Stork, חסידה, Ciconia

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English:

Stork

Hebrew:

חסידה (hasidah)

Scientific Name:

Ciconia. The scientific name is the origin of its different names in European languages like Spanish (Ciguena) and French (Cigogne) (Moyal 2001).

Other:

The Hebrew etymology of חסידה is unknown. The stork’s name is explained in the Talmud with a popular etymology: “Rabbi Yehuda said: The stork is a white kite, why is she called חסידה? For she does kindness with her peers (שעושה חסידות עם חברותיה)” (b. Hul. 63a).

Arabic has two words for “stork.” (1) Laklak is onomatopeia for the clapping noises made by the beaks as storks lean their throats to the back during courting, as well as when transforming shifts while nesting. (2) Abu-Sa‘ad means “the father of happiness,” possibly after the happiness the stork brings to humans in eliminating different insects and other harmful intruders (Moyal 2004). Aharoni (1924) mentioned its Greek, Egyptian, and Roman name, Avis pia, “the pious bird,” for its symbols as parents respect and solidarity.

Image gallery

Biblical data

Introduction

The stork is of the more common birds migrating through Israel (and the Levant) twice a year. Nevertheless, it occurs just six times in the Hebrew Bible. The stork is mentioned among the birds that Israelites are prohibited to eat (Lev 11:19; Deut 14:18). Metaphorically (by way of simile), the stork occurs twice in the context of migration (Jer 8:7; Zech 5:9) and twice in reference to its wingspan and feathers (Zech 5:9; Job 39:13). The stork also factors into the realistic description of nesting upon the high trees of Lebanon (Ps 104:17). The goal of this study is to shed light on the uses of nature imagery concerning the stork in these different literary compositions.

Distribution within the Bible

The stork is mentioned six times:
Twice in legal texts, Lev 11:19; Deut 14:18.
Twice in prophecy: Jer 8:7; Zech 5:9.
Once in liturgical text: Ps 104:17.
Once in wisdom literature, Job 39:13.

Parts, Elements, Features that Are Specified in the Bible

Wingspan and feathers (Zech 5:9; Job 39:13).
Migration (Jer 8:7; Zech 5:9).
Nesting (Ps 104:17).

Function in Context

Simile (Zech 5:9).
Simile: Its migratory qualities are compared to the people’s disobedience (Jer 8:7).
Realistic reference to its nesting upon the high trees of Lebanon (Ps 104:17).

Pairs and Constructions

Jer 8:7 together in a list of migrating birds, including תר וסיס ועגור.
In the list of the birds prohibited as food (Lev 11:19; Deut 14:18), with אנפה.

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel

History of Identification

Identification History Table

Hebrew Greek Aramaic Syriac Latin Arabic English
Ref MT LXX Revisions Targumim Peshitta Vulgate Jewish Christian KJV NRSV NJPS
Lev 11:19 חסידה

 

 

 

 

SP

חסידה

ἐρωδιός

= heron

אנפה

O: חָוָרִיתָא

N and Ps-J:

וית דייתא חיוורתא

 

Tg. Sam:

סנוניתה

חורבא

 

erodionem

= heron

אנפה

[see LXX Ps 104:17]

 

stork

 

stork

 

stork

 

Deut 14:18 חסידה

 

 

 

 

SP

חסידה

πελεκuς

= pelican

O: חָוָרִיתָא

N and Ps-J:

דייתא (דיירה) חיורתא

 

Tg. Sam:

סנוניתה

חורבא

 

enocrotalum

= pelican

[see LXX]

 

 

stork

 

stork

 

stork

 

Jer 8:7 חסידה ασιδα

= stork

A: ἐρωδιός

S: ἰκτίν, kite, דיה, Milvus

T: ασιδα

J: חָוָרִיתָא

 

חורבא milvus

= kiteדיה

[see Targum N and Ps-J to Lev 11:19 and Deut 14:18]

stork

 

stork

 

stork

 

Zech 5:9 חסידה

 

DSS

4Q80:

ח֯[סידה]

ἔποψ

= hoopoe bird

(upupidae)

דוכיפת

 

A, S, T: ἐρωδιός

 

J: נשרא

 

חורבא milvus

= kiteדיה

 

stork stork

 

stork

 

Ps 104:17 חסידה ἐρωδιός

= heron (ardeidae)

אנפה

J: * וותא

[דיתא ?] חיווריתא

 

חורבא eorum

= heronאנפה

[see LXX]

 

stork stork

 

stork

 

Job 39:13 חסידה ασιδα

= stork

J: חווריתא חורבא eorum

= heronאנפה

[see LXX Ps 104:17]

ostrich read: lack plumage

חסירה ונצה

stork

Discussion

The table clarifies at a glance some major differences between the versions.

The Aramaic Targums present a fairly consistent equivalent for the stork, using the name חָוָרִיתָא ‘the white one’ in Onqelos to Lev 11:19 and Deut 14:18 and Jonathan to Jer 8:7; Job 39:13; and possibly Ps 104:17.[1]

However, Neofiti and Pseudo-Jonathan translate the two pentateuchal references with דייתא חוורתא ‘the white bird’. This translation of the stork as דייתא ‘kite’ (if identified as Milvus, see the Vulgate), transforms the stork into a bird of prey.[2]

Taking their diet preferences into consideration, the stork indeed eats rodents (young rats, jirds, and social voles), amphibians, large insects (beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets), reptiles (snakes and lizards), fish, and even eggs, chicks, and mollusks (see the stork’s diet, on the biological information below). In addition, the stork and the heron may be seen in similar habitats. Yet, if considered by modern taxonomy, neither the stork (חסידה) nor the heron (אנפה) are characterized as birds of prey (distinguished as such by beak and plows); and neither belongs to the Accipitridae family (משפחת הנציים). In fact, in modern taxonomy, the two birds belong to two different families: the stork is of the Cicconidea family, while the heron is of the Ardeidae family.[3] The Targum to Zech 5:9 suggests a much elaborated and interpretive translation which transforms the stork into נשרא ‘eagle’, the king bird of prey.

The Peshitta is consistent in its rendering of the stork as חורבא.[4]

The Septuagint and the Vulgate, however, do not provide any consistent translation to the stork.[5]

In two of the occurrences, the Septuagint presents Ασιδα (Jer 8:7; Job 39:13), a transcription of the Hebrew name. Does the fact that the translators simply transliterated the name reveal acquaintance with this bird? Or ignorance about the ornithological identification of the stork?[6]
Three other birds appear in the Septuagint on different occurrences: Deut 14:18 refers to the pelican (πελεκuς);[7] Zech 5:9 takes the hoopoe bird (ἔποψ);[8] and Ps 104:17 the heron (ερωδιος). While Theodition keeps the transliteration in Jer 8:7, Aquila reads: ἐρωδιός; Symmachus: ἰκτίν, kite, דיה, Miluus regalis, which occurs in Symmachus, Aquila, and Theodotion to Isa 34:15 as equivalent of קפוז; and in LXX Lev 11:14 and Deut 14:13 as equivalent of איה.

This diversity in the Septuagint seems to be influenced by the enigma concerning the stork in the two lists of un-eatable birds in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. These two lists bring twenty names of birds, and scholars have long been tracing the structural or thematic guidelines behind them. A recent thorough study of both MT and the Septuagint versions of the list has been conducted in the University of Lausanne by Christophe Nihan and Anna Angelini.[9] In a workshop conducted in Lausanne (December 8, 2016), I had the privilege of studying and discussing the texts with them. The following observations reflect my implications in reference to the stork based on their study.

It seems quite clear that the Septuagint does not present an equivalent to the stork (in both its major manuscripts, Alexandrinus [A] and Vaticanus [B]).

The Septuagint to Lev 11:19 brings five names of birds and Deut 14:18 brings four names, and yet there seems to be no representations of the stork in them.[10] In Lev 11:19 in addition to the Γλαυξ (owl), there appears the ἐρωδιός (heron), and the אנפה is further represented by another water bird, χαραδριὸς (cliff bird “charadrios”). In Deut 14:16, the ἐρωδιός (heron) stands already for the כוס (no. 11 in the list).

   Lev 11:19                                                        Deut 14:18

MT

LXX A

LXX B

MT

LXX A

LXX B

החסידה

Γλαυξ (owl)

ἐρωδιός (heron)

Γλαυξ (owl)

+ ἐρωδιός (heron)

החסידה

νυκτικόραξ

(night-owl)

Πελεκᾶς (pelican)

האנפה למינה

χαραδριὸς

(cliff bird “charadrios”)

χαραδριὸς

(cliff bird “charadrios”)

והאנפה למינה

Πελεκᾶς (pelican)

χαραδριὸς

(cliff bird “charadrios”)

καὶ τὰ ὅμοια αὐτῷ

הדוכיפת

ἔποψ

(hoopoe bird)

ἔποψ

(hoopoe bird)

הדוכיפת

χαραδριὸς

(cliff bird “charadrios”)

καὶ τὰ ὅμοια αὐτῷ

πορφυρίων

(purple fallinule; or water-heron)

העטלף

Νυκτερίς (bat)

Νυκτερίς (bat)

העטלף

Νυκτερίς (bat)

Νυκτερίς (bat)

An interesting phenomenon seems to characterize the lists of birds in the Septuagint. At the second part of the list, birds nos. 9–18 (Lev 11:16–19 ), there is a cluster of several water birds: (no. 9) λάρος (seagull שחף); (no. 12) καταρρ-άκτης (“the diver”, שלך); (no. 14) πορφυρίων (purple fallinule; or water-heron, תנשמת); (no. 15) πελεκᾶς (pelican, קאת); (no. 16) κύκνος (swan, רחם); (no. 17) ἐρωδιός (heron, חסידה ?); (no. 18) χαραδριὸς (cliff bird “charadrios,” אנפה; these birds occur also, but in different order, in Deut 14:1518). Yet the stork is not among them.

