The role of dogs has become quite prominent in our culture. A dog owner can truly have a bond with his dog in a way that has given the dog the title of “man’s best friend” throughout the years.
Long-time pet owners build strong and enduring relationships with specific breeds like German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, and Labrador Retrievers all the way to the little dogs such as Yorkies or Chihuahuas- just to name a few.
Some canine organizations recognize over 300 dog breeds! The role of dogs has become much more than pets also as they are used to help in law enforcement with drug enforcement man hunts, in the military, as guard dogs for many applications, and also as wonderful guide dogs for the sight impaired, or emotional support dogs.
However, we it comes to our Christian scripture we don’t think about a dog breed mentioned in the Bible. But there are many questions about a particular mention of a dog breed in the Bible.
1. The Curious Mention of the Greyhound in the Bible
So, let’s jump right into it and shine a spotlight on an unexpected player in an ancient book of the Bible. Have you ever heard that the greyhound breed of dog is specifically named in the Bible? Yes, you read that right—the name of this animal makes an appearance in the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament book of Proverbs in some translations The verse states:
“There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”
Proverbs 30:29-31 (KJV)
This is the only occurrence of a specific breed of dog and the only dog breed mentioned in the Bible in any translation This mention of the greyhound dog in some Bibles has perplexed scholars, dog lovers, and readers of God’s word alike. Could it really be a nod to the only breed of dog specifically named in the ancient text?
2. A Dog Breed Mentioned in the Bible? Yes, But Only Certain Versions of the Bible
Okay, so we’ve established that a Bible mention of a “greyhound” is indeed found in the book of Proverbs. However, before we get too excited about this greyhound character within the pages of scripture, let’s examine this topic a bit more.
While it’s true that the term “greyhound” appears, it’s crucial to note that this mention is not included in the vast majority of modern English Bible versions. The King James Version (KJV), and New King James Version (NKJV), include the term “greyhound” in Proverbs 30:29-31. However, many of the more modern translations opt for different interpretations, steering away from the specific mention of a dog breed.
This interesting difference has sparked all sorts of debates among scholars and theologians. So, why do some versions talk about a “greyhound” while others completely stay away from the term or even the notion that it was a dog being described?
Is it because most scholars do not believe that the Hebrew word or Hebrew phrase in that portion of the text was not specific enough to translate the word “dog.
Some terms from ancient writings are particularly hard to translate. The choice to put in the “greyhound” word or not was a bit of a puzzle for the translators. They were trying to ascertain what the original words really meant. And that brings us to a big question: Did the word that was translated, “greyhound” really mean a type of dog, or was it more like something else?”
Exploring the Scriptural Context in the “Greyhound” Passage
To get a more clear answer to see if the scripture mentions greyhound-type dogs, let’s take a quick look at what was happening in the book of Proverbs in biblical times.
This is not a story pulled from the New York Times or other modern-day online sources but from ancient times – thousands of years ago.
This chapter in the book of Proverbs comes from the writings of Agur, probably a teacher with wise insights.
Quite a few commentators believed that Agur most likely lived in the same era as Solomon – around 900+ years before the birth of Christ. We don’t know much about Agur except what we can glean from this one chapter. There is little doubt that Azur appears to be a very wise man and respects God’s ways.
Some scholars have even suggested that Azur was another name used by Solomon, but that probably may not be the case.
In this proverb, Azur is discussing his insights on life, he uses many examples illustrating the positive and negative aspects of life. Eventually, he turns to four living beings that exhibit that are impressive, exhibit strength and price, and move in stately or captivating ways.
Azur, son of Jakeh, shared these verses to show how life has both limits and wonders. He used clever words and examples to make people think about things around them. He talked about how some things are never satisfied but also demonstrated that even small animals have wisdom in their own way.
Azur reminded us to be honest and content. He looked at nature and saw lessons in it. He talked about strong animals and things we can’t explain. Overall, he wanted people to think about life’s mysteries and to be wise and humble.
So, Azur Is the Source of the Dog Breed Mentioned In the Bible? Proverbs 30: 29-31
Let’s look at exactly how the King James Version (KJV) reads in the portion of the text that mentions the greyhound.
29 There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: 30 A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; 31 A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.Proverbs 30: 29-31
Azur begins by mentioning the lion, which can be seen as a proud embodiment of courage and strength. Then he mentions the “greyhound.” It would be cool if the modern greyhound as we know was what he was writing about. But, that may not at all be what he meant.
