A large bird of prey, belonging to the genus hawks, and including a great many species. It is pronounced unclean by Moses, Le 11:14; De 14:13. See BIRDS. The vulture has a naked or downy head, a bare neck and long wings, and is disgusting to every sense, especially to the smell. It is a carrion bird, though not exclusively, and has extraordinary powers of vision. Scarcely can an exhausted camel fall on it route and die, before numbers of these filthy scavengers show themselves in the distance, hastening to the spot, Job 28:7.
(1.) Heb da'ah (Le 11:14). In the parallel passage (De 14:13) the Hebrew word used is ra'ah, rendered "glede;" LXX., "gups;" Vulg., "milvus." A species of ravenous bird, distinguished for its rapid flight. "When used without the epithet 'red,' the name is commonly confined to the black kite. The habits of the bird bear out the allusion in Isa 34:15, for it is, excepting during the winter three months, so numerous everywhere in Palestine as to be almost gregarious." (See Eagle.)
ayah (the red kite famed for sharp sight: Job 28:7); daah (GLEDE or black kite: Le 11:14; De 14:13 raah); dayah, the Vulturidae; the words "after his kind" mark more than one species. Vultures differ from eagles and falcons by having the head and neck borer of feathers, the eyes not so sunk, the beak longer, curved only at the end. Cowardly; preferring carrion to other food; rarely killing their prey, unless it is feeble.
The griffon of the Vulturidae is noted for seeing its prey from the greatest height. Though previously scarcely known in the Crimea, during the Anglo-Russian war they remained near the camp throughout the campaign; "wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together" (Mt 24:28; Job 39:30). Besides the griffon, the lammergever and the Egyptian vulture, "Pharaoh's hens," are found in Palestine.
There are three words so translated.
2. dayyah, a bird inhabiting ruins: supposed to be another species of KITE. De 14:13; Isa 34:15.
3. daah, a bird of rapid flight, Le 11:14; supposed to be the FALCON; the word occurs here only. These are all classed among the unclean birds. For the true vulture see EAGLE.
The rendering in the Authorized Version of the Hebrew daah, dayyah, and also in
of ayyah. There seems no doubt that the Authorized Versions translation is incorrect, and that the original words refer to some of the smaller species of raptorial birds, as kites or buzzards. [KITE] But the Hebrew word nesher, invariably rendered "eagle" in the Authorized Version, is probably the vulture. [EAGLE]
VULTURE, ??? and ???, Le 11:14; Isa 34:15; a large bird of prey, somewhat resembling the eagle. There are several birds of the vulturine kind, which, though they differ much in respect to colour and dimensions, yet are all easily distinguished by their naked heads, and beaks partly straight and partly crooked. They are frequent in Arabia, Egypt, and many parts of Africa and Asia. They have a most indelicate voracity, preying more upon carrion than live animals. They were declared unclean in the Levitical constitution.