There may be two optional explanations to this textual data. The stork may have been discarded due to the fact it occurs in MT Lev 11:19 asydentically connected to the heron (ואת החסידה האנפה למינה). Taken as an apposition, the two birds might have been taken as standing for one specie (note that Deut 14:19 breaks this asydentical connection and adds a connective waw). This option is less likely, due to the fact that LXX Lev 11:19 presents five (not four) different names of birds.

The other option is that the Septuagint translators of both Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 had no acquaintance with the stork (as they probably also did not know several other birds on the list, see Nihan-Angelini’s study). This option may be supported by the fact that the translation does mention several water birds, including the heron, and still does not mention the stork. It is further strengthened by the various other translations suggested to the stork in its other occurrences, which are all dependent one way or the other on the Septuagint versions of the two Pentateuch verses, Lev 11:19 and Deut 14:18 (as mentioned above). Based on the ornithological information, this option is well supported by the fact that storks do not migrate through the areas of north Egypt and Alexandria (see the map).

The Vulgate identifies חסידה in two of the instances as milvus “kite” (Jer 8:7; Zech 5:9), which seems to follow the Aramaic translations of Neofiti and Pseudo-Jonathan for the lists of birds: דייתא חיורתא “a white kite.”[11] Three times it translates חסידה as “heron” (erodionem; see Lev 11:19; Ps 104:17; Job 39:13), possibly following the Septuagint to Ps 104:17; and once as “pelican” (enocrotalum; see Deut 14:18), which follows the Septuagint in this place.[12] Hence, Jerome in the Vulgate seems to have consulted other translation traditions on this matter and clearly had no clue as to the identification of the stork.[13]

End Notes

[1] The Targum to Ps 104:17 reads: די תמן ציפריא עבדין שׁרכפי ותא בראתי בית מדורה. Stec (2004, 1988) translated the verse as follows: “where the birds make nests; as for the white stork, the fir trees are her dwelling house,” and made an editorial correction here preferring several manuscripts: וותא חיווריתא. Stec further commented that one manuscript had זיתא, which I would suspect as a misreading of דיתא; this might be the case also with וותא. In Neofiti to Deut 14:18, דיירה חיורתא seems a corruption.

[2] Identification of the stork with the kite occurs also in b. Hul. 63a. Rashi (on Lev 11:19, החסידה) presents an interesting conflation, as he accepts the Targum, retranslates it into Hebrew (זו דיה לבנה), and then offers the transcription ציגוניא, which indeed stands for Ciconia. He suggests the same in Jer 8:7 but transcribes וולטויאר in Zech 5:9, in accordance with the Aramaic Targum (נשרא).

[3] Compare to McNamara (1994, 45), who translated both as referring to the white and the black stork and referred to the talmudic references which indeed bring the two together. But it seems they do so following Lev 11:19, which simply mentions the two asydentically and has no bearing on whether or not they are from the same ornithological family. This same line was kept by Maher 1994, 150.

[4] Brockelman 1928, 254.

[5] The stork appears in Greek as πελαργoς, which means “black and white.” Ignorance about the identification of the stork in the Old Greek (OG) was noted by commentators; see, e.g., Boda 2016, 351.

[6] See Job 39:13, where LXX has no less than three different words transliterated in the same verse. I thank Tuukka Kauhanen for consulting me on the Greek and the Latin names used. Looking at these different suggestions, he was more inclined to the option that the translators did not know the bird and found this data to be another indication that they lived away from the land of Israel, in Alexandria, Egypt. This is, of course, an intriguing option that needs to be further investigated. The study of nature imagery may add interesting perspectives to the ongoing debate in Septuagint studies concerning the translators’ place(s) of origin.

[7] The pelican, Gk. πελεκuς and Lat. pelecanus, is a large water bird of the Pelecanidae family; otherwise rendered קאת in Lev 11:18 and קאת המדברin Ps 102:7.

[8] The hoopoe bird, Gk. ἔποψ and Lat. upupa epops, belongs to the Upupidae family; otherwise rendered דוכיפת in Lev 11:19; Deut 14:17.

[9] Christoph Nihan and Anna Angelini, “Unclean Birds in the Hebrew and Greek Versions of Leviticus and Deuteronomy,” to be published in ??? (ed. I. Himbaza; OBO ???, forthcoming.

[10] In Lev 11:16 and in Deut 14:15, the owl, Gk. γλαυξ and Lat. asio, is one of the night prey birds of the Strigidae family (משפחת הינשופים), it is the equivalent of תחמס, and see Hatch & Redpath. The γλαυξ [LSJ: owl] appears at the beginning of Lev 11:19, but it cannot be regarded as an equivalent to חסידה because it creates five animal names in the verse where MT has but four. I thank Raanan Eichler for this check.

[11] Lat. milvus is a day bird of prey of the Accipitridae family (משפחת הנציים). See the Targums above, and n. 2.

[12] Erodionem (Lev 11:19) otherwise translates אנפה, and onocrotalum (Deut 14:18) otherwise stands for pelican. Vulg. does use the Latin name Ciconia but for the translation of עגור ‘grus’, as in Isa 38:14.

[13] I thank Tukka Kauhanen for this valuable information on the Vulgate, and Raanan Richler for his additions and comments.

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Biological Information

English: Stork

Hebrew: חסידה (hasidah)

Scientific Name: Ciconia. The scientific name is the origin of its different names in European languages like Spanish (Ciguena) and French (Cigogne) (Moyal 2001).

Other:

The Hebrew etymology of חסידה is unknown. The stork’s name is explained in the Talmud with a popular etymology: “Rabbi Yehuda said: The stork is a white kite, why is she called חסידה? For she does kindness with her peers (שעושה חסידות עם חברותיה)” (b. Hul. 63a).

Arabic has two words for “stork.” (1) Laklak is onomatopeia for the clapping noises made by the beaks as storks lean their throats to the back during courting, as well as when transforming shifts while nesting. (2) Abu-Sa‘ad means “the father of happiness,” possibly after the happiness the stork brings to humans in eliminating different insects and other harmful intruders (Moyal 2004).

Aharoni (1924) mentioned its Greek, Egyptian, and Roman name, Avis pia, “the pious bird,” for its symbols as parents respect and solidarity.

ID

White Stork

The Cicconidea family has six types and nineteen species (Cramp and Simmons, 1977; Kahl, 1987). The largest of them is the Marabou stork, which transcends to 3.7 m wingspan (larger than the Condor!). The smallest is Ciconia abdimii (73 cm in height, with wingspan of 140 cm), and it is common to East and South Africa (Brown et al., 1982).

The white stork has three subspecies: C.C. ciconia; C.C. asiatica; C.C. boyciana. The most common of the three in Israel is the C.C. ciconia, and it will gain most of our attention below. In much smaller numbers, one may also see the Black Stork (C. nigra) migrating over Israel and wintering usually in fish ponds, mainly in the northern and north-east parts of Israel (Paz, 1986; Shirihai, 1996; Moyal, 2016).

The white stork is considered among the large birds. The length of its body comes to 94–112 cm (15–20 cm is the length of the beak); its wingspan may extend to 200 cm; and its weight is between 2.3 and 3.7 kg (Cramp and Simmons, 1977).

The stork has white colors throughout, except for black feathers on its primaries and secondaries (Alon, 1986). Its beak and legs are dark red.

The black color of the feathers is caused by the melanin pigment (Grande et al., 2004). Its long and broad wings enable the stork to soar excellently without any energetic effort.
There is no color difference between male and female, but they do differ in size, as the male is larger. During the breeding season, both sexes have a ruff, long breast plumage.

Life History

The white stork chick emerges from the egg by May or early June and is ready for its first migration as of August. It will arrive to sexual maturity in 4 years, and it lives between 10–12 years on average. (The longest recorded life span is 26 years).

Characteristics that Appear in the Bible

Population, Places of Residence, Flight and Migration Routes

stork_map01The white stork is identified as a Palearctic species, with nesting spread across Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor, and the Mediterranean. Birdlife International (2012) designated the stork among the birds of “least concern.” The white stork, Ciconia ciconia, is one of the most studied bird species. The storks were the first to be ringed, in 1906, and thus the first to be scientifically observed in modern ornithology. Their number is estimated, as of 2016, to be 700,000-704,000 individuals around the world (Wetlands International, 2015). The European population is estimated at 224,000-247,000 pairs, which equates to 447,000-495,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International, 2015). Two-thirds of those are assumed to be nesting in Poland and Spain. This population is thus divided into an eastern community that migrates through the Bosporus and the Levant/Israel to East, Central, and South Africa and a western community that migrates through Spain and Gibraltar to West Africa (only 25,000–30,000 individuals; see Kanyamibwa et al., 1993). The Rivers Elbe and Weser in western Germany are considered the borderlines between those two communities (Berthold et al., 2001).

The western route brings the storks to the south of the Sahara in a wide front formation in the beginning of October (Brown et al., 1982). Once arrived at their destinations in Africa, they spread around according to the availability of food (Hancock et al., 1992). Young storks remain in their African environs until reaching sexual maturity, at the age of four years (Alon, 1986).