The various chapters in the book of Proverbs could have been written 2700-3000 years ago in Biblical Hebrew, which is an archaic form of the Hebrew language. So, much care and study has to be put into the work of translating documents that old from that language.
Well, was it an actual greyhound that was translated in the King James Version? Some scholars think it might have been the Saluki breed, similar to a greyhound in terms of the mention of a slender waist, and deep chest, and could have been the fastest and most stately dog breed owned especially by royals and nobility in the time of the translation.
In modern times, we know that even the late Queen Elizabeth had a great fondness for and had strong bonds with her greyhounds. the greyhound has been known as perhaps the fastest dog breed chosen by many people of noble means.
Azur also includes a mention of the “he-goat” symbolizing strength and boundless energy. Lastly, he nods to a king, a figure synonymous with authority and respect.
Azur isn’t merely listing these creatures haphazardly; he’s weaving a narrative that highlights their distinctiveness and fascination. When he refers to the “greyhound,” it’s not just about the breed; it’s an homage to agility and elegance.”Greyhound” was what the early 17th century translators arrived at when faced with the Hebrew phrase that basically meant “girded of the loins, “girded about the loins,” or similar.
However, other translations such as the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the English Standard Version (ESV), the New International Version (NIV), The Christian Standard Bible (CSB), and the New Living Translation (NLT) all do not use the term greyhound but translate it as a “strutting rooster.”
The later translations that emerged in the 20th century chose to use “strutting rooster” as they revisited older manuscripts and attempted to provide a more accurate rendering of the original Hebrew.
Perhaps in the context of the time of the writing of the 1611 King James Version and with the manuscripts from which they were interpreting, “greyhound” seemed to work. However, later scholars and interpreters disagree.
Azur’s writing in Proverbs offers valuable insights into the complexities of existence, urging us to view the world with wonder. By considering his words, we can gain a deeper understanding of the profound connections between nature, wisdom, and the human experience.
Another aspect of Dogs in the Bible That Might Come Into Play
Even though we have seen dogs such as the greyhound are viewed as stately and elegant in the context we saw in the King James Versions, the word “dog” or “dogs” appears in different ways, often with quite a different meaning.
Back in ancient times, many times dogs weren’t referred to as quite the loving companions as they are today. Instead, they were linked to searching for food and being dirty.
This is illustrated in Bible passages like the New Testament passage in Philippians 3:2, where the word “dogs” is used to talk about fake teachers spreading wrong ideas.
Also, in the old days of Jewish law and culture, dogs weren’t admired like they are now. People thought they were dirty animals or unclean animals that wandered around looking for food.
We can find examples of this in passages like Psalm 22:16-21, where the writer talks about being surrounded by dogs. He was referring to his enemies who were meant to hurt him.
Maybe Greyhound was not the Best Interpretation:
Understanding these not-so-great ideas about dogs helps us see the Bible’s meanings better. It shows us how people thought and what things meant back then. So, it can make us ponder if the writer, around 3000 years ago was actually meaning some sort of stately dog.
The point in history, the timetable, and the addition of older manuscripts that were found have many, many scholars believe that “greyhound” wasn’t the best translation for that passage.
However, if you are a huge fan of the King James Version (a translation that has been a blessing to millions) and want to go with the “greyhound” translations, then go with it.
In Conclusion: Unraveling the Greyhound’s Mystery in Proverbs
As we looked through the verses of this text, we simply wanted to uncover the truth of whether was there a specific dog breed mentioned in the Bible. The notion of a “greyhound” gracing the Bible is fascinating.
The initial excitement of discovering a potential dog breed in the Bible was compelling. Yet, as we navigate the accuracies of the various biblical translations and manuscripts, the name of a dog breed in the original manuscripts seems more unlikely than likely.
The older and well-preserved manuscripts, revered for their accuracy, offered an alternative perspective. The term that we’ve come to associate with a swift and elegant dog breed seemed to lean toward a different interpretation—a “strutting rooster.”
This transformation wasn’t a mere result of a whim; it was a reflection of the efforts of modern scholars to bring us closer to the essence of the original text.
As our understanding of ancient languages deepens, we find ourselves peeling back layers of history to glimpse the heart of ancient wisdom. While the thought of a specific name of a canine breed in the Bible sounds really cool, the quest for accuracy causes us to give that thought great pause.
However, if you are a fan of the King James Version especially, and believe the greyhound translation is the best, then you have a specific dog breed in the Bible! You have a lean, muscular dog that is capable of high speeds and you find him right in the book of Proverbs.
What are your thoughts?