The Hart and Hind


Several animals of the deer kind are mentioned in the Bible under the
names of Fallow-deer, Hart, Hind, and Roe-buck. They were all numbered
among the clean animals, or those which the Israelites were allowed to
eat; as we see in Deut. 14:4, 5, "These are the beasts which ye shall
eat; the ox, the sheep, the goat, the hart, the roe-buck and the fallow-
deer." In 1st Kings, 4:23, we read of the daily provision which was
made for king Solomon's table, and among the rest were "ten fat oxen,
and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and a hundred sheep, besides harts,
and roe-bucks, and fallow-deer."

These animals are all harmless, gentle, timid, loving and beautiful;
noted for their branching horns, for the elegance of their form, and for
their surprisingly swift and graceful motion. It has long been a
favorite amusement in eastern countries to pursue them in the chase; and
as the swiftest greyhound can scarcely overtake them, it is usual to
train hawks or falcons to attack them, and so delay them till the dogs
come up. They bound along over the plains, "fleet as the wind," seeming
scarcely to touch the ground: no motion can be more beautiful. In the
last verse of Solomon's Song we read, "Make haste, my beloved, and be
thou like to a roe, or to a young hart on the mountains of spices." The
35th chapter of Isaiah contains a beautiful description of the peaceful
kingdom which Christ will one day establish in the earth; and among
other things it is said, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame man
leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing."

The hart or hind is remarkably sure-footed as well as swift: this may
explain one or two verses in the Bible. David says, 2d Sam. 22:33, 34,
"God is my strength and power, and he maketh my way perfect. He maketh
my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places." In the
last verse of Habakkuk we read, "The Lord is my strength, and he will
make my feet like hinds' feet."

The male deer is called a hart, the female a hind; and their affection
for each other is beautiful. Solomon says in the Proverbs, "Rejoice
with the wife of thy youth; let her be as the loving hind and pleasant

The hart often suffers from thirst in the dry and sandy countries where
it lives-especially when pursued by the hunters; it then longs for
water, and plunges with the greatest eagerness into the cooling stream.
David says in the 42d Psalm, "As the hart panteth after the water
brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for
God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?"
Nothing could more strongly express his love to God, or his ardent
desire for communion with him. Happy is the child who has in his heart
such feelings towards God, and who finds pleasure in praying to him,
from day to day; he has been taught by the Holy Spirit, and is preparing
to meet God in peace. (See RoeRoe.)