Bible names for dogs

Bible names for dogs

Bible names for dogs and other creatures

A dog or other animal is called a "dog" if it's a member of the canid family, otherwise it's a "dog" or "doggy" or "dog-like".

The word "dog" or "doggy" may also be used to refer to a dog-like animal in general, or a different kind of animal such as a cat.

The word "dog" is often used to refer to all types of canine animals. Most colloquial English uses the word "dog" in the more general sense. More precisely, it may be "dog" as in "a dog", "a doggone", "a dog and pony show", "a dog is life", or "the dog is still barking" etc.

Canine names in Hebrew and Aramc

A few Old Testament names for dogs are recorded in the Hebrew Bible. Aramc Old Testament words for dog are attested. In many instances, the Bible uses the same name for both dogs and jackals. This may be due to confusion over the two species. In some instances, biblical authors clearly distinguish the names of different types of dog.

Aramc names

Aramc is an ancient language that is closely related to Hebrew. The Old Testament has many Aramc names for canines.


Hebrew word: העל (hlěl), is a cognate of Greek ἐλεύθερος (eleuthros) which means "free" or "at liberty" in some contexts. In the phrase "על חי הכל" (Al Haḥaz Ḥakol, literally "the life of the world") the participle "חי" ("habel") is derived from the noun "חייה" ("haḥaētah" or "hāḥayyāh", "living") rather than from the verb "חי" ("ḥī" or "hiy" "live"). Therefore, in this phrase the Hebrew word "העל" ("hāl") functions as a cognate for the Greek noun "ἐλεύθερος", but not for the verb "חי".

In modern Hebrew, dog is אלה (alēḥa), which the Torah derives from the Aramc word "ḥāl" (ܝܩܕܝܢܐܐ), which is a noun, and not from the verb "ḥē'", "live".

The Bible distinguishes between different dogs. In Exodus 21:14 and 2 Kings 14:11, dogs are called רוכבי הקיטוב (רוכבי הקיטוב, "rabbī-khatav b'khattav") "those who lie down on dogs" (see also 1 Samuel 27:1). In modern Hebrew, קיטוב (khatav) is more commonly used than רוכב (rabbî) in the negative, but the same word (khatav, קטוב) is sometimes used in a positive sense. For example, in Genesis 38:11, the phrase לא תקטוב (לא תקטוב, "ne-khatav b") means "not go to the dogs" (see also Proverbs 26:18).

The word הקיטוב (ḥiḥāq) occurs in Psalms, with the meaning "lion" (Psalms 28:7, 29:11, 32:11, 44:3, 47:9). Similarly, the English term "hyaena", the Arabic noun "ḥajj" and the Persian word "ḣeyān" are all used to mean "lion". The word "ḥayān" is used as a verb meaning "to roar" (as if speaking through a lion), especially to warn of danger (see Psalm 91:10).

In Hebrew, the word בקטב (běkhatav) can be used to translate the Latin adjectival "canina", meaning "of or belonging to a dog", or a derivative of "canidus", meaning "dog". This usage is mostly found in the Old Testament, in Genesis 10:3: "B'khatav is like a man in his days", Judges 6:11, 2 Kings 23:11, 2 Chronicles 32:20 and Psalm 41:9. It also occurs in the Septuagint and in the Vulgate Latin. The term also appears in rabbinical writings. The word occurs in the Septuagint translated "dog", as in Isah 65:4 (cf. 2 Kings 23:11), but the corresponding term in Hebrew, בצביעין, is the word for "pit".

The dog has been referred to as the symbol of fidelity in the Bible. The Lord speaks to David through a dog (cf. Psalm 22:16-18), in order to protect him. When Solomon sent Hiram to Phoenicia to procure cedar logs for a temple, Hiram sent a young dog as a pledge (1 Kings 7:23).


Further reading

The Hebrew Book of the Dead (from Wikisource)

The dog, by Michael Rowton

Category:4th-century BC Hebrew people

Category:3rd-century BC Hebrew people

Category:2nd-century BC Hebrew people

Category:1st-century BC Hebrew people


Category:Animals in the Bible

Category:Hebrew Bible words and phrases

Category:Ancient Israel and Judah

Category:4th-century BC biblical people