|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
From the Hebrew gamal, "to repay" or "requite," as the camel does the care of its master. There are two distinct species of camels, having, however, the common characteristics of being "ruminants without horns, without muzzle, with nostrils forming oblique slits, the upper lip divided and separately movable and extensile, the soles of the feet horny, with two toes covered by claws, the limbs long, the abdomen drawn up, while the neck, long and slender, is bent up and down, the reverse of that of a horse, which is arched."
(1.) The Bactrian camel is distinguished by two humps. It is a native of the high table-lands of Central Asia.
(2.) The Arabian camel or dromedary, from the Greek dromos, "a runner" (Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 2:23), has but one hump, and is a native of Western Asia or Africa.
The camel was early used both for riding and as a beast of burden (Genesis 24:64; 37:25), and in war (1 Samuel 30:17; Isaiah 21:7). Mention is made of the camel among the cattle given by Pharaoh to Abraham (Genesis 12:16). Its flesh was not to be eaten, as it was ranked among unclean animals (Leviticus 11:4; Deuteronomy 14:7). Abraham's servant rode on a camel when he went to fetch a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24:10, 11). Jacob had camels as a portion of his wealth (30:43), as Abraham also had (24:35). He sent a present of thirty milch camels to his brother Esau (32:15). It appears to have been little in use among the Jews after the conquest. It is, however, mentioned in the history of David (1 Chronicles 27:30), and after the Exile (Ezra 2:67; Nehemiah 7:69). Camels were much in use among other nations in the East. The queen of Sheba came with a caravan of camels when she came to see the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 10:2; 2 Chronicles 9:1). Benhadad of Damascus also sent a present to Elisha, "forty camels' burden" (2 Kings 8:9).
To show the difficulty in the way of a rich man's entering into the kingdom, our Lord uses the proverbial expression that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24).
To strain at (rather, out) a gnat and swallow a camel was also a proverbial expression (Matthew 23:24), used with reference to those who were careful to avoid small faults, and yet did not hesitate to commit the greatest sins. The Jews carefully filtered their wine before drinking it, for fear of swallowing along with it some insect forbidden in the law as unclean, and yet they omitted openly the "weightier matters" of the law.
The raiment worn by John the Baptist was made of camel's hair (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6), by which he was distinguished from those who resided in royal palaces and wore soft raiment. This was also the case with Elijah (2 Kings 1:8), who is called "a hairy man," from his wearing such raiment. "This is one of the most admirable materials for clothing; it keeps out the heat, cold, and rain." The "sackcloth" so often alluded to (2 Kings 1:8; Isaiah 15:3; Zechariah 13:4, etc.) was probably made of camel's hair.
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) A large ruminant used in Asia and Africa for carrying burdens and for riding. The camel is remarkable for its ability to go a long time without drinking. Its hoofs are small, and situated at the extremities of the toes, and the weight of the animal rests on the callous. The dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) has one bunch on the back, while the Bactrian camel (C. Bactrianus) has two. The llama, alpaca, and vicua, of South America, belong to a related genus (Auchenia).
2. (n.) A water-tight structure (as a large box or boxes) used to assist a vessel in passing over a shoal or bar or in navigating shallow water. By admitting water, the camel or camels may be sunk and attached beneath or at the sides of a vessel, and when the water is pumped out the vessel is lifted.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
kam'-el (gamal; kamelos; bekher, and bikhrah (Isaiah 60:6 Jeremiah 2:23 "dromedary," the American Revised Version, margin "young camel"), rekhesh (1 Kings 4:28; see HORSE), kirkaroth (Isaiah 66:20, "swift beasts," the American Standard Revised ersion. "dromedaries"); bene ha-rammakhim (Esther 8:10, "young dromedaries," the American Standard Revised Version "bred of the stud"); achashteranim (Esther 8:10, 14, the King James Version "camels," the American Standard Revised Version "that were used in the king's service")): There are two species of camel, the Arabian or one-humped camel or dromedary, Camelus dromedarius, and the Bactrian or two-humped camel, Camelus bactrianus. The latter inhabits the temperate and cold parts of central Asia and is not likely to have been known to Biblical writers. The Arabian camel inhabits southwestern Asia and northern Africa and has recently been introduced into parts of America and Australia. Its hoofs are not typical of ungulates but are rather like great claws. The toes are not completely separated and the main part of the foot which is applied to the ground is a large pad which underlies the proximal joints of the digits. It may be that this incomplete separation of the two toes is a sufficient explanation of the words "parteth not the hoof," in Leviticus 11:4 and Deuteronomy 14:7. Otherwise these words present a difficulty, because the hoofs are completely separated though the toes are not. The camel is a ruminant and chews the cud like a sheep or ox, but the stomach possesses only three compartments instead of four, as in other ruminants. The first two compartments contain in their walls small pouches, each of which can be closed by a sphincter muscle. The fluid retained in these pouches may account in part for the power of the camel to go for a relatively long time without drinking.
