"Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are mine."-Ps. 50:10,11.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1842, by R.S. Cook, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New-York.
Right of publishing transferred to the American Tract Society.
This is now in the public domain
The Ant | The Ass | The Bear | The Bee | The Camel | The Dog | The Eagle | The Fox, or Jackal | The Goat | The Hart and Hind | The Horse | The Ibex, or the Wild Goat | The Jerboa, or Mouse | The Kite | The Leopard | The Lion | The Locust | The Mole | The Night-Hawk | The Ostrich | The Peacock | The Pelican | The Quail | The Raven | The Roe, or Gazelle | The Scorpion | The Sheep | The Stork | The Turtle-Dove | The Unicorn | The Vulture | The Whale | The Wolf
If you look at the sixth verse of the sixth chapter of Proverbs, you will read, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise." A sluggard, you know, is a man, or woman, or child, who does not love to read or to do any kind of work, but likes to sleep or be idle all the day long. Do you think you were ever acquainted with one? Now see what the Bible tells the sluggard to do. It bids him go to the little ant, and "consider her ways," that is, look on and see what she does. Have you ever watched the ants when they were busy at work? It will give you very pleasant employment for half an hour on a summer's day.
In some places you may see small anthills scattered about, so close together that you can hardly step without treading on them; and you may find other places where there are not so many, but where the hills are much larger. I have seen them so large that you could hardly step over one of them without touching it with your foot and breaking some part of it.
And then how busy the little creatures are! Just kneel down on the grass beside them, and notice how they work! You will see one little fellow creeping along as fast as he can go, with a grain of sand in his mouth, perhaps as large as his head. He does not stop to rest, but when he has carried his grain to help build the hill, away he goes for another. You may watch them all day and never see them idle at all.
You see why God tells the sluggard to go and look at the little ants: it is that when he sees them so busy, he may be ashamed of himself for being idle, and learn to be "wise," or diligent in whatever he undertakes. I should not think he could help going to work, after he had looked at them a little while.
The ants seem to be very happy, and I think it is because they are so busy. God has put nobody in this world to be idle: even children have something to do.
The inside of an ant-hill is very curious, but it is not easy to examine it without destroying all the work that the little insects have taken so much pains to finish.
There is a kind of ant in warm climates that builds for itself hills as high as a man. They are not made of sand, but of a kind of clay; and have a great many cells or apartments, and many winding passages leading from one part to another. All this is done, as the Bible says, without "guide, overseer or ruler;" that is, they have no one to direct them how to do it. God gives them skill just as he does to the honey-bees in building the beautiful cells which you have so often admired; all His works are wonderful.
Perhaps you may have seen the ass, though it is not very common in this country. It has some resemblance to a horse, but is not as large, and generally seems rather sleepy and dull. In some countries, such as those where the Bible was written, it is a fine large animal, and the people use it for riding.
Some persons mentioned in the Bible owned a great many asses. Abraham had sheep, and oxen, and asses and camels; and Job had at one time five hundred asses, and afterwards he had a thousand.
A great many years ago, long before Christ came into the world, the rich men and the judges used to ride upon asses: so we read in the 10th verse of the 5th chapter of Judges, "Speak, ye that ride upon white asses, ye that sit in judgment." After this time many fine horses were brought into those countries, and the kings and great men liked them for riding: so the ass was used by the poorer people who could not buy a horse.
You remember that when our blessed Savior was entering Jerusalem a few days before his death, he rode upon an ass; thus showing his meekness and humility, even while the multitude were shouting his praises, and spreading their garments in the way to do him honor. How shall we be like our Savior, if we let pride stay in our hearts?
The ass is very gentle and patient, and does not seem angry even when he has a very heavy load to carry. I should be very sorry to have him treated unkindly. Though he seems so dull, he loves his master, and will sometimes find him out and run to him even when he is in a crowd of men. God says, in the Bible, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." Is it not a sad thing that the dull ass should be more grateful than we are?
Would it not seem to you very wonderful to hear a dog or a horse speak, so that you could understand what he said? It would be a strange thing indeed-a miracle; but you will find in the 22d chapter of Numbers that an ass once spoke to his master. The master's name was Balaam. He was a wicked man, and he was riding on an ass to a place where he knew God did not wish him to go.
As they were journeying an angel with a drawn sword in his hand stood in the way, but Balaam did not see him. The ass saw him, and was so afraid that she turned aside out of the road, and went into a field; then Balaam was angry and tried to drive her back into the way.
They had now come to a path of the vineyards, having a wall on each side, and there the ass saw the bright angel again. In trying to avoid the angel, the ass crushed Balaam's foot against the wall; and he was more angry and struck her again.
Then the angel went forward a little distance, and stood where the path was so narrow that it was impossible to pass him. The ass was now so much frightened that she would go no farther, and fell down in the road; and Balaam beat her in a great passion.
Then the ass spoke to Balaam and said, "What have I done to thee that thou hast smitten me these three times?" And when Balaam exclaimed, "I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now would I kill thee," she only replied, "Am I not thine ass upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever wont to do so unto thee?"
Can we not learn, even from the ass, a lesson of meekness and patience?
The wild ass is often mentioned in the Bible, as in Psalm 104:11. "They (the springs) give drink to every beast of the field; the wild asses quench their thirst." They live in desert places, and go about in great companies with one for their leader. You will find these words about them in the 39th chapter of Job: "Who hath sent out the wild ass free ? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings. He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing." Travellers who have seen great herds of wild asses say that the beautiful animal agrees exactly with this fine description, written so many years ago.
Did you ever hear children say, "He is as cross as a bear? I hope it will never be said of you, for nobody loves a child who is selfish and unkind, or who speaks cross and angry words. The bear is certainly a very cross animal; the name that was given to it in Bible times means a grumbler or growler.
It does not even like other bears, excepting its own young ones, but chooses to live by itself in the gloomiest woods-often in a dark cave, or in the hollow part of some great old tree. When winter begins, it lies down to sleep, and does not wake up till warm weather comes again; then it creeps out of its retreat, lean and hungry enough-and cross enough, too. It is not a handsome animal; its hair is rough and almost as close as wool, and its limbs are thick and clumsy. It eats nuts, juicy leaves, and such fruits and berries as grow in the woods; it is fond of honey, and will climb the highest trees to reach it; and when it is very hungry, it will kill any animal that comes in its way and is not too strong for it to conquer.
The bear loves its young ones more than almost any other animal does, as this little story will show you.
A bear with two cubs or young ones once came over the ice near to a ship where the sailors had just killed a large animal. The bears were very hungry, and the sailors threw over some pieces of flesh for them; the old bear would tear them up, giving most of the meat to the cubs, and keeping but little for herself. Presently some one in the ship cruelly shot both the young ones-then their mother was full of sorrow. She had been hurt herself by the guns, but she crawled along to her cubs, put her paw upon them, and tried to have them get up; and when she found that they did not move, she went a few steps off, and then looked back with a sad, moaning noise, as though she expected them to get up and follow her. When she saw that all her efforts were useless, she walked around them several times, turned towards the vessel with a terrible growl-for she was angry enough to tear in pieces the men who had killed her youngand then lay down between her cubs and died.
Does not his help you to understand this verse in the 17th chapter of 2d Samuel? "For thou knowest thy father and his men, that they are mighty men, and they are chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps (or cubs) in the field;"-and this also, Hosea 13:8, "I will meet them as a bear bereaved of her whelps." Such verses as these show that the writers of the Bible were acquainted with the habits of different animals: we never find any mistakes in what they say about them.
Solomon says in his Proverbs, "As a roaring lion and a ranging bear, so is a wicked ruler over the poor people." You have often read or heard the sad story in the 2d of Kings, how forty-two children were killed at one time by two bears out of the wood. Do you understand why God allowed this? Elijah, a holy servant of God, had just been taken up to heaven in a bright chariot with horses of fire; and these rude and wicked children called out to Elisha, "Go up, thou bald head!"-that is, "Go up, as Elijah did, to heaven."
This mockery would have been very wrong, even if Elisha had not been a holy prophet, for God has said, "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man;" but the children were really dishonoring God in their treatment of his servant, and it was for this reason that He was so displeased with them.
Do you remember what David said when he was trying to persuade king Saul to let him go and fight with the great giant Goliath? Saul thought he was too young, and by no means strong enough; but David said, "Thy servant was keeping his father's sheep, and there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock, and thy servant slew both the lion and the bear." He said also, "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine." You see why David was not afraid to meet the giant. It was not because he felt strong of himself, but he believed that God would be near to help him; and it was the same feeling that led him to say afterwards, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me." Happy will it be for you, dear child, if you can say the same words, with peace in your heart, when you lie down to die.
