bar (dobh; compare Arabic dubb): In 1Sa 17:34-37, David tells Saul how as a shepherd boy he had overcome a lion and a bear. In 2Ki 2:24 it is related that two she bears came out of the wood and tore forty-two of the children who had been mocking Elisha. All the other references to bears are figurative; compare 2Sa 17:8; Pr 17:12; 28:15; Isa 11:7; 59:11; La 3:10; Da 7:5; Ho 13:8; Am 5:19; Re 13:2. The Syrian bear, sometimes named as a distinct species, Ursus Syriacus, is better to be regarded as merely a local variety of the European and Asiatic brown bear, Ursus arctos. It still exists in small numbers in Lebanon and is fairly common in Anti-Lebanon and Hermon. It does not seem to occur now in Palestine proper, but may well have done so in Bible times. It inhabits caves in the high and rugged mountains and issues mainly at night to feed on roots and vegetables. It is fond of the chummuc or chick-pea which is sometimes planted in the upland meadows, and the fields have to be well guarded. The figurative re ferences to the bear take account of its ferocious nature, especially in the case of the she bear robbed of her whelps (2Sa 17:8; Pr 17:12; Ho 13:8). It is with this character of the bear in mind that Isaiah says (Is 11:7), "And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together."
Alfred Y. Day
© Levend Water