The deer, the snake and the water jewish medieval interpretations of psalm 24.1

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In Psalm 42.1 the poet compares his craving for God to a deer that yearns for water sources. Medieval Jewish commentators offered various explanations for the poet‟s choice of a deer as a metaphor for longing for God. According to one commentary the deer hunt snakes as food, which make them very thirsty, whereby they run fast to „streams of water‟, i.e., the snake‟s venom has the effect of heating the deer‟s body. According to another commentary the deer desires to reach deep streams in order to save itself from hunting dogs. The concept of the interaction between deer and snakes first appeared in classical literature. According to the Roman scholars the deer seek out snakes and extract them from their dens. The motif of the deer that attack snakes was retained from the classical sources until the Middle Ages and its impressions are evident in compilations of a zoological nature in European countries and in the Arab world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-22
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Science and Theology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Bible
  • Commentary
  • Deer
  • Midrash
  • Psalms

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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