—Biblical Data:

The translation by the Septuagint of "ẓabua'" (Jer. xii. 9); the rendering of the Vulgate being "avis tincta," and that of the English versions "speckled bird." The rendering of the LXX., which is adopted by most commentators, is supported not only by the Arabic "ḍabu'," but also by the parallel passage (ib. xii. 8), which implies that by "ẓabua'" some strong, fierce animal, similar to the lion, is intended (comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] xiii. 18). The striped hyena (Hyæna striata) is common in every part of Palestine; and its former frequency is perhaps indicated by the place-name "Zeboim" (I Sam. xiii. 18; Neh. xi. 34; comp. also the personal name "Zibeon," Gen. xxxvi. 20).

—In Rabbinical Literature:

The Talmud has, besides "ẓabua'," three other names for the hyena, "bardales," "napraza," and "appa"; and this variety of names has its counterpart in a variety of metamorphoses, each lasting seven years, through which the male hyena passes, namely, of a bat, an "'arpad" (i.e., some other form of bat), a nettle, a thistle, and lastly an evil spirit ("shed"; B. Ḳ. 16a). A similar popular fable, about the hyena changing its sex every year, is found in Pliny, "Historia Naturalis," viii. 30, 44; Ælianus, "De Animalium Natura," i. 25. As regards dangerousness, the hyena is placed in the same category as the wolf, lion, bear, leopard, and serpent (B. Ḳ. 15b); Yer. B. Ḳ. 2, 6).

  • Tristram, Natural History of the Bible, p. 107;
  • Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, p. 76.
E. G. H. I. M. C.
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