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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Bittern

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The word thus rendered occurs but three times in Scripture (Isaiah 14:23; Isaiah 34:11; and Zephaniah 2:14), and has been variously interpreted—owl, osprey, tortoise, porcupine, otter, and in the Arabic, bustard. Bochart, Shaw, Lowth and other great authorities, have supported the opinion that it refers to the porcupine; but this is in the highest degree improbable, for the texts above quoted make it clear that the animal referred to must from its habits be not a hedgehog, nor even a mammal, but a bird. We think the term most applicable to the heron tribes, whose beaks are formidable spikes that often kill hawks; a fact well known to Eastern hunters. Of these, the common night heron, with its pencil of white feathers in the crest, is a species not uncommon in the marshes of Western Asia; and of several species of bittern, Ardea (botaurus) stellaris has pointed long feathers on the neck and breast, freckled with black, and a strong pointed bill. After the breeding-season it migrates and passes the winter in the south, frequenting the marshes and rivers of Asia and Europe, where it then roosts high above ground, uttering a curious note before and after its evening flight, very distinct from the booming sound produced by it in the breeding-season, and while it remains in the marshes. Though not building, like the stork, on the tops of houses, it resorts, like the heron, to ruined structures, and we have been informed that it has been seen on the summit of Tauk Kesra at Ctesiphon.

 

 

 

 


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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Bittern'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/kbe/b/bittern.html.

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Saturday, July 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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