Flight and Glide

The stork migrates in huge flocks, by which they increase the possibility of finding fast and good thermals and better speed (Pennycuick, 1972; Liechti et al., 1996). The storks use hot thermal waves of wind that climb up above the ground as a result of intensive solar radiation (in accordance with Bernoulli’s principle). As storks reach the height of those thermals, which tend to increase in radiation intensity, they start to glide with their wings half spread until they reach another thermal wind, and so on along the route. Their ability to trace these hot thermals is still considered enigmatic. Among the suggested explanations are their vision or their wing sensors.

stork_map02

This form of migration is the preferred not only because it is more economical, but also because it may be the only way storks, with their relatively high weight, can make the long trip from their nesting areas in eastern and western Europe to the South and back. But this dependency on hot thermal winds restricts the (white) stork to continental routes, which clearly prolongs their trip on both the western and the eastern routes (Snow and Perrins, 1998; Van den Bossche, 2002). Storks usually fly at an average height of 0.5 km, and the thermal flight is activated with no internal specific order in the group, a difference from pelicans (Schuz, 1952).

Satellites traced over young storks from Russia (Leningrad) who migrated for the first time in their life showed that, in choosing their routes for migration, they rely on social relations and not on internal senses (Chernetsov et al., 2004). This understanding was already substantiated, as the motivation to trace other storks is stronger than any internal information based on a specific sense of direction (Schuz, 1952).

The Land of Israel on the Storks’ Eastern Migration Routes

Twice a year, 40% of the European storks migrate through the Bosporus and western Black Sea (Van Loon et al., 2011). Above the Levant, storks fly over the Amanos Mountains, the Orontes River, and the Lebanon Valley. Studies were conducted on storks that departed from Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Poland, where electronic and solar satellite transmitters were attached to their backs. The storks were tracked by Argos satellite (NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] and CNES [Centre National d’Études Spatiales]), with data activities and route supplied to the internet every 90 minutes. These observations revealed that most of the storks arrive in Israel for rest and refreshments (Bobek et al., 2008).

Israel serves as an important stopping point for storks in both migratory directions.[1] (a) The route south during autumn migration: Having completed their nesting period, the storks depart from the European breeding grounds in August (Hancock et al., 1992). Travelling in large flocks (Brown et al., 1982; Hancock et al., 1992) of many thousands of individuals (Snow and Perrins, 1998), the storks generally arrive in Africa by early-October (Brown et al., 1982). Above Israel the storks migrate mainly above eastern Israel. 88% of migrating white storks (Ciconia ciconia) pass over a narrow strip of land 52–70 km east of the Mediterranean coast, through eastern Israel and Jordan Valley, over the Aravah to Eilat and along the Great Rift Valley. Only 12% of the storks pass over a western route along the mountain ridges of Israel (Leshem and Yom-Tov, 1996; Shirihai, 1996). Further south, the storks fly over the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula and over the Gulf of Suez they cross to Africa. Along the Nile, they head south towards Chad, Sudan, and Nigeria, as far as Cape Town, South Africa (Hancock et al., 1992; Del Hoyo and Elliott, 1992; Van den Bossche et al., 2002). Hence, in their long-distance migration the storks cross about 12,000 km, arriving in Zambia by October and South Africa by December (Alon, 1986).
(b) The route north during the spring migration: The migration season starts in Africa already by mid-January, but storks reappear in Israel starting in February and through mid-May to early June. The great waves of migration, that bring about 500,000 white storks over western Israel, occur in March to the third week of April (Leshem and Yom-Tov, 1996; Shirihai, 1996). Two major routes are used in the spring. At least half of the migrating white storks move along the western slopes of Israel’s mountains coming from Sinai (Egypt) to the Negev desert, the Plains of Judah, and the Carmel Mountains, then turning northeast toward the eastern Galilee, the Hula Valley, and up to Lebanon. The other half take the eastern routes, coming from the Gulf of Eilat to the Jordan and Beit Shean valleys, the Golan Heights, and up to Lebanon and Syria on their way to Europe. This time of the year, storks are practically everywhere in the land of Israel (Leshem and Yom-Tov, 1996; Paz, 1986).
A few storks may also stay for the winter in Israel, but they nest in this area less frequently (mostly in the southern part of the Golan Heights) [see Nesting, hyperlink]. Tristram (1884) reported that the storks frequently passed by and randomly nested in Israel, mostly in deserted settlements, and that the residents of these areas treated them as holy birds and did not harm them.

Some hundreds of storks may also stay for the winter season mainly in low-lying northern and west-central zones in Israel (Shirihai, 1996). Few dozens of them over-summer in Israel, but just few (up to 15 pairs) are true breeders in Israel, mainly in southern Golan Heights and in Ramat-Gan Safari (Shirihai, 1996) [see Nesting, hyperlink]. Tristram (1884) reported that the storks frequently passed by and randomly nested in Israel, mostly in deserted settlements, and that the residents of these areas treated them as holy birds and did not harm them.

Storks usually stop at night in groups on trees (Brown et al., 1982), but in their migration route through Israel they have been found roosting at night on ancient tells or on the ground (Moyal, observations).

Nesting

Storks nesting in Armenia, July 2017

Storks may nest as individuals, but they tend to nest in small groups of up to 30 pairs (Hancock et al., 1992; Del Hoyo and Elliott, 1992). They would further prefer “nesting areas” that are up to 3 km apart (Snow and Perrins, 1998).
The nest is massive. Built of relatively large branches, its diameter might be as much as 1.5 m, and its height 2 m (Cramp and Simmons, 1977; Tryjnowski et al., 2009). In the lower part of the nest, songbirds may enjoy the space as well, such as Sparrows spp,  passer domesticus; Kestrels, Falco tinnunculus, etc. (Creutz, 1988; Leshem and Moyal, 2008).

The nest is built usually over 10 meters above ground, in high trees as well as electric poles, roofs, chimneys, and other high places of modern construction. Only seldom would a nest be found on the ground (Del Hoyo, Elliott, 1992; Brown et al., 1982). Research conducted in Transylvania, Romania, found 91% of the nests on electric poles and chimneys (Kosa and Tamás Papp, 2007). Research conducted in 2010 in Latvia, Russia counted 19,000 stork nests densely in 29 nests over each 100 km. Half of them were on electric poles, and the average reproduction was extremely high, 2.7 nestlings for a couple (Veitkuviene and Dagys, 2014).

The same nesting places are repeatedly used every year, and records show them to be in use over hundreds of years. The same couple often goes back to the same strong nest-bond, and there is often competition between couples in colonies nesting over the better nests. (Gordo et al., 2007).

Research has shown that those who arrive early to their nesting areas tend to have larger nests and greater success in nesting (Vergara et al., 2010). The males are the first to return from their migration, and they start reconstructing their nests, while the females assist in relatively small measure as they join later, and focus on “interior design,” or passing the nest with softer materials (Cramp & Simmons, 1977; Creutz, 1988.; Barbraud et al., 1999). Reconstructing the nests and adding building materials, including organic materials, to the internal part of the nest continues throughout the nesting period, including when the young are in the nest (Cramp and Simmons, 1977). This constant reconstruction explains the large size of the long-used nests. Many of the couples in colonies try to steal material from the neighbouring nests. Stealing occurs mainly  from occupied and active nests (Cramp & Simmons, 1977).

The ornithologist Yossi Leshem (orally) tells the story of Princess, a stork from Blumberg, Germany he tracked with radar transmitters:

Princess was “married” to Jonas for eight years, but on the ninth she was late in ten days to arrive home, to their nest. Jonas, having returned from his annual “vacation” in Spain, was desperate and found himself another young mate, “Noya,” who was brought to the nest and instantly laid three eggs. When Princess finally arrived back, she “caught” her beloved husband in love with another … After ten days of constant fightings Princess had to give up. Luckily she found herself a young mate with whom she spent the next two years, before she rest her agonizing soul to peace.

Storks have a highly developed social intelligence. They are monogamous, and couples devotedly nurture each other “till death do they part.” The stork reaches sexual maturity by the age of four. Within the Palearctic areas (Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor, and the Mediterranean) storks nest from February until April; in South Africa they nest from September through November (Kahl, 1972; Del Hoyo and Elliott, 1992).
Courting is commonly facilitated by the two partners. First, they lean forward against each other with their beaks pointed downwards cluttering their beaks fast and strong; then, they stretch the neck rapidly up and backwards, enabling them to be heard knocking from far away. The display ends by slowly bending the head and neck to the initial point, with the beak held down with some pecking at the nest material. During this display, they stand on one or two feet; but courting can also be made while lying, or sitting on the tarsi on the nest. Usually Standing on one leg and the beak hidden in the ruffed neck feathers, keeps the body warm and does not allow it to radiate through the legs (Cramp and Simmons, 1077; Creutz, 1988).

Because the stork has no tongue or vocal cords, this cluttering serves couples for communication and retain each other’s loyalty ((Kahl, 1972; Del Hoyo and Elliott, 1992). The ritual sequence is almost exclusively performed on the nest (Kahl, 1972). Extra pair copulations may be observed by both pair members, and they take place mostly during the partner’s absence at the nest (Tortosa & Redondo, 1992).

