 66; comp. Josephus, l.c.).

Besides the Biblical names (Ḥul. 79a) there occur in the Talmud the terms "mula" (comp. Latin "mula"; Shab. 52a) and "kudanta" (ib. 110b); for "yemim" see Ḥul. 7b (comp. Gen. R. xcii. 2). A distinction is made between the issue of a stallion and a she-ass and that of an ass and a mare; the former has a thicker voice, longer ears, and a shorter tail (Ḥul. 79a). The mule was one of the last things created (Pes. 54a). The she-mule, having no womb, can not propagate (Bek. 8b; Shab. 67a); a barren spouse is therefore called "kudna 'aḳarah" (B. B. 91a). The mule is less hardy than the ass, and ages early ('Er. 56a); still it is a favorite beast of burden (Pes. 119a). The bite of a white she-mule was considered dangerous (Ḥul. 7b), while its excrements were used for medicinal purposes (Shab. 110b). The mule may be yoked neither with the horse nor with the ass (Kil. i. 6).

Bibliography:
  • Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 124;
  • Lewysohn, Z. T. p. 144.
E. G. H.S. S. I. M. C.
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