From Bible Encyclopedia
(1) תּנּים, tannīm, “jackals,” the King James Version “dragons”; compare Arabic tînân, “wolf”; and compare תּנּין, tannīn, Arab tinnîn, “sea monster” or “monster” the English Revised Version “dragon” (Job 7:12 m; Psalm 74:13; Psalm 148:7; Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 51:9; Jeremiah 51:34), “serpent” (Exodus 7:9, Exodus 7:10, Exodus 7:12; Deuteronomy 32:33; Psalm 91:13), the King James Version “whale” (Genesis 1:21; Job 7:12); but תּנּין, tannīn, “jackals,” the King James Version “sea monsters” (Lamentations 4:3), “jackal's well,” the King James Version “dragon well” (Nehemiah 2:13), and tannīm, “monster,” the King James Version and the English Revised Version “dragon” (Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2).
(2) איּים, 'īyīm, “wolves,” the King James Version “wild beasts of the islands”; compare אי, 'ī, plural איּים, 'īyīm, “island”; also איּה, 'ayyāh, “a cry,” אוה, 'āwāh, “to cry,” “to howl”; Arabic ‛auwa', “to bark” (of dogs, wolves, or jackals); 'ibn 'âwa', colloquially, wâwî, “jackal.”
(3) ציּים, cīyīm, “wild beasts of the desert.”
(4) אחים, 'oḥīm, “doleful creatures.”
“Jackals” occurs as a translation of tannīm, the King James Version “dragons,” in Job 30:29; Psalm 44:19; Isaiah 13:22; Isaiah 34:13; Isaiah 35:7; Isaiah 43:20; Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 10:22; Jeremiah 14:6; Jeremiah 49:33; Jeremiah 51:37; of the feminine plural form tannōth in Malachi 1:3, and of tannīn in Nehemiah 2:13 and Lamentations 4:3. Tannīm is variously referred to a root meaning “to howl,” and to a root meaning “to stretch out” trop. “to run swiftly, i.e. with outstretched neck and limb extended” (Gesenius). Either derivation would suit “wolf” equally as well as “jackal.” The expression in Jeremiah 10:22, “to make the cities of Judah a desolation, a dwelling-place of jackals,” seems, however, especially appropriate of jackals. The same is true of Isaiah 34:13; Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 49:33, and Jeremiah 51:37.
The jackal (from Persian shaghâl), Canis aureus, is found about the Mediterranean except in Western Europe. It ranges southward to Abyssinia, and eastward, in Southern Asia, to farther India. It is smaller than a large dog, has a moderately bushy tail, and is reddish brown with dark shadings above. It is cowardly and nocturnal. Like the fox, it is destructive to poultry, grapes, and vegetables, but is less fastidious, and readily devours the remains of others' feasts. Jackals generally go about in small companies. Their peculiar howl may frequently be heard in the evening and at any time in the night. It begins with a high-pitched, long-drawn-out cry. This is repeated two or three times, each time in a higher key than before. Finally there are several short, loud, yelping barks. Often when one raises the cry others join in. Jackals are not infrequently confounded with foxes. They breed freely with dogs.
While tannīm is the only word translated “jackal” in English Versions of the Bible, the words 'īyīm, cīyīm, and 'oḥīm deserve attention. They, as well as tannīm, evidently refer to wild creatures inhabiting desert places, but it is difficult to say for what animal each of the words stands. All four (together with benōth ya‛ănāh and se‛īrīm) are found in Isaiah 13:21, Isaiah 13:22 : “But wild beasts of the desert (cīyīm) shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures ('oḥīm); and ostriches (benōth ya‛ănāh) shall dwell there, and wild goats (se‛īrīm) shall dance there. And wolves ('īyīm) shall cry in their castles, and jackals (tannīm) in the pleasant palaces.”
In the King James Version 'īyīm (Isaiah 13:22; Isaiah 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39) is translated “wild beasts of the islands” (compare 'īyīm, “islands”). the King James Version margin has merely the transliteration iim, the Revised Version (British and American) “wolves,” the Revised Version margin “howling creatures.” Gesenius suggests the jackal, which is certainly a howler. While the wolf has a blood-curdling howl, it is much more rarely heard than the jackal.
Cīyīm (Psalm 72:9; Psalm 74:14; Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 23:13; Isaiah 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39) has been considered akin to cīyāh, “drought” (compare 'erec cīyāh, “a dry land” (Psalm 63:1)), and is translated in the Revised Version (British and American) as follows: Psalm 72:9, “they that dwell in the wilderness”; Psalm 74:14, “the people inhabiting the wilderness”; Isaiah 23:13, “them that dwell in the wilderness,” the Revised Version margin “the beasts of the wilderness”; Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39, “wild beasts of the desert.” There would be some difficulty in referring cīyīm in Psalm 72:9 to beasts rather than to men, but that is not the case in Psalm 74:14 and Isaiah 23:13. “Wild cats” have been suggested.
'Oḥīm, “doleful creatures,” perhaps onomatopoetic, occurs only in Isaiah 13:21. The translation “owls” has been suggested, and is not unsuitable to the context.
It is not impossible that tannīm and 'īyīm may be different names of the jackals. 'Īyīm, cīyīm, and tannīm occur together also in Isaiah 34:13, Isaiah 34:14, and 'īyīm and cīyīm in Jeremiah 50:39. Their similarity in sound may have much to do with their collocation. The recognized word for “wolf,” ze'ēbh (compare Arabic dhi'b), occurs 7 times in the Old Testament.