shuw'al, from sha'al "to burrow" (Nehemiah 4:3; Lamentations 5:18; Matthew 8:20). In Hebrew including also the jackal which preys on unburied carcasses; "they shall be a portion for jackals" (Psalm 63:9-10), fulfilled on "the seekers after David's soul" (2 Samuel 18:7-17). So Samson's 300 jackals (Judges 15); for jackals are gregarious, the fox is solitary. The Arab shikal, "jackal", is related to the Hebrew shu'al. That jackals were common in Israel appears from the names of places compounded with shual, as Hagar-shual, Shaalbim; (compare Foxhayes, etc., in our own land;) being gregarious they would naturally run in couples, tied together by a cord of two or three yards length; Samson probably had men to help him, and caught and let them loose from different places to consume the greater quantity of the Philistines' grain.
Fond of grapes; (Song of Solomon 2:15) "take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines." The bride after awaking from her past unwatchfulness is the more jealous of subtle (fox-like) sins (Psalm 139:23). In spiritual winter evil weeds as well as good plants are frozen up; in the spring of revivals these start up unperceived, crafty false teachers spiritual pride, uncharitableness (Psalm 19:12; Matthew 13:26; Hebrews 12:15). Little sins beget the greatest (Ecclesiastes 10:1; 1 Corinthians 5:6). Ezekiel 13:4; "thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts," where the foxes from having nothing to eat become doubly ravenous and crafty to get food. So, in Israel, once a vineyard now a moral desert, the prophets whose duty was to guard the church from being spoiled themselves spoil it, through crafty greed of gain.
So, Jesus calls Herod "that fox." The Lord had withdrawn from His plotting foes in Judea to the retired region beyond Jordan, Peraea. The Pharisees came to expedite His departure by pretending "Herod was seeking to kill Him." Herod was wishing Him to depart, feeling embarrassed how to treat Him whether to honor or persecute Him (Luke 9:7-9; Luke 13:32). It was the Pharisees themselves who wished to kill Him. But Herod lent himself to their design and so played the "fox." Tell that fox that "today and tomorrow" I remain doing works of mercy in the borders of his province, "on the third day" I begin that journey which ends in My about to be consummated sacrifice. The common jackal of Israel is the Canis aureus which may be heard nightly; also the Vulpes vulgaris.