CAMEL (Heb. גָּמָל, gamal), one of the first animals domesticated by man. Its bones have been found in Egypt from the time of the beginning of the First Dynasty, thus removing doubts as to the plausibility of Abraham receiving camels from Pharaoh (Gen. 12:16). The camel is included in the Bible among the animals that chew the cud but are not cloven-footed, and is prohibited as food (Lev. 11:4; Deut, 14:7). Unlike other ruminants, which have four stomachs, the camel has only three, and while it is cloven-footed, this is not visible from the outside on account of the cushions coverings its feet (see dietary laws ). The one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius) was bred in Ereẓ Israel and adjacent countries. In ancient times the camel was used as the chief means of transporting people and goods, especially on long journeys. It is often mentioned in connection with the Patriarchs, and was used in war (Judg. 7:12). David appointed an official in charge of his camels (I Chron. 27:30). The size of a herd of camels was indicative of its owner's wealth. Thus Job is reported to have had at first 3,000 and finally 6,000 camels (Job 1:3; 42:12). Its wool was used for making tent cloth and clothes and the prohibition of sha'atnez ("material containing a mixture of wool and linen") does not apply to camel's wool (Kil. 9:1). There are several breeds of camel, some of which are used for transport and plowing, while others are fleet-footed, the latter being apparently   the bekher or bikhrah ("the young camel") of Isa. 60:6 and Jer. 2:23. The Talmud refers to the difference between the Persian and the Bedouin camel, the former having a long, the latter a short neck (BK 55a). The ne'akah may also have been a special breed of camel which had to be led by a nose-ring (cf. Shab. 5:1). In mishnaic times, Jewish cameleers were regarded as mostly wicked (Nid. 14a; and Tos., ibid.). Although the camel has largely lost its value as a beast of burden, it still represents the principal asset of the Bedouin in desert regions where thousands of camels are to be found. They are used by the Bedouin of the Negev for plowing and in some Arab villages in Israel for transport, especially for bringing the harvest to the threshing floor. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lewysohn, Zool, 134–9; Tristram, Nat Hist, 58–66; Dalman, Arbeit, 6 (1939), 147–60; F.S. Bodenheimer, Ha-Ḥai be-Arẓot ha-Mikra, 2 (1956), 339–46. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 213. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • camel — [kam′əl] n. [ME < OE or OFr < L camelus < Gr kamēlos < Heb or Phoen gāmāl; ult. < ? Bab] 1. either of two species of large, domesticated ruminants (genus Camelus) with a humped back, long neck, and large, cushioned feet: capable of …   English World dictionary

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