Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Seven Bears of the Bible, Prelude


Perhaps because the Bear is listening (that's right, an excellent audiobook) to the Confessions of St. Augustine for Lent, he has been inspired, or has at least concocted a scheme, to provide his woodland friends with a few little essays based on the happy coincidence that the word "bear" (the animal one, not the "carrying" one) appears seven times in the Bible. The early fathers of the Church could find no end of allegory in the Old Testament. Perhaps the Bear might be able to do something similar.

In Hebrew (there are no New Testament bears) the word for bear is "dob." Hebrew, like Arabic, is a very logical language when it comes to nouns. Both languages develop words from various standard permutations of a tri-literal root. In the case of "bear," it is based on the big animal's unexpectedly smooth, even gracefully flowing movement. (To this day, in Arabic, "to crawl" has the same tri-literal root, which is why a tank is called "dobaba," and "bear" is -- wait for it -- "dob.")

The Bear knows you love it when he gets pedantic.

The first occurrence of the word "bear" in the Bible is from 1 Samuel 17:34,35. King Saul and his men are more than skeptical when young David steps up to tackle Goliath. But there was more to David than met the eye.


And David said to Saul: Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, or a bear, and took a ram out of the midst of the flock: And I pursued after them, and struck them, and delivered it out of their mouth: and they rose up against me, and I caught them by the throat, and I strangled, and killed them.


The Holy Bible, Translated from the Latin Vulgate. (2009). (1 Sa 17:34–35). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

What kind of practical or allegorical wisdom do you think might be found in this passage?

The Bear hopes your first full week of Lent went well. As stated earlier, the Bear is taking it easy on the blogging, and avoiding controversy (and the Pope) entirely.

2 comments:

  1. Well -- and this isn't any kind of wisdom as such -- but there it's been all along, yet one doesn't normally think of bears being indigenous to the Middle East. Duh.

    And I'm thrown by "a lion, or a bear", when the rest of the passage seems to make clear that it was a matter of a lion AND a bear. (I can be pedantic too :-D.). There may be some important symbolism associated with these beasts -- as with the ram -- that escapes me.

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    1. I think David is claiming that when either a lion or a bear would attack his sheep he would rescue them. This was perhaps not an infrequent occurrence so whether it was a lion or a bear, and collectively "them", it didn't matter. He killed them with his bare hands.

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