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whom no animal was so sacred as the ibis and the hawk. So great was their veneration for these animals, that if any person killed one of them, with or without design, he was punished with death ; while for the destruction of any other animal, he was only subjected to an arbitrary fine.
This bird, so highly venerated among the heathen, was pronounced unclean by the Jewish lawgiver; it was to be an abomination to the people of Israel; its flesh was not to be eaten, nor its carcase touched with impunity. The reason of this law may probably be found in her dispositions and qualities; she is a bird of prey, and, by consequence, cruel in her temper, and gross in her manners.
Her mode of living too, may probably impart a disagreeable taste and flavour to the flesh, and render it, particularly in a warm climate, improper for the table. Nor do we know that it was ever relished by any people, although the pressure of necessitous circumstances máy have occasionally reconciled individuals to use it for food. Her daring spirit, her thirst of blood, the surprising rapidity of her flight, and her perseverance in the chase, soon pointed her out to the hunter as a valuable assistant; but even he wil. lingly resigns her carcase to be meat to the beasts of the field.
Of this bird Jehovah demands, “ Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south ?" Jerome and several other interpreters render the words, By thy prudence doth the hawk renew her plumage, having expanded her wings towards the south; because the verb (12x*) abar, in the future of the Hiphil, seems to be formed from the noun (10x) Æber, or (1998) Æbrah, which signifies a feather. This law, by which the eagle, the hawk, and other birds, annually shed their feathers, was not contrived by the wisdom of man; although it appears he is able, by certain managements, to accelerate the moulting season, as well as the renovation of the plumage. But, as means and remedies derive all their efficacy from God, and depend for success only upon his co-operation, it may still be demanded, Doth the hawk renew her plumage
by thy wisdom, expanding her wings towards the south? It is said, by an ancient writer on this passage, that humid and warm places are favourable to this change, and are therefore diligently sought for by hawkers, with the view of promoting the moulting of their falcons. When the south wind blows, the wild hawks, instructed by their instinctive sagacity, expand their wings till their limbs become heated; and by this means, the old plumage is relaxed, and the moulting facilitated. But when the south wind refuses its aid, they expand their wings to the rays of the sun, and, shaking them violently, produce a tepid gale for themselves; and thus their bodies being heated, and their pores opened, the old feathers more easily fall off, and new ones grow up in their place.
According to others, these words refer, not to the annual renovation of the plumage, but to the long and persevering flight of the hawk towards the south, on the approach of winter. Her migration is not conducted by the wisdom and prudence of man; but by the superintending and upholding providence of the only wise God. The words of Jehovah cannot be understood as referring to the falconer's art; for we have no evidence that the hawk was employed in hunting, till many ages after the times in which the patriarchs flourished. Besides, if the divine challenge referred to that amusement, the direction of her flight could not be confined to the south ; for she pursues the game to every quarter of heaven.
The renowned Chrysostom on this passage inquires, why Jehovah has made no mention of sheep and oxen, and other animals of the same kind, but only of useless creatures, which seem to have been formed for no beneficial or important purpose. But is it to be supposed, that God, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working, has made any part of his works in vain ? We may not be able to discover, after the most. careful investigation, the end which the Almighty had in view, when he created some of his works; but shall we presume on this account to pronounce them useless or insignificant ? So far
from being a useless bird, the hawk in some cases, brings the most important and effectual assistance to the hunter. It has already been observed, that the antelope, which seems rather to fly than to run, leaves the swiftest dog far behind; and could never be overtaken without the help of the falcon. The hawk then, is not the useless and insignificant creature which the Greek father represents her; on the contrary, she has conferred benefits on mankind of no inconsiderable value.
