A small goatlike antelope characterized by its hook-tipped horns and noted for its agility and surefootedness at dizzying heights. The grown male may measure 80 cm (32 in.) at the shoulder and may weigh over 30 kg (66 lb). The summer coat of the chamois is a tawny color that gets darker with the advent of the winter season. The chamois is listed among the animals suitable for food, according to the requirements of the Law.—De 14:5.
There is uncertainty as to the animal meant by the Hebrew word zeʹmer, which is variously rendered “chamois” (KJ, AS, ER, NW, Yg), “mountain goat” (La), “mountain sheep” (AT, JB, Mo, Ro), “antelope” (Le), and simply transliterated as “zemer” (Kx). The Hebrew root from which the word zeʹmer is derived is thought to be related to the Arabic zamara (bounce; flee), suggesting a bouncing, leaping animal, hence similar to a gazelle. Some zoologists maintain that the chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) was never found in Palestine. However, it may be noted that local varieties of this animal are to be found in the Carpathian and Caucasus mountains, thus allowing for the possibility that at one time a variety of the chamois may have existed in the ranges of Lebanon.