Laying eggs and incubation. The female stork lays three to five eggs, and incubates them for about 34 days. Incubation starts with the first egg laid, and the eggs hatched in two days intervals. Some competition may occur between the chicks, especially when less food is delivered through regurgitation (Schüz, 1936; Creutz, 1988). The two parents share the task of incubation, but the female takes the night shifts (Cramp and Simmos, 1977; Creutz, 1998; Hancock et al., 1992). The two parents also share the care and the feeding of the young. Time designated for incubating or guarding young strongly depends on many factors, e.g. weather conditions, food availability, or density of breeding population (Glutz, 1966; Kahl, 1972; Creutz, 1988). Parents (especially the female) warm the young when cold and shade them when too hot. On very hot days the task of keeping cool takes both parents, one to incubate the eggs and the other to spread its wings over the spouse to provide shade (Cramp and Simmons, 1977; Creutz, 1988; Leshem and Moyal, 2008).
Several anecdotes illustrate the parents’ devoted care for their fledglings:
* A white stork was observed in Europe “squeezing” water from fresh moss directly into the beaks of the “dehydrated” youngs during hot summer days (Glutz, 1966; Creutz, 1988; Lefebvre et al. 2002).
* On a first successful nesting in 2007 in the area of Tirat Zvi, in the heated Beit Shean valley, Israel, the male was observed sprinkling water over the fledglings and gathering straw in his beak, dumping it in a puddle of water to cool the warming nest and the two fledglings. The female set her back to the sun to protect the young from overheating (Leshem and Moyal, 2008).
* Observations show the stork to groom (“feather cleaning”) other storks and the fledglings in order to enhance emotional ties (Harrison and Oliver, 1965).

Feeding fledglings, killing fledglings. The stork feeds its young by vomiting the pulp of chewed-up insects on the floor of the nest and allowing the young to eat them. On the other hand, white stork parents (as also the black stork) have been observed killing their young in extreme situations of lack of food, or starvation. The killing is understood to allow the parents to sustain at least one of their young, but there was no observation of aggressive behaviour among the fledglings (Zielinski, 2002; Kłosowski et al., 2002). The young storks are fed by both parents (Cramp and Simmons, 1977; Creutz, 1988), On average, a breeding pair can perform up to 16 feeding actions per day (Creutz, 1988). Parental infanticide is commonly observed, while adult throw away from the nest or swallow their own eggs or chicks.

After two months (60 days), the fledglings leave the nest and still are taken care of by their parents for additional month outside of the nest (Vergara et al., 2010). Full-grown youngs usually abandon their nests a few days before the parents, or eventually accompany one of their parents for long distance migration. The adult birds depart somewhat later, in synchrony. This way, the families do not migrate together (Cramp & Simmons, 1977; Creutz, 1988; Van den Bossche et al., 2002).

It is important to bear in mind that all these details about the stork’s nesting behavior were probably beyond the knowledge of biblical authors, who did not observe those aspects of the stork’s life.[2] Hence, the Greco-Roman folk tales involving the stork’s care for its young, or vice versa, are not part of the folklore we may assume to have been known to Israelite authors, although they were clearly part of the reception history of Ps 104:17.

Wingspan and feathers

Two passages in the Hebrew Bible mention the stork for its wingspan and feathers, Zech 5:9; Job 39:13. The ornithological information concerning the stork’s feathers, flight, and migration was presented above (link to ). The two verses introduce ornithological terminology oftentimes unfamiliar to the versions and translations: אברה and נוצה.

Other Characteristics

Diet

The stork is designated as an opportunistic carnivore (Snow and Pernis 1998), nourished from a large variety of items such as rodents (young rats, jirds, and social voles), amphibians, large insects (beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets), reptiles (snakes and lizards), fish, and even eggs, chicks, and mollusks (Cramp and Simmons, 1977; Hancock et al., 1992; Del Hoyo and Elliott, 1992; Schulz, 1998).
In addition to insects and amphibians, the black stork adds to its diet quite a lot of fish, which it gets by trampling the law waters underfoot, scaring the fish, chasing after them, and eventually catching them in its tong-shaped beak or even passionately piercing them (Birdlife International 2012).

The stork’s diet changes from one region to another according to the available food. In the Mediteranean region, the stork bases its diet mainly on insects (Melendro et al. 1987; Cramp and Simmons 1977). The stork is, therefore, considered very helpful to human society and the environment, as it efficiently wipes out harmful insects like snakes and locusts.

In research conducted in the south of Italy, scholars found that 79.5% of the stork’s diet included insects, mainly grasshoppers (Miraglia et al. 2008). In Algeria, analyzing 240 pellets over three years showed different preferences among available insects around the year (Cheriak 2014).

The stork searches for food in groups of ten to fifty individuals. When food supply is abundant, oftentimes in winter migratory stations, the stork may go up to much larger companies of many thousands of individuals (Hockey et al. 2005). Yet, when nesting, the search for food takes place not far from the nest, usually at a distance of no more than 1–3 kms (Dziewiaty 1992; Shneider 1988).

End Notes

[1] This is then to correct the important information Lundblom (1999, 510–11) brought on the stork in his commentary.
[2] Qimhi suggests that חסידה בשמים does refer to the Stork’s nesting on high towers in settled areas and on high trees in the desert, and he brings the reference of Ps 104:17; understanding שמים to refer to the hight of the sky (as in Deut 9:1; Prov 30:19). While this is an interesting observation on what he takes as redundancy, it clearly reflects the acquaintance of Qimhi with the Storks’ nesting period in Europe, and does not seem to qualify the migratory imagery presented above.

Bibliography

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Chernetsov, Nikita, et al., 2004. “Migratory Orientation of First-Year White Storks (Ciconia ciconia): Inherited Information and Social Interactions. Journal of Experimental Biology 207(6): 937–43.

Cheriak. 2014.
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Creutz G. 1985. Der Weißstorch Ciconia ciconia. A. Ziemsen Verlag, Wittenberg Lutherstadt.
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Dziewiaty, K. 1992. “Nahrungsökologische Untersuchungen am Weiβstorch Ciconia ciconia in der Dannenberger Elbmarch (Niedersachsen).” Vogelwelt 113:133–44.

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Elliott, Andrew (1992). Family Ciconiidae (Storks)
Gerdzhikov, Georgi, et al. 2014. “Study on the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) Autumn Migration, Northeastern Bulgaria.” Acta Zoologica Bulgarica 66(2):283–92.
Gordo et al. 2007. Gordo, O., Sanz, J.J and Lobo, J.M. 2007. “Spatial Patterns of White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) Migratory Phenology in the Iberian Penninsula.” Journal of Ornithology 148: 293–308.
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Kłosowski, G., et al. 2002. “A Case of Parental Infanticide in the Black Stork Ciconia Nigra.” Avian Science 2:56–59.
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Leshem, Yossi, and Yoram Yom-Tov. 1996. “Routes of Migrating Soaring Birds.” Ibis 140:41–52.

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Schneider, M. 1988. “Periodisch überschwemmtes Dauergrünland ermöglicht optimalen Bruterfolg des Weißstorches (Ciconia ciconia) in der Save-Stromaue (Kroatien/Jugoslawien).” Die Vogelwarte 34(3):164–74.

Shirihai, H., 1996. The birds of Israel. Academic Press, London.
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Tryjanowski, P., et al. 2009. “Long-Term Changes and Breeding Success in Relation to Nesting Structures Used By the White Stork, Ciconia ciconia.” Annales Zoologici Fennici 46:34–38. http://www.sekj.org/PDF/anz46-free/anz46-034.pdf
Vaitkuviene, Daiva and Mindaugas, Dagys. 2015. “Two-fold increase in White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) population in Lithuania: a consequence of changing agriculture?” Turk J Zool 39: 144-52.
Van den Bossche, W. 2002. “Eastern European White Stork Populations: Migration Studies and Elaboration of Conservation Measures.” Bundesamt fur Naturschutz, Skripten 66:n.p.
Van Loon E. E., et al. 2011. “Understanding Soaring Bird Migration through Interactions and Decisions at the Individual Level.” Journal of Theoretical Biology 270:112–26.Vegara et al. 2010. Vergara, P., Gordo, O. and Aguirre, J.I. “Nest Size, Nest Building Behavior and Breeding Success in Species with Nest Reuse: The White Stork Ciconia ciconia.” Annales Zoologici Fennici 47: 184–94.
Zielinski, P. 2002. “Brood Reduction and Parental Infanticide—Are the White Stork Ciconia Ciconia and the Black Stork C. Nigra Exceptional?” Acta Ornithologica 37:113–19.

Contributor: Dr. Haim Moyal, Ornithologist

Material Culture

Iconographical Expressions

The Stork in Iconographic Media (Archaeological Contextualization)

1. Neolithic Tradition

2. Egyptian Traditions Present in the Biblical World

3. Small Finds (three stamp seal amulets from Israel/Palestine, one coin)

4. Possible Background of Stork Iconography

5. Register of Illustrations

1. Early attestations of probable stork depictions can be found in the Eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia (Schroer and Keel 2005, 70–71, no. 10.). One well-preserved representation of a stork is incised in a relief at the sanctuary of Göbekli Tepe (Area L9–65/75) already in the preceramic Neolithic (9400–8800 BCE; ill. 1.2). One of the pillars (3.5 m in height) shows a stork-like bird with an impressive beak beneath a bull and a jackal/dog (ill. 1). The beak of the stork (ill. 2) seems quite short in comparison to modern attestations, but of course different lengths characterize certain subspecies. In the present case, a more precise identification is not possible due to the schematic nature of the drawing on the stone pillar.

2. The iconographic evidence for the stork in the southern Levant is in certain aspects complex. Generally, the two-dimensional rendering of animals in the world of the Bible is strongly influenced by the animal depictions in the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing tradition (Schroer and Lippke 2013, 343). The possible attestations of storks are, therefore, closely related to hieroglyph G 29 in the Gardiner list (the so called b3-bird, or saddle billed stork, ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, ill. 3). At the same time it has to be admitted that there is a certain iconographic overlap with other wading birds (ciconiiformes) which perhaps even share a common ancestor with the pelecaniformes (e.g., the ibis, which belongs to subcategory threskiornithidae).