Although the bee is so small an animal, it is very well known; and many learned men have spent a great deal of time in observing it, and have written many very curious things about it. They tell us that there is in every hive a queen, larger than the rest, whom they all follow and obey; and that if she dies or is carried away, they all leave their work and unless the queen is restored or another one provided, they refuse to eat, and soon die. Only one queen is allowed in a hive at a time. She does not go out to gather honey, but those who attend upon her bring to her cell as much as she wants.
It is very pleasant to watch the bees at their work, for they are quite as busy as the ants, and as they are so much larger, it is more easy to see what they are doing. Every thing about them seems curious and beautiful; their waxen cells, their manner of gathering honey and storing it up, their neatness and order, all are admirable.
They are perfectly harmless when left to themselves; but if they are attacked, they fly around the person who disturbs them, in great numbers, and sometimes sting him very severely. David once said of his enemies, "They compassed me about like bees."
Honey is often spoken of in the Bible. When Jacob wished his sons to go down into Egypt a second time to buy food, he said to them, "Take of the best fruits of the land in your vessels, and carry down the man (Joseph) a present; a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, nuts and almonds." God told the children of Israel that he would give them "a land flowing with milk and honey," meaning one that was beautiful and fertile, producing abundantly every thing that would be needed for their comfort.
When David had been obliged to flee from Jerusalem to escape his wicked son Absalom, he was in great want of provisions for himself and his followers. After a long and fatiguing march he reached a certain city; and there three rich men who were friendly to him, sent "wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese," besides beds for them to rest on; "for they said, The people is hungry, and wary, and thirsty in the wilderness."
Perhaps no man ever loved the commandments of God more truly than king David. He says in the Psalms, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" and again he says of God's judgments, "More are they to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb."
Besides the bees that live in hives, there are many called wild bees, which live in the woods, and put their honey in the clefts of rocks, or in old trees and other similar places.
In the fourteenth chapter of Judges you will find this story: There was a very strong man named Samson, and once when he was travelling by himself in a lonely place, a young lion came roaring along in the very path where he was going. Would you not have been afraid? I suppose Samson was, at first, for the lion was very strong and very hungry, and Samson had nothing in his hand to kill him with. But God gave him strength, and when the lion came up, Samson caught hold of him and tore him in pieces, as you would tear a piece of cloth. Then he left him dead on the ground. Sometime after he came back the same way, and thought he would look after the lion that he had killed. He soon found the skeleton, that is, the dry bones without any flesh on them; and when he looked at the parts of the dead lion he found that a swarm of bees had been there, and laid up a great plenty of honey. So he took some of it in his hands to eat as he went along.
You can learn of the little bee to try to be useful, and to resolve in the words of the hymn which I dare say you have learned:
"In works of labor or of skill
"I would be busy too;
"For Satan finds some mischief still
"For idle hands to do.
"In books, or work, or healthful play,
"Let my first years be past;
"That I may give for every day
"Some good account at last."
There are two or three varieties of the camel, but they do not differ from each other much more than our horses, some of which, the stout and strong, we use to draw heavy loads; others, more slender and graceful, we use for riding.
The swift camel is called a Dromedary; it will carry its rider a hundred miles a day. Dromedaries are mentioned in the book of Esther, where messages were to be sent in haste to all parts of a vast kingdom; the messengers rode "on mules, and camels, and young dromedaries."
This is a very large animal and is mentioned a great many times in the Bible. I think you will like to find all these places, and see what is said about the camel. It seems as though God made it to live in just such countries as it does, for it can go a great many days without drinking any water; and if it were not for this, it would die of thirst, because the wells and springs are so far apart. If the people of those countries had not the camel they could not travel; so you see how kind God is to them.
The foot of the camel is curious. It is very broad, having two divisions with a horny tip at the end of each; and underneath is a sort of elastic cushion, like a sponge, on which the animal treads. It is very strange to see a dozen or twenty large and heavy camels pass along almost without any noise; so still that you would hardly know they were coming if you did not look up.
There is a very beautiful story in the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis, in which there is something about camels. I will tell you part of it. In the country where it happened a man does not generally choose a wife for himself, but his father or some other friend chooses for him. You have heard about Abraham, and know that he was a good man and a friend of God.
When his son Isaac was forty years old, Abraham wished to find a wife for him, but he was not willing to take one from among the people where he lived, because they were very wicked. So he called a good old servant that he had-a gray-headed man-and told him that he wished him to go to a distant country and bring a wife for Isaac from there.
Then Eliezer, the servant, took several other servants, and ten of his master's camels, and many presents, and started on his journey. After they had travelled a great many days, they came near to the city where Abraham had told them to go. It was just before night, and that was the time when the young women used to go out of the city to draw water.
I have told you that there are not many wells in that country, so that a great many persons draw water at one place. It is the custom for females to go for it, and they usually carry it in pitchers on their heads.
Eliezer made his camels lie down by this well, because they had come to the end of their journey and were very tired. But how was he to know who would be a good wife for Isaac, among all the women of this large city? He did not know; but he was a good man, and he prayed to God to choose one for him, and let him know which she was. And he asked God to let him know in this way which I will tell you.
When the young women came out to the well, he was going to ask them for some water, and he prayed that the one who answered him kindly, and gave him drink, might be the right one for Isaac's wife.
Pretty soon he saw a young woman coming with her pitcher on her head, and she was very fair and handsome; but this alone did not satisfy Eliezer. He waited till she had drawn some water and placed it upon her head. Then he said to her, "I pray thee let me drink a little water from they pitcher;"-and she took it down and resting it on her hand, answered very pleasantly and kindly, "Drink, my lord." While he was drinking, she saw that he looked like a stranger, and that his camels seemed tired with the journey, and she was sorry from them. So she said, "I will draw water for the camels too;"-and she did draw enough for all the ten camels, though she must have been pretty tired when it was done, for these animals drink a great deal.
From all these circumstances Eliezer felt sure that God had heard his prayer; and it gave him pleasure to think that if this young woman was willing to take so much trouble for a traveller whom she did not know, she would be a very kind and good wife.
I cannot tell you all; but Eliezer found that the young woman, whose name was Rebekah, was willing to go with him to be Isaac's wife. When all was ready for the journey she was seated upon one of the ten camels, and her nurse upon another, and some of her female servants upon others. After they had been riding some days, they came, just at evening, near the place where Isaac lived, and saw him walking in the field. He came to meet Rebekah, and was very glad to see her, and when she became his wife he loved her very much.
There are many dogs in the countries where the Bible was written, but the people do not like them as well as we do, and do not let them live about their yards and houses. So the dogs go wandering about without any master, and live on whatever they can find in the streets or around the markets.
In the fifty-ninth Psalm you will find the verse: "They return at evening; they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city," and a little farther on you will see, "Let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied." These verses show that the dogs wandered about in those days just as they do now. Sometimes when they do not find enough to eat, they become very fierce and cruel, so that you would be afraid to meet one of them.
There is a sad story in some of the chapters of the two books of Kings, in which you will find these dogs mentioned.
There was a very proud and wicked queen, named Jezebel, and she tried to make her husband, king Ahab, do all the evil she could. Once Ahab wanted a piece of ground that was near his palace, so that he might have it made into a garden, and he asked the owner of it, whose name was Naboth, to sell it to him. But Naboth was not willing, because he used it for his vineyard, and because his father had given it to him before he died.
Then Ahab was very angry about it, and acted just as I have seen some foolish children do when they were not pleased. He went into his great splendid house, and laid himself down on the bed; then he turned his face towards the wall, and when it was dinner time he would not get up or eat any thing.
So his wife Jezebel asked him what was the matter; and when she found out, she told him that he need not be troubled, for she could get that vineyard for him. Then she contrived to have Naboth killed by stoning, and when he was dead king Ahab took the vineyard.
Now you may be sure God was displeased with such wickedness as this, and you will think it was very right that he should punish the cruel Jezebel.
Do you think her husband Ahab ought to be punished too? I do; because he knew that his wife was going to kill Naboth, and yet he did not try to keep her from doing it. I think he was as wicked as she.
After Ahab had taken the vineyard, God sent to him the prophet Elijah to say to him these words, "Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine." And of Jezebel he said, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel."
Now see how the word of God was fulfilled, just as he had said. Pretty soon after this, king Ahab went out to fight with his enemies, and as he was riding along in his carriage a man drew his great, strong bow, and shot an arrow which pierced the king and almost killed him. He lived a few hours, until nearly night, and then he died. The blood had run down from his wound into the carriage, and after the king was dead they took it to the pool of Samaria to wash it: there the dogs came and licked up the blood of Ahab.
The wicked Jezebel lived some years after this, and one of her sons became king; but God raised up another king, named Jehu, who slew this son, and then went to Jezreel, the city where Jezebel lived. She heard he was coming, and feared that he meant to put her to death; but she determined that, instead of begging him to spare her life, she would act as though she was still a queen, and then perhaps he would not dare to injure her. So she put ornaments on her head, and painted her face, and then sat down by an upper window in all the splendor of a queen.
