—Biblical Data:

Nowadays applied to the membrane surrounding the human fetus; used also in other senses. In the Bible:

  • 1. A rendering of the Hebrew
  • 2. Used in an anatomical sense of the enclosure of the heart, perhaps of the pericardium (Hosea xiii. 8).
  • 3. Most frequently, however, it is used to translate “yoteret,” a word occurring frequently in the priestly regulations and in connection with the liver. It is best taken to mean the fatty mass surrounding the liver. This was always included (Ex. xxix. 13, 22; Lev. iii. 4, 10, 15; iv. 9; vii. 4; viii. 16, 25; ix. 10, 19) in the burnt offering.

E. G. H. G. B. L.—In Rabbinical Literature:

According to the A. V., it was the caul, with some other parts of the sacrifice, that was burned on the altar. For we read: “And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar” (Ex. xxix. 13; compare references below). The Hebrew term here rendered “caul” is “yoteret” ( = “liver”); this “yoteret” is variously translated by earlier and later scholars. Thus, the Septuagint renders it “the lobe of the liver”; and so do Josephus (“Ant.” iii. 9, § 2), Gesenius (“Dict.” s.v.), Kohut (“Aruch Completum,” iii. 476, s.v. , “from,” is used], 19) are narrative. In six of the former (the only exception being Ex. xxix. 22), yoteret is described as being situated (“over the liver”), which can not be said of a lobe or of any part of the liver itself. Were the preposition would really mean “the pendant (“i.e., ‘lobe ‘) of the liver.” But the presence of the preposition in the six mandatory clauses precludes this construction, and consequently also this rendition.

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That the narrative clauses do not embody the preposition does not prove the contrary. The narrator simply relied on the exact designation conveyed in the mandatory passages. The yoteret must, therefore, be looked for among the viscera adjacent to and over the liver. Leeser finds it in the midriff; and this partly agrees with Rashi’s definition, as explained by Kohut (l.c. iv. 94, s.v. l.c. 557b, s.v. s.v. l.c.; in Ex. l.c. he translates “lappen”); and by it is meant that part of the caul which forms the duplicature extending from the transverse fissure of the liver to the lesser curvature of the stomach, technically called the “gastrohepatic” or “small omentum” (compare Strack to Ex. xxix. 13; Kautzsch, Ex. and Lev. l.c.; contrast Kohut, l.c., s.v. s.v. “Caul”; Cheyne, “Encyc. Bibl.” s. v. “Caul”; see Sacrifice).

The Karaites include the yoteret among the animal parts forbidden to the Jews as food (see Aaron b. Elijah, l.c.; Elijah Bashyaẓi, “Aderet Eliyahu,” Sheḥiṭah, xviii.); rabbinic law, however, knows of no such prohibition (see Ḥul. 117a; Rashi, ad loc., s.v. l.c.; Maimonides, “Yad,” Ma’akalot Asurot, vii. 5; Naḥmanides to Lev. iii. 6 etseq.). That the caul mentioned by Josephus (“Ant.” iii. 11, § 2) in connection with such a law does not mean the yoteret is evident from his naming the caul and the lobe of the liver as distinct parts devoted to the altar (ib. iii. 9, § 2). What he means is doubtlessly the epiploon, or the fatty membrane constituting the gastrocolic or great omentum. The same is meant by Herodotus (ii. 47), who mentions the caul in connection with an ancient Egyptian sacrifice to the moon.

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J. Sr. S. M.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>