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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Vulture

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is the rendering, in the A.V., of two Heb. words: 1. דָּאָה, daó h (only in Leviticus 11:14; Sept. γύψ ; Vulg. milvus; the parallel passage, Deuteronomy 14:13, has in the corresponding position רָאָה, raah, which may be an erroneous transcription; Sept. γύψ ; Vulg. ixion; A. V. "glede"), or דִּיָּה, dayah (only Deuteronomy 14:13, ἴκτιν ; milvus; Isaiah 34:34, ἔλαφος ; milvus); and 2. אִיָּה, aycth (only in Job 28:7, γὔψ ; vultur; Leviticus 11:14, ἴκτιν ; vultur; A. V. "kite;" Deuteronomy 14:13, Sept. omits; Vulg. milvus; A. V. "kite").

I. There seems to be no doubt that the A. V. translation is incorrect, and that the original words refer to some of the smaller species of raptorial birds, as kites or buzzards. דִּיָּה (daydh) is evidently synonymous with Arab. h'ayah, the vernacular for the "kite" in North Africa, and without the epithet "red" for the black kite especially. Bochart (Hieroz. 2, 195) explains it Vut turniger. The Samaritan and all other Eastern versions agree in rendering it "kite." אִיּהָ (ayah) is yet more certainly referable to this bird, which, in other passages, it is taken to represent. Bochart (ibid. 2, 193) says it is the same bird which the Arabs call yanya from its cry; but does not state what species this is, supposing it, apparently, to be the magpie, the Arab name for which, however, is el-agaag.

There are two very different species of bird comprised under the English term vulture: the griffon (Gypsfulvus, Sav.), Arab. nesr; Heb. נֶשֶׁר , nasher; invariably rendered "eagle" in the A. V.; and the peranopter, or Egyptian vulture (Neophron peranopferus, Sav.), Arab. rakhma; Heb. רָחָ ם, racham; rendered "gier-eagle" in the A. V. The identity of the Hebrew and Arabic terms in these cases can scarcely be questioned. However degrading the substitution of the ignoble vulture for the royal eagle may at first sight appear in many passages, it must be borne in mind that the griffon is in all its movements and characteristics a majestic and royal bird, the largest and most powerful which is seen on the wing in Palestine, and far surpassing the eagle in size and power. Its only rival in these respects is the bearded vulture, or Lammergeyer, a more uncommon bird everywhere, and which, since it is not, like the griffon, bald on the head and neck, cannot be referred to as nesher (see Micah 1:16). Very different is the slovenly and cowardly Egyptian vulture (Neophron peranopterus), the familiar scavenger of all Oriental towns and villages, protected for its useful habits, but loathed and despised, till its name has become a term of reproach, like that of the dog or the swine. The species of vulture, properly so called, have the head naked or downy, the crop external, and very long wings; they all have an offensive smell, and we know of none that even the scavenger-ants will eat. When dead they lie on the ground untouched till the sun has dried them into mummies. Late Western commentators, anxious to distinguish eagles from vultures, have assumed that the first- mentioned never feed on carcasses; and, judging the whole family of vultures by the group of carrion-eaters alone, have insinuated that the latter do not attack a living prey. In both cases they are in error; with some exceptions, eagles follow armies, though not so abundantly as vultures; and vultures attack living prey provided with small means of defense or of little weight; but their talons having no means of grasping with energy, or of seriously wounding with the claws, they devour their prey On the spot, while the eagle carries it aloft, and thence is more liable to be stung by a serpent not entirely disabled than the vulture, who crushes the head of all reptiles it preys upon. (See EAGLE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Vulture'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/v/vulture.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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