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, 10:9; Ishmael 21:20; Esau, 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 (Lev 17:13). Deuteronomy 14:3-5 outlines what game was permitted as ritually clean food.

The tools of the hunter include bows and arrows (Gen 21:20; 27:3); nets (Job 18:8; Ezek 12:13); snares or pitfalls (Job 18:8), if the term does not refer to part of the net (NASB, NIV, REB); traps; snares; ropes (Job 18:9-10). Terror, the pit, and the trap of Isa 24:17-18 (Jer 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 Phoenicians. The Assyrian reliefs depicting Ashurbanipal’s lion hunt are particularly well known. The OT 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 (Jer 16:16). Saul hunted David (1 Sam 24:11). Matthew described the Pharisees’ plotting “to entrap” Jesus (22:15), Luke their “lying in wait” for Him (11:54). The Pastorals speak of the devil’s snare (1 Tim 3:7;2 Tim 2:26). Ezekiel 13:17-23) pictures women practicing magical arts as fowlers ensnaring the people. In Mic 7:2 the unfaithful are portrayed as hunting each other with nets. The warning of Prov 6:5 is to save oneself (from evil) like the gazelle or roe flees the hunter.

NOTE: The scriptures of Nimrod, Ishmael and Esau is in the text for educational purposes

Leave a Reply