As I was reading Proverbs I kept finding the use of deer. This was the first time I had ever seen the use of deer in the Bible. In Song of Solomon, the two lovers kept comparing each other to gazelles. I never knew that gazelles were used either, especially since this is the first time I had ever read Song of Solomon. So this got me wondering, just what exactly is the significance of deer and gazelles.
To begin with, I never knew there were deer or gazelles anywhere near Israel. I always thought they were in North America (in the case of deer) and Africa (in the case of gazelles). As it turns out, Israel is home to two species of deer: the fallow deer and roe deer. (http://natureisrael.com/haibar.html) Israel is also one of the homes to a species of gazelle called Mountain Gazelles. (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/8970/0)
“The fallow deer is naturally very timorous. It was regarded by the Jews as clean and good for food.”(http://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=41&sub=835&cat_name=Bible+Animals&subcat_name=Deer) Deer are also symbolic of youth and beauty. (http://christiandreamsymbols.com/alpha/d.html)
Gazelles are held in very similar regards. The wild gazelle is loved for the soft expressions and luster of its eyes. (http://biblehub.com/topical/g/gazelle.htm)
But, there has to be a deeper meaning to all of this, right? There is absolutely no way it can be that simple.
I believe a good way to go about this is to figure out just what exactly does it mean to be like a deer. Let’s look at some examples. In Proverbs 5:18 and 19 a man’s wife is being compared to a loving doe and a graceful deer. The verses say: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”(https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%205&version=ESV) So, what does this mean? These verses are referring to the love between a man and wife. Given this I can only assume that to be like a deer must mean to be a loving person. (http://pearlsinanutshell.blogspot.com/2007/06/goodly-words-of-deer.html)
What about gazelles? They were mentioned in Song of Solomon (rather humorously in my mind of a three year old). Apparently, gazelles are symbolic of swiftness. They are also representative a lover or a fiancé. (http://christiandreamsymbols.com/alpha/g.html) Song of Solomon uses the example of gazelles numerous times. In chapter 2: 8 and 9, Solomon’s lover describes him as a gazelle leaping over mountains. In chapter 4:5, Solomon describes her breasts as two gazelles that are grazing among the lilies (one can only imagine just what exactly Solomon had going on in his mind…pervert).
Solomon comes back again in chapter 7:3 describing his lover’s breasts as two fawns that are a gazelle’s twins. I guess Solomon really likes watching leaping gazelles out in the wild.
While it is hard to imagine Bambi having any kind of significance in the text, there is a deeper meaning to deer and gazelles in the text. Although any references of the animals in Song of Solomon is rather hilarious if you are like me and have the maturity of a 3rd grader, deer apparently did have a great importance in the Bible.