3. Three stamp seals (a. Beit Shean, b. Tel Gamma, c. Tel el-Farcah South) and one coin (d.) all dating from important biblical epochs can be integrated in the discussion about the proportion of the stork according to Gardiner G 29. 2

a. The most disputed example in this selection was unearthed at Beit Shean’s North Cemetery (III.3; LB IIA, 1400–1300 BCE). It bears the registration no. 29-104-92 and is now stored in the Philadelphia University Museum (ill. 4.5). A long-legged bird is depicted on a rectangular stamp seal. This may be a stork, but the ibis or ostrich are among other very plausible interpretations.

The detailed rendering of the beak is often not precisely represented in drawings throughout the different publications; it is absolutely necessary to consult the original object. Adapting the light source and the shadow-pattern reveal a close connection to stork imagery.

b. Another quite disputed example originates from Tel Gamma (room BZ; IA IIC, 700–600, ill. 6.7). While legs and body match in a fine way to the basic proportions of storks, the curvature of the neck is more closely related to a flamingo. At the same time it has to be emphasized that the identification of a flamingo could be also to certain extent anachronistic. The curvature for the neck as presented by hieroglyph A 29 shows a very dynamic form already in early attestations of the hieroglyph. But it is not possible to rule out all doubts about this stork bulla (London, Institute of Archaeology, registration no. EXXXVI.27/38).

    

c. The clearest example in the corpus of published stamp seals (Keel) originates from Tell el-Farcah South, Cemetery 900, LB IIB–IA IA (1300–1150, ill. 8). The scarab made out of composite material was dated (as far production is concerned) to the nineteenth and twentieth Egyptian dynasties. It is today stored at the Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, registered under no. 47.31.17. Next to two small signs in front of the bird (the hieroglyph is unclear) and behind its neck (hieroglyph p), the nb-sign at the bottom (Eg. “lord of xy”) could testify a certain appreciation of the stork icon. This object from the ancient Egyptian stronghold/fortress, which Tel el-Farcah was for a long time, has by far the best proportions of all the images discussed so far. The scarab itself belongs — as Keel has clearly shown — to a distinct subtype of scarab-seal-amulets, which are labeled as “Bet-Schean Level VI/VII-group” (indicators of type A1/0/d5 or d1). 3

4. Other modes of stork depiction are attested in coin imagery, by now only in the broader realm of the Mediterranean (500–480 BCE, Crotone). The silver coin (diameter 21 mm, N 1966.111; Ex-collection J. V. Kopp) is decorated with a stork standing next to a large tripod. In this case the iconographic rendering is absolutely clear considering depiction and does not allow any reasonable alternative .

5. The stork is not a broadly attested motif in the rich iconographic traditions of the ancient Near East (including Egypt) and the Levant. The same is true for the vast cuneiform resources. At least the lexeme laqlaqqu (laqalaqa, raqraqqu CAD 9 [L]:102; AHW 1:538) is attested on some occasions. In these cases there are hints that the name of the stork was chosen because of an onomatopoetic correspondence (clapping of the beak interpreted as “laq-laq”) already prior to the turn of the era. Since the sound of clapping beaks was and is used as a greeting ritual (a.), as well as a defensive action (b.) and in connection to mating rituals (c.), this aspect can be interpreted as another key feature of the stork figure in addition to the spread wings. It is thus very reasonable to depict a stork on stamp seals, for example, which were used as means to connect to the divine world (a.), as an apotropaic (i.e. defensive) object (b.), and as a lucky charm to evoke blessing (c.).

6. Register of Illustrations

1 http://www.bible-orient-museum.ch/bodo/details.php?bomid=33428

2 Details from http://www.bible-orient-museum.ch/bodo/details.php?bomid=33428

3 G 29 according to Gardiner list source: Winglyph 4

4 Illustration, http://www.bible-orient-museum.ch/bodo/details.php?bomid=15871

5 Photography, http://www.bible-orient-museum.ch/bodo/details.php?bomid=15871

6 Photography, http://www.bible-orient-museum.ch/bodo/details.php?bomid=17838

7 Illustration, http://www.bible-orient-museum.ch/bodo/details.php?bomid=17838

8 Illustration CSAPI III, Tell el-Farcah no. 937,

http://www.bible-orient-museum.ch/bodo/details.php?bomid=27285

9 Photography BIBEL+ORIENT Museum, Numismatics N 1966.111 (Ex-Sammlung Kopp).

Illustrations 1.4-7.9 © BODO database, Stiftung BIBEL+ORIENT Freiburg CH

Contributor: Florian Lippke, Curator for Levantine and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at the BIBLE+ORIENT Museums Fribourg, Switzerland

Exegetical studies

Migratory, Jeremiah 8:4–7

Information about the stork’s migration over the land of Israel suggests that Jeremiah likely experienced the migration of storks twice a year. Living in Anathoth (in Benjamin, 7–8 km northeast of Jerusalem) on the borders of the Judaean desert, the prophet could observe their journeys south in the autumn and north in the early spring. He could see the storks migrate and rest in the vicinity of Anathoth, as well as identify them from afar, flying above the Jordan valley.

4 Say to them: Thus said the LORD: When men fall, do they not get up again? If they turn aside, do they not turn back? 5 Why is this people — Jerusalem — rebellious with a persistent rebellion? They cling to deceit, they refuse to return. 6 I have listened and heard: they do not speak honestly. No one regrets his wickedness and says, “What have I done!” They all persist in their wayward course like a steed dashing forward in the fray. 7 Even the stork in the sky knows her seasons, and the turtledove, swift, and crane keep the time of their coming (גם חסידה בשמים ידעה מועדיה ותר וסוס [וסיס] ועגור שמרו את עת באנה ועמי לא ידעו את משפט יהוה); but My people pay no heed to the law of the LORD.

Jer 8:4–7 contains no less than six occurrences of the root שוב, including its special Jeremian forms of שובבה and משובה. As an adjective for the people, שובבה occurs only in Jeremiah (3:14, 22; 31:22; 49:3; or for the mountains in 50:6), while משובה desingnates the people’s disobedience.[1] These occurrences use the dual meanings of שוב “to turn away from” and “to turn back to”, in order to illustrate the people’s refusal to “turn back to” (God) (e.g., Jer 3:6). Jeremiah’s denunciation of the people focuses on movement in only one direction: away from God; he excoriates the people for their consistently disobedient attitude and sinful conduct that prevents them from returning to God.[2] Jeremiah introduces two different elements of zoological imagery to illustrate the persistence of iniquity. The first concerns war horses famous for their speed as they run forward with great power (Jer 6:23; 50:42). The combination of the war horse running tirelessly in one direction with the root שטף brings into this imagery the streams of water flooding in great strength through the wadis.[3]
A second image involves four species of migratory birds and their customary behavior, drawing on the seasonal migration in the landscape of Israel, a spectacle that takes place twice a year, in the autumn and in the spring. Stork, turtledove, swift, and crane know their customs, and they keep them with dedication. Each of these birds (assuming the identifications below, which are not assured) is famous for its annual return to the land of Israel on its way either south and or north to its place of origin. Each would fly the same route, arrive at the same spots, and even do it in similar time, down to the day!
The תור, if identified as streptopelia turtur, spends winter in Africa and arrives in Israel on the second week of April, where it nests through spring and summer.[4] The סיס, if identified as the swift (apus), is among the earliest to return. It arrives in Israel by the end of February or early March and stays here until the end of June or mid July, when it heads on to Europe to nest during August and September. The עגור, if identified as the crane (gruidae), arrives for the autumn migration from mid-September through mid-December and in the pring passes through Israel during February, March, and April.
The four birds mentioned in this verse seem to form two quite different pairs: the stork and the crane, the first and the last, are larger birds that fly on thermal winds (the crane also flies actively and thus is not limited to continental routes), whereas the turtledove and the swift are small songbirds that migrate and fly actively, crossing the Mediterranean. The stork and the crane both visit Israel twice a year, whereas the two songbirds spend one fairly long season there. The four birds are thus in Israel at the same time from March through April and then again from August through September.
The simile in Jer 8:4–7 employs two major aspects of bird migration: the routine of time and the dynamic of space.[5] These two aspects serve Jeremiah in his effort to point out the absurdity in the people’s behavior. He emphasizes the measure of time — birds know their seasons … keep the time of their coming — but even moreso the spatial aspect. The people have distanced themselves from God by falling into the depths of sin (v. 4) and wandering around in fraud and misconduct (v. 5). These spatial points are accentuated by שוב and enforced by the two nature similes. The horses running ahead in war and the migration simile both illustrate that the people are on a one-way journey away from God to the furthest places, beyond what eyes can reach when they watch birds departing. Yet, in contrast to migrating birds, the people do not seem to return. Thus the natural routine, steady and eternal, serves to illustrate the absurdity of the people’s religious behavior. This people does not know the law of YHWH (משפט יהוה); the known demands, that could have been part of their routine life. Unlike bird migration, the divine law did not become part of the people’s religious routine.[6]