When Jehu came near, she called out to him in great anger and scorn, to reproach him for having put her son to death. When Jehu heard her voice and saw her sitting at the window, he cried out, "Who is on my side?" and two or three of the queen's officers looked out at the windows. Then he said to them, "Throw her down." They were very glad to get rid of the proud and cruel queen, and so they threw her down, as he had said. It was so far to the ground that she was killed immediately, and her blood was sprinkled upon the walls. But Jehu did not care for this; he went into the house to eat and drink.
After he had taken his dinner, he thought of Jezebel, and told some of his servants that they must go and bury her: but in the mean time a terrible thing had happened. The dogs had seized and devoured the body, and nothing was left of it but the feet, and the palms of the hands, and part of the bones of the head. So God's word came to pass, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel."
This is a very beautiful and innocent bird, and no one is mentioned more frequently in the Bible. It does not live upon the flesh of animals: so when Noah sent one out of the ark, she soon came back again, because she could find nothing to eat, and no rest for the sole of her foot. Noah put out his hand and gently took her in, and she did not go out again for a whole week. Then Noah let her fly, and the beautiful creature came back in the evening, having in her mouth a green leaf which she had plucked from an olive-tree; as though she wanted to tell him that the waters were beginning to dry up. After another week she went out, and did not come back again to the ark, because the earth was dry.
The dove was often offered as a sacrifice in ancient times; and was a type of our innocent Savior, to show how he would afterwards be put to death for the guilty. The Holy Spirit once condescended to take the form of a dove, when he rested upon Christ at the time of his baptism.
Our Savior speaks of the innocence of this bird when he says to his disciples, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." This bird has a very sweet but mournful voice; and this is referred to in the Bible.
Hezekiah, one of the Jewish kings, had been very sick and expected to die; but as he lay on his bed, he prayed that God would be pleased to spare his life. God heard his prayer, and promised that he should live fifteen years longer; and soon after he became quite well. He was grateful to God for his goodness, and wrote a beautiful song of praise to be sung in the temple. Among other things he told how he felt when he lay so sick upon his bed. He says, "Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove."
The turtle-dove is a bird of passage. It appears in Judea early in the spring, when the leaves are coming out, the flowers opening, and every thing looking lovely and beautiful. This will explain some verses in the Song of Solomon, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away, for lo ! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle (or turtle-dove) is heard in our land." It remains until summer is gone; and then flies away to a warmer climate to spend the winter.
It is in reference to this that David says, "Oh ! that I had wings like a dove ! for then would I flee away, and be at rest; lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness; I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest." You will find these beautiful verses in the 55th Psalm. Who would not wish to be like the gentle, peaceful dove?
Did you ever see an eagle? There were once a great many among the rocks and mountains of our own country, but they will not stay where there are many people; so they are seldom seen here now. They like to make their nests in high and rocky places, where nobody can find them; as a verse in the Bible says, "Though thou shouldest make thy nest on high as the eagle, yet will I bring thee down from thence."
Their nests are not usually made in trees like those of many other birds, neither are they shaped in the same way: they are nothing but a layer of sticks spread flat upon the rock, and covered with some hay or straw.
The care of the eagle for her young is spoken of in Deut. 32:11. "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings; so the Lord alone did lead him." This beautifully describes God's care over the children of Israel while they were passing through the wilderness; does it not also well express his kindness to us?
These birds fly very swiftly, and you will find verses in the Bible that speak of this. One is the forty-ninth verse of the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy. "The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, as swift as the eagle flieth." In another place it is said, "His horses are swifter than eagles." Job says, "My days are swifter than a post, (or post-rider;) they are passed away as the swift ships, as an eagle that hasteth to the prey."
The eye of the eagle is very curious. It has something like an inner eyelid, only it is very thin; and the eagle can draw this over its eye, like a curtain, whenever there is too much light. You have heard perhaps that it can look directly at the bright sun; and this is the reason. It can see a great deal farther than we can; and when it is very high in the air, so that it would look to you but little larger than a speck, it often sees some small animal on the ground and flies down to catch it.
See how well this bird was described a great many years ago: these are the last verses of the thirty-ninth chapter of Job: "Doth the eagle mount up at thy command and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth upon the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. Her young ones also suck up blood; and where the slain are, there is she."
The eagle lives a great many years; sometimes more than seventy, I believe. It sheds its feathers every spring, and new ones come out; then it looks like a young bird. This is why David says in the Psalms, "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed, (or comes again,) like the eagle's."
There is this beautiful verse in Isaiah, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." How blessed and happy a thing it is to be a christian indeed! to "wait upon the Lord" every day for the strength we need; and to be always preparing for that world where the inhabitants are for ever young, for ever active, for ever holy, for ever happy.
It is not quite certain whether the fox mentioned in the Bible is the same animal that we now call by that name. It probably means what we now call the jackal. This animal is about as large as a common sized dog, and its color is yellow, or reddish brown. It never goes out alone to seek its food, but always in companies of forty or fifty together. Then they make strange noises, which sound very much like the crying of children. They do not go out for their food in the daytime, but wait till it begins to be dark; and then they kill all the animals they can find that are not too strong for them.
Sometimes a large animal like the lion will hear the cries that they make when they are hunting, and will come and snatch away from them whatever they have found.
These foxes or jackals have been known to scratch away the earth from graves that have been lately made, and then devour the bodies of the dead. This explains a verse in the sixty-second Psalm, where David says of those who "seek his soul to destroy it,""They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for foxes." They eat plants of different kinds; sometimes roots, and sometimes fruits. This is one of the verses in Solomon's Song, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes which spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes."
These animals are often found in great numbers around the walls and ruins of old cities; they live in holes or burrows which they dig in the ground. Our Savior says, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." We have read this verse so many times that we scarcely think how much it means; but was it not a wonderful thing that when Christ came from his bright throne in heaven to this poor earth, he should not find even a home here? Every animal on all the hills has its shelter and hiding-place; every little bird in all the forest has its comfortable nest; but our Savior "had not where to lay his head." During all his life he was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." For whom did he suffer all this? and when his sorrowful life was ended, for whom did he die? I need not tell you this, dear child, but I may ask you, "Is there nothing we can do "To prove our grateful love?"
There are two kinds of goat in the countries where the Bible was written; one very much like those that we sometimes see; the other differing from it in several respects, especially in the greater length of its ears. It is supposed that the prophet Amos speaks of the latter kind when he says, "As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion, two legs or a piece of an ear." The ear of this kind of goat is so long that a large piece might easily be bitten off; it sometimes measures more than a foot.
Solomon says, in the Proverbs, when speaking to a man who is diligent in his work, "Thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance of thy maidens." This seems strange to us, because we are not much used to it; but in those countries the milk of the goat is very sweet and good, and is often made into cheese.
The people there often have a great number of goats. Jacob sent a present of two hundred and twenty to his brother Esau; and a great king, mentioned in the Bible, once received seven thousand seven hundred as a gift. A man is mentioned in the first book of Samuel who owned a thousand goats: perhaps you can find the place; and if you do, you will see in the next verse what his name was, and also the name of his wife.
There are two kinds of hair upon the goat; one is long and coarse, the other soft and fine. Of the first kind the people make a kind of rough, coarse cloth; the other is made into very fine cloth, almost as soft as silk. A part of the curtains for the tabernacle were made of goats' hair. The bottles mentioned in the Bible were usually made of goatskins: the people in those days had not learned to make glass. When they had been used a long time, they became worn, so that they would not hold what was put in them. Our Savior once said, "Neither do men put new wine into old bottles;" this was because the new wine would ferment and the leathern bottles would burst.
There is a story in the Old Testament about some men who wished to deceive Joshua, and lead him to think that they lived at a very great distance from him, when they really lived very near. So it is said, (Josh. 9:4, 5) "They took old sacks upon their asses, and wine-bottles, old and rent, and bound up; and old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy" Then they said to Joshua, (verses 12 and 13) "This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold it is dry, and it is mouldy. And these bottles of wine which we filled were new, and behold they be rent; and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey."
The Israelites had a singular custom in ancient times, about which you may read in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus. It was commanded by God, and was to be observed once in every year. On the morning of the day appointed for it, the high-priest was to wash in pure water, and clothe himself in a dress of clean white linen.
Then two fair and handsome young goats were brought to him, one of which was to be killed. The priest was to cast lots, that he might know which of them it should be; then he was to kill him, sprinkle his blood upon the altar seven times, and burn the flesh.
Afterwards he was to take the live goat, lay both hands upon his head, and confess over him the sins of the Israelites, "putting them upon the head of the goat." Then the animal was given into the care of a man who led him away and let him go in the wilderness, "bearing upon him all the iniquities" of the people.
