This word is used of flocks or herds of grazing animals (Ex. 22:5; Num. 20:4, 8, 11; Ps. 78:48); of beasts of burden (Gen. 45:17); of eatable beasts (Prov. 9:2); and of swift beasts or dromedaries (Isa. 60:6). In the New Testament it is used of a domestic animal as property (Rev. 18:13); as used for food (1 Cor. 15:39), for service (Luke 10:34; Acts 23:24), and for sacrifice (Acts 7:42).
When used in contradistinction to man (Ps. 36:6), it denotes a brute creature generally, and when in contradistinction to creeping things (Lev. 11:2-7; 27:26), a four-footed animal.
The Mosaic law required that beasts of labour should have rest on the Sabbath (Ex. 20:10; 23:12), and in the Sabbatical year all cattle were allowed to roam about freely, and eat whatever grew in the fields (Ex. 23:11; Lev. 25:7). No animal could be castrated (Lev. 22:24). Animals of different kinds were to be always kept separate (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:10). Oxen when used in threshing were not to be prevented from eating what was within their reach (Deut. 25:4; 1 Cor.9:9).
This word is used figuratively of an infuriated multitude (1 Cor. 15:32; Acts 19:29; comp. Ps. 22:12, 16; Eccl. 3:18; Isa. 11:6-8), and of wicked men (2 Pet. 2:12). The four beasts of Daniel 7:3, 17, 23 represent four kingdoms or kings.
- best: This word occurs often in both Old and New Testaments and denotes generally a mammal (though sometimes a reptile) in distinction to a man, a bird, or a fish. In this distinction the English is fairly in accord with the Hebrew and Greek originals. The commonest Hebrew words behemah and chai have their counterpart in the Arabic as do three others less often used, be`ir (Gen 45:17
; Ex 22:5
; Nu 20:8
the King James Version), nephesh (Lev 24:18
), and Tebhach (Prov 9:2
). Behemah and A rabic bahimah are from a root signifying vagueness or dumbness and so denote primarily a dumb beast. Chai and Arabic chaiwan are from the root chayah (Arabic chaya), "to live," and denote primarily living creatures. Be`ir, "cattle," and its root-verb, ba`ar, "to graze," are identical with the Arabic ba`ir and ba`ara, but with a curious difference in meaning. Ba`ir is a common word for camel among the Bedouin and the root-verb, ba`ara, means "to drop dung," ba`rah being a common word for the dung of camels, goats, and sheep. Nephesh corresponds in every way with the Arabic nephs, "breath," "soul" or "self" Tebhach from Tabhach, "to slaughter," is equivalent to the Arabic dhibch from dhabacha, with the same meaning. Both therion ("wild beast"), and zoon ("living thing"), occur often in the Apocalypse. They are found also in a few other places, as mammals (Heb 13:11
) or figuratively (Tit 1:12
). Therion is used also of the viper which fastened on Paul's hand, and this has parallels in classic al Greek. Beasts of burden and beasts used for food were and are an important form of property, hence, ktenos ("possession"), the word used for the good Samaritan's beast (Lk 10:34
) and for the beasts with which Lysias provided Paul for his journey to Caesarea (Acts 23:24
For "swift beast," kirkaroth, "dromedary" (Isa 66:20 the King James Version), see CAMEL. For "swift beast," rekhesh, see HORSE (Mic 1:13 the King James Version; 1 Ki 4:28 the King James Version, margin; compare Est 8:10,14).
See also WILD BEAST.
Alfred Ely Day