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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

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צפור , a common name for all birds, but is sometimes used for the sparrow in particular.

Birds are distinguished by the Jewish legislator into clean and unclean. Such as fed upon grain and seeds were allowed for food, and such as devoured flesh and carrion were prohibited.

Moses, to inspire the Israelites with sentiments of tenderness toward the brute creation, commands them, if they find a bird's nest, not to take the dam with the young, but to suffer the old one to fly away, and to take the young only, Deuteronomy 22:6 . This is one of those merciful constitutions in the law of Moses which respect the animal creation, and tended to humanize the heart of that people, to excite in them a sense of the divine providence extending itself to all creatures, and to teach them to exercise their dominion over them with gentleness. Beside, the young never knew the sweets of liberty; the dam did: they might be taken and used for any lawful purpose; but the dam must not be brought into a state of captivity. The poet Phocylides has a maxim, in his admonitory poem, very similar to that in the sacred texts:—

Μηδε τις ορυιθας καλιης αμα παντας ελεσθω

Μητερα δ ' εκπρολιπης , ιν εχης παλι τησδε νεοττους .

Nor from a nest take all the birds away, The mother spare, she'll breed a future day.

It appears that the ancients hunted birds. Bar_3:17 , speaking of the kings of Babylon says, "They had their pastime with the fowls of the air;" and Daniel 2:38 , tells Nebuchadnezzar that God had made the fowls of the air subject to him.

Birds were offered in sacrifice on many occasions. In the sacrifices for sin, he who had not a lamb, or a kid, "might offer two turtles, or two young pigeons; one for a sin-offering, the other for a burnt-offering. These he presented to the priest, who offered that first which was for the sin- offering, and wrung off the head from the neck, but did not divide it asunder; the other he was to offer for a burnt-offering," Leviticus 5:7-8 . When a man who had been smitten with a leprosy was healed, he came to the entrance of the camp of Israel, and the priest went out to inspect him, whether he were entirely cured, Leviticus 14:5-6 . After this inspection, the leprous person came to the door of the tabernacle, and offered two living sparrows, or two birds; (pure birds, those of which it was lawful to eat;) he made a wisp with branches of cedar and hyssop, tied together with a thread, or scarlet ribbon; he filled an earthen pot with running water, that the blood of the bird might be mingled with it; then the priest, dipping the bunch of hyssop and cedar into the water, sprinkled with it the leper who was healed; after which he let loose the living bird, to fly where it would. In Palestine dead bodies were sometimes left exposed to birds of prey, as appears from Scripture; but, generally, they were buried in the evening: even criminals were taken down from the gallows.

Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Bird'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​b/bird.html. 1831-2.
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