Carrier, A beast of burden very common in the East, where it is called "the land-ship," and "the carrier of the desert." It is six or seven feet high, and is exceedingly strong, tough, and enduring of labor. The feet are constructed with a tough elastic sole, which prevents the animal from sinking in the sand; and on all sorts of ground it is very sure-footed. The Arabian species, most commonly referred to in Scripture, has but one hump on the back; while the Bactrian camel, found in central Asia, has two. While the animal is well fed, these humps swell with accumulated fat, which is gradually absorbed under scarcity and toil, to supply the lack of food. The dromedary is a lighter and swifter variety, otherwise not distinguishable from the common camel, Jeremiah 2:23. Within the cavity of the stomach is a sort of paunch, provided with membranous cells to contain an extra provision of water: the supply with which this is filled will last for many days while he traverses the desert. His food is coarse leaves, twigs, thistles, which he prefers to the tenderest grass, and on which he performs the longest journeys. But generally, on a march, about a pound weight of dates, beans, or barley, will serve for twenty-four hours. The camel kneels to receive its load, which varies from 500 to 1,000 or 1,200 pounds. Meanwhile it is wont to utter loud cries or growls of anger and impatience. It is often obstinate and stupid, and at times ferocious; the young are as dull and ungainly as the old. Its average rate of travel is about two and one third miles an hour; and it jogs on with a sullen pertinacity hour after hour without fatigue, seeming as fresh at night as in the morning. No other animal could endure the severe and continual hardships of the camel, his rough usage, and his coarse and scanty food. The Arabians well say of him, "Job’s beast is a monument of God’s mercy."
This useful animal has been much employed in the East, from a very early period. The merchants of those sultry climes have found it the only means of exchanging the products of different lands, and from time immemorial long caravans have traversed year after year the almost pathless deserts, Genesis 37:25. The number of one’s camels was a token of his wealth. Job had 3,000, and the Midianites’ camels were like the sand of the sea,
Judges 7:12; 1 Chronicles 5:21; Job 1:3. Rebekah came to Isaac riding upon a camel, Genesis 24:64; the queen of Sheba brought them to Solomon, and Hazael to Elisha, laden with the choicest gifts, 1 Kings 10:2; 2 Kings 8:9; and they were even made serviceable in war, 1 Samuel 30:17. The camel was to the Hebrews an unclean animal, Leviticus 11:4; yet its milk has ever been to the Arabs an important article of food, and is highly prized as a cooling and healthy drink. Indeed, no animal is more useful to the Arabs, while living or after death. Out of its skin they make for corn. Of its skin they make huge water bottles and leather sacks, also sandals, ropes, and thongs. Its dung, dried in the sun, serves them for fuel.
CAMELS’ HAIR was woven into cloth in the East, some of it exceedingly fine and soft, but usually coarse and rough, used for making the coats of shepherds and camel-drivers, and for covering tents. It was this that John the Baptist wore, and not "soft raiment," Matthew 11:8. Modern dervishes wear garments of this kind and this appears to be meant in 2 Kings 1:8.
The expression, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle," etc., Matthew 19:24, was a proverb to describe an impossibility. The same phrase occurs in the Koran; and a similar one in the Talmud, respecting an elephant’s going through a needle’s eye. See also the proverb in Matthew 23:24, which illustrates the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by the custom of passing wine through a strainer. The old versions of the New Testament, instead of, "strain at" a gnat, have, "strain out," which conveys the true meaning.
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'CAMEL'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".