(Isa. 38:14; Jer. 8:7). In both of these passages the Authorized
Version has reversed the Hebrew order of the words. "Crane or
swallow" should be "swallow or crane," as in the Revised
Version. The rendering is there correct. The Hebrew for crane is
_'agur_, the Grus cincerea, a bird well known in Israel. It
is migratory, and is distinguished by its loud voice, its cry
being hoarse and melancholy.
(1.) Heb. sis (Isa. 38:14; Jer. 8:7), the Arabic for the swift,
which "is a regular migrant, returning in myriads every spring,
and so suddenly that while one day not a swift can be seen in
the country, on the next they have overspread the whole land,
and fill the air with their shrill cry." The swift (cypselus) is
ordinarily classed with the swallow, which it resembles in its
flight, habits, and migration.
(2.) Heb. deror, i.e., "the bird of freedom" (Ps. 84:3; Prov.
26:2), properly rendered swallow, distinguished for its
swiftness of flight, its love of freedom, and the impossibility
of retaining it in captivity. In Isa. 38:14 and Jer. 8:7 the
word thus rendered ('augr) properly means "crane" (as in the
Birds are divided in the Mosaic law into two classes, (1) the
clean (Lev. 1:14-17; 5:7-10; 14:4-7), which were offered in
sacrifice; and (2) the unclean (Lev. 11:13-20). When offered in
sacrifice, they were not divided as other victims were (Gen.
15:10). They are mentioned also as an article of food (Deut.
14:11). The art of snaring wild birds is referred to (Ps. 124:7;
Prov. 1:17; 7:23; Jer. 5:27). Singing birds are mentioned in Ps.
104:12; Eccl. 12:4. Their timidity is alluded to (Hos. 11:11).
The reference in Ps. 84:3 to the swallow and the sparrow may be
only a comparison equivalent to, "What her house is to the
sparrow, and her nest to the swallow, that thine altars are to
(Lev. 11:17; Deut. 14:17), Heb. shalak, "plunging," or "darting
down," (the Phalacrocorax carbo), ranked among the "unclean"
birds; of the same family group as the pelican. It is a
"plunging" bird, and is common on the coasts and the island seas
of Israel. Some think the Hebrew word should be rendered
"gannet" (Sula bassana, "the solan goose"); others that it is
the "tern" or "sea swallow," which also frequents the coasts of
Israel as well as the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan valley
during several months of the year. But there is no reason to
depart from the ordinary rendering.
In Isa. 34:11, Zeph. 2:14 (but in R.V., "pelican") the Hebrew
word rendered by this name is _ka'ath_. It is translated
"pelican" (q.v.) in Ps. 102:6. The word literally means the
"vomiter," and the pelican is so called from its vomiting the
shells and other things which it has voraciously swallowed. (See
The Hebrew word _tan_ (plural, tannin) is so rendered in Job
7:12 (A.V.; but R.V., "sea-monster"). It is rendered by
"dragons" in Deut. 32:33; Ps. 91:13; Jer. 51:34; Ps. 74:13
(marg., "whales;" and marg. of R.V., "sea-monsters"); Isa. 27:1;
and "serpent" in Ex. 7:9 (R.V. marg., "any large reptile," and
so in ver. 10, 12). The words of Job (7:12), uttered in bitter
irony, where he asks, "Am I a sea or a whale?" simply mean,
"Have I a wild, untamable nature, like the waves of the sea,
which must be confined and held within bounds, that they cannot
pass?" "The serpent of the sea, which was but the wild, stormy
sea itself, wound itself around the land, and threatened to
swallow it up...Job inquires if he must be watched and plagued
like this monster, lest he throw the world into disorder"
The whale tribe are included under the general Hebrew name
_tannin_ (Gen. 1:21; Lam. 4:3). "Even the sea-monsters
[tanninim] draw out the breast." The whale brings forth its
young alive, and suckles them.
It is to be noticed of the story of Jonah's being "three days
and three nights in the whale's belly," as recorded in Matt.
12:40, that here the Gr. ketos means properly any kind of
sea-monster of the shark or the whale tribe, and that in the
book of Jonah (1:17) it is only said that "a great fish" was
prepared to swallow Jonah. This fish may have been, therefore,
some great shark. The white shark is known to frequent the
Mediterranean Sea, and is sometimes found 30 feet in length.
from the Hebrew _gamal_, "to repay" or "requite," as the camel
does the care of its master. There are two distinct species of
camels, having, however, the common characteristics of being
"ruminants without horns, without muzzle, with nostrils forming
oblique slits, the upper lip divided and separately movable and
extensile, the soles of the feet horny, with two toes covered by
claws, the limbs long, the abdomen drawn up, while the neck,
long and slender, is bent up and down, the reverse of that of a
horse, which is arched."
(1.) The Bactrian camel is distinguished by two humps. It is a
native of the high table-lands of Central Asia.
(2.) The Arabian camel or dromedary, from the Greek _dromos_,
"a runner" (Isa. 60:6; Jer. 2:23), has but one hump, and is a
native of Western Asia or Africa.
The camel was early used both for riding and as a beast of
burden (Gen. 24:64; 37:25), and in war (1 Sam. 30:17; Isa.
21:7). Mention is made of the camel among the cattle given by
Pharaoh to Abraham (Gen. 12:16). Its flesh was not to be eaten,
as it was ranked among unclean animals (Lev. 11:4; Deut. 14:7).
Abraham's servant rode on a camel when he went to fetch a wife
for Isaac (Gen. 24:10, 11). Jacob had camels as a portion of his
wealth (30:43), as Abraham also had (24:35). He sent a present
of thirty milch camels to his brother Esau (32:15). It appears
to have been little in use among the Jews after the conquest. It
is, however, mentioned in the history of David (1 Chr. 27:30),
and after the Exile (Ezra 2:67; Neh. 7:69). Camels were much in
use among other nations in the East. The queen of Sheba came
with a caravan of camels when she came to see the wisdom of
Solomon (1 Kings 10:2; 2 Chr. 9:1). Benhadad of Damascus also
sent a present to Elisha, "forty camels' burden" (2 Kings 8:9).
To show the difficulty in the way of a rich man's entering
into the kingdom, our Lord uses the proverbial expression that
it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
To strain at (rather, out) a gnat and swallow a camel was also
a proverbial expression (Matt. 23:24), used with reference to
those who were careful to avoid small faults, and yet did not
hesitate to commit the greatest sins. The Jews carefully
filtered their wine before drinking it, for fear of swallowing
along with it some insect forbidden in the law as unclean, and
yet they omitted openly the "weightier matters" of the law.
The raiment worn by John the Baptist was made of camel's hair
(Matt. 3:4; Mark 1:6), by which he was distinguished from those
who resided in royal palaces and wore soft raiment. This was
also the case with Elijah (2 Kings 1:8), who is called "a hairy
man," from his wearing such raiment. "This is one of the most
admirable materials for clothing; it keeps out the heat, cold,
and rain." The "sackcloth" so often alluded to (2 Kings 1:8;
Isa. 15:3; Zech. 13:4, etc.) was probably made of camel's hair.