Frequently mentioned throughout Scripture. Of the domesticated species we read of,
(1.) The she ass (Hebrews `athon), so named from its slowness (Genesis 12:16; 45:23; Numbers 22:23; 1 Samuel 9:3).
(2.) The male ass (Hebrews hamor), the common working ass of Western Asia, so called from its red colour. Issachar is compared to a strong ass (Genesis 49:14). It was forbidden to yoke together an ass and an ox in the plough (Deuteronomy 22:10).
(3.) The ass's colt (Hebrews `air), mentioned Judges 10:4; 12:14. It is rendered "foal" in Genesis 32:15; 49:11. (Comp. Job 11:12; Isaiah 30:6.) The ass is an unclean animal, because it does not chew the cud (Leviticus 11:26. Comp. 2 Kings 6:25). Asses constituted a considerable portion of wealth in ancient times (Genesis 12:16; 30:43; 1 Chronicles 27:30; Job 1:3; 42:12). They were noted for their spirit and their attachment to their master (Isaiah 1:3). They are frequently spoken of as having been ridden upon, as by Abraham (Genesis 22:3), Balaam (Numbers 22:21), the disobedient prophet (1 Kings 13:23), the family of Abdon the judge, seventy in number (Judges 12:14), Zipporah (Exodus 4:20), the Shunammite (1 Samuel 25:30), etc. Zechariah (9:9) predicted our Lord's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, "riding upon an ass, and upon a colt," etc. (Matthew 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; Isaiah 32:14; Jeremiah 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 (Genesis 16:12. Here the word is simply rendered "wild" in the Authorized Version, but in the Revised Version, "wild-ass among men").