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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Gier Eagle

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דהם , Leviticus 11:18 ; Deuteronomy 14:17 . As the root of this word signifies tenderness and affection, it is supposed to refer to some bird remarkable for its attachment to its young; hence some have thought that the pelican is to be understood; and Bochart endeavours to prove that the golden vulture is meant; but there can be no doubt that it is the perenopterus of the ancients, the ach-bobba of the Arabians, particularly described by Bruce under the name of rachamah. He says, "We know from Horus Apollo, that the rachma, or she vulture, was sacred to Isis, and adorned the statue of the goddess; that it was the emblem of parental affection; and that it was the hieroglyphic for an affectionate mother." He farther says, that "this female vulture, having hatched her young ones, continues with them one hundred and twenty days, providing them with all necessaries; and, when the stock of food fails them, she tears off the fleshy part of her thigh, and feeds them with that and the blood which flows from the wound."

Hasselquist thus describes the Egyptian vulture: "The appearance of the bird is as horrid as can well be imagined. The face is naked and wrinkled, the eyes are large and black, the beak black and crooked, the talons large, and extended ready for prey, and the whole body polluted with filth. These are qualities enough to make the beholder shudder with horror. Notwithstanding this, the inhabitants of Egypt cannot be enough thankful to Providence for this bird. All the places round Cairo are filled with the dead bodies of asses and camels; and thousands of these birds fly about and devour the carcasses, before they putrify and fill the air with noxious exhalations." No wonder that such an animal should be deemed unclean.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Gier Eagle'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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