By Harriet N. Cook
Several animals of the deer kind are mentioned in the Bible under the names of Fallow-deer, Hart, Hind, and Roe-buck. They were all numbered among the clean animals, or those which the Israelites were allowed to eat; as we see in Deut. 14:4, 5, "These are the beasts which ye shall
eat; the ox, the sheep, the goat, the hart, the roe-buck and the fallow-deer." In 1st Kings, 4:23, we read of the daily provision which was made for king Solomon's table, and among the rest were "ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and a hundred sheep, besides harts, and roe-bucks, and fallow-deer."
These animals are all harmless, gentle, timid, loving and beautiful; noted for their branching horns, for the elegance of their form, and for their surprisingly swift and graceful motion. It has long been a favorite amusement in eastern countries to pursue them in the chase; and as the swiftest greyhound can scarcely overtake them, it is usual to train hawks or falcons to attack them, and so delay them till the dogs come up. They bound along over the plains, "fleet as the wind," seeming scarcely to touch the ground: no motion can be more beautiful. In the last verse of Solomon's Song we read, "Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart on the mountains of spices." The 35th chapter of Isaiah contains a beautiful description of the peaceful kingdom which Christ will one day establish in the earth; and among other things it is said, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing."
The hart or hind is remarkably sure-footed as well as swift: this may explain one or two verses in the Bible. David says, 2d Sam. 22:33, 34, "God is my strength and power, and he maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places." In the last verse of Habakkuk we read, "The Lord is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet."
The male deer is called a hart, the female a hind; and their affection for each other is beautiful. Solomon says in the Proverbs, "Rejoice with the wife of thy youth; let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe."
The hart often suffers from thirst in the dry and sandy countries where it lives-especially when pursued by the hunters; it then longs for water, and plunges with the greatest eagerness into the cooling stream. David says in the 42d Psalm, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?" Nothing could more strongly express his love to God, or his ardent desire for communion with him. Happy is the child who has in his heart such feelings towards God, and who finds pleasure in praying to him, from day to day; he has been taught by the Holy Spirit, and is preparing to meet God in peace. (See Roe.)