Pig – Day 14 of 30 Days [Biblically] Wild

Pig חֲזִיר  chazir

The Tamworth pig, one of the oldest breeds in Britain. Image taken from https://www.countryfile.com/wildlife/mammals/native-british-pig-breeds-and-how-to-recognise-them

I am really grateful to one of our current second year Theology BA students, Amy Williams (nee Bowes – congratulations also on your recent marriage!), for writing this wonderful post.

As recently as 2013, research has suggested that pigs were brought from Greece to Canaan. A study of pig bones found in Israel (along the southern Levantine coast) suggests that the Philistines migrated from Greece to the lowlands of the Levant in the Iron Age (around 3000 years ago) and European pigs took over the wild boar population in Canaan (modern Israel) around 900BCE [see https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/MAGAZINE-philistines-brought-their-pigs-with-them-to-ancient-israel-1.5469130]

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Spider – Day 13 of 30 Days [Biblically] Wild

Spider – עַכָּבִישׁ (akkavish)

Giant house spider (Tegenaria duellica) Image: BioImages (c) Malcolm Storey Source: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/invertebrates/spiders/giant-house-spider

Most people tend to encounter spiders indoors rather than outside. However, sit on a piece of grass for even a short length of time and you will soon see this, tiny and often overlooked, scurrying figure. Dewy late summer mornings, when the sun is still low, or frosty autumn and winter days can provide us with a wonderful display of webs that show how abundant and prolific this creature is. Sunrise can turn some meadows into fields of shimmering silver.

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Ant – Day 11 of 30 Days [Biblically] Wild

harvester ant

Antנְמָלָה (nemalah)

ant header

This post has been adapted from an earlier post: Verse of the Month: Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant…”

A trail of ants along the kitchen floor; a ragged column climbing the legs of the garden chair; picnics spoilt by the steady and unrelenting invasion of this tiny army. Who can forget that itchy feeling on those muggy evenings of flying ants? Unfortunately we usually encounter ants as an often unwelcome irritation to our lives. This is a pity as it means that we can easily overlook their breathtakingly complex and remarkable lives which still keeps modern scientists intrigued.

Go to the ant, you lazybones;
   consider its ways, and be wise. 

Proverbs 6:6 (NRSV)

This proverb not only suggests that the ant can be a guide for living, it can also help us uncover the intriguing world of biblical wisdom literature by giving us an insight into how these types of text were composed, developed and circulated.

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Acacia – Day 10 of 30 Days [Biblically] Wild

Acacia – שִׁטָּה  (shittah)

Acacia near the Tower of London. Source: http://www.londontrees.co.uk/acacia.html

Although it is not a native to the UK, the acacia or the name ‘acacia’ (to my mind at least) is indelibly connected to suburbia and leafy, neatly trimmed, privet-lined gardens of Middle England. Loved by bees, the acacia carries with it the scent of the exotic, which is not surprising as it is more usually associated with much warmer climes.

The tree of the wilderness

The Bible lists שִׁטָּה (shittah), usually translated as ‘acacia’, twenty-eight times. However, as Tristram (1898:392) cautions, we need to be careful not to confuse it with the acacia commonly found in Britain. The types of acacia normally found in the UK generally originate from Australia rather than the Middle East. Continue reading

Raven – Day 8 out of 30 Days [Biblically] Wild

The raven – עֹרֵב (orev); κόραξ (korax)

Raven (Corvus corax). Image and source: https://www.macaulaylibrary.org/

On Day 2 we saw that, within the biblical world, frogs shared a rather ambivalent relationship with humans. Today, we see that this ambivalence continues among our feathered friends, and none more so than with the raven.

Call of the Northern Raven (Corvus corax)
Jordi Calvet, XC57509. Accessible at http://www.xeno-canto.org/57509.
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Bee – Day 7 out of 30 Days [Biblically] Wild

The Bee – דְּבוֹרָה (deborah)

Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) collecting pollen. Image: Gustavo Fotoopa

Possibly the most redolent sound of summer is that of the soft, lazy hum of bees among sun-warmed lavender. Out of all flying insects, it could be argued that bees are the most well loved – or at least well tolerated. I’ve known people renowned for distractedly swatting away flies, wasps and all kinds of insects, sit for (what seems like) hours patiently coaxing a grounded bee to with sugar water or honey.

The recent concerns over declining population has also helped to promote a re-assessment of the bee and our attitudes to it. Tracey Thorn’s recent tweet exemplifies this beautifully.

Tweet from Tracey Thorn (screen shot) 23/05/2019
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Wild Goat/Ibex – Day 6 of 30 Days [Biblically] Wild

Wild Goat, Ibex – אַקּוֹ (akko), יָעֵל (ya’el)

Nubian Ibex (Capra ibex nubiana) in Israel. Image: Graphicobsession. Source:
https://www.easyvoyage.co.uk/israel/the-ibex-of-nubia-1807

Today’s post is a little bit of a cheat. But I really like goats (they are one of my research topics) and, although I know we don’t really have any wild goats left in the UK, I feel slightly vindicated by a news report covered by the BBC in March this year announcing that ‘Wild goats flock to Llandudno in bad weather‘!

Goats, along with sheep, have long been a part of human culture and economy and therefore also an intrinsic part of the human landscape (for a brief readable overview see Borowski, 1994 or Sasson, 2014). Encountering their rugged form on some bleak wilderness scarp can give us a very real impression of wildness and freedom, even though they are in fact indicators of the exact opposite. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed many a packed lunch on some windswept Welsh mountainside sharing Marmite sandwiches with a feral goat or two.

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Turtle Dove – Day 4 of 30 Days [Biblically] Wild

Turtle Dove – תֹּר (tor); τρυγών (trugōn)

Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) at Titchwell, RSPB – Image: Les Bunyan. https://www.lesbunyanphotography.co.uk/

The sound of the dove on a late summer’s afternoon, when velvet shadows begin to stretch over a freshly cut lawn, is one of those magical, lazy, sounds of summer. There is something special, something strangely soporific and hauntingly melancholic, about the dove’s call. As we shall see, it is something that also touched the heart and imagination of the ancient Hebrew writers of our biblical literature too.

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Snail – Day 3 out of 30 [Biblically] Days Wild

Snail – שַׁבְּלוּל (shabelul)

Cornu aspersum (or Helix aspersa) – common garden snail. Image: Unaccredited

Snails are fairly hard to miss at this time of the year. Following a June rain shower or on a dewy morning and they are almost everywhere. We are, probably, all familiar with that horribly uncomfortable crunch underfoot as we inadvertently tread on one. As vegetable plots and gardens begin to flourish, the gardeners amongst us will have a particular affinity (or should that be antipathy?) with this rather strange creature; a relationship that quite often can degenerate into all out warfare!

In many ways, the snail is a singular creature and so it is fitting that its appearance in the Bible is no less singular and perhaps even a little baffling. Continue reading

Frog – Day 2 out of 30 [Biblically] Days Wild

Frog – צְפַרְדֵּעַ (tsephardea); βάτραχος (batrachos)

The Common Frog (Rana temporaria) also known as the European Common Frog or European Common Brown Frog. Image: Richard Bartz, Munich aka Makro Freak Source:MFB.jpg

An ambivalence of [to] frogs

About this time of year (June), millions of tiny froglets, that have just developed from tadpoles, will be making their first forays onto land. Frogs typify our often ambivalent relationship with nature. For many, they are the epitome of ‘otherness’ (the non-human). Continue reading