This goat was a type of our Savior; that is, it represented what he afterwards did, when he came into the world and "bore our sins."
Several animals of the deer kind are mentioned in the Bible under the names of Fallow-deer, Hart, Hind, and Roe-buck. They were all numbered among the clean animals, or those which the Israelites were allowed to eat; as we see in Deut. 14:4, 5, "These are the beasts which ye shall eat; the ox, the sheep, the goat, the hart, the roe-buck and the fallow-deer."
In 1st Kings, 4:23, we read of the daily provision which was made for king Solomon's table, and among the rest were "ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and a hundred sheep, besides harts, and roe-bucks, and fallow-deer."
These animals are all harmless, gentle, timid, loving and beautiful; noted for their branching horns, for the elegance of their form, and for their surprisingly swift and graceful motion. It has long been a favorite amusement in eastern countries to pursue them in the chase; and as the swiftest greyhound can scarcely overtake them, it is usual to train hawks or falcons to attack them, and so delay them till the dogs come up.
They bound along over the plains, "fleet as the wind," seeming scarcely to touch the ground: no motion can be more beautiful. In the last verse of Solomon's Song we read, "Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart on the mountains of spices."
The 35th chapter of Isaiah contains a beautiful description of the peaceful kingdom which Christ will one day establish in the earth; and among other things it is said, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing."
The hart or hind is remarkably sure-footed as well as swift: this may explain one or two verses in the Bible. David says, 2d Sam. 22:33, 34, "God is my strength and power, and he maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places." In the last verse of Habakkuk we read, "The Lord is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet."
The male deer is called a hart, the female a hind; and their affection for each other is beautiful. Solomon says in the Proverbs, "Rejoice with the wife of thy youth; let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe."
The hart often suffers from thirst in the dry and sandy countries where it lives-especially when pursued by the hunters; it then longs for water, and plunges with the greatest eagerness into the cooling stream. David says in the 42d Psalm, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?" Nothing could more strongly express his love to God, or his ardent desire for communion with him. Happy is the child who has in his heart such feelings towards God, and who finds pleasure in praying to him, from day to day; he has been taught by the Holy Spirit, and is preparing to meet God in peace. (See RoeRoe.)
There is a fine description of a war-horse in the book of Job-a book which some think to be the oldest in the world. It is in the thirtyninth chapter. "Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? The glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength; he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him; the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains and the shouting."
In the fifth chapter of Judges you will find this verse. "Then were the horse-hoofs broken by the means of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones." And it seems likely from this, that it was not the custom to shoe horses in those days, so that their hoofs were more easily broken.
They had horses in Egypt in very ancient times, as you will find if you read the first part of the book of Exodus. You will see there how the children of Israel escaped from Egypt, after they had been kept in hard bondage a great many years; and how when they had gone only a short distance, the wicked king Pharaoh went after them to try to get them back.
There was a great company of the Israelites, men, women and children; they had nothing to ride on, and had their flocks and herds with them, so that they could not go very fast. They took the course which God directed, and it brought them to the Red Sea, where there were neither boats nor bridges for them to go over.
Just then they heard that Pharaoh and his army were coming after them. Some came in chariots of war, and of these there were six hundred drawn by horses; and a great many more came on horseback.
Now what could these people do? If they went on, they would be drowned; and if they went back, or stayed where they were, they would fall into the hands of the Egyptians. God told them not to be afraid, for he would take care of them; so he divided the waters of the sea, and made a dry road for them to go through, while the water stood up like a wall on each side of them. Then the Egyptians followed on, and God let the waters flow down upon them, so that they were all drowned.
Think what a sight it must have been, when the chariots, and horses, and men, were all surrounded by that great, mighty water, and then sunk down one after another, so that they could be seen no more.
The children of Israel sang a psalm of praise after God had saved them in this wonderful manner, and these words are a part of it: "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."
In one of the last chapters in the Old Testament you will find these words, "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD." This speaks of a time which has not yet come, but for which christians are looking, when this world will not be wicked as it now is; but when every thing, even the bells of the horses, shall be holy unto the Lord.
The Ibex is a kind of goat, but different from the one described at page 33. It is sometimes called the Rock Goat, or Wild Goat; and the last is the name given it in the Bible.
It resembles the common goat, but is larger, and its horns are much longer; they are sometimes considerably more than a yard in length, beautifully curved, and surrounded by many curious rings or ridges. It lives in places where you would think no animal could get without falling and breaking its neck; you would be frightened to see it sometimes, when it climbs up rough and narrow places, or jumps from one great rock to another.
But God has given it just such a kind of foot as it needs; it has a small hoof, something like those of a sheep, excepting that it is hollow underneath, and has a sort of ridge around it by which the animal can cling to the rock, and so keep from slipping. I never heard of such a thing as one of them sliding off the rocks, unless it was pursued by the hunters.
Two goats once met on a high narrow path, where there was just room for one to walk. There was a high rock rising close to their shoulders on one side, and on the other was a place so steep that it would have made you dizzy to look down. They could not go back without danger of falling, and they could not pass each other; what do you think they could do, but stay there and starve? It seemed for a little while as if they were considering about it; at last one bent his knees and laid down, and the other walked safely over his back.
The ibex feeds during the night in the highest woods that grow on the mountains; but as soon as the sun rises it begins to climb, eating the grass or whatever it finds, till it has got up where it is too high for trees to grow.
They go in small companies of eight or ten, and lie down in sunny places among the rocks while the sun is hot; but about three or four o'clock in the afternoon they begin to go down again towards the woods.
They can climb up rather more easily than they can get down, because their fore legs are shorter than the others.
See how the ibex or wild goat is spoken of in the Bible. In the one hundred and fourth Psalm you may find the words, "The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats;" and another place where the animal is mentioned is in the twenty-fourth chapter of first Samuel: "Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats."
I should like to have you read with me the whole history of Saul and David in the Bible, so that we might talk about it, for it is very interesting; but now I can only write down what this one verse means.
David had been made king over Israel by the command of God; but Saul, who was a very wicked man, was determined to kill him. So David was obliged to fly for his life, with only a few faithful friends; and month after month he hid himself in one place and another, so that Saul might not find him.
At last he came to a wild, gloomy place, where nobody lived, near the Dead Sea: it was rocky, and there were many wild goats there. He thought he was safe now; but Saul heard where he was and came after him. One night Saul and his men went into a large dark cave among the mountains, and behold David and his friends were already there; but they were hidden, so that Saul did not know it. David's men wanted very much to kill Saul, now that he was in their power, but David would not allow them. He only cut off a small piece from the robe that Saul wore, and he was sorry afterwards that he had done even as much as this He did not hurt Saul in the least, but allowed him to go safely out of the cave, though he might have killed him as easily as not. Was not this returning good for evil?
The kite is mentioned but once or twice in the Bible. In Leviticus, 11 : 13,14, it is named among the birds which the Israelites were not allowed to use for food. "And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination; the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, and the vulture, and the kite after its kind." These are all birds of prey, that is, they live by destroying other animals, and some of them are very fierce and cruel; I suppose this is one reason why they were not to be eaten.
The kite is a large bird, more than two feet long; and when its wings are spread it would take a string five feet and a half long to stretch from the tip of one across to the other. It does not fly very rapidly, but its motion in the air is very graceful and beautiful. On this account it has sometimes been called the Gled, or the gliding bird.
The kite is very much dreaded and disliked by those who have ducks and chickens, because it carries them off for food. It also eats frogs and moles: it is said that more than twenty of the latter have been found in one Kite's nest.
It is a cowardly bird, and does not attack any animal that is strong enough to defend itself. Its nest is usually built between the forked branches of some tall tree in the thickest part of the forest; and if you could look into one of them in the spring, you would probably see three eggs, almost white, but a little tinged with blue.
The leopard is a beautiful animal, though very savage and cruel. It is about as large as the largest of our dogs, but it looks much more like a cat than a dog. You have watched kittens at their play a hundred times, and you know how very quick, and pretty, and graceful all their motions are. It is just so with the leopard; and it can creep along too, as softly as a cat, and run up a tree after a monkey, as easily as a cat does after a bird.
It lives mostly upon young antelopes and deer, and it often lies still a long time watching one till it comes near, and then springs out upon it. The Bible says in one place, "A leopard shall watch over their cities; every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces;" and in another, "Therefore will I be to them as a lion; as a leopard by the way will I observe (or watch for) them."
The leopard runs very swiftly when it is trying to overtake any animal: the Bible says, "Their horses are swifter than leopards." Its color is a clear, handsome yellow, spotted with black; the spots are found in little groups, two, or three, or four together, and the skin is very smooth and shining. There is such a great difference between the color of the spots and the rest of the skin, that you would think it a very curious looking animal.
