CATTLE. This word has a wide meaning (see below) but is here taken in its narrower sense of oxen. All words applied to this group are treated.
The Eng. terms for cattle in various Eng. VSS are as follows: Bull, masculine, esp. adult used for breeding. Cow, feminine, esp. after first calf. Bullock, young bull, esp. after castration. Steer, in some countries used instead of bullock and bull. Heifer, young cow before calving. Calf, young of first year. Beeves, pl. of beef; now obsolete and poetic only. Kine, archaic pl. of cow; now cows. Ox, oxen. Still widely used for bovine animals, but now mostly in combination, as ox-tail, ox-cart. Becoming obsolete in most contexts for animal itself. Herd, usual group name for cattle and other large animals. Cattle, from old Eng. catel (property), hence livestock. Chattels, from same root, now obsolete or legal. In technical usage cattle are bovines wild and tame; in general use, domestic cattle only.
Origin and domestication.
Cattle are descended from a group of races of the aurochs (Bos primigenius) (see Ox). Nothing is likely to be found of the beginnings of domestication, but it was in Neolithic times, distinctly later than goats and sheep, and its focus was prob. in SW Asia. A more or less settled form of agriculture seems a prerequisite for dealing with animals as large and strong as oxen, that needed both enclosing and feeding. The cattle nomads of central Africa and elsewhere, e.g. Masai, came much later, with their pattern of life based on fully domesticated herds. Meat was prob. the prime object of bringing wild oxen under control; milking followed, then their use for draught purposes, on plows and later on carts. Their hides had always been used. The order and speed of development can only be conjectured, but their use for draught purposes must have been largely dependent on knowledge of the effect of castration in making them docile. The technique used will never be known, yet these primitive people, without even metal tools, undertook successfully the capture and breeding of wild cattle standing some six feet tall, a task now beyond the scope of any but a few experts armed with modern equipment.
Taming the ox changed the pattern of farming as radically as the horse improved transport some 2,000 years later. By the Bronze Age, long before the patriarchs settled in Pal., it had become part of the farming scene over much of Eurasia and in the Nile valley, with breeds serving particular purposes in various climates. Zoologists recognize several stocks as having contributed to the great complex of domestic cattle, notably longifrons, primigenius and zebu. It is generally thought that these came from geographical races tamed independently and later interbred. Cattle have now become by far the most important domestic animals, with a world population of perhaps 700 million. Of these some 200 million are sacred cattle of India, of no productive use, and many others, of poor quality, are kept in parts of Africa, largely as “wealth.” Milk and/or meat are now the main objects of management, but cattle also provide most of the world’s leather, and many other by-products, including manure. Their value as draught animals is steadily decreasing.
Cattle in early Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India.
Horns and other features are useful for identifying the many paintings, carvings and figurines, often highly stylized, which can now be dated accurately. Several sites of c. 4500 b.c. in Mesopotamia give evidence that distinct types had already developed, including the humped zebu cattle now typical of India and Africa. Mosaics and seals from many sites of 4th and early 3rd millenniums show cattle in a wide range of uses. In Egypt the earliest material is dated about mid-4th millennium, but within a short period four distinct breeds can be found. Painted temple reliefs and models show that these cattle had a range of colors, including black, brown and multi-colored. In early dynastic times the bull became important in Egyp. religion, esp. the deity Apis, which had its origin in prehistoric Egypt. The bull cult reached its peak in Minoan Crete, about the time the Hebrews were in captivity. It had also been a vogue in ancient Mesopotamia, with bull-men, winged bulls, etc. prominent in art and architecture. Early Indian civilization, 4th millennium b.c., had humped cattle, prob. from a local race, as well as other forms. Western Europe was then in a much earlier phase of development; sub-sequently the sudden appearance of several types suggests that immigrant people brought them.
Cattle in Palestine.
