—Biblical, Data:

"'Ez" is the generic name for both sexes. Special terms for the he-goat: "'attud," Gen. xxxi. 10; Ps. l. 9, etc.; "ẓafir," Ezra viii. 35; II Chron. xxix. 21; "sa'ir," Gen. xxxvii. 31; Lev. iv. 23, etc.; and "tayish," Gen. xxx. 35, etc. "Seh," usually meaning "sheep," is also used for "goat" in Ex. xii. 5 and Deut. xiv. 4, and both sheep and goats are comprised under "ẓon" (small cattle), in contrast to "baḳar" (large cattle). For the young goat, or kid, "gedi" is used in Gen. xxvii. 9, Judges vi. 19, etc., and the feminine form, "gediyyah," in Cant. i. 8.

Of the domesticated goat, Capra hircus, to which the names generally refer, the chief breed occurring in Palestine is the mamber (from "Mamre"), or Syrian goat, with long ears and stout horns. The mohair, or Angora goat, with silky hair, is seldom met with in Palestine proper. The wild or mountain goat, Capra agagrus, occurring south of the Lebanon, is probably intended by "aḳḳo" (wild goat; Deut. xiv. 5 among the clean animals) and "ya'el" (A. V. "roe," R. V. "doe"), whose fondness for rocky heights is referred to in I Sam. xxiv. 3; Ps. civ. 18; Job xxxix. 1.


The goat formed an important part of Palestinian husbandry (Gen. xxx. 32, xxxii. 15; I Sam. xxv. 2; Prov. xxvii. 26; Cant. iv. 1, vi. 5). Its milk and flesh were staple articles of food (Prov. xxvii. 27); the kid was considered a delicacy (Gen. xxvii. 9, 14; Judges vi. 19, xiii. 15; etc.; comp. also Ex. xxiii. 19, xxxiv. 26; Deut. xiv. 21, the prohibition against seething the kid in the milk of its mother; see Dietary Laws); the hair of the goat was woven into curtains and tent-covers (Ex. xxvi. 7, xxxv. 26, etc.), or used for stuffing cushions (I Sam. xix. 13); its skin was employed for garments (Heb. xi. 37; comp. Gen. xxvii. 16) and for bottles (Gen. xxi., 14; Josh. ix. 5; comp. Matt. xi. 17). The goat entered largely into the sacrificial ritual (Lev. iii. 12; iv. 23, 28; v. 6; comp. Gen. xv. 9); on the Day of Atonement a "scapegoat" carried away the sins of the people to Azazel (Lev. xvi. 10 et seq.). The local name "En Gedi" (I Sam. xxiv. 2; at present 'Ain Jidi) attests the frequency of the goat in Palestine.

Like the ram, the he-goat as the leader of the flock (comp. Prov. xxx. 31) symbolizes the rulers and rich in contrast to the poor and common people (Isa. xiv. 9; Jer. l. 8, li. 40; Ezek. xxxiv. 17; Zech. x. 3; comp. Dan. viii. 5); and, like the gazelle, the female wild goat, "ya'alah," recalls the grace of woman (Prov. v. 19).

—In Rabbinical Literature:

The Talmud ascribes to the goat great strength, endurance (Beẓah 25b), and pluck (Shab. 77b). Job's goats killed the wolves which assailed them (B. B. 15b), and Ḥanina's would bring bears upon their horns (Ta'an. 25a, and parallels). Goat's milk fresh from the udder relieves pains of the heart (Tem. 15b), and that of a white goat possesses especial curative properties (Shab. 109b). Against diseases of the spleen the same organ of a goat which has not yet borne young is recommended (Giṭ. 69b). Among the manifold uses of the goat may be mentioned, in addition to those given above, the making of its horns and hoofs into vessels (Ḥul. 25b). The blood of the he-goat is more similar to human blood than is that of any other animal (Gen. R. lxxxiv. 19). "Goat of " in Ḥul. 80a may refer to a forest goat, or to a mountain goat ("bale" in Persian = height).

  • Tristram, Natural History of the Bible, pp. 88-97;
  • L. Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, pp. 123-126.
E. G. H. I. M. C.
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