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Bible Encyclopedias
Prey, Birds of

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

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While few clean birds are named in the Old Testament (see POULTRY), there are given in Leviticus 11 (13-19) and Deuteronomy 14 (12-21) two parallel lists of birds of prey, the former passage mentioning twenty, and the latter twenty-one. The generic name for raptorial birds is "'ayiá¹­" (Genesis 15:11; Isaiah 18:6; Jeremiah 12:9; Ezekiel 39:4; Job 28:7; Isaiah 46:11 [a metaphor]). This large number of names, as also the frequent allusions in metaphors and proverbial expressions to the habits of birds, shows that, though forbidden as food, they were nevertheless objects of close observation and contemplation. They were also cherished, it seems, for the beauty of their plumage (1 Kings 10:22) and as pets for children (Job 29; comp. Baruch 3:17). Appreciation of their cry is indicated in Psalms 104:12, and Ecclesiastes 12:4.

The Talmud, noting that "le-mino" (after its kind) follows the names of four of the unclean birds in the Pentateuchal lists, and identifying "ayyah" with "dayyah," assumes twenty-four unclean birds are intended; and adds: "There are in the East a hundred unclean birds, all of the hawk species" ("min ayyah"; Ḥul. 63b). Some of the birds of prey were trained to the service of man, the hawk, e.g., to pursue other birds (Shab. 94a). The claws of the griffin, the wings of the osprey, and the eggs of the ostrich were made into vessels (Ḥul. 25b; Rashi ad loc.; Kelim 17:14). Eggshells were used as receptacles for lamp-oil (Shab. 29b).

Bibliography:
  • Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 168;
  • Lewysohn, Z. T. p. 159.
E. G. H.
I. M. C.
Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Prey, Birds of'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​p/prey-birds-of.html. 1901.
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