The Arabian camel is often compared with justice to the reindeer of the Esquimaux. It furnishes hair for spinning and weaving, milk, flesh and leather, as well as being an of invaluable means of transportation in the arid desert. There are many Arabic names for the camel, the commonest of which is jamal (in Egypt gamal), the root being common to Arabic, Hebrew and other Semitic languages. From it the names in Latin, Greek, English and various European languages are derived. There are various breeds camels, as there are of horses. The riding camels or dromedaries, commonly called hajin, can go, even at a walk, much faster than the pack camels. The males are mostly used for carrying burdens, the females being kept with the herds. Camels are used to a surprising extent on the rough roads of the mountains, and one finds in the possession of fellachin in the mountains and on the littoral plain larger and stronger pack camels than are often found among the Bedouin. Camels were apparently not much used by the Israelites after the time of the patriarchs. They were taken as spoil of war from the Amalekites and other tribes, but nearly the only reference to their use by the later Israelites was when David was made king over all Israel at Hebron, when camels are mentioned among the animals used for bringing food for the celebration (1 Chronicles 12:40). David had a herd of camels, but the herdsman was Obil, an Ishmaelite (1 Chronicles 27:30). Nearly all the other Biblical references to camels are to those possessed by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Ishmaelites, Amalekites, Midianites, Hagrites and the "children of the East" (see EAST). Two references to camels (Genesis 12:16 Exodus 9:3) are regarded as puzzling because the testimony of the Egyptian monuments is said to be against the presence of camels in ancient Egypt. For this reason, Genesis 12-16, in connection with Abram's visit to Egypt, is turned to account by Canon Cheyne to substantiate his theory that the Israelites were not in Egypt but in a north Arabian land of Mucri (Encyclopaedia Biblica under the word "Camel," 4). While the flesh of the camel was forbidden to the Israelites, it is freely eaten by the Arabs. There are three references to the camel in New Testament:
(1) to John's raiment of camel's hair (Matthew 3:4 Mark 1:6);
(2) the words of Jesus that "it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24 Mark 10:25 Luke 18:25);
(3) the proverb applied to the Pharisees as blind guides, "that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel" (Matthew 23:24). Some manuscripts read ho kamilos, "a cable," in Matthew 19:24 and Luke 18:25.
There are a few unusual words which have been translated "camel" in text or margin of one or the other version. (See list of words at beginning of the article) Bekher and bikhrah clearly mean a young animal, and the Arabic root word and derivatives are used similarly to the Hebrew. Rakhash, the root of rekhesh, is compared with the Arabic rakad, "to run," and, in the Revised Version (British and American), rekhesh is translated "swift steeds." Kirkaroth, rammakhim and 'achashteranim must be admitted to be of doubtful etymology and uncertain meaning.
Alfred Ely Day
Camel (13 Occurrences)
Matthew 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Matthew 23:24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel! (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Luke 18:25 For it is easier for a camel to enter in through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 24:64 Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 31:34 Now Rachel had taken the teraphim, put them in the camel's saddle, and sat on them. Laban felt about all the tent, but didn't find them. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 11:4 "'Nevertheless these you shall not eat of those that chew the cud, or of those who part the hoof: the camel, because he chews the cud but doesn't have a parted hoof, he is unclean to you. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Deuteronomy 14:7 Nevertheless these you shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of those who have the hoof cloven: the camel, and the hare, and the rabbit; because they chew the cud but don't part the hoof, they are unclean to you. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 15:3 Now go and strike Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and don't spare them; but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 8:9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels' burden, and came and stood before him, and said, "Your son Benhadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying,'Will I recover from this sickness?'" (Root in WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 21:7 When he sees a troop, horsemen in pairs, a troop of donkeys, a troop of camels, he shall listen diligently with great attentiveness." (Root in WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Jeremiah 2:23 How are you able to say, I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals? see your way in the valley, be clear about what you have done: you are a quick-footed camel twisting her way in and out; (BBE JPS NAS RSV NIV)
Zechariah 14:15 So will be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the donkey, and of all the animals that will be in those camps, as that plague. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)