And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And the little owl.—With the exception of the parallel passage, Deuteronomy 14:16, this bird only occurs once more, in Psalm 102:6, where it is properly rendered in the Authorised Version by “owl,” omitting the word “little,” and is described as inhabiting deserted ruins. It not only feeds upon insects and molluscs, hares, rabbits, ducks, geese, and birds of prey, but devours mice and rats, which are especially detested by the Jews. Its flesh is, however, regarded by some tribes as very savoury. The name kos which is translated “owl” in the three above-named passages, is the common Hebrew word for “cup,” and it is supposed that it has been given to this bird because the sitting owl especially widens towards the upper part, thus imparting to it a cup-like appearance.
And the cormorant.—Of all the web-footed birds which prey on fish, cormorants are the most voracious. They usually assemble in flocks on the rocks which overhang the sea, whence they drop down from the greatest height upon their victim, dive after it with the rapidity of a dart, and invariably gulp their prey head foremost. The cormorant is to be found in every climate, and is the destruction of all the finny tribe in any fresh-water river which he happens to occupy for a time. Hence he is called the feathered terror of the finny tribe. From the skill which he displays in casting himself down from a great height, and in plunging dart-like after his victim, he derives his Hebrew name, which denotes “darter.” The flesh of the cormorant, though rank, is eaten in some regions; whilst the skin, which is tough, is made into garments. The Hebrew name only occurs again in the duplicate catalogue of unclean animals in Deuteronomy 14:17. By comp. Leviticus 11:17-18 of the list before us with the parallel list in Deuteronomy 14:16-17, it will be seen that though the two catalogues respectively enumerate in these two verses the same six birds, yet the order is different. The cormorant, which is here second in Leviticus 11:17, is in Deuteronomy 14 sixth in Leviticus 11:17. There can, therefore, hardly be any doubt that the verse before us has been disturbed, and that by placing the cormorant here sixth, as it is in Deuteronomy, we obtain the two species of owls naturally following each other, as is the case in the parallel catalogue.
And the great owl.—Rather, the night owl, as the name in the original (yanshûph) denotes “night-bird.” Besides the parallel passage in Deuteronomy 14:16, this bird of prey only occurs again once more in Isaiah 34:11, where the Authorised Version translates simply “owl,” omitting the word “great,” and where it is associated with the raven and other dismal birds as fit occupants of deserted ruins. According to the description of it which prevailed in the time of Christ, its eyes are directed forward, it utters frightful shrieks in the night, and has a face like a cat, and cheeks like a human being. In consequence of its repulsive visage and human appearance it was considered a bad omen if one saw an owl in a dream. That the two kinds of owls are here mentioned is probably owing to their disgusting habit of ejecting pellets, each one of which contains sometimes from four to seven skeletons of mice. Hence, instead of saying “after his kind,” to include the other varieties, the lawgiver enumerates them separately.
cormorant—supposed to be the gull. [See on De 14:17.]
the great owl—according to some, the Ibis of the Egyptians. It was well known to the Israelites, and so rendered by the Septuagint (De 14:16; Isa 34:11): according to Parkhurst, the bittern, but not determined.Psalm 102:6. The word we render "cormorant", the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan paraphrase it, a drawer of fish out of the sea, so Baal Hatturim; and thus it is interpreted in the Talmud (k); and the gloss upon it says, this is the water raven, which is the same with the cormorant; for the cormorant is no other than "corvus aquaticus", or water raven; See Gill on Zephaniah 2:14. The Septuagint render it by "catarrhactes", which, according to the description of it (l), resides by rocks and shores that hang over water; and when it sees fishes swimming in it, it will fly on high, and contract its feathers, and flounce into the water, and fetch out the fish; and so is of the same nature, though not the same creature with the cormorant. Aben Ezra observes, that some say this is a bird which casts its young as soon as born; and this is said of the "catarrhactes", that it lets down its young into the sea, and draws them out again, and hereby inures them to this exercise (m).
(g) Ray's Ornithol. p. 63. apud Supplement to Chambers's Dictionary in the word "Bubo". (h) Calmet's Dictionary in the word "Owl". (i) Ut supra, (Apud Bochard. Heirozoic. par. 2. l. 2.) c. 20. col. 275. (k) Bab. Cholin, fol. 63. 1.((l) Gesner. apud Bochart. ut supra, (i)) c. 21. col. 278. (m) Ibid.And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)17. the little owl] Heb. kôṣ in the two texts and in Psalm 102:7 only. A bird screeching by night is indicated by the LXX. and Vulg.
the cormorant] The position of this word in Deut. is more suitable than here. The Heb. word shâlâk implies plunging downwards with force and the Targ. translates it ‘a bird that catches fishes.’
the great owl] In the two texts and Isaiah 34:11 (‘owl,’ R. and A.V., ‘bittern’ R.V. mg.) the LXX. translate ‘ibis.’ Some species of owl is indicated.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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