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Holman Bible Dictionary

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Hebrew - hunt, hunt down, hunted, hunted me down, hunts
Hebrew - hunt
Hebrew - hunt
Hebrew - hunt

/HUNTER To pursue game for food or pleasure. Hunting was an important supplementary food source, especially in the seminomadic stage of civilization. Genesis mentions several hunters by name, none of whom are Israelite ancestors (Nimrod, Genesis 10:9; Ishmael, Genesis 21:20; Esau, Genesis 25:27), perhaps suggesting that hunting was more characteristic of Israel's neighbors than of Israel. Hunting was, however, regulated by Mosaic law. The blood of captured game was to be poured out on the ground (Leviticus 17:13). Deuteronomy 14:3-5 outlines what game was permitted as ritually clean food.

The tools of the hunter include bows and arrows (Genesis 21:20; Genesis 27:3), nets (Job 18:8; Ezekiel 12:13), snares or pitfalls (Job 18:8), if the term does not refer to part of the net (NAS, NIV, REB); traps, snares, ropes (Job 18:9-10). Terror, the pit, and the trap of Isaiah 24:17-18 (also Jeremiah 48:43-44) perhaps allude to the Battue method of hunting whereby a group forms a cordon and beats over the earth, driving game into a confined area, pit, or net. Ancient Egyptian carvings depict such methods of hunting.

Hunting for pleasure was a popular pastime of ancient kings. The hunt is a popular motif in the art of the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Phoniceans. The Assyrian reliefs depicting Ashurbanipal's lion hunt are particularly well known. The Old Testament does not mention hunting as a pastime of the kings of Israel or Judah. Josephus did note Herod's love of the hunt.

Most often the hunt is used figuratively. A rare positive image is Jeremiah's picture of God's hunting the scattered exiles to return them to Israel (Jeremiah 16:16). Saul hunted David (1 Samuel 24:11). Matthew described the Pharisees' plotting “to entrap” Jesus (Matthew 22:15), Luke their “lying in wait” for Him (Luke 11:54). The Pastorals speak of the devil's snare (1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26). Ezekiel 13:17-23 pictures women practicing magical arts as fowlers ensnaring the people. In Micah 7:2 the unfaithful are portrayed as hunting each other with nets. The warning of Proverbs 6:5 is to save oneself (from evil) like the gazelle or roe flees the hunter.

Chris Church

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'HUNT'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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