Coming by Camel

by Kate Yoder

The wise men did not travel by car, train, plane or bus when thy set out to visit baby Jesus. They didn’t even ride horses or elephants. Instead, they made their way across the desert on one of God’s most interesting creatures: the camel. What do you know about these funny-looking animals?

Do you know what a camel keeps in its hump?
Whether a camel has one hump or two, it does not store water in its hump. A camel’s hump is actually a mound of fatty tissue that the camel can use for energy when food is hard to find. If a camel uses that fat, the hump shrinks. A few days of rest and plenty of good food will fill up the hump to normal size again. Baby camels are born without humps. Once the newborns start eating solid food, one or two humps develop.

Do you think you would be able to live in the desert?
God designed camels to live in the heat, but walking in the sand can be difficult. Here are three ways a camel protects itself from sand.
1. Camel ears are very small and are lined with fur to block sand. During sand storms a camel can also close its nostrils tightly.
2. Camel eyes have two layers of lashes to keep out sand.
3. Camels have only two toes on each foot. When a camel takes a step, its toes spread out so its feet don’t sink into the sand.

Camels in the Old Testament
In Genesis 24, Abraham sends out his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. When the servant arrives at the well, he prays and asks God to show him the woman who will be Isaac’s wife.

Rebekah visits the well and offers the servant and his camels a drink. She must have been there a long time, because a thirsty camel can drink 21 gallons of water in 10 minutes! If the had 10 camels and each drank 21 gallons, that would take three-and-a-half hours.

Camels in the New Testament
Camels are mentioned 57 times in the Bible. One of those times is in Matthew 3:4. This is a passage about John the Baptist, saying that his clothes were made of camel hair.

Camels Today
Once a year a camel will shed its winter coat and lose about five pounds of hair. Today, that hair is used to make coats, clothes and expensive paintbrushes.

Camel ID
Name: Asian (or bactrian) camels have two humps. Arabian (or dromedary) camels have one hump.
Average Weight: 1,550 pounds
Average Height: 7 feet at the hump
Age: Camels can live about 50 years.
Favorite Food: Dates, grass and grains. But camels aren’t picky eaters. They can survive on bones, seeds, dried leaves, thorny scrub, even clothing! They can survive five to seven days with no food or water.
Home: Most camels live in Africa and Asia.

This article originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Clubhouse Jr. magazine. Copyright © 2007 by Kate Yoder. Photo © Fisch; used under Creative Commons License.