- First Reference: Genesis 12:16
- Last Reference: Ezekiel 25:5
- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: No
- Included in Naves: No
- Included in Smiths: Yes
- Included in Websters: Yes
- Included in Strongs: Yes
- Included in Thayers: No
- Included in BDB: Yes
From the Hebrew gamal, "to repay" or "requite," as the camel does the care of its master. There are two distinct species of camels, having, however, the common characteristics of being "ruminants without horns, without muzzle, with nostrils forming oblique slits, the upper lip divided and separately movable and extensile, the soles of the feet horny, with two toes covered by claws, the limbs long, the abdomen drawn up, while the neck, long and slender, is bent up and down, the reverse of that of a horse, which is arched."
1. The Bactrian camel is distinguished by two humps. It is a native of the high table-lands of Central Asia.
2. The Arabian camel or dromedary, from the Greek dromos, "a runner" (Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 2:23), has but one hump, and is a native of Western Asia or Africa.
The camel was early used both for riding and as a beast of burden (Genesis 24:64; 37:25), and in war (1 Samuel 30:17; Isaiah 21:7). Mention is made of the camel among the cattle given by Pharaoh to Abraham (Genesis 12:16). Its flesh was not to be eaten, as it was ranked among unclean animals (Leviticus 11:4; Deuteronomy 14:7). Abraham's servant rode on a camel when he went to fetch a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24:10, 11). Jacob had camels as a portion of his wealth (30:43), as Abraham also had (24:35). He sent a present of thirty milch camels to his brother Esau (32:15). It appears to have been little in use among the Jews after the conquest. It is, however, mentioned in the history of David (1 Chronicles 27:30), and after the Exile (Ezra 2:67; Nehemiah 7:69). Camels were much in use among other nations in the East. The queen of Sheba came with a caravan of camels when she came to see the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 10:2; 2 Chronicles 9:1). Benhadad of Damascus also sent a present to Elisha, "forty camels' burden" (2 Kings 8:9).
To show the difficulty in the way of a rich man's entering into the kingdom, our Lord uses the proverbial expression that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24).
To strain at (rather, out) a gnat and swallow a camel was also a proverbial expression (Matthew 23:24), used with reference to those who were careful to avoid small faults, and yet did not hesitate to commit the greatest sins. The Jews carefully filtered their wine before drinking it, for fear of swallowing along with it some insect forbidden in the law as unclean, and yet they omitted openly the "weightier matters" of the law.
The raiment worn by John the Baptist was made of camel's hair (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6), by which he was distinguished from those who resided in royal palaces and wore soft raiment. This was also the case with Elijah (2 Kings 1:8), who is called "a hairy man," from his wearing such raiment. "This is one of the most admirable materials for clothing; it keeps out the heat, cold, and rain." The "sackcloth" so often alluded to (2 Kings 1:8; Isaiah 15:3; Zechariah 13:4, etc.) was probably made of camel's hair.
Genesis 12:16; Genesis 24:35; Genesis 30:43; 1 Samuel 30:17; 1 Chronicles 27:30; Job 1:3; Job 1:17; Isaiah 60:6
Genesis 24:10; Genesis 24:61; Genesis 24:64; Genesis 31:17
Esther 8:10; Esther 8:14; Jeremiah 2:23
For drawing chariots
For carrying burdens
Genesis 24:10; Genesis 37:25; 1 Kings 10:2; 2 Kings 8:9; 1 Chronicles 12:40; Isaiah 30:6
1 Samuel 30:17
Forbidden as food
Hair of, made into cloth
Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6
Judges 8:21; Judges 8:26
The species of camel which was in common use among the Jews and the heathen nations of Palestine was the Arabian or one-humped camel, Camelus arabicus . The dromedary is a swifter animal than the baggage-camel, and is used chiefly for riding purposes; it is merely a finer breed than the other. The Arabs call it the heirie . The speed, of the dromedary has been greatly exaggerated, the Arabs asserting that it is swifter than the horse. Eight or nine miles an hour is the utmost it is able to perform; this pace, however, it is able to keep up for hours together. The Arabian camel carries about 500 pounds. "The hump on the camel's back is chiefly a store of fat, from which the animal draws as the wants of his system require; and the Arab is careful to see that the hump is in good condition before a long journey. Another interesting adaptation is the thick sole which protects the foot of the camel from the burning sand. The nostrils may be closed by valves against blasts of sand. Most interesting is the provision for drought made by providing the second stomach with great cells in which water is long retained. Sight and smell is exceedingly acute in the camel."
Johnson's Encyc. It is clear from (Genesis 12:16) that camels were early known to the Egyptians. The importance of the camel is shown by (Genesis 24:64; 37:25; Judges 7:12; 1 Samuel 27:9; 1 Kings 19:2; 2 Chronicles 14:15; Job 1:3; Jeremiah 49:29,32) and many other texts. John the Baptist wore a garment made of camel hair, (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6) the coarser hairs of the camel; and some have supposed that Elijah was clad in a dress of the same stuff.
1. A large quadruped used in Asia and Africa for carrying burdens, and for riders. As genus, the camel belongs to the order of Pecora. The characteristics are; it has no horns; it has six fore teeth in the under jaw; the canine teeth are wide set, three in the upper and two in the lower jaw; and there is a fissure in the upper lip. The dromedary of Arabian camel has one bunch on the back, four callous protuberances on the fore legs and two on the hind legs. The Bactrian camel has two bunches on the back. The Llama of South America is a smaller animal, with a smooth back, small head, fine black eyes, and very long neck. The Pacos or sheep of Chili his no bunch. Camels constitute the riches of an Arabian, without which he could neither subsist, carry on trade nor travel over sandy desarts. Their milk is his common food. By the camels power of sustaining abstinence rom drink, for many days, and of subsisting on a few coarse shrubs, he is peculiarly fitted for the parched and barren lands of Asia and Africa.
2. In Holland, camel [or Kameel, as Coxe writes it, ] is a machine for lifting ships, and bearing them over the Pampus, at the mouth of the river Y, or over other bars. It is also used in other places, and particularly at the dock in Petersburg, to bear vessels over a bar to Cronstadt.
CAMEL-BACKED, adjective Having a back like a camel.
Cameleon mineral. [See Chameleon.] A compound of pure potash and black oxyd of manganese, fused together, whose solution in water, at first green, passes spontaneously through the whole series of colored rays to the red; and by the addition of potash, it returns to its original green.
CAMELOPARD, noun [camelus and pardalis.] The giraff, a species constituting the genus Camelopardalis. This animal has two straight horns, without branches, six inches long, covered with hair, truncated at the end and tufted. On the forehead, is a tubercle, two inches high, resembling another horn. The fore legs are not much longer than the hind ones, but the shoulders are of such a vast length, as to render the fore part of the animal much higher than the hind part. The head is like that of a stag; the neck is slender and elegant, furnished with a short mane. The color of the whole animal is a dirty white marked with large broad rusty spots. This animal is found in the central and eastern parts of Africa. It is timid and not fleet.