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Koi or Kevi

KOI or Kevi

KOI or Kevi (Heb. כְּוִי ,כּוֹי), an animal referred to in the Talmud. The Mishnah, Bikkurim 2:8 states: "The koi is in some ways like a wild animal (ḥayyah); in some ways like both wild animals and cattle; and in some ways like neither wild animals nor cattle." The mishnayot which follow give the details. This enigmatic creature is further discussed in Ḥullin 79b–80a where there occurs a controversy between tannaim on its nature and status: "A koi is a wild goat. Others are of the opinion that it is a cross between a goat and a gazelle. R. Yose states: 'A koi is a distinct species and the rabbis did not decide whether it belongs to the genus of cattle or of wild animals'" (cf. tj, Bik. 2:8, 65b). Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel states that it is of the genus of cattle, and adds that Bet Dushai (or Reshai) used to raise them in herds. Thus already in early tannaitic times it was not clearly known what a koi was, nor its halakhic status. Several attempts have been made to identify the koi in modern times. The commonest view is that it is some kind of bearded deer or antelope (Jastrow, Dict. 1 (1950), 618f., s.v.; Levy, Woerterbuch, 2 (1924), 303, s.v.), perhaps identical with the Greek tragelaphos, "a goat-stag, a fantastic animal, represented on eastern carpets and the like" (H.G. Liddell and R. Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, 2 (19409), 1809a, s.v.).


Lewysohn, Zool, 115–8, no. 149; Kohut, Arukh, 4 (19262), 205f., s.v.; S. Krauss, Tosefot he-Arukh ha-Shalem (1937), 218.

[Daniel Sperber]

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