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Ass

Ass [S]

frequently mentioned throughout Scripture. Of the domesticated species we read of,

  • The she ass (Heb. 'athon), so named from its slowness ( Genesis 12:16 ; 45:23 ; Numbers 22:23 ; 1 Samuel 9:3 ).
  • The male ass (Heb. hamor), the common working ass of Western Asia, so called from its red colour. Issachar is compared to a strong ass ( Genesis 49:14 ). It was forbidden to yoke together an ass and an ox in the plough ( Deuteronomy 22:10 ).
  • The ass's colt (Heb. 'air), mentioned Judges 10:4 ; 12:14 . It is rendered "foal" in Genesis 32:15 ; 49:11 . (Compare Job 11:12 ; Isaiah 30:6 .) The ass is an unclean animal, because it does not chew the cud ( Leviticus 11:26 . Compare 2 Kings 6:25 ). Asses constituted a considerable portion of wealth in ancient times ( Genesis 12:16 ; 30:43 ; 1 Chronicles 27:30 ; Job 1:3 ; 42:12 ). They were noted for their spirit and their attachment to their master ( Isaiah 1:3 ). They are frequently spoken of as having been ridden upon, as by Abraham ( Genesis 22:3 ), Balaam ( Numbers 22:21 ), the disobedient prophet ( 1 Kings 13:23 ), the family of Abdon the judge, seventy in number ( Judges 12:14 ), Zipporah ( Exodus 4:20 ), the Shunammite ( 1 Samuel 25:30 ), etc. ( Zechariah 9:9 ) predicted our Lord's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, "riding upon an ass, and upon a colt," etc. ( Matthew 21:5 , RSV).

    Of wild asses two species are noticed, (1) that called in Hebrew 'arod , mentioned Job 39:5 and Daniel 5:21 , noted for its swiftness; and (2) that called pe're , the wild ass of Asia ( Job 39:6-8 ; 6:5 ; 11:12 ; Isaiah 32:14 ; Jeremiah 2:24 ; 14:6 , etc.). The wild ass was distinguished for its fleetness and its extreme shyness. In allusion to his mode of life, Ishmael is likened to a wild ass ( Genesis 16:12 . Here the word is simply rendered "wild" in the Authorized Version, but in the Revised Version, "wild-ass among men").

    These dictionary topics are from
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
    published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Ass". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .