When the Lion, Cheetah, and Hippopotamus Roamed the Land of Israel

Dec. 22 2016

Although those creatures are not found in Israel today, they and many others were present in ancient times—as the Bible itself attests. Natan Slifkin explains:

Because the land of Israel bridges Europe, Africa, and Asia, it was home to a unique combination of animals. It was the northernmost part of the range of many African animals, such as crocodiles and hippopotami; it was the southeastern part of the range of many European animals, such as fallow deer and wolves; and it was the westernmost part of the range of many Asian animals, such as the Asiatic cheetah. In addition, due to its location on the eastern side of the Mediterranean, it is part of the migration route for countless birds passing between Europe and Africa. Thus, the combination of animals found in the Bible is unique, . . . not to be found anywhere else in the world.

Since particular species are limited to particular regions of the world, people who did not live in the Near East were not familiar with the animals of the Bible. Consequently, they mistranslated the names of biblical animals [with those of] local equivalents. Thus, the tsvi of the Bible (Proverbs 6:5) is the gazelle, but in Europe, where there were no gazelles, the word tsvi was rendered as “deer.” The shu’al, a species of which Samson captured 300 and tied fire-brands to their tails (Judges 15:4), was identified in Europe as a fox, leading [skeptics] such as Voltaire to mock the notion that it would be possible to find 300 members of such a solitary creature as the fox. However, as other verses indicate, the shu’al of Scripture is actually the jackal (see Psalm 63:11), a relative of the fox that gathers in large packs. Yet because there are no jackals in Europe, people there had long understood shu’al to mean fox.

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Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Animals, Hebrew, Hebrew Bible, Land of Israel, Voltaire

Benjamin Netanyahu Is a Successful Leader, Not a Magician

Sept. 20 2019

Following the inconclusive results of Tuesday’s election, weeks may elapse before a prime minister is chosen, and there is a chance that Benjamin Netanyahu’s political career isn’t over yet. Perusing the headlines about Netanyahu over the past year, Ruthie Blum notes how many have referred to him as a political “magician,” or some variant thereof. But this cliché misses the point:

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics