And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And the owl.—Better, and the ostrich, as the Authorised Version rightly renders it in the margin in three out of the eight passages in which it occurs, viz., Job 30:29, Isaiah 34:13; Isaiah 43:20; literally, the daughter or inhabitant of the desert. The ostrich, which is the largest bird and the swiftest of all cursorial animals, was associated by the Hebrews with the terrors of the wilderness, and was regarded by the ancients as an unnatural hybrid, as a kind of half bird and half quadruped. It dwells amongst desolated places (Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:13; Jeremiah 50:39), fills the air with its doleful and hideous wails (Micah 1:8) and cruelly neglects its eggs to be hatched by the sun or trodden down under foot (Lamentations 4:3; Job 39:17-18). Owing to its proverbial stupidity, this hybrid is selected with another monster to illustrate the abundant goodness of the Lord, by showing that even this creature will become sensible of gratitude and break forth into thanksgiving and praise (Isaiah 43:20). The flesh of the ostrich was eaten by the ancient Ethiopians, Indians, and other nations. The Romans regarded ostrich brains as a great delicacy. The ostrich occasionally devours fowls and other small vertebrates like a bird of prey, and tradition assures us that ostriches consumed the body of Agag.
And the night hawk.—Of all the unclean birds constituting this list, the one here rendered night hawk is the most difficult to identify. The name in the original (tachmâs) simply describes the bird as “the violent” one, or the rapacious, or “the cruel,” and this designation would apply to any bird of prey not already specified in this catalogue. Hence it has alternately been taken for the owl, the night hawk, the male ostrich, the falcon, the seabird gannet, the cuckoo, and the swallow. It will, however, be seen that all the large birds of prey which are here hazarded, have either already been mentioned or are mentioned in the sequel of this list, whilst the small birds, viz., the cuckoo and the swallow, are too insignificant and too harmless to be placed between the large raptorial companions. In this uncertainty of opinion it is best to leave the Authorised Version alone. The name only occurs again in the parallel passage in Deuteronomy 14:15.
And the cuckow.—Rather, and the sea-gull. Like the foregoing bird of prey, the shachaph here mentioned only occurs again in the duplicate list of unclean animals in Deuteronomy 14:15. It literally means the thin, slender, or cadaverous bird, and is taken by the most ancient authorities to denote the sea-gull, which is “the raven of the sea.” It darts down with great velocity upon its victim, like a bird of prey. It not only eats fishes, insects, and smaller aquatic animals, but feeds upon carrion. The eggs of the gulls and the flesh of the young birds are to this day eaten both in the East and in some northern countries of Europe.
And the hawk.—Besides the parallel passage in Deuteronomy 14:15, the hawk (netz) also occurs in Job 39:26, where it is described as a migratory bird, since it migrates to a more southern climate on the approach of winter. It feeds upon mammals, birds, and amphibia, and attacks even its own parent, mate, and offspring. It abounds in a variety of species in all parts of Asia. Hence the remark “after his kind.” Some tribes regard the flesh of the hawk as very palatable.
the nighthawk—a very small bird, with which, from its nocturnal habits, many superstitious ideas were associated.
the cuckoo—Evidently some other bird is meant by the original term, from its being ranged among rapacious birds. Dr. Shaw thinks it is the safsaf; but that, being a graminivorous and gregarious bird, is equally objectionable. Others think that the sea mew, or some of the small sea fowl, is intended.
the hawk—The Hebrew word includes every variety of the falcon family—as the goshawk, the jerhawk, the sparrow hawk, &c. Several species of hawks are found in Western Asia and Egypt, where they find inexhaustible prey in the immense numbers of pigeons and turtledoves that abound in those quarters. The hawk was held pre-eminently sacred among the Egyptians; and this, besides its rapacious disposition and gross habits, might have been a strong reason for its prohibition as an article of food to the Israelites.The owl, Heb. the daughter of the owl, which he mentions as the best of the kind both for sex and age, and therefore more desired for food than the elder or males. And it is hereby implied, that the very youngest and best of all the other kinds are forbidden, and much more the rest.
and the night hawk; which, according to Pliny (y), is sometimes called "cymindis", and is seldom to be found in woods, sees not so well in the day time, and wages a deadly war with the eagle, and they are often found joined together: Bochart (z) who thinks that the female ostrich is meant by the preceding bird, is of opinion that the male ostrich is meant here, there being no general name in the Hebrew language to comprehend both sexes:
and the cuckoo; a bird well known by its voice at least: some have thought it to be the same with the hawk, changing its figure and voice; but this has been refuted by naturalists (a): but though it is here forbidden to be eaten, yet its young, when fat, are said to be of a grateful savour by Aristotle: and Pliny (b) says, no bird is to be compared to it for the sweetness of its flesh, though perhaps it may not be here intended: the word is by the Septuagint rendered a "sea gull", and so it is by Ainsworth, and which is approved of by Bochart (c):
and the hawk after his kind; a well known bird, of which, according to Aristotle (d), there are not less than ten sorts: Pliny (e) says sixteen; it has its name in Hebrew from flying, it being a bird that flies very swiftly; see Job 39:26 the hawk was a symbol of deity with the Egyptians, and was reverenced and worshipped by them (f).
(p) Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 1. Vid. Aristot. de Part. Animal. l. 4. c. 14. (q) Apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 14. col. 226. (r) Pirush in Exodus 23.19. (s) De Animal. l. 14. c. 13. (t) Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 162. (u) Geograph. l. 16. p. 531. (w) Calmet's Dictionary in the word "Ostrich". (x) Descriptio Africae, l. 6. p. 601, 605, 613. l. 9. p. 766. (y) Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 8. (z) Ut supra, (Apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2.) c. 15. col. 235. (a) Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 6. c. 7. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 9. (b) Ibid. (c) Ut supra, (Apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 15.) Colossians 26. (d) Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 36. (e) Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 8. (f) Plutarch. de Iside & Osyr. Strabo. Geograph. l. 17. p. 559, 562. Diodor. Sicul. l. 1. p. 78. Clement. Alex. Stromat. l. 5. p. 566.And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)16. ostrich] Here and in Deuteronomy 14:15; Job 30:29; Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:13; Isaiah 43:20; Jeremiah 50:39; Micah 1:8 the rendering ‘owl’ of A.V. should be corrected to ‘ostrich.’
the night hawk] The meaning of the Heb. taḥmâṣ is very uncertain. The root seems to indicate a bird of aggressive and violent character.
the seamew] cuckow A.V. So LXX. and Vulg.
the hawk after its kind] Many varieties of the hawk are indicated. The Heb. word nçẓ occurs here, in Deuteronomy 14:15 and Job 39:26 only.Deuteronomy 14:9 and Deuteronomy 14:10). Of water animals, everything in the water, in seas and brooks, that had fins and scales was edible. Everything else that swarmed in the water was to be an abomination, its flesh was not to be eaten, and its carrion was to be avoided with abhorrence. Consequently, not only were all water animals other than fishes, such as crabs, salamanders, etc., forbidden as unclean; but also fishes without scales, such as eels for example. Numa laid down this law for the Romans: ut pisces qui sqamosi non essent ni pollicerent (sacrificed): Plin. h. n. 32, c. 2, s. 10. In Egypt fishes without scales are still regarded as unwholesome (Lane, Manners and Customs).
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