In their wild state doves generally build their nests in the clefts of rocks, but when domesticated "dove-cots" are prepared for them (Song 2:14; Jer 48:28; Isa 60:8). The dove was placed on the standards of the Assyrians and Babylonians in honour, it is supposed, of Semiramis (Jer 25:38; Vulg., "fierceness of the dove;" comp. Jer 46:16; 50:16). Doves and turtle-doves were the only birds that could be offered in sacrifice, as they were clean according to the Mosaic law (Ge 15:9; Le 5:7; 12:6; Lu 2:24). The dove was the harbinger of peace to Noah (Ge 8:8,10). It is often mentioned as the emblem of purity (Ps 68:13). It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Ge 1:2; Mt 3:16; Mr 1:10; Lu 3:22; Joh 1:32); also of tender and devoted affection (Song 1:15; 2:14). David in his distress wished that he had the wings of a dove, that he might fly away and be at rest (Ps 55:6-8). There is a species of dove found at Damascus "whose feathers, all except the wings, are literally as yellow as gold" (Ps 68:13).
Emblem of peace (Ge 8:7-12). After God's wrath for sin had been executed upon the earth, the dove was thrice sent forth; at the first sending she found no rest for the sole of her foot until she put herself in Noah's (or "comforter") hand, and was drawn into the ark; on the second trip, she brought back the olive leaf, the earnest of the restored earth; on the third trip, she was able to roam at large, no longer needing the ark's shelter. As the raven messenger "going forth to and fro," alighting on but never entering into the ark, symbolizes the unbelieving that have "no peace," "like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest" (Isa 57:20-21): so the dove, in its threefold embassy, represents respectively the first return of the soul to its rest, the loving hand of Jesus; its subsequent reception of the dovelike spirit, the earnest of the final inheritance (Eph 1:13-14); and its actual entrance finally on the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21), where there will be no need of the arklike church to separate between the world and God's people, between the saved and unsaved, where all shall be safe and blessed forever and the church shall be co-extensive with the world.
As the lamb is the emblem of the Savior, so the dove of the Holy Spirit the Comforter, because of its gentleness, tenderness, innocence, and constant love (Mt 3:16). He changes us into His own likeness. The liquid full soft eye is the emblem of the heavenly bride's eye, through which the soul beams out (Song 1:15). Contrast the sinner's eye (Mt 20:15; 2Pe 2:14). The church's unsheltered innocence in the world calls forth the prayer: "Deliver not the soul of Thy turtle dove unto the multitude of the wicked" (Ps 74:19; 55:11). Their plaintive note symbolizes the mourning penitent (Isa 59:11).
The change from the Egyptian bondage amidst the face blackening potteries to the freedom and beauty of Israel's theocratic state is expressed in Ps 68:13-14, "though ye have lien (lain) among the pots yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold," the dove's outspread wings reflecting a golden or silver splendor according to the direction in which the sunshine falls on them, typifying the dovelike spirit of joy and peace beaming forth from the believer, once darkness, but now light in the Lord. The dove's timidity answers to the believer fleeing from sin, self, and wrath, to the refuge in the cleft Rock of ages (Song 2:14; Jer 48:28; Isa 26:4, margin). Its gregariousness answers to the communion of saints, all having flocked together to Christ (Isa 60:8); the returning Israelites shall so flock to Jerusalem, as doves in a cloud to their cotes; and the converted Gentiles to Israel.
Saints must imitate its harmless simplicity (Mt 7:16), but not its silliness (Ho 7:11). The Israelites under God's visitation of the enemy's invasion "shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys" (Eze 7:16); as doves which usually frequent valleys mount up to the mountains when fearing the birdcatcher (Ps 11:1), so Israel, once dwelling in the peaceful valleys, shall flee from the foe to the mountains, once the scene of their highplace idolatries, now retributively the scene of their abject flight. In Jer 25:38, "because of the fierceness of the oppressor" (Hebrew: the dove), the allusion is to the Chaldaean standard, the dove, the symbol of Venus. Semiramis the queen was said to have been nourished by doves when exposed at birth, and at death to have been transformed into a dove. In 2Ki 6:25 the "dove's dung" sold for food in the famine seems to have been a vegetable or poor grain or vetch pea, so named, that grew in the land not built upon and lying, as is common in the East, within the city.
Linnaeus identified it with the Ornithogalum umbellatum, with eatable bulbs, "the star of Bethlehem"; the color of the flowers, white mixed with green, originated the name "dove's dung," which is of like color. Keil thinks it to be a saltwort yielding alkali, Herba alkali. Josephus, however (B. J., 5:13, section 7), mentions literal dung having been eaten in terrible famine. The offering of a dove was the alternative permitted to those unable to afford a more costly one, an alternative adopted instead of the lamb by the Virgin mother at her purification, a proof of the poverty to which our Lord stooped at His incarnation. The sellers of doves profaned the temple court by selling doves to meet the wants of the poorer classes (Joh 2:13-17).
