Carcass

CARCASS, CARCASE. The dead body of a person or beast. The word is a translation of six different words in Scripture with root ideas of something fallen, faded, exhausted; or it may simply denote “body,” such as the lion’s carcass in Judg.14.8-Judg.14.9. The law of Moses, probably partly for sanitary reasons, required that carcasses of “unclean” beasts be considered abominable. See Lev.11.8-Lev.11.40.


CARCASS, CARCASE (פֶּ֫גֶר, H7007, dead body; nebelah, dead body; מַפֶּ֫לֶת, H5147, fallen body; Gr. πτω̂μα, G4773, corpse).

A carcass is a dead body of either a person or animal. When used with reference to a human being it has a derogatory or disdainful connotation. Figuratively it is used for an object or project that has lost its vitality or power of achievement.

“Carcase” has the same meaning as “carcass.” It is a variant in spelling rarely used in modern times, excepting in KJV, where it is uniformly used instead of “carcass.”

RSV avoids the use of either carcass or carcase with reference to persons and uses “body,” or “dead body” instead.

It was a serious offense to touch the carcass of an unclean animal (Lev 5:2).

Disdain for human bodies and virility of language is shown in Isaiah 34:3 (KJV), “The stink shall come up out of their carcases.”

Spunky David told Goliath, “I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth” (1 Sam 17:46 KJV).

Both the literal and figurative meanings of carcase is seen in Leviticus 26:30 (KJV), “and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols.”

The OT prophets in their pronouncement of future judgment used “carcase” frequently. Note Nahum 3:3 (KJV). Ezekiel 43:7 and 9, (KJV) refers to the worship of carcases of kings. Perhaps their tombs or monuments were used in idolatrous worship.

In the NT we find only two references to carcase in the KJV, and none at all in RSV. (See Matt 24:28 and Heb 3:17.)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

kar’-kas: The dead body of a beast; used sometimes in a contemptuous way of the dead body of a human being. The use of the word as applied to a living body is not found in either Old Testament or New Testament.

(1) It occurs as a translation of the Hebrew pegher, in Ge 15:11; this Hebrew word is also translated "dead body" in Nu 14:29; 1Sa 17:46; Isa 34:3; 66:24; Eze 6:5; 43:7-9, and "corpse" in Na 3:3.


(3) In Jud 14:8 the word mappelah, from naphal, "to incline" or "fall," is also translated "carcass."

(4) In Mt 24:28 the word "carcase" (not "carcass") is used to render the Greek ptoma, the reference probably being here to the dead body of an animal For the body of a human being the Greek is translated "corpse" (Mt 14:12; Mr 6:29; 15:45), and "dead bodies" (Re 11:8,9).