The Kite identified as Dayah and Ayah in the Bible

» Interesting Species of Kite
»» The Kite identified as Dayah and Ayah in the Bible

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.

<< Previous...Interesting Species of Kite

Home to the Wonder of Birds

This page ©