End Notes

[1] משובה is translated as “evil” in LXX Jer 2:19, parallel to רעה “misconduct, rebellion” in Jer 2:19. NJPS takes these phrases as referring to judgment: “Let your misfortune reprove you, let your afflictions rebuke you,” or in parallel to פשעים “sins” in 5:6. The literal meaning of משובה seems to be “go back and forth,” as is learned especially from Jer 4:1 and 8:4. This noun occurs twelve times in the Hebrew Bible, once in Proverbs (1:32), twice in Hosea (11:7; 14:5) and nine times in Jeremiah, eight of them in the prophet’s words (2:19; 3:22; 5:6; 8:5; four times in the phrase משבה ישראל, [Jer 3: 6, 8, 11, 12]), and one in a quotated communal lament (14:7). See Holladay 1958, 49–50, 147–57; Holladay 1986, 96, 433; Har’uveni 1950, 94–98; the significance of שוב in this passage was also recognized by McKane 1986, 183.
[2] For a fine interpretation of the two phrases in v. 6a: לוא כן ידברו “they speak what is not right,” and אין איש נחם על רעתו לאמר מה עשיתי “no one is sorry about his evil,” see Lundbom 1999, 509. It is not clear in Jer 8:6, “I have listened and heard,” whether the subject is God or Jeremiah; LXX reads the verbs in the plural, avoiding the theological difficulty of this anthropomorphism, assuming the referent is God (I would consider this as a harmonistic version). Lundbom (1999, 504–505, 509) preferred to see here a dialogue that alternates between God and the prophet, yet v. 6, according to Lundbom (with other commentators) refers to Jeremiah.
[3] שטף designates the flow of water in Jer 47:2, as also in Isa 30:28; 43:2; 66:12; Ps 69:3, 16; 78:20; 124:4; Song 8:7. See Qimhi: “and for the intensive race it says שוטף, like a streaming wadi (נחל שוטף, Isa 30:28).”
[4] Haim Moyal suggests the תור to be streptopelia decaocto, which is active in Israel throughout the year and thus not a migratory bird, as the streptopelia turtur mentioned above. Rom-Shiloni prefers the latter and understands the entire list of the birds to be migrating back and forth, as has also been suggested by McKane (1986, 184).
[5] See further references to bird migration in Song of Songs 2:12; Isa 60:8–9; Hos 11:10–11; Prov 26:2, these are discussed below in connection with the different birds.
[6] See Qimhi on Jer 8:7. Qimhi further explained חסידה בשמים as referring to the Stork’s nesting; compare to McKane 1986, 184–85; Lundbom 1999, 510.

Bibliography

Allen, Leslie C. 2002. Psalms 101–150. 2nd ed. Word Biblical Commentary 21. Waco: Nelson.
Assis, Eliyahu. 2010. “Zechariah’s Vision of the Ephah [Zech. 5:5–11].” Vetus Testamentum 60(1): 15–32.
Boda, Mark J. 2016. Zechariah. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Brockelmann, Carolo. 1928, Lexicon Syriacum. Göttingen: Halis Saxonum.
Chacham, Amos. 1990. Psalms 2. Jerusalem: Massad HaRav Kook.
Driver, Samuel R. 1906. The Book of Job. Oxford: Clarendon.
Gordis, Robert. 1978. Job. Moreshet 2. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Habel, Norman C. 1975. Job. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Har’uveni, Nogah. 1968. New Light on the Book of Jeremiah. 3rd ed. Jerusalem: Kiriath Sefer (Hebrew).
Holladay, William L. 1958. The Root Subh in the Old Testament: With Practical Reference to Its Usage in Covenantal Contexts. Leiden: Brill.
_____. 1986. Jeremiah 1. Hermeneia. Philadelphia: Fortress.
Joüon, Paul, and Takamitsu Muraoka. 1996. A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. 2 vols. Subsidia Biblica 14(2). Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Kraus, Hans-Joachim. 1989. Psalms 60–150: A Commentary. Translated by H. C. Oswald. Minneapolis: Augsburg.
Lundbom, Jack R. 1999. Jeremiah 1–20. Anchor Bible 21A. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Maher, Michael. 1994. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Leviticus. The Aramaic Bible. Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
McKane, William. 1986. Jeremiah I–XXV. International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
McNamara, Martin. 1994. Targum Neofiti 1: Leviticus. The Aramaic Bible. Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
Meyers, Carol L., and Eric M. Meyers. 1987. Haggai and Zechariah 1–8. Anchor Bible 25B. Garden City, NY.
Schnocks, Johannes. 1996. “Eine intertextuelle Verbindung zwischen Ezechiels Eifersuchstbild und Sachrjas Frau im Efa.” Biblische Notizen 84: 59–63.
Stead, Michael R. 2009. The Intertextuality of Zechariah 1–8 . Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 506. New York: T&T Clark.
Stec, David M. 2004. The Targum of Psalms. The Bible in Aramaic. London: T&T Clark.
Tiemeyer, Lena-Sofia. 2008. “Zechariah’s Spies and Ezekiel’s Cherubim.” Tradition and Innovation in Haggai and Zechariah: Tradition in Transition. ed. M.J. Boda and M. Floyd. LHBOTS 475. London/New York: Continuum, 104–27.
Weiss, Meir. 1984. The Bible from within: The Method of Total Interpretation. Trans. B. J. Schwartz. Jerusalem: Bialik.

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Nesting upon trees, Ps 104:17

13 You water the mountains from Your lofts; the earth is sated from the fruit of Your work.

16 The trees of the LORD (עצי יהוה) drink their fill, the cedars of Lebanon (ארזי לבנון), His own planting,
17 where birds (צפרים) make their nests; the stork (חסידה) has her home in the junipers (אשר שם צפרים יקננו חסידה ברושים ביתה).

The only ornithological detail about the stork referenced in Psalm 104 is the location of the nest in a high spot (see Ornithological Information).
This psalm praises God, the creator, for his magnificent cosmological deeds and his sustenance of the world he created in perfect harmony.[1] The poet proceeds from the heaven (vv. 1–4) to the earth (vv. 5–24), followed by further attention to the sea (vv. 25–26), before he presents the dependency of all on their creator (vv. 27–30) and closes with further verses of praise (vv. 31–35).[2] Having described the substance of mountains, valleys, and the subterranean waters that supply water for both beast and birds (תהום, vv. 6–12), vv. 13–18 refer to the vegetation and to the life it supports. Looking first at the mountains and beyond,on earth, God is praised for nurturing them with respiratory waters (v. 13b), so they can grow (מצמיח, v. 14) those agricultural products that supply animals and humans, and cause humanity to rejoice (vv. 14–15).[3] Verses 16–17 start anew on this divine nurturing of nature; see the use of שבע to create an inclusio in verses 13 and 16.
Verses 13–18 show three constructions of the pattern “from the general to the particular” (כלל ופרט): The first is from the land (v. 13b) to the trees of YHWH; see the similar use of שבע in v. 16. The second is from the trees of YHWH to the cedars of Lebanon and the junipers (vv. 16–17); both species are of the highest and most astounding trees of the Lebanon, thus suitable to extol God’s creative powers.[4] Finally, the third is from the general reference to birds (indefinite, צפרים) to the particular stork (v. 17).[5]
This reference to the cedars and junipers of the Lebanon Mountains seems to have generated the reference to the stork in this psalm.[6] This choice of the stork in connection with those high trees is ornithologically accurate. While trees in the vicinity of the land of Israel typically reach a height of 3–4 m, cedars and junipers can grow as high as 30–40 m. What is puzzling about the poet’s awareness to the geo-ecological and ornithological information in these verses is quite puzzling. As he first chooses the highest trees and then connects them with the stork, which is famous for building its nests on such high trees. Once this connection is made between the trees and the bird, the poet extends his sight beyond the geopolitical areas of Israel and Judah and chooses the high mountains of Lebanon.

The versions seem to have moved away from this stork imagery, as they suggest other species instead (see the table on box 3, History of Identification). The Septuagint (and probably the Vulgate following it) presents specific identifications of the birds occurring in each of the stiches: ἐκεῖ στρουθία ἐννοσσεύσουσιν, τοῦ ἐρωδιοῦ ἡ οἰκία ἡγεῖται αὐτῶν “There small sparrow will make their nest, of them [the trees] the heron (אנפה) considered as house.” The Septuagint presents two species of birds in each of the stiches. To translate חסידה, “stork,” LXX chooses ερωδιος “heron” (אנפה). Moreover, the generic name צפרים “birds” is translated as στρουθία “sparrow” (passer domesticus, ploceidae, דרור).[n.7] These identifications transform the style of the verse, as the Septuagint looses the general-to-specific pattern in MT. The Septuagint also does not reflect the parallelism in the trees ארזים and ברושים, evident in its reading of בראשם “at their height” instead of ברושים.[n. 8]

End Notes

[1] Psalm 104 has attracted scholars for its many unique qualities of a song of praise, for its relationship with Egyptian hymnic poetry, etc. See commentaries such as Kraus 1989, 298–99, 302 and Allen 2002, 39–49; and Weiss 1984. The discussion below focuses only on the specific nature imagery connected to the stork, thus on vv. 13–18.
[2] See other divisions of this psalm by Kraus 1989, 298; Chacham 1990, 164; Allen 2002, 44; and others.
[3] Verses 14–15 refer implicitly to the triad דגן תירוש ויצהר, “bread, wine, and oil,” three products as that cause humanity to rejoice; see Chacham 1990, 163; Allen 2002, 46. This triad deserves a separate discussion.
[4] Allen 2002, 46. The relationship between עצי יהוה and ארזי הלבנון / ברושים is often taken as כלל ופרט (“from the general to the detail”); see Chacham 1990, 156. Note also that the phrase עצי יהוה already has this superlative value as in other phrases, such as הררי אל (Ps 36:7) and ארץ מאפליה, (Jer 2:31); see Joüon and Muraoka 1996, 2:141n.
[5] This pattern occurs further in this psalm in v. 11 (חיתו שדי and פראים); thus this cluster of three constructions in vv. 13–18 is remarkable.
[6] Psalm 104 is reach of nature pictures that are far-reaching in their geographical scope than the land of Israel. Looking north to the Lebanon mountains, there is no geographical border between the Galilee mountains and south Lebanon.
[7] Στρουθία is further the equivalent of צפור in Prov 26:2; and see the Ploceidae, passer domesticus, דרור.
[8] This elliptic translation was suggested to reflect a reading of the Hebrew בראשם (“on the top of them”); see Allen (2002, 38), who aptly rejected this reading as “not compelling,” and Kraus (1989, 297), who stated “the correction to בראשם is not mandatory.” It seems to me that this translation is a result of a sheer mistake for the MT plant name ברושים “juniper,” translated in 1 Kgs 5:22; 6:34 as πεύκινoς (pine). The pair ארזים and ברושים occurs regularly; see 1 Kgs 5:22, 24; 1Kgs 6:15; 9:11; 2Kgs 19:23; Isa 14:8; 37:24; Ezek 31:8; Zech 11:2.

