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English Bible Dictionary

Camel

 

The species of camel which was in common use among the Jews and the heathen nations of Palestine was the Arabian or one-humped camel, Camelus arabicus. The dromedary is a swifter animal than the baggage-camel, and is used chiefly for riding purposes; it is merely a finer breed than the other. The Arabs call it the heirie. The speed, of the dromedary has been greatly exaggerated, the Arabs asserting that it is swifter than the horse. Eight or nine miles an hour is the utmost it is able to perform; this pace, however, it is able to keep up for hours together. The Arabian camel carries about 500 pounds. "The hump on the camel's back is chiefly a store of fat, from which the animal draws as the wants of his system require; and the Arab is careful to see that the hump is in good condition before a long journey. Another interesting adaptation is the thick sole which protects the foot of the camel from the burning sand, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. The nostrils may be closed by valves against blasts of sand. Most interesting is the provision for drought made by providing the second stomach with great cells in which water is long retained. Sight and smell is exceedingly acute in the camel."--Johnson's Encyc. It is clear from (Genesis 12:16) that camels were early known to the Egyptians. The importance of the camel is shown by (Genesis 24:64; 37:25; Judges 7:12; 1 Samuel 27:9; 1 Kings 19:2; 2 Chronicles 14:15; Job 1:3; Jeremiah 49:29,32) and many other texts. John the Baptist wore a garment made of camel hair, (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6) the coarser hairs of the camel; and some have supposed that Elijah was clad in a dress of the same stuff.

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