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The habits and manners of this little bird are familiarly known, and require no particular description. Its Hebrew name is (71) tsippor, a term which, in the sacred volume, is often used to denote small birds of any kind.s In this general sense it occurs in Solomon's affecting description of the closing scene of human life: "He shall rise up (1 bp) at the sound of the bird." Some interpreters give it a more restricted sense, translating it, he shall rise up at the sound of the cock. This interpretation is rejected by some writers, because the original term, they allege, is used only to denote birds of inferior size. But in the sacred text, the word is employed to signify birds of every species. In the law of Moses, the people of Israel were forbidden to make "the likeness of any winged fowl (1) that flieth in the air." But it could not have been the intention of the lawgiver, to prohibit only the idolatrous veneration of smaller birds; the precept certainly embraced "any winged fowl that flieth in the air," in the utmost latitude of the term. When the same God conceded to his people the use of every clean bird, (5) he certainly did not mean to withhold from their table, fowls of a larger size. And who ever restricted to small birds, the law which protected the dam, while it suffered the passing Israelite to carry away the young?" If a bird's nest (1p) chance to be before thee in the way, in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young." Nor can it be denied, that birds of
Bochart. Hieroz. lib. i, p. 145. h Deut. iv, 17.
iDeut. xiv, 11.
j Deut. xxii, 6.
every wing are subjected to the sway of man by the holy Psalmist, as well as all the beasts of the field, and the fishes of the sea: "Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet; all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowls of the air, ( ) and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. "k Or when the "beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl," are invited to praise their Maker;1 is it to be supposed, that birds of a larger size are exempted?
But although the word (715) tsippor, is a name common to birds and fowls of every wing; it is often used, as the Hebrew writers assert, in a more restricted sense, to signify the sparrow. Tsippor, says Kimchi, on the eighty-fourth Psalm, denotes a small bird, which they commonly call the sparrow. Aquinas also admits, that it is the name of a particular species of bird; and a little after, "The small bird is known by the name of a sparrow." Jerome therefore renders the word sparrow; and the Greek translators give the same interpretation, in five different parts of the Psalms; and also in the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes, and the third chapter of Lamentations." On the other hand, the Greek word see which occurs in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, and signifies a sparrow, is translated by the Syriac interpreter tsipparin; which every person in the least acquainted with oriental literature knows, is, with a very slight change, the Hebrew term tsipporim. Nor is it peculiar to the Hebrews to give the same name to the sparrow, and to
* Psa. viii, 6, 7, 8.
1 Psa. cxlviii, 10.
m Lev. xiv, 4.
n Ver. 6 and 52.
fowls of the largest size; for the word seos, which in Greek signifies a sparrow, is also given to the hen. Thus, Nicander, as quoted by Bochart:
Με τε μυελόεντα χαλικρότερον ποτον ισχοις
"Or a pure potable medicine full of marrow, may be obtained from a fowl, the domestic sparrow, that is, the hen." In imitation of the Greeks, the Roman writers call the ostrich, which is the largest fowl in existence, the marine sparrow. Both Plautus and Ausonius give it this name; the words of the last writer are,
"Ovum tu coque passeris marini.”
"Boil thou the egg of the marine sparrow.' 990 And that these authors meant the ostrich, is confirmed by Festus, who declares, that the marine sparrow signified the bird which they commonly called the struthio-camel, or the ostrich.P
Interpreters have not been able to determine in what parts of Scripture, the Hebrew term (1) tsippor, ought to be translated sparrow. Some suppose that Moses intends this bird in the law concerning the purification of the leprosy: "Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed, two birds alive." One of these birds was to be killed over running water; and the living bird, after certain ceremonies described in the law, was ordered to be let loose into the open field. The same ceremonies were commanded to be observed in cleansing the leprous house. Jerome and many succeeding interpreters, render the word "Y used in the law, sparrows. But it is evident from an atten
• Plautus in Persa, Act. ii. Ausonius, Epist. 11.
P Bochart. Hieroz. lib. i, c. 21, p. 146.
9 Lev. xiv, 1, 53.
tive perusal of the fourth verse, that it signifies birds in general. "Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed, two birds alive and clean." Now, if the sparrow was a clean bird, there could be no use in commanding a clean one to be taken, since every one of the species was ceremonially clean; but if it was unclean by law, then it could not be called clean. The term here must therefore signify birds in general, of which some were ceremonially clean, and some unclean; which rendered the specification in the command, proper and necessary. From the terms of the law it appears, that any species of clean birds might be taken on such occasions, domestic or wild; provided only they were clean, and the use of them conceded by the laws of Moses to the people.
Another passage, in which the word tsippor is supposed to refer to the sparrow, occurs in that sublime description of the leviathan, in the book of Job, and is couched in these terms: "Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens ?" But there is no necessity to confine the original term here, to the sparrow; since many other birds may be named, which are equally pleasing to young people of both sexes. Jerome therefore translates it without mentioning the sparrow : Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or bind him to thy maidens? an interpretation which has been followed by the greater part of modern expositors.
The royal Psalmist, is by some interpreters supposed to refer to the same bird, in these words: " In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain ?" In the Greek version, it is translated; How say ye to my soul, Flee ye as a sparrow to your
mountain. This interpretation has been followed by the Vulgate, and other expositors. But Jerome, with more propriety, renders it, Flee as a bird to your mountain; and his version has been adopted by the greater part of modern translators. The sparrow is not a mountain bird; and David, whose sufferings are described in the Psalm, complains, that his implacable sovereign pursued him, not like a sparrow, but like a partridge upon the mountains. Some authors indeed mention a bird on the shores of the lake de Como in Italy, which they call a mountain sparrow; but Gesner proves by many arguments, that it is a species of blackbird.
The same inspired writer uses the original term in a restricted sense, in that beautiful Psalm, where he seems to envy the swallow and the sparrow the happiness of approaching the altar, of which he was deprived by the rebellion of an unnatural son. "Yea, the sparrow (5) hath found out an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young: thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God." The term in this passage is connected with the proper name of the swallow; and therefore cannot be understood as the common name of the feathered race, but like the other, must denote a particular species of bird, which, by the general suffrage of interpreters, is the sparrow. This idea is confirmed by the plaintive description of David, according to which, that little bird, under the direction of instinct alone, provides a habitation for herself, in the abodes of men, where she rears her young, and enjoys the sweets of repose. Some of these birds, the Psalmist had probably seen constructing their nests, and propagating their kind, in the