The Nightjar or Night Hawk in the Bible

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The word Tachmas, is rendered in the Authorized Version of the Bible as NIGHT-HAWK.  This word only occurs among the list of prohibited birds (see Lev. xi. 16, and Deut. xiv. 15), and has caused great controversies among commentators. Some scholars of the Hebrew language have thought that the male ostrich was signified by tachmas, the word bath-haya'anah being supposed by them to signify the female ostrich. It is hardly probable, however, that the sacred writer should have mentioned separately the sexes of the same species, and we must therefore look for some other interpretation.
Going to the opposite extreme of size, some scholars have translated tachmas as Swallow. This again is not a very probable rendering, as the swallow would be too small a bird to be specially named in the prohibitory list. 'I'he balance of probability seems, to lie between two interpretations - namely, that which considers the word tachmas to signify the Night-hawk, and that which translates it as Owl. For both of these interpretations much is to be said, and it cannot be denied that of the two the latter is perhaps preferable. If so, the White or Barn Owl is probably the particular species to which reference is made.

However, many commentators think that the Night-hawk or Nightjar is the bird which is signified by the word tachmas, and as owls seem to have been signified by alternative words, the rendering of the Authorized Version seems an acceptable translation. Moreover, the Jewish Bible follows the same translation, and renders tachmas as Night-hawk, but affixes the mark of doubt.

Considering the fact that even in recent times the nightjar is sometimes referred to as Jar Owl, Churn Owl or Fern Owl, it is not unlikely that the ancient Jews may have considered this bird to be among the owls.

It is probable that, in the days when Moses wrote the Law, the astounding cry of the nightjar was well known to the Jews, and we may therefore conjecture that it was one of those birds which he would specially mention by name.
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