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Calf

The etymology of both words is uncertain, but the former has a close parallel in the Arabic `ijl, "calf." Par is generally used of animals for sacrifice, `eghel, in that and other senses. `Eghel is used of the golden calves and frequently in the expression, `eghel marbeq, "fatted calf," or "calf of the stall," the latter being the literal meaning (1Sa 28:24; Jer 46:21; Am 6:4; Mal 4:2).

At the present day beef is not highly esteemed by the people of the country, but mutton is much prized. In the houses of the peasantry it is common to see a young ram being literally stuffed with food, mulberry or other leaves being forced into its mouth by one of the women, who then works the sheep’s jaw with one hand. The animal has a daily bath of cold water. The result is deliciously fat and tender mutton. Such an animal is called a ma`luf. From the same root we have ma`laf, "manger," suggestive of the Hebrew marbeq, "stall."

The calf for sacrifice was usually a male of a year old. Other references to calves are: "to skip like a calf" (Ps 29:6); "the calf and the young lion and the fatling together" (Isa 11:6); "a habitation deserted .... there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof" (Isa 27:10).

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