The 23d verse of the 12th chapter of Jeremiah is this: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil." It would be no easy thing to wash away the leopard's black spots; indeed nothing but God's power could do it. So it is not easy to do right when we have been used to do wrong, and have loved to do it: this is why we need to pray that God will "create a clean heart and renew a right spirit within" us.
Should we not be careful about every sinful habit? Remember, dear child, that such a habit in you may become fixed, almost like the leopard's spots; and pray God to help you love every thing that is "pure, and lovely, and of good report."
What a peaceful and happy time that will be, when Jesus our Savior shall reign in all the earth-when all men shall love him and each other-when "the leopard (fierce and cruel as it is now) shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." That bright day is coming; and if you love Christ, even you-a child-can do something to prepare for it.
You have seen pictures of the lion a hundred times, I suppose, and perhaps you have seen it alive; would you not like to know what the Bible says about it? You have heard it called the "king of beasts," because it is so strong and so bold; it is afraid of no other animal, and it is strong enough to carry away a horse or a buffalo. In the 30th verse of the 30th chapter of Proverbs, we read about "the lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any."
When king David was mourning for the death of Saul and Jonathan, he said, "They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions." How strong Samson must have been to take hold of a young lion and tear it in pieces with his hands!
Did you ever read a riddle in one of the chapters of Judges? This is it, "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness;" and it was made by Samson after he had found the honey in the skeleton of the lion, as I told you when speaking of the bee.
He promised some of his friends that he would give them thirty sheets and thirty changes of raiment, if they would find it out in seven days; but they would not have been able to do it, if Samson's wife had not told them what he meant. Then they came to him and said, "What is sweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion?"
The boldness of the lion is noticed in a verse in Isaiah: "Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them." In Proverbs, 28 : 1, you will read, "The wicked flee when no man pursueth; but the righteous is as bold as a lion."
This is true, dear child; and if you will love God and trust the kind Savior, there is nothing in all the wide world of which you need be afraid. God can take care of you as he did of Daniel, even if you were shut up in a dark cave with cruel and hungry lions around you.
The lion lies in his den and sleeps in the daytime, but at night he goes out to find his food. His eyes are a little like those of a cat, and he can see in the night better than we can. The Bible says, "Thou makest darkness and it is night; wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens."
It has soft feet, like a cat, so that it can creep quietly along and not frighten the animals that it means to kill, till it comes very near them. Sometimes the lion lies in his den, very still, until some animal comes by; then he gives a sudden spring, and seizes it just as a cat seizes a mouse. The Bible says, when speaking of a wicked man, "He lieth in wait secretly, as a lion in his den; he lieth in wait to catch the poor; he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net."
The lion has very strong claws hidden in the soft cushion of his paws, and when he has caught his prey he uses them to tear it in pieces.
His tongue is like that of a cat, only a great deal more rough, and with this he can strip the flesh off from the bones. David in one of the Psalms prays that God will save him from an enemy, "Lest," he says, "he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces when there is none to deliver."
The roaring of the lion is very terrible, especially at night. He seems to delight to be wandering around for his prey when it is dark and stormy; then when he puts his mouth near the ground, his roaring sounds like thunder, and all the animals that hear it are full of fear.
You have read of Satan, that most wicked being, who would be glad to make us as wicked as he is; the Bible says he is like "a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour." Let us pray God to keep us safe from this roaring lion.
Christ is sometimes called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." He is always gentle and kind to those who love him; but if we will not receive him as our Savior, the day is coming when he will meet us in judgment; then where can his enemies hide themselves.
The locust is called an insect, as well as the ant and the bee, but instead of being harmless, as they usually are, it does a great deal of injury. It is also much larger than they; for it is generally three inches long, and sometimes as much as four or five.
The plague of the locusts was the eighth that God sent upon the Egyptians, because they would not let the children of Israel go, as he commanded; and it was a very terrible one indeed. The Bible says, "They covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left; and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field through all the land of Egypt." This is the way they often do in those countries, though perhaps it is not common for so many to come at once.
They fly in companies of thousands together, and so close that they look like a great black cloud. When they alight on the ground they all come down in a body, and immediately begin to devour the grass and grain; they also eat the leaves of the trees, and every green thing they can find.
The people dread them more than they do the most terrible fire or storm; because though they are so small, they destroy all the food, and leave the people ready to starve. When the inhabitants see them coming over their fields, they try to drive them away by making loud noises or by kindling fires; but this does little good.
It is said that a great army of locusts came over the northern part of Africa about a hundred years before the birth of Christ. They consumed every blade of grass wherever they alighted; also the roots, and bark, and even the hard wood of the trees. After they had thus eaten up every thing, a strong wind arose, and after tossing them about awhile, it blew them over the sea, and great numbers of them were drowned. Then the waves threw them back upon the land, all along the sea-coast, and their dead bodies made the air so unwholesome that a frightful pestilence commenced, and great numbers of men and animals died.
Many travellers have seen these great clouds of locusts, and describe them in their books. One says that he saw a company consisting of so many that they were an hour in passing over the place where he was. They seemed to extend a mile in length and half a mile in width. When he first noticed them, they looked like a black cloud rising in the east; and when they came over head, they shut out the light of the sun, and made a noise with their wings like the rushing of a water-fall. Another swarm is mentioned which took four hours to pass over one spot; and they made the sky so dark that one person could not see another at twenty steps off.
You can now understand two or three passages from the Bible which I will mention. David says in the 23d verse of the 109th Psalm, "I am tossed up and down as the locust;" that is, as the clouds of locusts are tossed about by the wind. In the first chapters of Joel God threatens to send the locust among the people, because of their wickedness; and he says of them, "Before their faces the people shall be much pained; all faces shall gather blackness. They (the locusts,) shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall; they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief."
An English clergyman who visited countries where the locusts are found, a few years ago, says that these verses describe them exactly as he has himself seen them.
Locusts are sometimes used for food. The Arabs boil them with salt, and then add a little oil or butter; sometimes they toast them by the fire before eating them. A traveller speaks of seeing the Arab women employed in filling bags with locusts, which were to be used for food. You know it is said in the New Testament that John the Baptist "did eat locusts and wild honey," but it is not quite certain that this insect was meant; perhaps it was the fruit of the locust-tree that he ate.
I remember but two places in the Bible where this animal is mentioned. One is in Leviticus, where it is named among the unclean animals which the Israelites were forbidden to eat; and the other is this verse in the second chapter of Isaiah: "In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats."
Have you read about the first missionaries who went to the Sandwich Islands? And do you remember that although the people had always been worshippers of idols, they had cast them all away just before the missionaries came? That was a very wonderful thing to happen; and it seems as though God was making these poor people ready to hear about the Savior, when the missionaries should come. Well, this verse in Isaiah declares that the same thing will happen by and by over the whole earth. You know that there are now millions and millions of poor heathen who worship nothing but images of gold, or brass, or stone; but the day is coming when not an idol shall be seen, and no being shall be worshipped but the true God.
The mole lives under ground, and the bat in gloomy, dark caves where nobody thinks of going; so when it is said that the idols shall be "Cast to the moles and to the bats," it means that they shall be thrown away in dark and neglected places, just as we throw away old shoes, or any thing that we care nothing about. Will you try to remember this verse about the idols? Perhaps you may live to see the near approach of that day.
The mole is a very curious animal in its appearance and in its manner of living. It is almost always under ground, and we should think that the little creature could not be very happy; but its skin is as smooth and handsome as that of any animal, and it seems very well contented with its dark home. God made it to live there, and he has given it just such a body at it needs. It is covered with fine, short, silky hair, almost like soft velvet, so that the earth does not stick to it; and its legs are very short, so as not to be in the way. If its legs were long it could not get through the ground very well, you know. Its eyes are very small, because it does not need to see much, and they are almost buried too under its soft fur, which keeps out all the dust and dirt. The opening of the ear is covered in the same way, so that nothing can hurt it. Its fore-paws are made broad like a shovel, and are very strong; each one, too, has five short fingers with which the earth can be removed. The nose is sharp and bony, and this helps the mole to work its way through the earth.
They throw up the earth when they make their houses under ground, and in this way mole-hills are made. They like to work at morning and evening, and also after a shower, when the earth is damp and soft, and easily moved. The mole is larger than a mouse, but not as large as a rat. It eats insects and worms, and sometimes the roots of plants.
You will not find the name of the Jerboa in the Bible; but it is supposed to be the same animal that is called a mouse in the 17th verse of the 66th chapter of Isaiah, "They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord;" and also in Leviticus, where God is telling the children of Israel what animals they may be allowed to eat, and also what they must not taste. He says, "These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind."
