Nowadays applied to the membrane surrounding the human fetus; used also in other senses. In the Bible:
- 1. A rendering of the Hebrew , the second on the list of toilet articles worn by the women of Jerusalem (Isa. iii. 18). Schröder emends this to "shemisim," which he compares to the Arabic "shumaisah" (little sun). It would then mean an article of jewelry, perhaps a pendant. It is quite possible to take it to designate nets used as adornments for the hair. The Septuagint gives it this sense; and the Targum reproduces the word, which by Mishnaic usage is confirmed as a net for the hair (see Levy, "Neuhebr. Wörterb." iv. s.v.).
- 2. Used in an anatomical sense of the enclosure of the heart, perhaps of the pericardium (Hosea xiii. 8).
- 3. Most frequently, however, it is used to translate "yoteret," a word occurring frequently in the priestly regulations and in connection with the liver. It is best taken to mean the fatty mass surrounding the liver. This was always included (Ex. xxix. 13, 22; Lev. iii. 4, 10, 15; iv. 9; vii. 4; viii. 16, 25; ix. 10, 19) in the burnt offering.
According to the A. V., it was the caul, with some other parts of the sacrifice, that was burned on the altar. For we read: "And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar" (Ex. xxix. 13; compare references below). The Hebrew term here rendered "caul" is "yoteret" (), always occurring in connection with "kabed" ( = "liver"); this "yoteret" is variously translated by earlier and later scholars. Thus, the Septuagint renders it "the lobe of the liver"; and so do Josephus ("Ant." iii. 9, § 2), Gesenius ("Dict." s.v.), Kohut ("Aruch Completum," iii. 476, s.v. ), Jastrow ("Dict." p. 572), and the Karaites (see Aaron b. Elijah, "Gan 'Eden," Sheḥiṭah, xxi.). This rendition does not seem to correspond with the phraseology of the original. Of the eleven Biblical passages containing the term "yoteret," seven are mandatory (Ex. xxix. 13, 22; Lev. iii. 4, 10, 15; iv. 9; vii. 4), and the remaining four (Lev. viii. 16, 25; ix. 10 [where the preposition , "from," is used], 19) are narrative. In six of the former (the only exception being Ex. xxix. 22), yoteret is described as being situated ("over the liver"), which can not be said of a lobe or of any part of the liver itself. Were the preposition ("above," "over," "upon") absent in the mandatory clauses as it is in the narratives, it might be assumed that "yoteret" is in the construct state, and the phrase would really mean "the pendant (" = 'redundant,' 'hanging over'; i.e., 'lobe ') of the liver." But the presence of the preposition in the six mandatory clauses precludes this construction, and consequently also this rendition.
That the narrative clauses do not embody the preposition does not prove the contrary. The narrator simply relied on the exact designation conveyed in the mandatory passages. The yoteret must, therefore, be looked for among the viscera adjacent to and over the liver. Leeser finds it in the midriff; and this partly agrees with Rashi's definition, as explained by Kohut (l.c. iv. 94, s.v. ; compare Jastrow, l.c. 557b, s.v. ), "Rothfleisch," the fleshy fibers connecting the midriff with the costal cartilages. But, as even the midriff is not directly over the liver, a double layer of tissue intervening between them, the A. V. renders the phrase by "the caul over the liver." This definition is supported by the Vulgate, and agrees with that of Rashi (to Ex. xxix. 13, according to Musaphia, in "'Aruk," s.v. ), and with the translations of Zunz (Arnheim), Luzzatto, Fürst (in Lev. l.c.; in Ex. l.c. he translates "lappen"); and by it is meant that part of the caul which forms the duplicature extending from the transverse fissure of the liver to the lesser curvature of the stomach, technically called the "gastrohepatic" or "small omentum" (compare Strack to Ex. xxix. 13; Kautzsch, Ex. and Lev. l.c.; contrast Kohut, l.c., s.v. ). Some object to this definition, because the small omentum is devoid of fat; but as the Bible never includes the yoteret under the fats, this objection is not tenable (compare Sifra, Wayiḳra, Ḥobah, ix. [ed. Weiss, p. 21b]; Pesiḳ. Zuṭṭa to Lev. iii. 10; Hastings, "Dict. Bible," s.v. "Caul"; Cheyne, "Encyc. Bibl." s. v. "Caul"; see Sacrifice).
The Karaites include the yoteret among the animal parts forbidden to the Jews as food (see Aaron b. Elijah, l.c.; Elijah Bashyaẓi, "Aderet Eliyahu," Sheḥiṭah, xviii.); rabbinic law, however, knows of no such prohibition (see Ḥul. 117a; Rashi, ad loc., s.v. ; Pesiḳ. Zuṭṭa, l.c.; Maimonides, "Yad," Ma'akalot Asurot, vii. 5; Naḥmanides to Lev. iii. 6 etseq.). That the caul mentioned by Josephus ("Ant." iii. 11, § 2) in connection with such a law does not mean the yoteret is evident from his naming the caul and the lobe of the liver as distinct parts devoted to the altar (ib. iii. 9, § 2). What he means is doubtlessly the epiploon, or the fatty membrane constituting the gastrocolic or great omentum. The same is meant by Herodotus (ii. 47), who mentions the caul in connection with an ancient Egyptian sacrifice to the moon.