Ass — frequently mentioned throughout Scripture. Of the domesticated species we read of, (1.) The she ass (Heb. ˒athon), so named from its slowness (Gen. 12:16; 45:23; Num. 22:23; 1 Sam. 9:3). (2.) The male ass (Heb. hamor), the common working ass of Western Asia, so called from its red colour. Issachar is compared to a strong ass (Gen. 49:14). It was forbidden to yoke together an ass and an ox in the plough (Deut. 22:10). (3.) The ass’s colt (Heb. ˒air), mentioned Judg. 10:4; 12:14. It is rendered “foal” in Gen. 32:15; 49:11. (Comp. Job 11:12; Isa. 30:6.) The ass is an unclean animal, because it does not chew the cud (Lev. 11:26. Comp. 2 Kings 6:25). Asses constituted a considerable portion of wealth in ancient times (Gen. 12:16; 30:43; 1 Chr. 27:30; Job 1:3; 42:12). They were noted for their spirit and their attachment to their master (Isa. 1:3). They are frequently spoken of as having been ridden upon, as by Abraham (Gen. 22:3), Balaam (Num. 22:21), the disobedient prophet (1 Kings 13:23), the family of Abdon the judge, seventy in number (Judg. 12:14), Zipporah (Ex. 4:20), the Shunammite (1 Sam. 25:30), etc. Zechariah (9:9) predicted our Lord’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, “riding upon an ass, and upon a colt,” etc. (Matt. 21:5, R.V.).
Of wild asses two species are noticed, (1) that called in Hebrew ˒arod, mentioned Job 39:5 and Dan. 5:21, noted for its swiftness; and (2) that called pe˒re, the wild ass of Asia (Job 39:6–8; 6:5; 11:12; Isa. 32:14; Jer. 2:24; 14:6, etc.). The wild ass was distinguished for its fleetness and its extreme shyness. In allusion to his mode of life, Ishmael is likened to a wild ass (Gen. 16:12. Here the word is simply rendered “wild” in the Authorized Version, but in the Revised Version, “wild-ass among men”).