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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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תסידה , Leviticus 11:19 ; Deuteronomy 14:18 ; Job 39:13 ; Psalms 104:17 ; Jeremiah 8:7 ; Zechariah 5:9 ; a bird similar to the crane in size, has the same formation as to the bill, neck, legs, and body, but is rather more corpulent. The colour of the crane is ash and black; that of the stork is white and brown. The nails of its toes are also very peculiar; not being clawed like those of other birds, but flat like the nails of a man. It has a very long beak, and long red legs. It feeds upon serpents, frogs, and insects, and on this account might be reckoned by Moses among unclean birds. As it seeks for these in watery places, nature has provided it with long legs; and as it flies away, as well as the crane and heron, to its nest with its plunder, therefore its bill is strong and jagged, the sharp hooks of which enable it to retain its slippery prey. It has long been remarkable for its love to its parents, whom it never forsakes, but tenderly feeds and cherishes when they have become old, and unable to provide for themselves. The very learned and judicious Bochart has collected a variety of passages from the ancients, in which they testify this curious particular. Its very name in the Hebrew language, chasida, signifies mercy or piety: and its English name is taken, if not directly, yet secondarily, through the Saxon, from the Greek word στοργη , which is often used for natural affection.

The stork's an emblem of true piety; Because, when age has seized and made his dam

Unfit for flight, the grateful young one takes His mother on his back, provides her food, Repaying thus her tender care of him

Ere he was fit to fly.


It is a bird of passage, and is spoken of as such in Scripture: "The stork knoweth her appointed time," Jeremiah 8:7 .

Who bid the stork, Columbus like, explore

Heavens not its own, and worlds unknown before?

Who calls the council, states the certain day, Who forms the phalanx, and who points the way?


Bochart has collected several testimonies of the migration of storks. AElian says, that in summer time they remain stationary, but at the close of autumn they repair to Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia. "For about the space of a fortnight before they pass from one country to another," says Dr. Shaw, "they constantly resort together, from all the adjacent parts, in a certain plain; and there forming themselves, once every day, into a ‘douwanne,' or council, (according to the phrase of these eastern nations,) are said to determine the exact time of their departure, and the place of their future abodes." See SWALLOW .

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

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