|Noah Webster's Dictionary|
1. (n.) Any one of several species of carnivorous animals inhabiting Africa and Asia, related to the dog and wolf. They are cowardly, nocturnal, and gregarious. They feed largely on carrion, and are noted for their piercing and dismal howling.
2. (n.) One who does mean work for another's advantage, as jackals were once thought to kill game which lions appropriated.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(1) tannim, "jackals," the King James Version "dragons"; compare Arabic tinan, "wolf"; and compare tannin, Arab tinnin, "sea monster" or "monster" the English Revised Version "dragon" (Job 7:12 Psalm 74:13; Psalm 148:7 Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 51:9 Jeremiah 51:34), "serpent" (Exodus 7:9, 10, 12 Deuteronomy 32:33 Psalm 91:13), the King James Version "whale" (Genesis 1:21 Job 7:12); but tannin, "jackals," the King James Version "sea monsters" (Lamentations 4:3), "jackal's well," the King James Version "dragon well" (Nehemiah 2:13), and tannim, "monster," the King James Version and the English Revised Version "dragon" (Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2).
(2) 'iyim, "wolves," the King James Version "wild beasts of the islands"; compare 'i, plural iyim, "island"; also 'ayyah, "a cry," 'awah, "to cry," "to howl"; Arabic `auwa', "to bark" (of dogs, wolves, or jackals); 'ibn 'awa', colloquially wawi, "jackal."
(3) tsiyim, "wild beasts of the desert."
(4) 'ochim, "doleful creatures."
"Jackals" occurs as a translation of tannim, the King James Version "dragons," in Job 30:29 Psalm 44:19 Isaiah 13:22; Isaiah 34:13; Isaiah 35:7; Isaiah 43:20 Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 10:22; Jeremiah 14:6; Jeremiah 49:33; Jeremiah 51:37; of the feminine plural form tannoth in Malachi 1:3, and of tannin in Nehemiah 2:13 and Lamentations 4:3. Tannim is variously referred to a root meaning "to howl," and to a root meaning "to stretch out" trop. "to run swiftly, i.e. with outstretched neck and limb extended" (Gesenius). Either derivation would suit "wolf" equally as well as "jackal." The expression in Jeremiah 10:22, "to make the cities of Judah a desolation, a dwelling-place of jackals," seems, however, especially appropriate of jackals. The same is true of Isaiah 34:13 Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 49:33, and 51:37.
The jackal (from Persian shaghal), Canis aureus, is found about the Mediterranean except in Western Europe. It ranges southward to Abyssinia, and eastward, in Southern Asia, to farther India. It is smaller than a large dog, has a moderately bushy tail, and is reddish brown with dark shadings above. It is cowardly and nocturnal. Like the fox, it is destructive to poultry, grapes, and vegetables, but is less fastidious, and readily devours the remains of others' feasts. Jackals generally go about in small companies. Their peculiar howl may frequently be heard in the evening and at any time in the night. It begins with a high-pitched, long-drawn-out cry. This is repeated two or three times, each time in a higher key than before. Finally there are several short, loud, yelping barks. Often when one raises the cry others join in. Jackals are not infrequently confounded with foxes. They breed freely with dogs.
While tannim is the only word translated "jackal" in English Versions of the Bible, the words 'iyim, tsiyim, and 'ochim deserve attention. They, as well as tannim, evidently refer to wild creatures inhabiting desert places, but it is difficult to say for what animal each of the words stands. All four (together with benoth ya`anah and se`irim) are found in Isaiah 13:21, 22: "But wild beasts of the desert (tsiyim) shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures ('ochim); and ostriches (benoth ya`anah) shall dwell there, and wild goats (se`irim) shall dance there. And wolves ('iyim) shall cry in their castles, and jackals (tannim) in the pleasant palaces."
In the King James Version 'iyim (Isaiah 13:22; Isaiah 34:14 Jeremiah 50:39) is translated "wild beasts of the islands" (compare 'iyim, "islands"). the King James Version margin has merely the transliteration iim, the Revised Version (British and American) "wolves," the Revised Version margin "howling creatures." Gesenius suggests the jackal, which is certainly a howler. While the wolf has a blood-curdling howl, it is much more rarely heard than the jackal.
Tsiyim (Psalm 72:9; Psalm 74:14 Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 23:13; Isaiah 34:14 Jeremiah 50:39) has been considered akin to tsiyah, "drought" (compare 'erets tsiyah, "a dry land" (Psalm 63:1)), and is translated in the Revised Version (British and American) as follows: Psalm 72:9, "they that dwell in the wilderness"; 74:14, "the people inhabiting the wilderness"; Isaiah 23:13, "them that dwell in the wilderness," the Revised Version margin "the beasts of the wilderness"; Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14 Jeremiah 50:39, "wild beasts of the desert." There would be some difficulty in referring tsiyim in Psalm 72:9 to beasts rather than to men, but that is not the case in Psalm 74:14 and Isaiah 23:13. "Wild cats" have been suggested.
'Ochim, "doleful creatures," perhaps onomatopoetic, occurs only in Isaiah 13:21. The translation "owls" has been suggested, and is not unsuitable to the context.
It is not impossible that tannim and 'iyim may be different names of the jackals. 'Iyim, tsiyim, and tannim occur together also in Isaiah 34:13, 14, and 'iyim and tsiyim in Jeremiah 50:39. Their similarity in sound may have much to do with their collocation. The recognized word for "wolf," ze'ebh (compare Arabic dhi'b), occurs 7 times in the Old Testament.
See DRAGON; WOLF; ZOOLOGY.
Alfred Ely Day
Jackal (3 Occurrences)
Nehemiah 2:13 I went out by night by the valley gate, even toward the jackal's well, and to the dung gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and its gates were consumed with fire. (WEB ASV DBY RSV NIV)
Psalms 63:10 They shall be given over to the power of the sword. They shall be jackal food. (WEB RSV NIV)
Micah 1:8 For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will howl like the jackals, and moan like the daughters of owls. (Root in WEB JPS ASV BBE DBY NAS RSV NIV)