The words translated 'dove' apply equally to doves and pigeons. In Palestine seven varieties of the Columb
yonah, ?????????. The well-known bird of the pigeon tribe, of which there are many species. These words are translated both 'dove' and 'pigeon.' For the turtle-dove the words tor, ???????, are used, names supposed to be derived from the note of the bird. Pigeons are very common in Palestine, and if any persons were too poor to buy a pair for an offering the young could easily be caught in the holes of the rocks: thus God graciously ordered it that the poorest could obtain what was needed.
There are four species of doves that inhabit Palestine: of these the most abundant is the Rock Pigeon, or Blue Rock Dove, the Columba livia. They shun the habitation of man, and live in holes in the rocks. There are three species of turtle doves known in Palestine, which are both wild and domesticated. Some may often be seen in Jerusalem. The most abundant of these is perhaps the Turtur auritus.
The dove is commonly taken as the emblem of peace. the Holy Spirit descended on the Lord 'like a dove,' answering to "on earth peace, good will toward men." It is also an emblem of harmlessness: 'wise as serpents, harmless as doves.' Mt 10:16. In the Canticles the bridegroom three times calls the bride 'my dove,' and says she has 'doves' eyes;' she also says the latter of him. Cant. 1:15; Cant. 2:14; Cant. 4:1; Cant. 5:2, 12; Cant. 6:9. Loving gentleness characterises the dove.
The first menton of this bird occurs in Gen. 8. The dove's rapidity of flight is alluded to in
the beauty of its plumage in
its dwelling int he rocks and valleys in
and Ezek 7:16 its mournful voice in
its harmlessness in
its simplicity in
and its amativeness in
Doves are kept in a domesticated state in many parts of the East. In Persia pigeon-houses are erected at a distance from the dwellings, for the purpose of collecting the dung as manure. There is probably an allusion to such a custom in
DOVE, ????. This beautiful genus of birds is very numerous in the east. In the wild state they generally build their nests in the holes or clefts of rocks, or in excavated trees; but they are easily taught submission and familiarity with mankind; and, when domesticated, build in structures erected for their accommodation, called "dove-cotes." They are classed by Moses among the clean birds; and it appears from the sacred as well as other writers, that doves were always held in the highest estimation among the eastern nations. Rosenmuller, in a note upon Bochart, derives the name from the Arabic, where it signifies mildness, gentleness, &c. The dove is mentioned in Scripture as the symbol of simplicity, innocence, gentleness, and fidelity, Ho 7:11; Mt 10:16.
The following extract from Morier's Persian Travels illustrates a passage in Isaiah: "In the environs of the city, to the westward, near the Zainderood, are many pigeon houses, erected at a distance from habitations, for the sole purpose of collecting pigeons' dung for manure. They are large round towers, rather broader at the bottom than the top, and crowned by conical spiracles, through which the pigeons descend. Their interior resembles a honey-comb, pierced with a thousand holes, each of which forms a snug retreat for a nest. More care appears to have been bestowed upon their outside than upon that of the generality of the dwelling houses; for they are painted and ornamented. The extraordinary flights of pigeons which I have seen alight upon one of these buildings afford, perhaps, a good illustration for the passage in Isa 60:8: 'Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?' Their great numbers, and the compactness of their mass, literally look like a cloud at a distance, and obscure the sun in their passage." The first mention of the dove in the Scripture is Ge 8:8,10-12, where Noah sent one from the ark to ascertain if the waters of the deluge had assuaged. She was sent forth thrice. The first time she speedily returned; having, in all probability, gone but a little way from the ark, as she must naturally be terrified at the appearance of the waters. After seven days, being sent out a second time, she returned with an olive leaf plucked off, whereby it became evident that the flood was considerably abated, and had sunk below the tops of the trees; and thus relieved the fears and cheered the heart of Noah and his family. And hence the olive branch has ever been among the fore-runners of peace, and chief of those emblems by which a happy, state of renovation and restoration to prosperity had been signified to mankind. At the end of other seven days, the dove, being sent out a third time, returned no more; from which Noah conjectured that the earth was so far drained as to afford sustenance for the birds and fowls; and he therefore removed the covering of the ark, which probably gave liberty to many of the fowls to fly off; and these circumstances afforded him the greater facility for making arrangements for disembarking the other animals. Doves might be offered in sacrifice, when those who were poor could not bring a more costly offering.