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Wings and Feathers, Zech 5:9; Job 39:13

9 I looked up again and saw two women come soaring with the wind in their wings (והנה שתים נשים יוצאות ורוח בכנפיהם) — they had wings like those of a stork (ולהנה כנפים ככנפי החסידה) — and carry off the tub between earth and sky. 10 “Where are they taking the tub?” I asked the angel who talked with me. 11 And he answered, “To build a shrine for it in the land of Shinar; [a stand] shall be erected for it, and it shall be set down there upon the stand.”

This third scene of the ephah vision (vv. 9–11, a subset of the section extending from vv. 5–11) introduces the two women carrying this ephah away from its place of origin.[1] The present discussion sheds light on the simile presented in v. 9, where the women’s wings are presented as those of the stork, asking: What would the author want to emphasize in his choice of the stork for this specific context?
As Meyers and Meyers (1987, 305) noted, the prophet in verse 9 describes “an action and not an object, of what he sees” and thus creates the fulfillment of the earlier command (v. 5). Following up on their femininity, the two winged women carry the ephah northward (before they take an east bound turn to the land of Shiner.[2]
Mark Boda pointed out the two means of describing the wings in this vision: having the wind blow through them (ורוח בכנפיהם) and comparing them to the wings of the stork (ולהנה כנפים ככנפי החסידה).[n. 3] Regarding the latter, Boda accumulated all information possible from the other occurrences of the stork in the Hebrew Bible: Its mention among the unclean birds (Lev 11:19; Deut 14:18) seems to be an indication of idolatry, taken as “uncleanness,” and the relationship of חסידה, to חסד “piety” stands in contrast to the רשעה “wickedness,” creating a meaningful wordplay, as the stork-like winged women lead wickedness away from the land.[4]
I would add that this simile employs two qualities of the stork. First, it relies on the migratory quality of the stork leaving the region and heading north. The migratory routes would not bring the storks to Babylon; the closest would be over northern and western Syria, across northern Iraq to present-day Armenia and the Caucasus Mountains by the Caspian Sea — hence, northern Mesopotamia and Urartu of the ancient world.[5] This does not seem a necessary detail within this vision in Zechariah. The important thing is the northward direction of flight and their disappearance from the sight of those in the land of Judah.[6] It is of great interest that this vision suggests a counter deportation, at this point idolatry is expelled away from the land.[7]
Second, “the wind in their wings” may be a good reason to choose the stork, with its wide wingspan, strong and outstanding feathers, and impressive flight abilities. The white stork is considered among the large birds, with a wingspan as large as 200 cm. The stork (male and female alike) has white colors throughout, except for black feathers on its primaries and secondaries (Alon 1986). Their long and broad wings enable storks to soar effortlessly over hot thermal winds. All these qualities make the stork suitable as a simile for the role given to the two women of flying to Babylon carrying wickedness.

The versions read this part of the verse, not knowing of this specific bird. The Septuagint reads καὶ πνεῦμα ἐν ταῖς πτέρυξιν αὐτῶν, καὶ αὗται εἶχον πτέρυγας ὡς πτέρυγας ἔποπος “and the wind in their wings, and they had wings like the wings of the hoopoe bird,” suggesting the bird be identified as דוכיפת (ἔποψ). The Vulgate here did not follow the Septuagint but rather suggested milvus “kite” ( דיה), which seems to follow Targums Neofiti and Pseudo-Jonathan to Lev 11:19 and Deut 14:18.
The Targum for this verse gives an allegorical and clearly elaborated translation which includes a significant switch of the bird. Instead of the stork, there appears the much more powerful bird, loaded with further symbolic meanings to be discussed separately: the נשר.

וזקפית עיני וחזית והא תרתין מדינן גלין ועממין קלילין מגלן יתהון בקלילו כמא דמשתדי נשרא ואגליאו ית עמא דהוו נסבין ויהבין במכילתא דשקרא לביני מלכות עממי ארעא דתחות כל שמיא

“And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold two states going into exile, and swift-footed people were taking them into exile in haste, just as the vulture flies, and they took into exile the people who were trading with false measure, among the kingdoms of the nations of the earth which were under all the heavens.”

Translation by Kevin J. Cathcart and Robert P. Gordon, The Targum of the Minor Prophets (The Aramaic Bible 14; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1989), 196-97.

End Notes

[1] The present discussion is thus limited in scope, and cannot aim to solve the enigmatic content and message of this passage among Zechariah’s visions. For discussion of the general context of this vision, see Boda 2016, 340–55 and the references there.
[2] Meyers and Meyers 1987, 305–306 suggested (as one of several options) that the femininity of the two winged women (otherwise occurring as the כרובים, masculine creatures carrying God, as in 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; as also 22:11), is influenced by this simile to the stork.
[3] Boda 2016, 351.
[4] For the pair חסד and רשע, see Ps 32:10; and חסיד / רשע in 1 Sam 2:9; Pss 37:28; 97:10. Assis (2010, 26–28) found the three women of this vision to allegorically represent the Samaritans (רשעה), whereas the two women taking her away in her wings are Israel and Judah; see also Boda 2016, 353.
[5] Cf. Boda 2016, 352 and n. 104. Meyers and Meyers (1987, 306–7) also presented this use of migratory imagery. They also aptly pointed out that nesting and producing young do not occur in the vicinity of Israel and the Levant, which makes their mention of the maternal quality of the stork strange, as it would have been beyond the knowledge of authors in this area of the world.
[6] I accept the suggestion of Boda (2016, 355) that enmity is addressed at the Babylonians and not at the Judean exiles in Babylon; cf. Assis (2010, 21–25), who suggested that the vision represents an anti-Samaritan prophecy, envisioning their expulsion from the land, back to their lands of origin, where there they could establish their own temple.
[7] Boda follows scholars that presented literary allusions between Zechariah 5 and Ezekiel 8: Schnocks 1996; Stead 2009, 198–99. Cf. Assis (2010, 29–31), who found allusions to the tower of Babel story in Genesis 11.

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Job 39:13–18

13 The wing of the ostrich beats joyously (כנף רננים נעלסה); are her pinions and plumage like the stork’s (אם אברה חסידה ונצה)?
14 She leaves her eggs on the ground, letting them warm in the dirt,
15 Forgetting they may be crushed underfoot, or trampled by a wild beast.
16 Her young are cruelly abandoned as if they were not hers; her labor is in vain for lack of concern.
17 For God deprived her of wisdom, gave her no share of understanding,
18 Else she would soar on high, scoffing at the horse and its rider.

Within God’s first speech to Job (chs. 38–39), 39:13–18 are said to be focusing on the ostrich (יען, struthio camels).[1] The ostrich is among the few birds mentioned in this speech, alongside the hawk (v. 26) and the eagle (vv. 27–30), but its name does not appear explicitly; rather, the ostrich voices were learned to stand behind רננים, (that literally stands for “piercing cries”).[2] יען occurs only once in the Hebrew Bible (Lam 4:3), in the Qere form (כיענים במדבר; contrast the Kethib כי ענים במדבר). The more common occurrences are of בת יענה (Lev 11:16; Deut 14:15), commonly in the plural (בנות יענה), and the term appears in contexts that tell of a bird that resides on destroyed regions and in the desert (Isa 34:13; 43:20; Micah 1:8; Job 30:29). These last contexts brought interpreters to suggest an identification within the realm of night birds of prey, like the owl species (ינשוף or אוח, תנשמת).
Not least surprising is the fact that, while the name of the bird addressed is obscured, the stork occurs in the second stich of this verse. This imbalance brought commentators to exclude the mention of the stork from this verse and interpret חסידה as an adjective designating “kindness.”[3] So, for instance, Samuel R. Driver translated “The wing of the ostrich rejoiceth; but are her pinions and feathers kindly?” and commented that this translation is preferable over the literal meaning, “or like the stork’s.” Driver did, however, mention the popular etymology of the stork’s name, relating to חסד, understanding it to refer to the stork’s reputation for taking care of its young, and in the end stated that “it is very likely, therefore, that that bird is alluded to.”[4]
An additional grammatical difficulty involves the אם, at the beginning of the second stich. אם is oftentimes is the second interrogative article in a sentence, which raises the question: should the first part of the sentence be read as a question as well?

