Camel Knees

One of the interesting things to see on our trip to Israel was camels. They are not a common animal here in the US, although I have seen them grazing in a field in Kansas many years ago 🙂 About the only place you see them here is at a zoo or in a circus.

We had one tour member that had a goal of riding a camel while on the trip. The first chance came when we were in Samaria. She was off the bus and just had to ride the camel before we had lunch. Of course, it gave me a great chance to get some pictures as well.

The camels in Israel are Camelus dromedarius. Also known as dromedary or Arabian camels.

Dromedary Camel at Samaria - Camelus dromedarius

Here is my roommate for the tour, Cliff, posing with the camel at Samaria. Here you can see how the camel rests on the ground.

I really wanted to get pictures of the knees of the camel, as I knew that I wanted to write this post. But first, how about a picture of the camel’s teeth?

Big teeth of the dromedary camel - Camelus dromedarius

This picture would have been a good addition to my post from a couple days ago: Big Teeth

I would not want to be bitten by a camel. These teeth look like they would leave a nasty wound.

So, on to the camel’s knees. First we will look at the back legs.

Kneeling Dromedary Camel - Stifle Joint - Camelus dromedarius

This is technically not a knee joint, but rather is called the stifle joint. However, most people refer to it as the knee. Here is a picture of the big callus where the camel kneels.

Callus on stifle joint of dromedary camel - Camelus dromedarius

Now for the front leg.

Front leg of dromedary camel in kneeling position - Camelus dromedarius

When a camel kneels down you can see that the leg makes contact in two places. To the left in this picture is the carpus which is the equivalent to our wrist and the knee is to the very right of the picture.

The carpus of a dromedary camel - Camelus dromedarius

Here is a closeup of the carpus of the camel. Notice the hard callus.

Knee of a dromedary camel - Camelus dromedarius

Here we see the actual knee of the camel. It bends the opposite way of our knee, but does have a large callus where it makes contact with the ground. To the right of the knee you will also see a large callus on the sternum of the camel.

So, you may be asking by now why I am so fascinated by the knees of a camel and why I am taking you through this tedious explanation. So, on to the real reason for the post.

Several days later we were in Bethlehem where the historian and translator Jerome lived and worked.

Statue of Jerome ( Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) in Bethlehem

Jerome or Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus is best known for his translation of the Bible into Latin. However, he also wrote many other works, including De Viris Illustribus or Lives of Illustrious Men. In his chapter on James, the brother of our Lord, he quotes from Hegesippus (110-180) who said that James “… went alone into the temple and prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camels’ knees.”

Now you know why I wanted to take pictures of camels’ knees. Can you imagine how much time James spent on his knees to acquire the same hardness of calluses as a camel?

After hearing this account since I was a small child, it was nice to have a good visual of it.

What account from the Bible would you better understand if you had a good visual reference? Maybe I have some pictures or can find something for you.


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17 Responses to Camel Knees

  1. Debbie Faling says:

    First of all, I never knew that camels grazed anywhere except for the zoo, circus, and other countries. However, during the days of Desert Storm, they brought a camel to Davis-Monthan AFB and my daughter, Julie and I were able to ride it. That was awesome. I had no idea how big they were til I tried riding it! They had you climb this big platform just to get on. It was an awesome experience. This was very interesting.

  2. lylekrahn says:

    A visual reference like that certainly makes the text a lot clearer. Though part way through the post I was curious where you were taking us! Nicely done.

  3. margaret phillips says:

    Thank you, this makes us look into our prayer life deeper to think about how many hours we spend on our knees. Enjoyed this blog.

  4. Boomdeeadda says:

    A camel in Kansas? That’s very Oz like. Your buddy Cliff there looks right out of ‘Raiders of the Lost Arc’..Love the ruins in the background. Nasty knees and elbows….going to moisturzie this very moment.

  5. Glenda McDougal says:

    My repetitive response, “Oh gross!!!” But poor camels, feel sorry for them. My daughter rode one when we went to the Memphis Zoo and he tried to bite her 🙂 Had never heard that about James. Very touching!!! Thanks!!!

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  12. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for the source material for James’ ‘camel knees’ nickname! I was wondering where that information on James came from as it doesn’t appear in my bible!

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