16And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
16 Verse 16. The owl] bath haiyaanah, the daughter
of vociferation, the female ostrich, probably so called from the
noise they make. "In the lonesome part of the night," says Dr.
Shaw, "the ostriches frequently make a very doleful and hideous
noise, sometimes resembling the roar of the lion; at other times,
the hoarser voice of the bull or ox." He adds, "I have heard
them groan as if in the deepest agonies."-Travels, 4to edition,
p. 455. The ostrich is a very unclean animal, and eats its own
ordure as soon as it voids it, and of this Dr. Shaw observes,
(see above,) it is remarkably fond! This is a sufficient reason,
were others wanting, why such a fowl should be reputed to be
unclean, and its use as an article of diet prohibited.
The night hawk] tachmas, from chamas, to
force away, act violently and unjustly; supposed by Bochart
and Scheuchzer to signify the male ostrich, from its cruelty
towards its young; (see Job 39:13-18;) but others, with more
reason, suppose it to be the bird described by Hasselquist, which
he calls the strix Orientalis, or Oriental owl. "It is of the
size of the common owl, living in the ruins and old deserted
houses of Egypt and Syria; and sometimes in inhabited houses.
The Arabs in Egypt call it Massasa, the Syrians Bana. It is very
ravenous in Syria, and in the evenings, if the windows be left
open, it flies into the house and kills infants, unless they are
carefully watched; wherefore the women are much afraid of it."-
Travels, p. 196.
If this is the fowl intended, this is a sufficient reason why
it should be considered an abomination.
The cuckoo] shachaph, supposed rather to mean the sea
mew; called shachaph, from shachepheth, a wasting
distemper, or atrophy, (mentioned Le 26:16; De 28:22,)
because its body is the leanest, in proportion to its bones and
feathers, of most other birds, always appearing as if under the
influence of a wasting distemper. A fowl which, from its natural
constitution or manner of life, is incapable of becoming plump or
fleshy, must always be unwholesome; and this is reason sufficient
why such should be prohibited.
And the hawk] nets, from the root natsah, to
shoot forth or spring forward, because of the rapidity and length
of its flight, the hawk being remarkable for both. As this is a
bird of prey, it is forbidden, and all others of its kind.