What is the “caul?”

WHAT IS THE “CAUL?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

It depends on the context, as there are three types of “caul” in the Authorized Version King James Bible.

Firstly, as appearing in Hosea 13:8: “I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.” This, of course, is figurative, but it has a literal truth associated with it. God’s judgment is coming upon the wicked Jews. Just as a wild animal would attack its prey, so JEHOVAH God will soon bring the captivities (Assyrian and Babylonian) on Israel (10 northern tribes) and Judah (two southern tribes) respectively. This happened in the centuries before Jesus Christ. “Caul” here is symbolic, remember, but it still refers to the breast, membrane, or some covering of the heart meant to protect it. This is the Hebrew word סְגוֹר, cĕgowr. (Strangely, it is rendered “gold” in Job 28:15, as gold is carefully stored or safely secured, covered and protected.)

Secondly, there is the “caul” of Isaiah 3:18: “In that day the LORD will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,….” In this context, it means a woman’s headband, head ornament, or hair-netting of some kind. One Bible dictionary says, “A head-dress, made in checker-work; long, like a scarf; worn by women for ornament.” The Hebrew here is שְׁבִיס, shabiyc.

Lastly, we have the “caul” most often found in the Bible. It is always applied to the sacrificial animals in Judaism. In Hebrew, the word is יֹתֶרֶת, yothereth. This is where the bulk of our study will focus.

Notice, for example, the first appearance of this third sense of “caul:” “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” (Exodus 29:13). Context clues allow us to make an informed decision that “caul” is an animal’s body part; moreover, “caul” is associated with the liver. In fact, the liver itself can be divided into various lobes or parts. The “caul” may be one of these lobes, an overhanging flap, an appendage resembling a duplicate liver rather than the extension of a single liver. One source suggests that the “caul” is really the “caudate lobe” of the liver. Whatever the “caul” was, the Jewish priests recognized it, and it was to be offered in sacrifice to JEHOVAH God as we see in the following verses:

  • Exodus 29:13: “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.”
  • Exodus 29:22: “Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration:….”
  • Leviticus 3:4: “And the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.
  • Leviticus 3:10: “And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.”
  • Leviticus 3:15: “And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.”
  • Leviticus 4:9: “And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away,….”
  • Leviticus 7:4: “And the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, and the caul that is above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away:….”
  • Leviticus 8:16: “And he took all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and Moses burned it upon the altar.”
  • Leviticus 8:25: “And he took the fat, and the rump, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder:….”
  • Leviticus 9:10: “But the fat, and the kidneys, and the caul above the liver of the sin offering, he burnt upon the altar; as the LORD commanded Moses.”
  • Leviticus 9:19: “And the fat of the bullock and of the ram, the rump, and that which covereth the inwards, and the kidneys, and the caul above the liver:….”

Also see:
» What is the “purtenance?”
» Why did God demand the blood sacrifices?
» Why did God reject Cain’s offering?

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