Whether the Jerboa is the same animal or not, the Israelites must have been well acquainted with it, for it is found in great numbers in Syria and Egypt, and other countries mentioned in the Bible. They like to live where the soil is sandy, and make their burrows, or holes to live in, in the sides of sand-hills. These burrows are often several yards long, and the part where they sleep is made soft with grass.
The Jerboa is about as large as a rat, and its color is a tawny yellow, something like that of dried lemon-peel. Its fur is very smooth and soft; its eyes are full and round, and its head is much like that of a young rabbit. When it eats, it sits and hold its food in its fore-paws, very much as a squirrel does. There is a very great and curious difference in the length of its legs; those in front being so short that you would hardly notice them, and those behind very long.
It bounds along over the ground very rapidly; so that the greyhound, which is one of the swiftest of dogs, is often unable to overtake it. It seems, when you first look at it, to use only its hind legs in jumping, but his is not so. When it is about to take a leap, it raises its body upon the toes of its hind feet, keeping the balance by the help of its long tail. It springs and comes down on its short fore legs, but does it so very quickly that you can hardly see how it is done, and the animal seems to be upright all the time.
They appear to be very fond of each other's company, and great numbers are usually found together. They sleep during the day, but like the hare and rabbit, go out of their burrows to eat and to play as soon as it begins to be dark.
I believe this is the only animal of any kind mentioned in the Bible, the name of which begins with N. It is named in the 11th chapter of Leviticus, among other birds, such as the owl, the cuckoo and the raven, which the children of Israel were not allowed to eat.
It is somewhat like the owl in its shape, and in its large, full, round eyes. It flies at evening, and hides itself during the day from the bright light of the sun. It likes to live in lonely, dark woods, and when it comes out at twilight to get the insects that it lives upon, you could hardly hear the sound of its wings, it flies so very gently. It has a very wide, gaping mouth, which helps it to seize upon moths and flies, and its mouth is bordered with a row of stiff bristles, so that the insects may not escape again after they have been caught.
The night-hawk belongs to the same family with the whip-poor-will; and, like that bird, it places its eggs on the ground in the shade of some thicket, with only a layer of withered leaves under them instead of making a nest.
The ostrich is sometimes called the "camel-bird," because it is so very large, because it can go a long time without water, and because it lives in desert and sandy places, as the camel does.
It is often taller than the tallest man you ever saw, and it neck alone is more than a yard in length. Each of the wings is a yard long when the feathers are spread out; but although the wings are so large, the bird cannot fly at all. One reason of this is, because it is so very heavy, and another is that its wings are not of the right sort for flying. They are made of what we call ostrich-plumes, and if you have ever noticed these beautiful feathers, you will remember that they are very different from others that you have seen. If you take a quill from the wing of a goose, you will find that the parts of the feather lie close together, so that you cannot very easily separate them; but in an ostrich plume they are all loose and open, and would not support the bird at all in flying.
The feathers are generally either white or black. There are none under the wings, or on the sides of the body, and only a few small ones on the lower part of the neck. The upper part of the neck, as well as the head, is covered with hair.
Its feet are curious, and different from those of most birds. They are somewhat like the foot of the camel, having a soft pad or cushion underneath, and only two toes. The largest toe is about seven inches long, and has a broad claw at the end; the other is about four inches long, and has no claw. Although this bird cannot fly, it can run faster than the swiftest horse. If it would keep on in a straight line no animal could overtake it; but it is sometimes so foolish as to run around in a circle, and then, after a long chase, it may perhaps be caught.
A traveller speaking of the ostrich, says, "She sets off at a hard gallop; but she afterwards spreads her wings as if to catch the wind, and goes so rapidly that she seems not to touch the ground." This explains what is meant by the verse, "When she lifteth up herself on high she scorneth the horse and his rider."
The ostrich has but little to eat in the desert places where it lives: only some coarse grass, or rough, thorny plants, with a kind of snail which is sometimes found upon them; and perhaps it sometimes eats lizards and serpents.
The voice of the ostrich is very mournful, especially when heard at night in a lonely desert. It is said to be like the crying of a hoarse child. It is on this account that the prophet Micah says, "I will make a mourning like the ostrich." In the 39th chapter of Job we read, "Gavest thou wings and feathers unto the ostrich ? which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust, and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones as though they were not hers." See how well this agrees with the accounts given by travellers. They say that the ostrich is frightened by the least noise, and runs away from her nest, leaving the eggs or young ones without any protection; and very often she does not return for a long time, perhaps not until the young birds have died of hunger.
The eggs are cream-colored, and large enough to hold about a quart of water. The shell is very hard, and as smooth as ivory. It is often made into a drinking-cup, with a rim of gold or silver.
The peacock is first mentioned in the Bible in the time of Solomon. He used to send his vessels to distant countries, and they came back once in three years, "bringing gold, and silver, and ivory, and apes, and peacocks."
Solomon was the richest among all the kings that the Bible tells us about. When he first became king God spoke to him in a dream, and told him to ask for any thing he wished. If God should speak so to you, what would you ask for? Solomon did not pray that God would make him rich, or that he would give him health, or let him live a great many years on the earth; but he said, "I am a little child, I know not how to go out or come in. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart." Then God was pleased with what he asked, and besides giving him great wisdom, he gave him also riches and honor.
He had forty thousand horses, and silver and gold in abundance. All the vessels used in his house were of gold, because silver was not good enough; it was "as stones" for plenty, and was "nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon." In the second chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon himself speaks of his riches, and after telling us of some of his treasures, he says: "Whatsoever my eyes desired I kept not from them; I withheld not my heart from any joy."
Perhaps you think he must have been perfectly happy, if any man in this world ever was; but what does he say? "All is vanity and vexation of spirit." This does not sound much like being contented. No, dear child, these are not the things that make us happy; nothing but the true love of God in the heart can do this.
There are many peacocks in India, and large flocks of them are sometimes seen around the temples; they also live among the bushes near the banks of rivers. They sometimes rest on high trees, but always make their nests on the ground, under the shrubs.
There was once a foolish and wicked emperor who cared little for any thing excepting "what he should eat, and what he should drink, and wherewithal he should be clothed." He took great pride in telling how much his dinners cost, and how much trouble it gave people to prepare them. One of the dishes that pleased him, because it cost money enough, and time and trouble enough, was made up of the tongues of flamingoes, (a kind of bird,) and the brains of peacocks do you envy such a king as that?
The peacock is a very splendid bird; its colors are most rich and beautiful. The feathers of the tail are often more than a yard long, and when they are spread out in the sunlight, like a great fan, nothing can be more elegant. Yet with all its beauty I do not believe you could ever love a peacock, as you love a lamb or a dove. It seems selfish and vain, and there is nothing lovely about itits voice is very harsh and disagreeable.
There are some people who, like the peacock, are called handsome or beautiful, but whose hearts are not pure and lovely in the sight of God. "Beauty," in itself, "is vain;" but "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price."
The pelican is a large bird, and a curious one. It sometimes measures nearly six feet from the top of the head to the end of the tail; and you know that this is the height of a tall man. It may be called a water-bird, because it lives on the sea-coast, or on the borders of lakes and rivers and lives upon fish only.
It has a very long bill, and under this is a curious bag or pouch to hold the fish which it takes. When there is nothing in it, you would hardly notice it, because it is drawn up close under the bill; but it is so large that it will hold two or three gallons of water. When the pelican goes to seek for its food, it flies up into the air for some distance, then turns its head on one side, and with one eye looks sharply down into the water until it sees a fish. Then it darts down very swiftly, and is almost sure to seize it. Instead of eating the fish at once, it usually stores it away in its pouch, and watches for another. When its bag is filled, it flies away to some lonely place to satisfy its hunger, or to feed its young. In order to get out the fish, it presses its bill against its breast; and this has led some people to believe that it pierces its breast, and feeds its young ones with its own blood. Of course this is only a fable.
The pelican likes to live in lonely places, such as a rocky island in the midst of the ocean, where nobody will come near to disturb it: it is for this reason that David says in the 102d Psalm, "I am like a pelican in the wilderness," or solitary place. I suppose he wrote this Psalm when he was very sorrowful; perhaps when Saul was pursuing him, and trying to take his life.
The quail is about the size of a pigeon. It is called a bird of passage, because it does not always live in the same place, but spends the winter in one country, and in the spring flies away to another. In their journies, they fly together in very large flocks, as you have perhaps seen wild geese or pigeons do. A great many spend the summer north of the Black Sea, and when autumn comes they fly away to spend the winter in some warmer place, farther south.
They usually start early some fine evening in August, when there is a north wind to help them on, and fly perhaps a hundred and fifty miles before morning.
The people on the opposite shore of the Black Sea know about what time to look for them, and catch a great many of them for food. God sometimes sent quails to the children of Israel when they were in the wilderness.
