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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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Bird, William Harrison
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Birds may be defined oviparous vertebrated animals, organized for flight. The common Heb. name צִפּוֹר, tsippor', ὄρνεον, is used of small birds generally, and of the sparrow in particular (as it is rendered in Psalms 102:7); עוֹ Š, oph, πετεινόν or πτηνόν, of frequent occurrence, usually translated " fowl," properly means flyer; עִיַט, a'yit, a bird of prey ('AETO ᾿Σ, an eagle), rendered " fowls" in Genesis 15:11; Job 28:7; and Isaiah 18:6; in Jeremiah 12:9, 'birds;" and in Isaiah 46:11, and Ezekiel 39:4, " ravenous" birds. בִּרְבֻּרַים, barburim', denotes fatted gallinacea; it occurs only in 1 Kings 4:23 [5:3, 3], and is there translated" fowls,"' though it may be questioned whether domestic fowls are mentioned in any part of the Hebrew Bible. (See COCK). Gesenius applies the word to geese. (See FOWL); (See FLEDGLING).

In the Mosaic law birds were distinguished as clean and unclean: the first being allowed for the table, because they fed on grain, seeds, and vegetables; and the second forbidden, because they subsisted on flesh and carrion. Clean birds were offered in sacrifice on many occasions (Leviticus 1:14-17; Leviticus 5:7-10; Leviticus 14:4-7). The birds most anciently used in sacrifice were, it seems, turtle-doves and pigeons. Birds, however, were not ordinarily deemed valuable enough for Jewish sacrifices; but the substitution of turtle-doves and pigeons was permitted to the poor, and in the sacrifice for purification. The way of offering them is detailed in Leviticus 1:15-17, and v, 8; and it is worthy of notice that the practice of not dividing them, which was the case in other victims, was of high antiquity (Genesis 15:10). See Harbaugh, Birds of the Bible (Phil. 1854); Anon. Birds mentioned in the Bible (Lond. 1858).

The abundance of birds in the East has been mentioned by many travellers. In Curzon's Monasteries of the Levant, and in Stanley's Sinai and Palestine, this abundance is noticed; by the latter in connection with his illustration of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:4). (Comp. Rosenmiller, Morgenl. v, 59.) They are often represented on the Egyptian monuments (see Wilkinson's Anc. Eg. i, 231, 232, abridgm., where figures are given of many of them). The following is a list of all the birds (including the bat, but excluding all INSECTS) named in Scripture, in the alphabetical order of their true English names (so far as can be judged of their identity), with the Hebrew or Greek term in italics (see Kitto, Pict. Bible, on Leviticus 1. c.):


Cock, Alektor, Yonah.

Dove Tor Trugon (turtle-dove).

Hen, Ornis.

Peacocks (?), Tukkiyim.

Poultry, Barbaurim.

Quail, Selav.

Sparrow Tsippor, Struthion


Nestling Gozal, Neossos

Stork, Chasidah


Bat, Altalleph (animal).

Bittern (?). Kippod

Cormorant, Shalek

Crane (?), Yanshuph.

Eagle, Nesher, Aetos, Azniyah, Peres

Gull, Shocaph

Hawk, Nets, Ayah, Daah, Raah, Dayah

Lapwing, Dukiphah.

Night-hawk (?),

Ostrich Yaen (male),

Yeaanah (female). Renanah (?).

Owl Kos, Kippoz

Pelican Kaath, Tachmas. Tinshemeth (?).

Raven Oreb, Korax.

Swallow Sus.

Swallow Agqur.

Vulture, Racham.

Birds are mentioned as articles of food in Deuteronomy 14:11; Deuteronomy 14:20, the intermediate verses containing a list of unclean birds, which were not to be eaten. There is a similar list in Leviticus 11:13-19. From Job 6:6; Luke 11:12, we find that the eggs of birds were also eaten. Quails and pigeons are edible birds mentioned in the O.T. Our Saviour's mention of tie hen gathering her chickens under her wing implies that the domestic fowl was known in Palestine. The art of snaring wild birds is referred to in Psalms 124:7; Proverbs 1:17; Proverbs 7:23; Amos 3:5; Hosea 5:1; Hosea 7:12. (See FOWLING). The cage full of birds in Jeremiah 5:27, was a trap in which decoy-birds were placed to entice others, and furnished with a trap-door which could be dropped by a fowler watching at a distance. (See CAGE). This practice is mentioned in Sirach 11:30 (πέρδιξ, θηρευτὴς ἐνκαρτάλλῳ; comp. Arist. Hist. Anim. 9:8). -In Deuteronomy 22:6, it is commanded that an Israelite, finding a bird's nest in his path, might take the young or the eggs, but must let the hen-bird go. By this means the extirpation of any species was guarded against (comp. Phocyl. Carm. p. 80 sq.). The nests of birds were readily allowed by the Orientals to remain in their temples and sanctuaries, as though they had placed themselves under the protection of God (comp. Herod. i, 159; AElian, V. H. v, 17). There is probably an allusion to this in Psalms 84:3. (See NEST). The seasons of migration observed by birds are noticed in Jeremiah 8:7. Birds of song are mentioned in Psalms 104:12; Ecclesiastes 12:4. (See ZOOLOGY).

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'BIRD.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature.​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​b/bird.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.