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International Standard Bible EncyclopediaPELICAN
pel'-kan (qa'ath; Latin Pelecanus onocrotalus Septuagint reads pelekan, in Leviticus and Psalms, but has 3 other readings, that are rather confusing, in the other places)): Any bird of the genus Pelecanus. The Hebrew qi' means "to vomit." The name was applied to the bird because it swallowed large quantities of fish and then disgorged them to its nestlings. In the performance of this act it pressed the large beak, in the white species, tipped with red, against the crop and slightly lifted the wings. In ancient times, people, seeing this, believed that the bird was puncturing its breast and feeding its young with its blood. From this idea arose the custom of using a pelican with lifted wings in heraldry or as a symbol of Christ and of charity. (See Fictitious Creatures in Art, 182-86, London, Chapman and Hall, 1906.) Palestine knew a white and a brownish-gray bird, both close to 6 ft. long and having over a 12 ft. sweep of wing. They lived around the Dead Sea, fished beside the Jordan and abounded in greatest numbers in the wildernesses of the Mediterranean shore. The brown pelicans were larger than the white. Each of them had a long beak, peculiar throat pouch and webbed feet. They built large nests, 5 and 6 ft. across, from dead twigs of bushes, and laid two or three eggs. The brown birds deposited a creamy-white egg with a rosy flush; the white, a white egg with bluish tints. The young were naked at first, then covered with down, and remained in the nest until full feathered and able to fly. This compelled the parent birds to feed them for a long time, and they carried such quantities of fish to a nest that the young could not consume all of them and many were dropped on the ground. The tropical sun soon made the location unbearable to mortals. Perching pelicans were the ugliest birds imaginable, but when their immense brown or white bodies swept in a 12 ft. spread across the land and over sea, they made an impressive picture. They are included, with good reason, in the list of abominations (see Leviticus 11:18 Deuteronomy 14:17). They are next mentioned in Psalm 102:6:
Strong's Hebrew6893. qaath -- (a bird) perhaps pelican
... 6892, 6893. qaath or qaath. 6894 . (a bird) perhaps pelican. Transliteration:
qaath or qaath Phonetic Spelling: (kaw-ath') Short Definition: pelican. ...
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7994. shalak -- (bird of prey) probably cormorant
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Smith's Bible DictionaryPelican
(Heb. kaath , sometimes translated "cormorant," as (Isaiah 34:11; Zephaniah 2:14) though in the margin correctly rendered "pelican"), a voracious waterbird, found most abundantly in tropical regions. It is equal to the swan in size. (It has a flat bill fifteen inches long, and the female has under the bill a pouch capable of great distension. It is capacious enough to hold fish sufficient for the dinner of half a dozen men. The young are fed from this pouch, which is emptied of the food by pressing the pouch against the breast. The pelican's bill has a crimson tip, and the contrast of this red tip against the white breast probably gave rise to the tradition that the bird tore her own breast to feed her young with her blood. The flesh of the pelican was forbidden to the Jews. (Leviticus 11:18) --ED.) The psalmist in comparing his pitiable condition to the pelican, (Psalms 102:6) probably has reference to its general aspect as it sits in apparent melancholy mood, with its bill resting on its breast.
Scripture Alphabet Of AnimalsPelican
The pelican is a large bird, and a curious one. It sometimes measures nearly six feet from the top of the head to the end of the tail; and you know that this is the height of a tall man. It may be called a water- bird, because it lives on the sea-coast, or on the borders of lakes and rivers and lives upon fish only. It has a very long bill, and under this is a curious bag or pouch to hold the fish which it takes. When there is nothing in it, you would hardly notice it, because it is drawn up close under the bill; but it is so large that it will hold two or three gallons of water.
When the pelican goes to seek for its food, it flies up into the air for some distance, then turns its head on one side, and with one eye looks sharply down into the water until it sees a fish. Then it darts down very swiftly, and is almost sure to seize it. Instead of eating the fish at once, it usually stores it away in its pouch, and watches for another. When its bag is filled, it flies away to some lonely place to satisfy its hunger, or to feed its young. In order to get out the fish, it presses its bill against its breast; and this has led some people to believe that it pierces its breast, and feeds its young ones with its own blood. Of course this is only a fable.
The pelican likes to live in lonely places, such as a rocky island in the midst of the ocean, where nobody will come near to disturb it: it is for this reason that David says in Psalm 102, "I am like a pelican in the wilderness," or solitary place. I suppose he wrote this Psalm when he was very sorrowful; perhaps when Saul was pursuing him, and trying to take his life.
ATS Bible DictionaryPelican
Le 11:18, sometimes translated cormorant, Isaiah 34:11 Zephaniah 2:14; a voracious waterfowl, somewhat gregarious and migratory, frequenting tropical climates, and still found on the waters of Egypt and Palestine. It fully equals the swan in size, and resembles it in shape and color. Its plumage is of a grayish white, except the long feathers, which are black. Its great peculiarity is its broad, flat bill, fifteen inches long; and the pouch of the female under the bill, used for the temporary storage of food, and said to be able to hold fifteen quarts. When empty, this pouch is not seen; but when full, it presents a very singular appearance. The pelican is a dull, indolent, and melancholy bird; and its voice is harsh and dissonant, Psalm 102:6. Its Hebrew name is probably derived from its habit of emptying its pouch of the food stored in it, by compressing it against its breast. The young then receive their food from their mother's bill; and the current tradition that she tears her own breast to feed them with her blood, may have this origin. The pelican's bill also, terminating in a strong, curved, crimson tip and resting on the white breast might seem to be tinged with blood.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary1. (n.) Any large webfooted bird of the genus Pelecanus, of which about a dozen species are known. They have an enormous bill, to the lower edge of which is attached a pouch in which captured fishes are temporarily stored.
ThesaurusPelican (5 Occurrences)
... Standard Bible Encyclopedia. PELICAN. ... From this idea arose the custom of using a
pelican with lifted wings in heraldry or as a symbol of Christ and of charity. ...
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Cormorant (4 Occurrences)
Vulture (16 Occurrences)
Bittern (4 Occurrences)
Chameleon (1 Occurrence)
Swan (2 Occurrences)
Owl (11 Occurrences)
Gier-eagle (4 Occurrences)
Gier (2 Occurrences)
Bible ConcordancePelican (5 Occurrences)
Leviticus 11:18 And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,
Deuteronomy 14:17 and the pelican, and the vulture, and the cormorant,
Psalms 102:6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness. I have become as an owl of the waste places.
Isaiah 34:11 But the pelican and the porcupine will possess it. The owl and the raven will dwell in it. He will stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness.
Zephaniah 2:14 Herds will lie down in the midst of her, all the animals of the nations. Both the pelican and the porcupine will lodge in its capitals. Their calls will echo through the windows. Desolation will be in the thresholds, for he has laid bare the cedar beams.
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