Dayah a collective term for different species
of Kite in the Bible
IN Lev. xi. 14 and Deut. xiv. 13, we find the
Vulture among the list of birds which the Jews were not permitted to eat.
The word which is translated as Vulture is dayah,and we find it
occurring again in Isaiah xxxiv. 15, 'There
shall the vultures also be gathered, everyone with her mate.'
There is no doubt, however, that this translation of the word is an incorrect
one, and that it ought to be rendered as Kite. In Job xxviii.
7, there is a similar word, ayah, which is also translated as Vulture,
and which is acknowledged to be not a Vulture, but one of the Kites: 'There
is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen.'
Both these words are nearly identical with modern
Arabic terms which are employed rather loosely to signify several species
of Kite. Buxtorf, in his Hebrew Lexicon, gives the correct rendering, translating
dayah as Milvus, and the Vulgate in one or two places gives
the same translation, though in others it renders the word as Vulture.
Raah as a possible different species of bird
Whether the word raah, which is translated
as Glede in Deut. xiv. 13, among the list of birds which may not be eaten,
means one of these species of Kite, or a bird of a different group, is
a very doubtful point. This is the only passage in which the word occurs,
and we have but small grounds for definitely identifying it with any one
species. The Hebrew Bible retains the word Glede, but afiixes a mark of
doubt to it, and several commentators are of opinion that the word is a
wrong reading of dayah, which occurs in the parallel passage in
Lev. xi. 14. The reading of the Septuagint follows this interpretation,
and renders it as Vulture in both cases. Buxtorf translates the word raah
as Rook, but suggests that dayah is the correct reading.
Accepting, however, the word raah,
we shall find that, it is derived from a root which signifies sight or
vision, especially of some particular object, so that a piercing sight
would therefore be the chief characteristic of the bird, which, as we know,
is one of the attributes of the Kites, together with other birds of prey,
so that it evidently must be classed among the group with which we are
now concerned. It has been suggested that, granting the raah to
be a species distinct from the dayah, it is a collective term for the larger
falcons and buzzards; several species of which inhabit Palestine, and are
not distinctly mentioned in the Bible. Indeed, several species of buzzard inhabit the Holy Land, and there is no particular reason why they
should be mentioned except by a collective name.
As to the large falcons, which seem to
be included in the term raah, the chief of them is the Peregrine
Falcon, which is also reasonably common in the Holy Land. In the passage
from the 'Land of Israel' is mentioned the Lanner Falcon, another of the
larger falcons to which the term raah may have been applied.