A ferocious wild animal, the Canis Lupus of Linnaeus, belonging to the dog genus. Indeed, it closely resembles the dog; and it is only by a few slight differences of shape that they are distinguished. Wolves never bark, but only howl. They are cruel, but cowardly animals; they fly from man, except when impelled by hunger; in which case they prowl by night in great droves through villages, and destroy any persons they meet, Jer 5:6; Eze 22:27; Hab 1:8. They are swift of foot, strong enough to carry off a sheep at full speed, and an overmatch for ordinary dogs. In severe winters, wolves assemble in large troops, join in dreadful howlings, and make terrible devastation. They are the peculiar object of terror to shepherds, as the defenselessness and timidity of the sheep render it an easy prey to wolves, Lu 10:3; Joh 10:12. So persecutors and false teachers have been "grievous wolves" to the flock of Christ, Mt 10:16; Ac 20:29. The wolf inhabits the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. Driven in general from the populous parts of the country, he is yet everywhere found in large forests and mountainous regions.
Heb zeeb, frequently referred to in Scripture as an emblem of treachery and cruelty. Jacob's prophecy, "Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf" (Ge 49:27), represents the warlike character of that tribe (see JG 19-21). Isaiah represents the peace of Messiah's kingdom by the words, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb" (Isa 11:6). The habits of the wolf are described in Jer 5:6; Hab 1:8; Zep 3:3; Eze 22:27; Mt 7:15; 10:16; Ac 20:29. Wolves are still sometimes found in Palestine, and are the dread of shepherds, as of old.
zeeb. The Canis lupus. Fierce (Ge 49:27; Eze 22:27; Hab 1:8; Mt 7:15); prowling in the night (Jer 5:6; Zep 3:3); devouring lambs and sheep (Joh 10:12); typifying persecutors and heretical leaders (Mt 10:16; 7:15; Ac 20:29); hereafter about to associate peacefully with the lamb under Messiah's reign (Isa 11:6; 65:25). Tawny in color in Asia Minor.
In AV 'wolf' is always tr of ze'
The well-known animal, described in scripture as 'ravening,' and seeking its prey in the evening. They are very destructive among the sheep, worrying and destroying more than they can eat. This makes the wolf a fit emblem of the wicked, who molest the sheep and lambs of God's flock, and even creep in among them. How great will be the change in the millennium is denoted, among other things, by the wolf and the lamb dwelling together. Ge 49:27; Isa 11:6; 65:25; Jer 5:6; Eze 22:27; Hab 1:8; Zep 3:3; Mt 7:15; 10:16; Lu 10:3; Joh 10:12; Ac 20:29. The Hebrew is zeeb, Arabic dhib, the common Canis lupus.
There can be little doubt that the wolf of Palestine is the common Canis lupus, and that this is the animal so frequently mentioned in the Bible. (The wolf is a fierce animal of the same species as the dog, which it resembles. The common color is gray with a tinting of fawn, and the hair is long and black. The Syrian wolf is of lighter color than the wolf of Europe it is the dread of the shepherds of Palestine. --ED.) Wolves were doubtless far more common in biblical times than they are now, though they are occasionally seen by modern travellers. The following are the scriptural allusions to the wolf: Its ferocity is mentioned in
; Habb 1:8; Matt 7:15 its nocturnal habits, in
; Habb 1:8 its attacking sheep and lambs,
Mt 10:16; Lu 10:3; Joh 10:12
foretells the peaceful reign of the Messiah under the metaphor of a wolf dwelling with a lamb: cruel persecutors are compared with wolves.
WOLF, ???, in Arabic, zeeb, Ge 49:27; Isa 11:6; 65:25; Jer 5:6; Eze 22:27; Zep 3:3; Hab 1:8; ?????, Mt 7:15; 10:16; Lu 10:3; Joh 10:12; Ac 20:29; Ecclesiastes 13:17. M. Mains derives it from the Arabic word zaab or daaba, "to frighten;" and hence, perhaps, the German word dieb, "a thief." The wolf is a fierce, strong, cunning, mischievous, and carnivorous quadruped; externally and internally so nearly resembling the dog, that they seem modelled alike, yet have a perfect antipathy to each other. The Scripture observes of the wolf, that it lives upon rapine; is violent, bloody, cruel, voracious, and greedy; goes abroad by night to seek its prey, and is a great enemy to flocks of sheep. Indeed, this animal is fierce without cause, kills without remorse, and by its indiscriminate slaughter seems to satisfy its malignity rather than its hunger. The wolf is weaker than the lion or the bear, and less courageous than the leopard; but he scarcely yields to them in cruelty and rapaciousness. His ravenous temper prompts him to destructive and sanguinary depredations; and these are perpetrated principally in the night. This circumstance is expressly mentioned in several passages of Scripture. "The great men have altogether broken the yoke and burst the bonds; wherefore, a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them," Jer 5:6. The rapacious and cruel conduct of the princes of Israel is compared by Eze 22:27, to the mischievous inroads of the same animal: "Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, to destroy lives, to get dishonest gain;" and Zep 3:3, says, "Her princes within her are roaring lions, her judges are evening wolves: they gnaw not the bones till the morrow." Instead of protecting the innocent and restraining the evil doer, or punishing him according to the demerit of his crimes, they delight in violence and oppression, in blood and rapine; and so insatiable is their cupidity, that, like the evening wolf, they destroy more than they are able to possess. The dispositions of the wolf to attack the weaker animals, especially those which are under the protection of man, is alluded to by our Saviour in the parable of the hireling shepherd: "The wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the flock," Mt 7:15. And the Apostle Paul, in his address to the elders of Ephesus, gives the name of this insidious and cruel animal to the false teachers who disturbed the peace and perverted the faith of their people: "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock," Ac 20:29.