The Dove. The allusions in the sacred volume to this bird, are both numerous and important. She was known to the ancient Hebrews by the name (1137) yona, perhaps, says the learned Bochart, to intimate, that she is a native of Greece; for the Greeks were anciently called (Iwves) Iones, as has been already proved; and in Hebrew (ur) yonim, or Javanim, that is the sons of Javan, the father of the colony which settled in those parts. One thing is certain, if any conclusion may be drawn from the fabulous history of Greece, that the dove has resided in that country from the remotest antiquity. Herodotus mentions a very ancient tradition among the Greeks, that the Dodonæan dove, taking her place on a spreading beech, pronounced with human voice, That it was in the decree of the fates, that an oracle of Jupiter should be established there; which was by far the most ancient of all the oracles in Greece. Another is recorded by Plutarch, which was evidently transmitted from the mountains of Ararat ; and proves that Deucalion was no other than the
patriarch Noah, the second father of our species : That a dove sent from the ark by the former, was a sign of tempest when she returned, and of serenity when she departed. The Greeks have another tradition, that, in the island of Crete, doves nourished Jupiter with ambrosia, brought from the streams of the ocean ; a story which may be traced with ease to this line of their great poet : αμβροσιην Διι πατρι φερυσιν
Odyss. They bring ambrosia to father Jove."
When the Argonauts were about to attempt a passage among the rocky isles of the Thracian Bosphorus, they were advised by the prophet Phineas, to send out a dove; which, if she passed them in safety, they might follow. In the second book of the Iliad, several cities in Baotia, and the Peloponnesus, are celebrated for their innumerable flocks of doves; and a cluster of islands near Smyrna, were for the same reason called Peristerides, or the pigeon islands. From this statement it
be inferred, that the dove came into Greeee and the surrounding countries, very soon after the flood,
It is evident from the Scriptures, that Syria, from the earliest postdiluvian times, abounded with doves. When Abraham was received into covenant with God, not many generations after the flood, he offered in sacrifice, by the divine command, a turtle dove, and a young pigeon *. · And, in the law of Moses, the sacrifice of turtle doves, and young pigeons, is every where prescribed. It is alleged from Ctesias, by Diodorus, and R. Azarias, a Jewish writer, that Semiramis, the far-famed queen of Babylon, derived her pame from the note of the turtle ; for it may be traced to (9*29,) zemir, the song of birds, and particularly of the dove. Thus in the Song,
Thus in the Song, “ The time (7*,) of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land f." The dove was long regarded by the orientals, and particularly by the Assyrians, probably on account of her services to Noah and his family, with great ve* Gen. xv. 9.
+ Song ii. 12.
neration. A golden dove adorned the head of the Syrian goddess, and shared in the honours of that pretended deity. From the time of Semiramis, who, in the fabulous history of Assyria, was in a wonderful manner nourished and preserved by an immense flock of doves, that beautiful bird was actually worshipped as a goddess. This fact, which Ctesias records, is attested by Xenophon, who declares, that the inhabitants of Syria would not suffer them to be molested. The infatuated people looked upon them as the most sacred of the feathered race; and thought it unlawful even to touch them. The use of these birds was by law prohibited to the Syrians, from the earliest times; and, while they made no scruple to eat other fowls, they carefully abstained from the dove ; because she was not only sacred to their principal goddess, but was herself elevated to the rank of a divinity, and numbered among the gods. A figure of the same bird, surrounded with the rainbow, in allusion to the flood, waved in the banners of the Assyrian monarchs. To that symbol, the prophet Jeremiah undoubtedly refers in these words : " Their land is desolate, because of the fierceness of the oppressor; strictly, the fierceness of the dove, " and because of his fierce anger.” And in another part of the prophecy : “ Arise, and let us go again to our own people, and to the land of our nativity, from the oppressing sword;” (172917 3477,) from the sword of the dove.-“ For fear of the oppressing sword, (the sword of the dove,) they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land *." Another allusion to the symbol which was blazoned on the standard of the Assyrian monarchs, occurs in the prophecies of Zephaniah, where Jerusalem is called the dove; because in her conduct she resembled Babylon, the capital of their empire : “Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the city (that resembles) the dovet."
The conclusion to which these statements lead, is obvious and incontrovertible, that in Syria, as in Greece, the dove had fixed her dwelling in every age. Bochart indeed admits, that * Jer, xxv. 38, and xlvi. 16, and 1. 16.
+ See Bochart.