Once they complained because they had no meat to eat, pretty soon after God had saved them from the hand of Pharaoh; and then he brought a great many quails into their camp, so that they had as many as they wanted for food.
At another time, when they were on their journey, these ungrateful people complained again, and wished they were back in Egypt, where they could have "fish, and melons, and cucumbers," as they said. Then God saw fit to send them quails again, though he was very much displeased with their wickedness; so much so that he sent a dreadful sickness among them, of which many died. The Bible says, "And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth. And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails; he that gathered least, gathered ten homers; and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp."
The number of these quails was very wonderful. They covered the ground all around the camp, and as far every way as a person could go in a "day's journey," by which they meant twenty miles or more. And they not only covered all that ground, but were piled upon each other, to the height of more than a yard. The people gathered great quantities of them; probably they intended to dry a part, which is still a custom in those hot and sandy countries. "He that gathered least," we read, "gathered ten homers." A homer was about eight bushels, or as much as an ass could carry at a load; and ten homers, of course, was about eighty bushels.
You see how eager the people were to get them, for they could not even sleep at night through fear that they should not have as many as they wanted; so they stood up to gather them "all that day, and all that night, and all the next day."
These things are several times spoken of in other parts of the Bible, especially in the 78th Psalm. It is there said, "He rained flesh upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea. And he let it fall in the midst of the camp, round about their habitations. So they did eat, and were well filled, for he gave them their own desire; but while the meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them." Perhaps it was not wrong for the children of Israel to ask for meat to eat, but God was displeased with them for their complaining spirit notwithstanding all his goodness; and although he gave them what they asked, it proved to be only a curse to them.
This may teach us to be grateful for the thousand blessings that God has given us, and when we ask any thing from him, to be willing that he should deny us if he sees best.
The raven has always been very well known to man, and is mentioned almost at the beginning of the Bible. You remember that this was the first bird that Noah sent out of the ark to see whether the waters had begun to dry up; and that it did not go back to him again. I suppose it was very glad to be at liberty after it had been shut up more than a year; and as it lives upon the flesh of other animals, it probably found food enough from the bodies of those that had been drowned.
It is a large bird, considerably larger than the crow; and its feathers are very black, very glossy, and very beautiful. People in ancient times seem to have liked a black color, and were especially pleased with black hair; so we read in the Song of Solomon, where one who is beautiful is described, "His locks are bushy, and black as a raven."
It is said that the raven always attacks the eye of an animal first; seeming to prefer that to every other part. This may explain one of the verses in Proverbs, "The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it."
It has been the custom, in many countries, to hang those who have been guilty of great crimes on a tree or on a gallows in the open air; and there to leave the body for the birds to peck at and devour if they chose. I suppose this verse means that stubborn and disobedient children, or those who are not kind and respectful to their parents, must expect to come to some sad end; and they very often do so.
I have heard that the raven drives out its young ones very early from the nest, almost before they are able to seek their food. This may explain a verse in the Psalms, "The Lord giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry;" and another in Job, "Who provideth for the raven his food ? when his young ones cry unto God, wandering for lack of meat." Our Savior speaks of this bird in the 12th chapter of Luke, "Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap; they have neither store-house nor barn; and God feedeth them." He was speaking to his disciples, and it was as much as to say, "If God takes care of the ravens, he will certainly take care of you; so you need not be anxious or afraid.
Have you read in the Bible how a good prophet's life was once saved by ravens? The people who were living then were very wicked, and would have been glad to kill the prophet Elijah; so God told him to go into the wilderness and live there alone by the side of a small brook. Elijah went to the brook, and there was water enough for him to drink, of course, but no food to keep him from starving. You may be sure that God did not forget his servant; but you would hardly believe, if it was not in the Bible, that he would send the ravens to carry food to him. Yet so it was: "the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook."
It is supposed that he was fed in this way for as much as a year. It was a long time to stay there by himself; but I do not think he was lonely or afraid, for he loved God, and felt sure that He was always near him, even in the wilderness.
The roe belongs to the class of antelopes-animals very much resembling the deer; they are equally innocent and beautiful, and are often mentioned together in the Bible.
The form of the antelope is, if possible, still more graceful than that of the deer, and its limbs still more delicate; but the principal difference between them is in the horns. Those of the deer grow from the bone of the forehead, and are at first small; but they are renewed every spring-the old horns falling off, and being succeeded by larger ones which grow in their place. They are at first covered with a soft, downy substance, called "the velvet;" but this soon comes off in fragments, leaving the horn white and smooth.
The antelope never sheds its horns. The roe or gazelle is the smallest animal of the antelope kind; it is only about two feet in height, and not more than half the size of the fallowdeer. Its eyes are remarkably soft and expressive; so that the people of those countries sometimes say of a beautiful woman, "She has the eyes of a gazelle."
Like the hart and hind, it is noted for its swiftness: so we read, in 1st Chronicles, 12 : 8, of men who were "as swift as the roes upon the mountains." In 2d Samuel, 2 : 18, it is said, "And Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe;" and in the Song of Solomon, "The voice of my beloved ! behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills: my beloved is like a roe or a young hart."
The gazelle is often pursued in the chase; so Solomon says, "Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter." They go in very large companies, sometimes as many as two or three thousand; and they are still found in great numbers on the hills of Judea, the land where our Savior lived and died.
"The wild gazelle o'er Judah's hills
"Exulting, still may bound,
"And drink from all the living rills
"That gush on holy ground."
This frightful creature is several times mentioned in the Bible. It is the largest among insects, and more dangerous than any of them. It is sometimes found in Europe, and is there about four inches long; but those of hot countries are sometimes more than a foot in length.
The scorpion is very easily made angry, and then its sting is terrible; it very often causes death, but not always. In Revelation, 9:5, 6, we read, "And their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man; and in those days shall men seek death and shall not find it: and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."
This shows that the pain caused by their sting is very great. When a person has been stung by a scorpion, the part around the wound swells and becomes very painful, the hands and feet become cold, the skin is pale, and there is a feeling as though there were needles in every part of it. This pain often increases and rages until the person dies in great suffering.
It is well for man that scorpions destroy each other as readily as they do animals of a different kind. It is said that a hundred were once put together under a glass, where they immediately began to attack and kill each other; so that in a few days only fourteen were left alive. I have heard that if a circle of alcohol or spirit of any sort, is set on fire, and a scorpion placed within it so that he cannot get out on any side, he will sting himself so as to cause his death. I am not certain that this is true, and it would be a very cruel thing to try it even upon so dangerous an animal as the scorpion.
It seems that this creature was sometimes seen in the wilderness through which the children of Israel passed. When they had nearly reached the end of their journey, Moses reminded them to praise God for having kept them safely in so many dangers, while passing through "that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions and drought; where there was no water." Our Savior asks, "If a son shall ask of his father an egg, will he give him a scorpion?" The scorpions in that country are about as large as an egg, and when rolled up look a little like one. Yet no father would be so wicked as to give one to his child instead of the egg which he needed for food.
Christ once said to his disciples, when they were going out to preach and to heal the diseases of the people, "Behold I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." This was a very wonderful power; and whoever should see one of those disciples tread on the terrible scorpion without being hurt, would know that Christ was surely with him to take care of him.
I suppose you think you already know as much about sheep and lambs as I can tell you, and perhaps you do. Yet I dare say you never took up your Bible to see how many times they are mentioned there, or how many beautiful things are said about them.
Abel, who, as you know, was the third man that lived on the earth, was a "keeper of sheep;" and there have always been a great many shepherds in the world from that time to this. Some of the men who lived in old times had a great many sheep. Job had seven thousand, which God allowed to be taken from him; but afterwards gave him twice as many-fourteen thousand.
At the time when Solomon's beautiful temple was dedicated to God, he offered a sacrifice of a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. If you want to know how many that is, try to think of a pasture with a hundred sheep in it-then think of a hundred pastures, just like it, with just as many sheep in each-then think of those hundred pastures taken twelve times over, and you will begin to understand how many there were.
It is not common with us to have persons whose whole business it is to take care of sheep, but that was always the way in Bible countries. This was not done by servants, at least not always; for a great many rich men employed their children as shepherds. Rachel, who was afterwards the wife of Jacob, "kept her father's sheep"-so did Jacob's twelve sons-so did Moses for his father-in-law.
When God was about to make David king, he sent Samuel the prophet to do it by anointing him, or putting oil upon his head. David had six brothers, and Samuel did not know which of all the sons was to be king; but both he and their father Jesse supposed it would be one of the older ones, and nobody remembered even to call little David, who had been left with the sheep, until they found that he was the one whom God had chosen.
David often spoke of his shepherd-life after he became a king, and even when he was an old man. You remember that most beautiful psalm of his, the twenty-third, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want: he maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters." That is the way they are accustomed to do in those countries: the shepherd walks on, and the sheep follow where he wishes them to go.
