LEOPARD (Heb. "namer"):
A ferocious carnivorous mammal. Several allusions are found in the Old Testament to this animal and its characteristics; e.g., its fierceness, Isa. xi. 6; its agility and swiftness, Hab. i. 8; its cunning, Jer. v. 6 and Hos. xiii. 7; its unchangeable spots as a type of immutability, Jer. xiii. 23; as an emblem of one of the "great monarchies," Dan. vii. 6. The leopard (Felis pardus) is still met with in the forest of Gilead, round the Dead Sea, and in the mountains; the chetah (Gueparda jubata) is of less frequent occurrencein Palestine. The former frequency of the leopard there may perhaps be inferred from the place-names "Beth-nimrah" (Num. xxxii. 3, 36) and "Nimrim" (Jer. xlviii. 34), the latter perhaps identical with the modern Nimerah (comp. also the "mountains of leopards," Cant. iv. 8).
In the Talmud the namer is classed with the wolf, lion, etc., for dangerousness and ferocity (Sanh. 2a and parallels). Following the ancient conception of the leopard as a hybrid between a panther or pard and the lioness (hence the name "leo-pardus"), some of the rabbis believed it to be the issue of the boar and lioness (comp. Bartenora to the admonition of Ab. v. 5: "Be firm like a leopard to do the will of thy Father in heaven"). The namer is a type of immodesty (Ḳid. 70a). Its term of gestation is said to be three years (Bek. 8a).
- Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 111;
- Lewysohn, Z. T. p. 71;
- comp. also W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, p. 204.