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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Horse–Leech occurs only in . The horse-leech is properly a species of leech, discarded for medical purposes on account of the coarseness of its bite.

Although the Hebrew word is translated 'leech'in all the versions, there has been much dispute whether that is its proper meaning. Against the received translation it has been urged that upon an examination of the context in which it occurs, the introduction of the leech seems strange; that it is impossible to understand what is meant by its 'two daughters;' and that instead of the incessant craving apparently attributed to it, the leech drops off when filled: hence it has been attempted to give a different sense to the Hebrew word, and to render it 'destiny.' But there seems no good reason for altering the received translation. In the preceding verse the writer speaks of 'a generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw-teeth as knives to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men;' and then, after the abrupt and picturesque style of the East, the leech is introduced as an illustration of the covetousness of such persons, and of the two distinguishing vices of which it is the parent, avarice and cruelty. May not also the 'two daughters' of the leech 'crying, Give, give be a figurative description of the two lips of the creature (for these it has, and perfectly formed) which are a part of its very complicated mouth?' It certainly is agreeable to the Hebrew style to call the offspring of inanimate things daughters, for so branches are called daughters of trees (, margin). A similar use of the word is given in —'All the daughters of musick shall be brought low,' meaning the lips, front teeth, and other parts of the mouth. It is well remarked by Professor Paxton that 'this figurative application of the entire genus is sufficient to justify the interpretation. The leech, as a symbol in use among rulers of every class and in all ages for avarice, rapine, plunder, rapacity, and even assiduity, is too well known to need illustration.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Horse-Leech'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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