The Goat


There are two kinds of goat in the countries where the Bible was
written; one very much like those that we sometimes see; the other
differing from it in several respects, especially in the greater length
of its ears. It is supposed that the prophet Amos speaks of the latter
kind when he says, "As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion,
two legs or a piece of an ear." The ear of this kind of goat is so long
that a large piece might easily be bitten off; it sometimes measures
more than a foot.

Solomon says, in the Proverbs, when speaking to a man who is diligent in
his work, "Thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food
of thy household, and for the maintenance of thy maidens." This seems
strange to us, because we are not much used to it; but in those
countries the milk of the goat is very sweet and good, and is often made
into cheese.

The people there often have a great number of goats. Jacob sent a
present of two hundred and twenty to his brother Esau; and a great king,
mentioned in the Bible, once received seven thousand seven hundred as a
gift. A man is mentioned in the first book of Samuel who owned a
thousand goats: perhaps you can find the place; and if you do, you will
see in the next verse what his name was, and also the name of his wife.

There are two kinds of hair upon the goat; one is long and coarse, the
other soft and fine. Of the first kind the people make a kind of rough,
coarse cloth; the other is made into very fine cloth, almost as soft as
silk. A part of the curtains for the tabernacle were made of goats'

The bottles mentioned in the Bible were usually made of goat-skins: the
people in those days had not learned to make glass. When they had been
used a long time, they became worn, so that they would not hold what was
put in them. Our Savior once said, "Neither do men put new wine into
old bottles;" this was because the new wine would ferment and the
leathern bottles would burst. There is a story in the Old Testament
about some men who wished to deceive Joshua, and lead him to think that
they lived at a very great distance from him, when they really lived
very near. So it is said, (Josh. 9:4, 5) "They took old sacks upon
their asses, and wine-bottles, old and rent, and bound up; and old shoes
and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the
bread of their provision was dry and mouldy" Then they said to Joshua,
(verses 12 and 13) "This our bread we took hot for our provision out of
our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold it
is dry, and it is mouldy. And these bottles of wine which we filled
were new, and behold they be rent; and these our garments and our shoes
are become old by reason of the very long journey."

The Israelites had a singular custom in ancient times, about which you
may read in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus. It was commanded by
God, and was to be observed once in every year. On the morning of the
day appointed for it, the high-priest was to wash in pure water, and
clothe himself in a dress of clean white linen. Then two fair and
handsome young goats were brought to him, one of which was to be killed.
The priest was to cast lots, that he might know which of them it should
be; then he was to kill him, sprinkle his blood upon the altar seven
times, and burn the flesh. Afterwards he was to take the live goat, lay
both hands upon his head, and confess over him the sins of the
Israelites, "putting them upon the head of the goat." Then the animal
was given into the care of a man who led him away and let him go in the
wilderness, "bearing upon him all the iniquities" of the people. This
goat was a type of our Savior; that is, it represented what he
afterwards did, when he came into the world and "bore our sins."