The Ibex or Wild Goat


The Ibex is a kind of goat, but different from the one described at page
33. It is sometimes called the Rock Goat, or Wild Goat; and the last is
the name given it in the Bible. It resembles the common goat, but is
larger, and its horns are much longer; they are sometimes considerably
more than a yard in length, beautifully curved, and surrounded by many
curious rings or ridges.

It lives in places where you would think no animal could get without
falling and breaking its neck; you would be frightened to see it
sometimes, when it climbs up rough and narrow places, or jumps from one
great rock to another. But God has given it just such a kind of foot as
it needs; it has a small hoof, something like those of a sheep,
excepting that it is hollow underneath, and has a sort of ridge around
it by which the animal can cling to the rock, and so keep from slipping.
I never heard of such a thing as one of them sliding off the rocks,
unless it was pursued by the hunters. Two goats once met on a high
narrow path, where there was just room for one to walk. There was a
high rock rising close to their shoulders on one side, and on the other
was a place so steep that it would have made you dizzy to look down.
They could not go back without danger of falling, and they could not
pass each other; what do you think they could do, but stay there and
starve? It seemed for a little while as if they were considering about
it; at last one bent his knees and laid down, and the other walked
safely over his back.

The ibex feeds during the night in the highest woods that grow on the
mountains; but as soon as the sun rises it begins to climb, eating the
grass or whatever it finds, till it has got up where it is too high for
trees to grow. They go in small companies of eight or ten, and lie down
in sunny places among the rocks while the sun is hot; but about three or
four o'clock in the afternoon they begin to go down again towards the
woods. They can climb up rather more easily than they can get down,
because their fore legs are shorter than the others.

See how the ibex or wild goat is spoken of in the Bible. In the one
hundred and fourth Psalm you may find the words, "The high hills are a
refuge for the wild goats;" and another place where the animal is
mentioned is in the twenty-fourth chapter of first Samuel: "Saul took
three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and
his men upon the rocks of the wild goats." I should like to have you
read with me the whole history of Saul and David in the Bible, so that
we might talk about it, for it is very interesting; but now I can only
write down what this one verse means. David had been made king over
Israel by the command of God; but Saul, who was a very wicked man, was
determined to kill him. So David was obliged to fly for his life, with
only a few faithful friends; and month after month he hid himself in one
place and another, so that Saul might not find him. At last he came to
a wild, gloomy place, where nobody lived, near the Dead Sea: it was
rocky, and there were many wild goats there. He thought he was safe
now; but Saul heard where he was and came after him.

One night Saul and his men went into a large dark cave among the
mountains, and behold David and his friends were already there; but they
were hidden, so that Saul did not know it. David's men wanted very much
to kill Saul, now that he was in their power, but David would not allow
them. He only cut off a small piece from the robe that Saul wore, and
he was sorry afterwards that he had done even as much as this He did not
hurt Saul in the least, but allowed him to go safely out of the cave,
though he might have killed him as easily as not. Was not this
returning good for evil?