Throughout the New Testament, there are references to certain types of animals, used to signify different groups of people. Of particular interest are sheep. For instance:
"My sheep know My voice" and
"the Lamb looking as though it had been slain"
but there are also other groups mentioned in contrast to the sheep:
"grievous wolves shall enter the fold" and
"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine"
What you may not know, and what I hope to show you in this post, is that
1) Many/most of these metaphors have a common origin.
2) Each of the animals mentioned refers to a certain ethnic people.
3) What some of these identifications are.
Put it all together, and it can add a new perspective to some of the familiar parables of the Gospels, and even perhaps shine a little light into the books of Daniel, and Revelation.
Jewish prophets, even from the beginning, used animals to represent foreign nations, especially enemy nations. Why? To protect their safety... Poetic license... A dearth of words in the Hebrew language... Some of all of the above, probably. At any rate, one thing we can say is that the farther forward we go in history, the more prevalent it becomes. And, that it is mainly confined to the prophetic books, and the parables.
The master reference for this subject is actually a passage from an intertestamental book - the book of Enoch. The reason is simple; it recaps known history, using the apocryphal animal names. So we can easily see which animals refer to which peoples, when we read it.
White Bulls - patriarchs of Israel
Black Bulls - descendants of Cain, and/or of Ham
Red Bulls - other descendants of the patriarchs who are not in a direct lineage with the Israelites
Sheep - Israelites (Jacob to the end of the Greek empire)
Lambs - Israelites (Hasmonean era onwards)
Animals becoming Men - Men who became notable prophets. Noah & Moses, for example, in this text.
Asses - descendants of Ishmael (Gen 16:11-12)
Boars - Edomites and Samaritans
Elephants and Camels - Giants intermingled among the people
Stars - Angels
Stars Fallen to Earth - Fallen Angels
Wolves - Egyptians
Dogs - Canaanites
Foxes - Philistines
Leopards - Medes/Persians
Lions - Babylon sometimes, Judah sometimes
Tigers - Assyria
Eagles, Ravens, & Kites - Syria, under the Seleucid dynasty
Various Amalgamated Animals represent coalitions of ethnic groups - alliances
I would encourage anyone to read it for themselves...
1. And after this I saw another dream, and I will show the whole dream to thee, my son. 2. And Enoch lifted up (his voice) and spake to his son Methuselah: 'To thee, my son, will I speak: hear my words--incline thine ear to the dream-vision of thy father. 3. Before I took thy mother Edna, I saw in a vision on my bed, and behold a bull came forth from the earth, and that bull was white; and after it came forth a heifer, and along with this (latter) came forth two bulls, one of them black and the other red. 4. And that black bull gored the red one and pursued him over the earth, and thereupon I could no longer see that red bull. 5. But that black bull grew and that heifer went with him, and I saw that many oxen proceeded from him which resembled and followed him. 6. And that cow, that first one, went from the presence of that first bull in order to seek that red one, but found him not, and lamented with a great lamentation over him and sought him. 7. And I looked till that first bull came to her and quieted her, and from that time onward she cried no more. 8. And after that she bore another white bull, and after him she bore many bulls and black cows.
9. And I saw in my sleep that white bull likewise grow and become a great white bull, and from Him proceeded many white bulls, and they resembled him. And they began to beget many white bulls, which resembled them, one following the other, (even) many.Continue reading