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Animals in the Bible I

In the Bible, you will find a lot of different animals mentioned with sheep and lamb receiving the most references. Other creatures mentioned a great deal in the Bible include the lion, ox, ram, and horse. In this article, you will encounter background information, as well as a few passages involving these creatures.

Sheep and Lambs

The reason sheep and lamb were mentioned so many times in the Bible is because people in the past relied on the animals as a source of meat and wool. In the Old Testament, sheep are mentioned 155 times and 45 times in the New Testament. In the springtime, the sheep were sheared. Their owners or people employed as ‘shearers’ would take care of the task. The act is mentioned in Genesis 31:19, Genesis 38:13, Deuteronomy 15:19, 1 Samuel 25:2, and Isaiah 53:7. In Judges 6:37, we learn that the job of shearing sheep was approached in a careful manner so that the fleece was kept whole.

The branding of sheep did not take place in Biblical times. Instead, the animals were spotted using lime or another source of dye that was painted in one or more places on the wool. The mark was unique and placed on the back of the sheep.

The first mention of sheep in the Bible was in the Book of Genesis: “And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground” [English Standard Version]. Another passage that mentions sheep is found in Deuteronomy 14:4, where we learn that they were eaten as food: “These are the beasts which you shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,” [King James Version].

Lambs were mentioned 153 times in the Old Testament and 35 times in the New Testament. Lambs were used to refer to the young offspring of the sheep and sometimes, a young goat. In Biblical times, the creature was often used as a sacrifice, as seen in 2 Chronicles 29:32: “And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was three score and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD.”

Ram

The ram was the adult male version of the sheep. In the Old Testament, the ram was mentioned 165 times, while the animal did not appear at all in the New Testament. There are many references found in Leviticus and Exodus, including the following passages:

Exodus 29:20 , “Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood, and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, and on the thumb of their right hand, and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood around on the altar.”

Exodus 35:23 , “Everyone, with whom was found blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats’ hair, rams’ skins dyed red, and sea cow hides, brought them”

Leviticus 9:2 , “and he said to Aaron, “Take a calf from the herd for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before Yahweh”