(Heb. pered), so called from the quick step of the animal or its power of carrying loads. It is not probable that the Hebrews bred mules, as this was strictly forbidden in the law ( Leviticus 19:19 ), although their use was not forbidden. We find them in common use even by kings and nobles ( 2 Samuel 18:9 ; 1 Kings 1:33 ; 2 Kings 5:17 ; Psalms 32:9 ). They are not mentioned, however, till the time of David, for the word rendered "mules" (RSV correctly, "hot springs") in Genesis 36:24 (yemim) properly denotes the warm springs of Callirhoe, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. In David's reign they became very common ( 2 Samuel 13:29 ; 1 Kings 10:25 ).
Mules are not mentioned in the New Testament. Perhaps they had by that time ceased to be used in Palestine.
a hybrid animal, the offspring of a horse and an ass. "The mule is smaller than the horse, and is a remarkably hardy, patient, obstinate, sure-footed animal, living, ordinarily, twice as long as a horse." --McClintock and Strongs Cyclopedia. It was forbidden to the Israelites to breed mules, but sometimes they imported them. It would appear that only kings and great men rode on mules. We do not read of mules at all in the New Testament; perhaps therefore they had ceased to be imported.
mul (peredh (1 Kings 10:25; 18:5; Ezra 2:66; Isaiah 66:20; Zechariah 14:15), the feminine pirdah (1 Kings 1:33,38,44), rekhesh, "swift steeds," the King James Version "mules" (Esther 8:10,14), 'achashteranim, "used in the king's service," the King James Version "camels," the Revised Version margin "mules" (Esther 8:10,14), yemim, "hot springs," the King James Version "mules" (Genesis 36:24); hemionos, "half-ass," "mule" (1 Esdras 5:43; Judith 15:11)):
Mules are mentioned as riding animals for princes (2 Samuel 13:29; 18:9; 1 Kings 1:33,38,44); in the tribute brought to Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:24); as beasts of burden (2 Kings 5:17; 1 Chronicles 12:40); horses and mules are obtained from the "house of Togarmah" in the distant north (Ezekiel 27:14). The injunction of Psalms 32:9, "Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding," need not be understood as singling out the horse and mule as more in need of guidance than the rest of the brute creation, but rather as offering familiar examples to contrast with man who should use his intelligence.
At the present day mules are used as pack animals and for drawing freight wagons, rarely for riding. One does not often see in Palestine mules as large and fine as are common in Europe and America. This may be because most of the mares and many of the donkeys are small.
Alfred Ely Day
These files are public domain.