Also related to word choice in the second stich, Gordis, following Hölscher, found it most attractive to make a small change in punctuation: אם אברת חסידה ונצה “Is it the wing of the stork and the falcon?”, understanding נצה as the feminine of נץ ‘falcon’ (Job 39:26; see also Lev 11:16; Deut 14:15), thus translating this part of the verse: “Is her wing (i.e., the osrtrich’s) the wing of the stork or the falcon?”[5]

How does the stork contribute to the imagery of this passage, in comparison to the ostrich? – In this regard there seems to be two different lines of comparison.
First, commentators (e.g., Driver, Gordis, and many more) have often brought to bear on this verse folk traditions that praise the stork for its parental qualities, its care of its young, in contrast to folk traditions that denigrate the ostrich as a neglectful parent (39:14–16).[6] Verse 17 also denigrates the ostrich by reference to its foolishness, another aspect of popular proverbs.[7]
Yet I wonder if this first comparison is truly relevant here. The stork is presented for its wing (אברה) and feathers (נצה), and nothing in the following verses calls attention to its parenting behavior or other social skills.[8]
This contrast between the ostrich and the stork, then, seems to be merely the result of a long reception history that developed from an effort to compare the two birds, especially as a result of the unfamiliar terms within this verse (or even lack of any reference to them in the Septuagint and Vulgate).
Second, the common denominator behind the three nouns in this verse — כנף, אברה, and נצה — is that all three are parts of wings.[9] Hence, MT Job 39:13 seems to call into comparison the ornithological qualities of the two birds regarding their wings, and subsequently regarding their flight.
In these respects, there is clearly much to compare between the ostrich and the stork. At face value the two birds may not be that far away in their colors: black, white, and red are shared. The feathers of the adult male ostrich are mostly black with some white primaries and white tail; in some of the subspecies, such as the North African ostrich (or Barbary ostrich) and the Masal ostrich, the male has pinkish or even reddish skin exposed on its neck and thighs.[10]
But the two birds differ substantially in their ability or disability to fly. Over against the known mobility of the stork and its flight that climbs high over the hot thermal winds, the ostrich is far too heavy even to be able to leave ground and fly, and its wings have in fact been withered and are very short in comparison to their large body size.

אברה and נוצה have been a challenge to the early versions. אברה occurs in parallel to “wings” in all of its four appearances (Deut 32:11; Ps 68:14; 91:4; and Job 39:13) and נוצה occurs but four times in the Hebrew Bible, three of which clearly refer to the feathers of birds (Lev 1:16; Ezek 17:3, 7), and one debated occurrence in Job 39:13. But it is quite surprising to find that the Septuagint translates the first word by grammatical-phonological mistake and suggests a transliteration of the second:

πτέρυξ τερπομένων νεελασα,
ἐὰν συλλάβῃ ασιδα καὶ νεσσα·

The wing (f.s.) of those who take pleasure in (pl. gen. part.) neelasa (transcription),
if an Asida (transcription) shall conceive (subjunctive) and nessa (transcription)

The Hebrew Vorlage of this verse (which I would not think different than MT) clearly caused a lot of embarrassment to the translator, who had no clue how to translate the first part of the verse, never mind its second half, where the specific name of one bird appears. Three considerations are significant: (1) This transliteration to Asida occurs also in LXX Jer 8:7. (2) The translators did not understand the unique ornithological term אברה, and their translation συv λαμβάνω reflects the root עבר ‘conceive, become pregnant’. (3) While translators take νεσσα to stand for נץ ‘falcon’ (of the Falconinae family), I would suggest this nothing but a third case where the scribe transliterated the Hebrew, reflecting ignorance of another ornithological term —נוצה — standing for “feather.”

The Vulgate seems to go its own way, accepting the verse as drawing a simile between the wings of the ostrich and that of two birds, the heron and the hawk:
Pinna strutionis similis est pinnis herodii et accipitris.
‘The wing of the ostrich is like the wings of the heron and the hawk (נץ)’
(The Vulgate Bible III, 135).

Two birds then are mentioned, the heron (אנפה), by which the Vulgate translates חסידה in Ps 104:17 as well, in accordance with LXX Ps 104:17, and then the hawk (standing for נוצה). It seems that the Vulgate was not satisfied with the Septuagint transliteration to this verse and in reference to the first it brought one of its recognized equivalents to the stork, the heron, possibly due to the close proximity of חסידה and אנפה in Lev 11:18; Deut 14:18. On the second unrecognized word, נצה, the Vulgate did accept the Septuagint transliteration and identification concerning the hawk.

End Notes

[1] For the structure of Yahweh’s first speech, see Habel 1975, 530–35. The identification of the יען as ostrich (struthio camelus) is very problematic, and still presented here following the interpretive traditions. Another option connects בנות יענה to night birds of prey like the owl species (ינשוף orאוח, תנשמת). Moyal suggests the scops-owl, one of the night-predators, which indeed has the ability to fly.
[2] Habel (1975, 546) found this description of the ostrich to be comic, contributing to the absurdity that governs the entire speech. Gordis (1978, 458) mentioned the numerous suggestions these verses accrued. The identification of the יען is debated. נעלסה was understood to be close to עלץ, עלז ; see the hithpael in Prov 7:18 and עלז in 2 Sam 1:20; Jer 15:17, etc.; or עלץ in 2 Sam 2:1; Ps 9:3, etc.
[3] For this line of explanation in Zech 5:9 as well.
[4] Driver 1906, 119.
[5] Gordis 1978, 459. This suggestion follows the line the Vulgate has already suggested, as it accepts the verse as drawing a simile between the wings of the ostrich and that of two other birds, the heron and the hawk (נץ): Pinna strutionis similis est pinnis herodii et accipitris “The wing of the ostrich is like the wings of the Heron and the Hawk [נץ]” (The Vulgate Bible III, 135).
[6] Gordis 1978, 459. See Habel 1975, 546–47 for a counter portrayal of the ostriches as parents.
[7] Driver 1906, 119; Gordis 1978, 459–60.
[8] This was recognized and presented by Habel 1975, 546.
[9] אברה “pinions” (Ps 68:14; and otherwise metaphorically of God, Deut 32:11; Ps 91:4), is the feminine form of אבר, designating “arm” or “wing” in Isa 40:31; Ezek 17:3; Ps 55:7; as also Akkadian: abru; Aramaic: אברא, “pinion”; Arabic: wabbara “to be covered with feathers” (HALOT, 9). נוצה in its occurrences in the HB referring to the eagle (Ezek 17:3, 7) or the Stork (Job 39:13), desingates “feathers” and so it is established by the Akkadian nasu (AhW 758a) and Arabic nasiyat, nussat (HALOT, 682–83).
[10] The Ostrich female and youngs have brown-gray feathers; but their beak, neck and thighs are pinkish-gray. See the discussion of the Ostrich.

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Reception Literature

The Stork in Rabbinic Literature

The Hebrew etymology of חסידה is unknown. The stork’s name is explained in the Talmud with a popular etymology, Babli Hul. 63a:
Rabbi Yehuda said: The stork is a white kite, why is she called חסידה? For she does kindness with her peers (שעושה חסידות עם חברותיה).
This popular etymology is built upon the root חסד, “be good, kind” (BDB 338; HALOT, I.336–37 considers חסידה as a derivative of חסד II, expressing solidarity, loyalty, faithfulness, goodness, etc). Along these same lines, Rabbi Yehuda continued to explain the name of the אנפה as “an angry kite,” coming from אנף, “to be angry” (BDB 60; HALOT I.72), thus “creating anger within her peers” (although the Hebrew has the root נאף, see: שמנאפת עם חברותיה). See the discussion on the אנפה.
Note that the verb in its biblical usage [both in qal and hithpael] is restricted to God as agent.
Note that the rabbinic explanation does not refer to the stork’s maternal qualities commonly highlighted in Greco-Roman (and European) folklore, where stories could reflect exposure and knowledge of the stork’s nestling habits.

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel

The Stork in Greek and Roman Literature

Greek and Roman sources note the extra care storks take of their fledlings, even when it means prolonging the nesting period.
A folk tradition has also developed concerning how the young feed their parents. This “reversed” social order stands behind the Greek law, named Pelargonia after the Pelargos (stork), requiring children to support their parents (Grzimek 7, 232; Dor 1997).
From an orinithological perspective, however, this tradition is a result of a misunderstanding (or rather, a misobservation) based on the fact that the fledglings look bigger than their parents. But this is simply due to the fats that soon will transform into muscle.

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Reception Literature

The Stork in Rabbinic Literature

The Hebrew etymology of חסידה is unknown. The stork’s name is explained in the Talmud with a popular etymology, Babli Hul. 63a:
Rabbi Yehuda said: The stork is a white kite, why is she called חסידה? For she does kindness with her peers (שעושה חסידות עם חברותיה).
This popular etymology is built upon the root חסד, “be good, kind” (BDB 338; HALOT, I.336–37 considers חסידה as a derivative of חסד II, expressing solidarity, loyalty, faithfulness, goodness, etc). Along these same lines, Rabbi Yehuda continued to explain the name of the אנפה as “an angry kite,” coming from אנף, “to be angry” (BDB 60; HALOT I.72), thus “creating anger within her peers” (although the Hebrew has the root נאף, see: שמנאפת עם חברותיה). See the discussion on the אנפה.
Note that the verb in its biblical usage [both in qal and hithpael] is restricted to God as agent.
Note that the rabbinic explanation does not refer to the stork’s maternal qualities commonly highlighted in Greco-Roman (and European) folklore, where stories could reflect exposure and knowledge of the stork’s nestling habits.

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel

The Stork in Greek and Roman Literature

Greek and Roman sources note the extra care storks take of their fledlings, even when it means prolonging the nesting period.
A folk tradition has also developed concerning how the young feed their parents. This “reversed” social order stands behind the Greek law, named Pelargonia after the Pelargos (stork), requiring children to support their parents (Grzimek 7, 232; Dor 1997).
From an orinithological perspective, however, this tradition is a result of a misunderstanding (or rather, a misobservation) based on the fact that the fledglings look bigger than their parents. But this is simply due to the fats that soon will transform into muscle.

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel