a native of the mountain regions of Western Asia, frequently mentioned in Scripture. David defended his flocks against the attacks of a bear ( 1 Samuel 17:34-37 ). Bears came out of the wood and destroyed the children who mocked the prophet Elisha ( 2 Kings 2:24 ). Their habits are referred to in Isaiah 59:11 ; Proverbs 28:15 ; Lamentations 3:10 . The fury of the female bear when robbed of her young is spoken of ( 2 Samuel 17:8 ; Proverbs 17:12 ; Hosea 13:8 ). In Daniel's vision of the four great monarchies, the Medo-Persian empire is represented by a bear ( 7:5 ).
( 1 Samuel 17:34 ; 2 Samuel 17:8 ) The Syrian bear, Ursus syriacus, which is without doubt the animal mentioned in the Bible, is still found on the higher mountains of Palestine. During the summer months these bears keep to the snowy parts of Lebanon, but descend in winter to the villages and Gardens. It is probable also that at this period in former days they extended their visits to other parts of Palestine.
bar (dobh; compare Arabic dubb):
In 1 Samuel 17:34-37, David tells Saul how as a shepherd boy he had overcome a lion and a bear. In 2 Kings 2:24 it is related that two she bears came out of the wood and tore forty-two of the children who had been mocking Elisha. All the other references to bears are figurative; compare 2 Samuel 17:8; Proverbs 17:12; 28:15; Isaiah 11:7; 59:11; Lamentations 3:10; Daniel 7:5; Hosea 13:8; Amos 5:19; Revelation 13:2. The Syrian bear, sometimes named as a distinct species, Ursus Syriacus, is better to be regarded as merely a local variety of the European and Asiatic brown bear, Ursus arctos. It still exists in small numbers in Lebanon and is fairly common in Anti-Lebanon and Hermon. It does not seem to occur now in Palestine proper, but may well have done so in Bible times. It inhabits caves in the high and rugged mountains and issues mainly at night to feed on roots and vegetables. It is fond of the chummuc or chick-pea which is sometimes planted in the upland meadows, and the fields have to be well guarded. The figurative re ferences to the bear take account of its ferocious nature, especially in the case of the she bear robbed of her whelps (2 Samuel 17:8; Proverbs 17:12; Hosea 13:8). It is with this character of the bear in mind that Isaiah says (Isaiah 11:7), "And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together."
Alfred Y. Day
These files are public domain.