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fox Summary and Overview

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fox in Easton's Bible Dictionary

(Heb. shu'al, a name derived from its digging or burrowing under ground), the Vulpes thaleb, or Syrian fox, the only species of this animal indigenous to Israel. It burrows, is silent and solitary in its habits, is destructive to vineyards, being a plunderer of ripe grapes (Cant. 2:15). The Vulpes Niloticus, or Egyptian dog-fox, and the Vulpes vulgaris, or common fox, are also found in Israel. The proverbial cunning of the fox is alluded to in Ezek. 13:4, and in Luke 13:32, where our Lord calls Herod "that fox." In Judg. 15:4, 5, the reference is in all probability to the jackal. The Hebrew word "shu'al" through the Persian "schagal" becomes our jackal (Canis aureus), so that the word may bear that signification here. The reasons for preferring the rendering "jackal" are (1) that it is more easily caught than the fox; (2) that the fox is shy and suspicious, and flies mankind, while the jackal does not; and (3) that foxes are difficult, jackals comparatively easy, to treat in the way here described. Jackals hunt in large numbers, and are still very numerous in Southern Israel.

fox in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(Heb. shu'al). Probably the jackal is the animal signified in almost all the passages in the Old Testament where the Hebrew term occurs. Though both foxes and jackals abound in Israel, the shu'alim (foxes) of #Jud 15:4| are evidently jackals and not foxes, for the former animal is gregarious, whereas the latter is solitary in its habits; and Samson could not, for that reason, have easily caught three hundred foxes, but it was easy to catch that number of jackals, which are concealed by hundreds in caves and ruins of Syria. It is not probable, however, that Samson sent out the whole three hundred at once. With respect to the jackals and foxes of Israel, there is no doubt that the common jackal of the country is the Canis aureus, which may be heard every night in the villages. It is like a medium-sized dog, with a head like a wolf, and is of a bright-yellow color. These beasts devour the bodies of the dead, and even dig them up from their graves.

fox in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

FOX . Neh 4:3. Under this term the jackal is included -- indeed, most of the references seem to be to that animal. The Orientals at the present time do not distinguish in common language between the two creatures. Both are common in Palestine. The fox (Vulpes vulgaris) is smaller than the jackal (Cam's aureus), and is of a reddish hue, while the latter is yellowish; hence its scientific name, meaning "the golden dog." It is the latter also, and not the fox, which devours the dead and follows armies that he may feed on human bodies left behind. Ps 63:10. Both animals are omnivorous, but the jackal, which goes in packs, is even more destructive to the vineyards than the other. Song 2:15. The crafty, artful nature of the fox is proverbial. Eze 13:4; Luke 13:32. He prowls singly for his prey of birds or small quadrupeds, which he takes by stratagem. Jackals are concealed by hundreds among the ruins, caves, and gardens of Syria. Lam 5:18. At sunset they come forth, and both then and at intervals through the night the traveller hears their cry, resembling the confused wailing of many infants. Evidently, the "foxes" which Samson The Syrian Fox. caught (Jud 15:4) were jackals. On this Tristram judiciously remarks: while Samson could not have caught so many foxes, "he might easily have 'snared,' as the Hebrew expresses it, 300 jackals, which hunt in large packs, and which are still most numerous in southern Palestine. It is not necessary to assume that the whole 300 were caught at once or turned loose in the same place, but rather that Samson, having taken them, turned them loose in many different places, so as to make 150 incendiary fires, and to cause the widest possible injury to the standing crops of the Philistines. The brands would be attached at some distance from the tails of the animals, and jackals, accustomed to run together, would not, unless very tightly fastened, pull in opposite directions, as foxes or dogs would; but the terrified animals would, so soon as ever they were let go, rush as fast as possible from their captor, and carry the devastation far and wide before the brand was extinguished." FRANKIN'CENSE (white), a dry, resinous, aromatic substance of a white or yellowish color, bitter and acrid to the taste, burning for a long time with a clear, steady, and very odoriferous flame. Several trees (of the genus Boswellia) which grow in India, Arabia, and Africa yield this gum from incisions in the bark. Along the coast of Hadramaut, a district of Arabia, as Carter has shown, frankincense (the olibanum of commerce) is produced, as was affirmed by Herodotus, Celsius, other ancient writers, and the Bible. Isa 60:6; Jer 6:20, The Arabian species (B. Carterii) somewhat resembles, especially in its Boswellia Thurifera. (Colehrooke. Supposed Frankincense. After Dr. Birdwood.) pinnate leaves when young, the mountain-ash. This gum, in the above and other passages, is mentioned simply as "incense." It is called frank because of the freeness with which it burns and gives forth its odors; and the pure incense is that which is first obtained, and is freest from foreign admixture. "Sweet incense," Ex 30:7, might as well be rendered "incense of spices," and is the composition mentioned in Ex 30:34. The use of incense in the Jewish worship may be learned from Ex 30:7 and Lev 16:12-13, and it is figuratively employed to represent lovely and agreeable qualities. Song 3:6; Song 4:6, Song 4:14, and devotional fervor. Ps 141:2; Mal 1:11;Rev 8:3. FRANK'LY is used in Luke 7:42 in the sense of "freely."

fox in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

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.