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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Leopard

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(πάρδαλις)

The Greek word seems to have been used indiscriminately by the classical writers to designate ‘leopard,’ ‘panther,’ or ‘ounce.’ The only NT reference to the ‘leopard’ is in Revelation 13:2, where it occurs in the description of ‘the Wild Beast from the sea’-‘the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard.’ The concrete reality, of which the Wild Beast was the abstract emblem, was of course the Roman Empire. To the mind of the Seer, the attitude adopted by Rome towards the early Christian Church was that of a leopard. She exhibited the same agility (cf. Habakkuk 1:8) and cunning (cf. Hosea 13:7), as well as the same ruthless cruelty, as that much-dreaded inhabitant of Palestine and the East.

The leopard (Felis pardus, Arab. nimr, Heb. nâmçr) is still found round the Dead Sea, in Gilead and Bashan, and also occasionally in Lebanon and the wooded districts of the west; but, judging from the numerous allusions in the OT and the occurrence of the word in place-names (e.g. ‘Beth-Nimrah’ or ‘Nimrah’), it is reasonable to suppose that it was more common in early times. It usually lurks near wells or watering-places (cf. ‘waters of Nimrim,’ Isaiah 15:6, Jeremiah 48:34), and in the outskirts of villages (cf. Jeremiah 5:6), to pounce at night upon cattle and dogs. The beautifully spotted skins are often sold in the markets and are used as rugs and saddle-covers, while sometimes they are worn as an article of clothing.

The Felis pardus is found over the whole of Africa, S. Asia, China, Japan, and the islands of the Malay Archipelago.

Another animal of the leopard tribe, the well-known cheeta or hunting-leopard of India (Felis jubatus), is sometimes found in the hills of Galilee and in the neighbourhood of Tabor, but its occurrence is rare. It is much tamer than the Felis pardus, and in India it is often domesticated and kept for hunting antelopes and other animals.

Literature.-H. B. Tristram, SWP [Note: WP Memoirs of Survey of Western Palestine.] vii. [1884], p. 18f., The Natural History of the Bible10, 1911, pp. 111-114; H. B. Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John2, 1907, p. 162; Hastings’ Single-vol. Dictionary of the Bible 540f.; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) iii. 95; Encyclopaedia Biblica iii. 2762f.; W. M. Thomson, The Land and the Book, 1864, p. 444f.

P. S. P. Handcock.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Leopard'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/l/leopard.html. 1906-1918.

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