This word is used of flocks or herds of grazing animals (Exodus 22:5; Numbers 20:4, 8, 11; Psalm 78:48); of beasts of burden (Genesis 45:17); of eatable beasts (Proverbs 9:2); and of swift beasts or dromedaries (Isaiah 60:6). In the New Testament it is used of a domestic animal as property (Revelation 18:13); as used for food (1 Corinthians 15:39), for service (Luke 10:34; Acts 23:24), and for sacrifice (Acts 7:42).
When used in contradistinction to man (Psalm 36:6), it denotes a brute creature generally, and when in contradistinction to creeping things (Leviticus 11:2-7; 27:26), a four-footed animal.
The Mosaic law required that beasts of labour should have rest on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10; 23:12), and in the Sabbatical year all cattle were allowed to roam about freely, and eat whatever grew in the fields (Exodus 23:11; Leviticus 25:7). No animal could be castrated (Leviticus 22:24). Animals of different kinds were to be always kept separate (Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:10). Oxen when used in threshing were not to be prevented from eating what was within their reach (Deuteronomy 25:4; 1 Corinthians 9:9).
This word is used figuratively of an infuriated multitude (1 Corinthians 15:32; Acts 19:29; Comp. Psalm 22:12, 16; Ecclesiastes 3:18; Isaiah 11:6-8), and of wicked men (2 Peter 2:12). The four beasts of Daniel 7:3, 17, 23 represent four kingdoms or kings.