Wild Ass, פרא, Equus hemionus hemippus

Back to Fauna

Wild Ass


פרא (pere’)

Scientific Name:

Equus hemionus hemippus

Image gallery

Biblical data


פרא occurs 9 times in the Hebrew Bible.[1] In two of them we have the פרא in parallel to עיר (Job 11:12) or ערוד (Job 39:5) – all three assumed to reflect different kinds of wild donkeys. In other instances פרא occurs with herds (Isa 32:14) or with bull (שור, Job 6:5), which raises the question whether it belongs to the wild or to the domestic animals (as for instance in Job 39:5).

On the wild category we find the פרא as resident of the desert in Jer 2:24; 14:6; Job 24:5, and among the animals of the fields, thus the wild (Ps 104:11).

Distribution within the Bible

Prophecy, three times in judgment prophecies (Isa 32:14; Jer 2:24; 14:6).

Psalmodic literature: once (Ps 104:11).

Wisdom literature: four times in Job (6:5; 11:12; 24:5; 39:5).

Parts, Elements, Features that Are Specified in the Bible

We know of the voices the פרא sounds (Job 6:5, and possibly reflected in Isa 32:14 as well)

and his breathing in and out his nostrils (Jer 14:6)

Pairs and Constructions

פרא in parallel to שור (Job 6:5), and to עדרים (herds, Isa 32:14); and once to ערוד (Job 39:5).

End Notes

[1] Gen 16:12 והוא יהיה פרא אדם might also be counted as a metaphor?

History of Identification

Identification History Table

Hebrew Greek Aramaic Syriac Latin Arabic English
Ref MT LXX Revisions Targumim Peshitta Vulgate Jewish Christian KJV NRSV NJPS
Isa 32:14 משוש פראים ὄνων ἀγρίων [midrashic interpretation] וחדותא לערדא


gaudium onagrorum


a joy of wild asses A stamping ground for wild asses
Jer 2:24 פרה למד מדבר ἐπλάτυνεν ἐφ᾿ ὕδατα ἐρήμου כערדא דמדורה במדברא


איך ערדא דמתילף במדברא onager adsuetus in solitudine in desiderio animae A wild ass used to the wilderness Or like a wild ass used to the desert
Jer 14:6 ופראים עמדו על שפים ὄνοι ἄγριοι ἔστησαν ἐπὶ νάπας וערדין קמו על נגדין


וערדא כמו על שבילא. et onagri steterunt in rupibus


And the wild asses did stand in the high places And the wild asses stand on the bare heights
Hos 8:9 פרא בודד לו כַעֲרָד מָרוֹד בֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל איך ערדא יחידיא onager solitarius sibi a wild ass alone by himself [Like] a lonely wild ass
Ps 104: 11 ישברו פראים צמאם


(2) DSS

(4Q86 3:6) י֯ש֯כירוׄ פראים צׄמׄאׄם [ ].

προσδέξονται ὄναγροι εἰς δίψαν αὐτῶν


יתברון ערודיא צהותהון


ושבעין ערדא דצהיי


et reficiat onager sitim suam


Sa‘adia to Psalms

תכסר בהא אלוחוש עטשהא


The wild asses quench their thirst The wild asses slake their thirst


Job 6:5 הינהק פרא עלי דשא τί γάρ; μὴ διὰ κενῆς κεκράξεται ὄνος ἄγριος האיפשר דמבריס מרודא עלוי דיתאה


דלמא מסוק ערדא על תראא


numquid rugiet onager cum habuerit herbam aut mugiet Doth the wild ass braywhen he hath grass


Does a wild ass bray when he has grass?


Job 11:12 ועיר פרא אדם יולד βροτὸς δὲ γεννητὸς γυναικὸς ἴσα ὄνῳ ἐρημίτῃ

= a mortal human being born to a woman is equal to a desert dweller donkey

ועילם מרודא היך בר-נש יתילד ודגנבר עדר לאנש


et tamquam pullum onagri se liberum natum putat

= and just as a young wild donkey is born free to think



For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt A hollow man will get understanding, When a wild ass is born a man
Job 24:5 הן פראים במדבר Ἀπέβησαν δὲ ὥσπερ ὄνοι ἐν ἀγρῷ הכדין במרודיא במדברא


איך ערדא במדברא


alii quasi onagri in deserto


Behold, as wild asses in the desert Like the wild asses of the wilderness
Job 39:5 מי שלח פרא חפשי

ומסרות ערוד מי פתח

ίς δέ ἐστιν ὁ ἀφεὶς ὄνον ἄγριον ἐλεύθερον= who has let a donkey free?

δεσμοὺς δὲ αὐτοῦ τίς ἔλυσεν

= And why did he release its bond?

מן פטר מרודא בר־חורי

ושׁושׁלי ערודא מן שׁארי


מנו שבק ערדא בר חארין

ופלט מנה נירא


quis dimisit onagrum liberum

= who set away a wild donkey free?

et vincula eius quis solvit

= and its chains who loosened?


Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? Who sets the wild ass free?

Who loosens the bonds of the onager,



Biological Information