So Christ says, "And when he (the shepherd) putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice."
The sheep in many countries are in danger from wolves, which prowl about and try to carry them off; so it is necessary to watch them by night as well as by day. You remember the shepherds were watching their flocks by night when the bright angels appeared to tell the glad tidings that A SAVIOR had come; and they were the first to hear that sweet song in the stillness of the night, when all around were hushed in sleep.
The sheep is so timid and gentle that it needs the protection of man, and without the care of the shepherd would often stray away and be lost, or devoured by other animals. David says, "I have gone astray like a lost sheep;" and in Isaiah we read, "All we like sheep have gone astray." Is not this true of us-that we have gone away, far away, from Jesus our good shepherd? Perhaps, dear child, you are wandering still; but why should you thus go on, alone, and every hour in danger? Why should you, when he calls you back with his voice of kindness, and is ready to "gather you with his arms, and carry you in his bosom." as the shepherd does his tender lambs?
The Bible name of this bird means gentleness or affection, and the stork very well deserves such a name. It is very kind indeed to its young ones, and takes pains to find some things for them that it does not itself eat.
It is said that when a house, on the top of which was a stork's nest, once took fire, the mother bird would not fly away, because the young ones were not large or strong enough to go with her, and so they were all burned together.
They are very kind to the old birds, too; and I have read that the younger storks sometimes carry the old ones on their wings when they have become tired with flying a great way; and bring food to them in their nests just as the old ones used to bring it to them. I am not quite certain that this is true, though many people have said so; but if it is, I am sure it is a beautiful example for every child, teaching him to repay his parents in every way he can for all their love and care.
The stork is about a yard long from its head to the end of the tail; its color is white, excepting some of the great quill feathers, which are black. Its nest is large and flat, and made mostly of sticks; the eggs are about as large as those of a goose, and a little yellowish. It does not sing; the only noise it makes is by striking one part of its bill upon the other. While it is sleeping it stands on one leg, with its neck bent backward, and its head resting between its shoulders.
The Jews were forbidden by God to use the stork for food; perhaps this was because it lives upon such animals as frogs, fishes and serpents.
The stork is a bird of passage; it spends the summer in Holland and other countries in the north of Europe, but flies to a warmer climate before cold weather comes. They seem to have a kind of agreement among themselves about starting on these long journeys; and for a fort-night before they are ready, they may be seen collecting in great numbers-then all take to their wings at once. This explains a verse in the eighty chapter of Jeremiah, "The stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times;" that is, her times of going to a warmer climate or returning.
After the winter has gone, the storks fly back to their summer home, and very often take their old nests again. In Europe, these are generally made on the tops of houses or old chimneys, and the birds are so gentle and harmless that the people never disturb them, but are glad to see them come back.
In some countries the roofs of the houses are flat, and the people walk and sleep on them; in these places the storks often build their nest on the flat branches of some spreading tree. In the 104th Psalm we read, "As for the stork, the fir-trees are her house."
There is only this animal mentioned in the Bible, the name of which begins with U, and of this I cannot give you a picture, because no person now knows what sort of an animal it was. Some suppose it was a kind of wild goat; others think that it was a sort of deer; and others, that it was what we call the rhinoceros. Perhaps you have seen pictures with the name of the unicorn under them; but you must remember that those who made them only guessed it was so, and that no person can certainly tell what it was.
The vulture is called a bird of prey, because it lives on flesh; but it has not such strong claws as the eagle, to seize and tear its food. It does not often kill other animals; but preys upon those that have been killed in some other way, or have died of themselves. It is a disagreeable bird, and one that you would not like very well to see; no wonder the Israelites were forbidden to eat it.
It is about a yard long from the top of its head, and it sometimes measures two yards across the wings. It lives only in warm or hot climates, and there it is very useful, though you might at first be puzzled to think how this can be. It is because it lives upon such things as would be very injurious to man if they were left to decay in the open air. It not only consumes the dead bodies of animals, but takes away many things from the streets of the cities which the inhabitants are too indolent to remove. It is for this reason that in the city of Cairo, in Egypt, there is a law forbidding any person to kill a vulture.
These birds sometimes follow an army, and prey upon the bodies of those poor soldiers who have been killed in battle. Ah ! it is a sad thing to go to war; almost every thing about it is sad. The vulture has a very keen eye, and, like the eagle, can see what is on the ground, even when it is very high in the air. This is referred to in the book of Job. "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen."
It often happens in those countries that almost as soon as an ox, or a horse, or any other large animal has been killed, great multitudes of vultures will gather around, though not one could be seen in the sky before. they seem to fly down from every part of the heavens, and being to pull and struggle for the flesh of the animal; until in the course of a few hours nothing is left but the bones. We read in Isaiah, "There shall the vultures be gathered, every one with her mate." This must have been written by one who had seen these birds coming together, as they do in great flocks or companies.
The whale is mentioned in the first chapter of the Bible, 21st verse. "And God created great whales." Some suppose that large fish of every kind are here meant.
An animal called the leviathan is described in one of the last chapters of Job, which some suppose to be the whale. It certainly means a large and strong animal, as you will see by the questions asked about him: "Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook ? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put a hook in his nose ? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? When he raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid. The arrow cannot make him flee; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear; he maketh the deep to boil like a pot; one would think the deep to be hoary." This is like the whale in some things; but you will remember that it is not certain that he is meant.
The common whale for which so many sailors are always seeking on the great ocean, is an enormous animal. It is often found seventy feet long; and it is said that they have been found of the length of a hundred feet. If you do not know how long this would be, you will do well to ask some friend to tell you of a building or something else with which you can compare it; for it is not very likely that you will ever see the whale itself, and its size is very wonderful.
It is covered with a coat of fat, sometimes more than a yard thick; and when this is cut up and put over fires in great kettles, a hundred barrels of oil are sometimes obtained from a single whale. Perhaps you already know how they take the whale. As soon as the sailors see one, they go towards him in a boat until they get as near to him as they dare. Then they throw their harpoons at him; these are sharp-pointed irons, fastened to a very long rope, one end of which they keep in the boat. As soon as the whale is wounded, he dives down into the water, and swims away to some distance. He is usually obliged to come up again in about half an hour to breathe, for he cannot live all the while under water; and then the men throw other harpoons at him. Sometimes he comes so near as to upset the boat with a blow of his strong tail. The picture shows you a scene of this kind, where the boat was tossed into the air, the men thrown out, and one of them drowned.
The wolf is rather larger than our largest dogs, and looks somewhat like them; but he seems more wild, savage and cruel.
The wolves go in large companies, making a terrible howling noise; and though they are in general cowardly, yet when they are very hungry they attack large animals, and even men. They almost always go out by night, and the Bible refers to this when it says, "Their horses are more fierce than the evening wolves."
Jacob, just before his death, said of one of his sons, "Benjamin shall raven as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at evening he shall divide the spoil." There were once a great many wolves in New England and in other parts of the United States, and some are left yet, although many have been killed or driven away. There are still great numbers of them in some countries. In England the month of January used to be called Wolf-monat, or wolfmonth; "because," as an old book says, "people are wont in that moneth to be more in danger to be devoured of wolves than in any season els of the yeare, for that through the extremity of cold and snow those ravenous creatures could not find other beasts sufficient to feed upon."
A sad story is told of something that happened in Russia a few years since. A woman was one day riding on a sledge with her three children over a lonely road, when suddenly she heard the noise of wolves behind her. She was not very far from home, and tried to urge her horse on, to get out of their reach; but they gained upon her every moment, and were just on the point of rushing on the sledge, when the poor woman, to save the lives of the rest, caught up one of the children and threw it to the wolves. This stopped them but a short time; they devoured it at once and again ran howling after the sledge. The mother threw out a second child, hoping to escape with the other; but in vain. Again the cruel animals were close behind her, and to save her own life, hardly knowing what she did, she threw over her only remaining child.
She succeeded in reaching home herself, in safety, but where were her children? She told the terrible story; but while she was endeavoring to excuse herself by telling of her exceeding fright and danger, a man who stood by struck her on the head with an axe and killed her at one blow-saying that a woman who would thus give up her children to save her life, was not fit to live.
The Bible tells us of a time yet to come, when "The wolf shall feed with the lamb." Perhaps this will be exactly true of the animals in those days, though it now seems so unlikely; but I suppose it means also that wicked and cruel men shall become holy and Christ-like. Then all will be peace on earth, and "none shall hurt or destroy in all" God's "holy mountain."
I do not find the names of any animals mentioned in the Bible, beginning with X, Y, or Z. If you can find one, I should like to know it. And no I hope that whenever you see the names of any of these animals in your Bible, you will take pleasure in noticing what is said about them, and will remember what I have told you. I have been very happy in talking to you about them.