4 occurrences in 4 dictionaries

Reference: Bird


Birds are divided in the Mosaic law into two classes, (1) the clean (Le 1:14-17; 5:7-10; 14:4-7), which were offered in sacrifice; and (2) the unclean (Le 11:13-20). When offered in sacrifice, they were not divided as other victims were (Ge 15:10). They are mentioned also as an article of food (De 14:11). The art of snaring wild birds is referred to (Ps 124:7; Pr 1:17; 7:23; Jer 5:27). Singing birds are mentioned in Ps 104:12; Ec 12:4. Their timidity is alluded to (Ho 11:11). The reference in Ps 84:3 to the swallow and the sparrow may be only a comparison equivalent to, "What her house is to the sparrow, and her nest to the swallow, that thine altars are to my soul."

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Hebrew 'oph, "a flying thing," in general; including even winged insects, though mostly used of birds. Ravenous birds are expressed by the Hebrew 'ait; Greek aetos, one that pounces on prey; smaller birds, as the sparrow, are called in Hebrew tsippor, the "tsip" imitating its note. Snaring of birds by net and gin is the image used for the plots of bad men and Satan, to catch souls to their ruin (Ps 91:3; 124:7; Jer 5:26-27). The "cage full of birds" is the trap with decoy birds to lure others, upon whom then the trap door was dropped. It is also the image for the awfully sudden and unexpected surprise with which Christ's second coming shall overtake the worldly in the midst of carnal security (Lu 21:35). The lake of Galilee still abounds in wild duck. The swan and goose (supposed to be meant in 1Ki 4:23) also are found.

Snaring and shooting with arrows were the usual modes of taking them. The youth seduced by the strange woman's fair speech, "till a dart strike through his liver," is like such a bird "hasting to the snare and not knowing that it is for his life" (Pr 7:23). The Lord commanded Israel (De 22:6), "If a bird's nest chance to be before thee, ... whether they be young ones or eggs, ... thou shalt not take the dam with the young." By this the extirpation of the species was prevented. God cares for even sparrows (Mt 10:29), much more for His children. He would have us imitate His tenderness even toward the inarticulate brutes beneath us. Birds kept in cages for pleasure are not mentioned in Scripture; except there be an allusion to them in Job 41:5, "Wilt thou play with him as with a bird?" Singing birds were rarer in Palestine than with us, still there were some (Ps 104:12; Ec 12:4).

Birds, as the turtle dove and pigeon, were allowed to be substituted in sacrifices for more costly animals by the poor (Le 1:14-17; 12:2,6,8), but they were not to be divided as other victims (Ge 15:10). The Virgin Mary's poverty appears from her presenting the offering of the poor (Lu 2:24). The abundance of birds in Palestine appears from their devouring the seed sown by the wayside in the parable of the sower (Mt 13:4). Ps 84:3 is understood as if sparrows and swallows made their nests in the two "altars" (observe the plural) of the tabernacle. But such a position for a birds' nest would be neither enviable nor safe, indeed scarcely possible in the altar of incense in the holy place before the veil. Rather there is an abbreviated comparison: what the house is to the sparrow, and what her nest is to the swallow, that Thine altars, are to my soul, and therefore my soul longs for them.

Like a little bird, which after a long defenseless wandering has found a house (compare Mt 8:20) in which it may dwell securely, a nest to which it may entrust confidently its dearest possession, its young, thus have I a homeless wanderer found in Thy house the true nest for the soul; otherwise I should have been like the lonely bird on the housetop (compare Ps 102:6; 74:19). Our two great needs are: (I) atonement for guilt, seas to be at peace with God; (II) access to God, and acceptance for our imperfect prayers. The altar of burnt offering outside (I) represented in type the former, namely, Christ's atonement for all guilt by His precious b1ood shedding; the altar of incense inside (II) typified the latter, our prayers being perfumed by our great Intercessor's merits, and so becoming a sweet-smelling savor before God (compare Ps 141:2; Re 8:3-4).

The bird killed over running water, and the second bird dipped into the mixed water and blood and set free, for cleansing the leper, symbolize Christ slain to atone for our guilt, and living again and forever by His resurrection for our justification (Leviticus 14). As the "blood" represents our reconciliation to God by the atonement so the "water" our cleansing (Joh 19:34; 1Jo 5:6). In Isa 31:5 Jehovah's solicitous, affectionate care for His people is illustrated. "As birds flying (i.e. parent birds hovering over their young to defend them from the vulture), so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem." Compare the beautiful image of the parent eagle teaching the young the first flight (De 32:1; Ps 91:4).

Men, like birds, are weak, soon ensnared, prone to wander from their true rest (Pr 7:23; 27:8; La 3:52). Under Christ, in the gospel church. they find their rest lodging under the overshadowing branches of the true Vine (Eze 17:23; Mt 13:32) a better protection than that of the world power (Eze 31:6; Da 2:38). Jer 12:9; "Mine heritage is unto Me as a speckled bird," i.e., the Jewish nation had blended paganism with the altogether diverse Mosaic ritual; so the nations around, God's instruments of vengeance, as birds of prey like herself (through her assimilation to them) were ready to pounce upon her (compare Re 18:2).

The birds' instinctive observance of their seasons of migration, returning every spring from their winter abodes (Song 2:12), is made a tacit reproof of God's people not returning to Him now that the winter of His judicial wrath is past, and the spring of His gracious favor set in (Jer 8:7). Translate Pr 26:2, "as the sparrow (is prone to) wandering, as the swallow (is prone to) flying (yet never lights upon us), so the curse causeless shall not come" (De 23:5, Balaam and Israel; 2Sa 16:5-12, Shimei and David; Ps 109:28). Ec 10:20, "a bird of the air shall carry the matter." Proverbial: the fact will reach the king's knowledge in a marvelous way, as if a bird had carried it to him. The bird was regarded as the emblem of superhuman intelligence.

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1. In OT: (1) '

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BIRD, ????, a common name for all birds, but is sometimes used for the sparrow in particular.

Birds are distinguished by the Jewish legislator into clean and unclean. Such as fed upon grain and seeds were allowed for food, and such as devoured flesh and carrion were prohibited.

Moses, to inspire the Israelites with sentiments of tenderness toward the brute creation, commands them, if they find a bird's nest, not to take the dam with the young, but to suffer the old one to fly away, and to take the young only, De 22:6. This is one of those merciful constitutions in the law of Moses which respect the animal creation, and tended to humanize the heart of that people, to excite in them a sense of the divine providence extending itself to all creatures, and to teach them to exercise their dominion over them with gentleness. Beside, the young never knew the sweets of liberty; the dam did: they might be taken and used for any lawful purpose; but the dam must not be brought into a state of captivity. The poet Phocylides has a maxim, in his admonitory poem, very similar to that in the sacred texts:

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