Evidence from Pal. is still incomplete as regards races, but the Biblical record makes it clear that cattle were kept widely and in great numbers. To the Hebrews and many contemporary peoples, cattle meant wealth, animals for sacrifice, and providers of everyday needs in food, clothing and labor. Abram brought cattle back from Egypt, and the Hebrews, at the Exodus took their herds. The Hebrews became skilled at animal husbandry and prob. developed several breeds suited to the various natural regions of Pal. (see ¶ 1 above). Oxen were used esp. for plowing and threshing, which was done by pulling a hardwood sledge, on which the driver stood, around the threshing floor. They also used a simple cart, usually drawn by a pair of oxen. Apart from four figs. mentioned, the ox cart features in only two incidents, both concerning the transport of the Ark (
F. E. Zeuner, A History of Domesticated Animals (1963).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(behemah, "a dumb beast"; miqneh, "a possession" from qanah, "to acquire" (compare Arabic qana’, "to acquire," and Greek kienos, "beast," and plural ktenea, "flocks," from ktaomai, "to acquire," flocks being both with the Homeric peoples and with the patriarchs an important form of property; compare English "fee"); tso’n "small cattle," "sheep" or goats (compare Arabic da’n, "sheep"); seh, a single sheep or goat (compare Arabic shah); mela’khah, "property," from la’akh, "to minister" (compare Arabic malakah and mulk, "property," from malak, "to possess"); meri’ "fatling" (
The wild ox or wild bull, the Revised Version (British and American) "antelope" (te’o or to’ of
Our domestic cattle are believed by some of the best authorities to be of the same species as the ancient European wild ox or aurochs, Bos taurus, which is by others counted as a distinct species under the title of Bos primigeniusú The aurochs was widely spread over Europe in Roman times, but is now extinct. Some degenerate wild cattle are preserved in some British parks, but these according to Lydekker in the Royalare probably feral descendants of early domestic breeds. Tristram cites the occurrence in the Dog River bone breccia of teeth which may be those of the aurochs, but this is a deposit accumulated by prehistoric man of an unknown antiquity to be variously estimated according to the predilections of the geologist at a few thousands or a few score of thousands of years, and is far from proving that this animal existed in Palestine in Bible times or at any time.
The European bison (Bos or Bison bonassus) is thought by some to be the wild ox of the Bible. This is a forest-dwelling species and is now confined to the forests of Lithuania and the Caucasus. It was formerly more widely distributed, but there is no certain evidence that it ever lived as far South as Palestine, and there have probably never existed in Palestine forests suitable to be the haunts of this animal.
About theand the Jordan valley and in the plain of Coele-Syria there exist today Indian buffaloes (Bos bubalus) some feral and some in a state of domestication, which are believed to have been introduced in comparatively recent times.
J. P. Van Haitsma, The Supplanter Undeceived (1941), private printing.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
kou, kin (baqar (compare Arabic baqar, "cow"); `eghlath baqar (
(1) ’alaphim, plural of ’eleph, "ox," or "cow," the American Standard
(2) baqar, "ox" or "cow," the American Standard Revised Version "herd," the King James Version and the English Revised Version "kine" (
(3) paroth plural of parah, "young cow" or "heifer," the Revised Version (British and American) "kine" in
COW, KINE, CATTLE (chiefly פָּרָה, H7239, ox, heifer, but varied terms used). These designations include sheep and goats (
Cows were seldom sacrificed, but when they brought the ark back to the people of Bethshemesh, the two milch cows were promptly sacrificed. Bulls were the usual sacrifices (see Bull). A heifer, along with a goat, a ram and birds became the seal of a covenant God made with Abram (
Meat was staple food in Solomon’s time; ten fat oxen and twenty pasture-fed cattle were provision for one day. The prodigal son has made the fatted calf famous (
The cattle of Laban flourished under Jacob’s guidance until Jacob was ready to leave for his home. He bargained for the speckled and spotted and black and received many of the kind he wished because the recessive traits, not apparent in the breeding animals came to expression in the following generations. This is normal Mendelian heredity except that more recessives appeared than expected ordinarily. God’s providence was at work to repay Jacob for his labors.
Symbolic use of the flock is made by Zechariah who said “the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for want of a shepherd” and so he was appointed the shepherd of the flock which God cares for (
When the One comes whom the nations seek, the calf will dwell with the lion, the cow and the bear shall feed and His dwellings shall be glorious (