Humans and Wild Animals in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Texts: Interactions and Metaphors

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This paper examines the relations between humans and wild animals in the lands of the Bible and ancient Near East and the way in which these cultures used various creatures and their characteristics as metaphors for dangerous enemies. It focuses on three particular periods in which the sources at our disposal document human–wild animal interactions. The first section discusses the emergence of civilization in Mesopotamia as reflected in various texts, discussing their portrait of the epoch in which human culture took shape and domesticated animals began to be clearly differentiated from wild ones. The second part looks at human–canine relations—wild dogs and their domesticated counterparts—briefly surveying how the former serve as metaphors for enemies beyond inhabited regions as evinced in the Egyptian El-Amarna archive. The third section analyzes the human–animal relations portrayed in the biblical texts, reviewing the theological principles they adopt in relation to the animal kingdom and the way in which wild animals became a metaphor for both wicked adversaries and striking physical attributes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-672
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2018

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  • Babylon
  • Bible
  • El-Amarna
  • Sumer
  • human–animal interaction
  • wild animals


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