Isaiah 34:15
There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.
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(15) The great owl . . .—Better, the arrow snake.

34:9-17 Those who aim to ruin the church, can never do that, but will ruin themselves. What dismal changes sin can make! It turns a fruitful land into barrenness, a crowded city into a wilderness. Let us compare all we discover in the book of the Lord, with the dealings of providence around us, that we may be more diligent in seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. What the mouth of the Lord has commanded, his Spirit will perform. And let us observe how the evidences of the truth continually increase, as one prophecy after another is fulfilled, until these awful scenes bring in more happy days. As Israel was a figure of the Christian church, so the Edomites, their bitter enemies, represent the enemies of the kingdom of Christ. God's Jerusalem may be laid in ruins for a time, but the enemies of the church shall be desolate for ever.There shall the great owl - (קפוז qı̂pôz). Gesenius supposes that this is the arrow-snake, so called from its darting or springing, in the manner of the rattle-snake - from an obsolete root to draw oneself together, to contract. Bochart (Hieroz. ii. 3. 11. 408-419) has examined the meaning of the word at length, and comes to the conclusion that it means the serpent which the Greeks called acontias, and the Latins, jaculus - the arrow-snake. The serpent is oviparous, and nourishes its young. The ancient versions, however, understand it in the same sense as the קפד qippôd in Isaiah 34:11 - the hedgehog or porcupine.

Under her shadow - This might be done by the serpent that should coil up and cherish her young.

The vultures ... - The black vulture, according to Bochart; according to Gesenius, the kite, or falcon so called from its swift flight. Either of them will suit the connection.

Also be gathered, every one with her mate - They shall make their nests there; that is, this shall be their secure, undisturbed retreat.

15. great owl—rather, "the arrow snake," so called from its darting on its prey [Gesenius].

lay—namely, eggs.

gather under her shadow—rather, "cherishes" her young under, &c. (Jer 17:11).

The great owl; whether this or what other creature is meant by this Hebrew word, the learned reader may find largely discoursed in my Latin Synopsis upon this place; for others, it may suffice to know, what all agree in, that, whether it be a bird or a serpent, it is a creature that lives in desert places.

Make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow, as fearing no disturbance from any men.

There shall the great owl make her nest,.... Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, say that "kippoz" here is the same with "kippod", rendered "bittern" in Isaiah 34:11 but Aben Ezra takes them to be two different birds; it is hard to say what is designed by it. Bochart thinks that one kind of serpent is here meant, so called from its leaping up, and which may be said to make nests, lay eggs and hatch them, as follows:

and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow; lay its eggs, sit upon them, and hatch them; or "break" them (u), that is, the eggs, by sitting on them, when the young ones spring out of them; and then being hatched, and running about, gather them under their wing, especially when in any danger:

there shall the vultures also be gathered, everyone with her mate; which creatures usually gather together where dead carcasses lie.

(u) "et scindet", Pagninus, Montanus; "rumpet", Vatablus; "quumque eruperit", Junius & Tremellius, i.e. "pullities", so Ben Melech.

There {o} shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.

(o) Signifying that Idumea would be a horrible desolation and barren wilderness.

15. the great owl] the arrowsnake as in R.V.

gather under her shadow] The expression is almost meaningless, when applied to a very small snake. Duhm, by a clever emendation, reads “shall lay and hatch and heap up her eggs” (bêçehâ for běçillâh).

Verse 15. - The great owl; rather, the arrow-snake (Serpens jaculus). Gather under her shadow; i.e. "gather her young ones under her." There shall the vultures also be gathered; rather, there verily shall the vultures assemble. Isaiah 34:15The allusion to the monarchy and the lofty electoral dignity leads the prophet on to the palaces and castles of the land. Starting with these, he carries out the picture of the ruins in Isaiah 34:13-15. "And the palaces of Edom break out into thorns, nettles and thistles in its castles; and it becomes the abode of wild dogs, pasture for ostriches. And martens meet with jackals, and a wood-devil runs upon its fellow; yea, Liiliith dwells there, and finds rest for itself. There the arrow-snake makes its nest, and breeds and lays eggs, and broods in the shadow there; yea, there vultures gather together one to another." The feminine suffixes refer to Edom, as they did in the previous instance, as בּת־אדום or אדום ארץ. On the tannı̄m, tsiyyı̄m, and 'iyyı̄m, see at Isaiah 13:21-22. It is doubtful whether châtsı̄r here corresponds to the Arabic word for an enclosure ( equals חצר), as Gesenius, Hitzig, and others suppose, as elsewhere to the Arabic for green, a green field, or garden vegetable. We take it in the latter sense, viz., a grassy place, such as was frequented by ostriches, which live upon plants and fruits. The word tsiyyim (steppe animals) we have rendered "martens," as the context requires a particular species of animals to be named. This is the interpretation given by Rashi (in loc.) and Kimchi in Jeremiah 50:39 to the Targum word tamvân. We do not render 'iyyı̄m "wild cats" (chattūilin), but "jackals," after the Arabic. קרא with על we take in the sense of קרה (as in Exodus 5:3). Lı̄lı̄th (Syr. and Zab. lelitho), lit., the creature of the night, was a female demon (shēdâh) of the popular mythology; according to the legends, it was a malicious fairy that was especially hurtful to children, like some of the fairies of our own fairy tales. There is life in Edom still; but what a caricature of that which once was there! In the very spot where the princes of Edom used to proclaim the new king, satyrs now invite one another to dance (Isaiah 13:21); and there kings and princes once slept in their palaces and country houses, the lı̄lı̄th, which is most at home in horrible places, finds, as though after a prolonged search, the most convenient and most comfortable resting-place. Demons and serpents are not very far distant from one another. The prophet therefore proceeds in Isaiah 34:15 to the arrow-snake, or springing-snake (Arabic qiffâze, from qâphaz, related to qâphats, Sol 2:8, to prepare for springing, or to spring; a different word from qippōd, which has the same root). This builds its nest in the ruins; there it breeds (millēt, to let its eggs slide out) and lays eggs (bâqa‛, to split, i.e., to bring forth); and then it broods in the shade (dâgar is the Targum word in Job 39:14 for chimmēm (ithpael in Lamentations 1:20 for חמרמר), and is also used in the rabbinical writings for fovere, as Jerome renders it here). The literal sense of the word is probably to keep the eggs together (Targum, Jeremiah 17:11, בּעין מכנּשׁ, lxx συνήγαγεν), since דּגר (syn. חמּר) signifies "to collect." Rashi has therefore explained it in both passages as meaning glousser, to cluck, the noise by which a fowl calls its brood together. The dayyâh is the vulture. These fowls and most gregarious birds of prey also collect together there.
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