Oryx

ORYX ôr’ iks (תְּאוֹ, H9293, תֹ֣וא, wild bull, wild ox, KJV. Antelope ASV, RSV. There is no support for the KJV tr.). Some authorities consider this to be the Arabian or Desert oryx. The word occurs twice and each context gives some information. Its place in the list of clean meats (Deut 14:5) shows it to be one of the wild ruminants. Isaiah 51:20, “an antelope in a net” refers to a method of catching even big game that is mentioned several times in the OT. Modern firearms have made most game animals in the desert so scarce that it is no longer profitable, but catching with a net was practiced in Arab countries until toward the end of last cent. The oryx was one of few large animals living in the desert; there were also several kinds of gazelle which can be identified clearly in the Heb. and it is reasonable to tr. תְּאוֹ, H9293, as oryx. The Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) is the smallest of a group of four or five desert antelopes found mostly in Africa. Standing only three ft. at the shoulder, it is dirty white, and both sexes have slender horns, almost straight, up to nearly thirty inches long. Until the beginning of last cent. it was found through most suitable regions of the Middle E, but modern firearms, including machine guns, used from moving vehicles have reduced numbers until there are only two small groups left in the great deserts of S. Arabia. It is now one of the rarest animals in the world.

Bibliography

I. R. Grimwood, “Operation Oryx,” Journal Fauna Preservation Society (1967) 110-118. (This is an up-to-date account of the status of the oryx and the work being done to preserve it.)