« ForrigeFortsæt »
The Dove. The Swallow.-The Crane. The Partridge.
THE allusions in the sacred volume to this bird, are both numerous and important. She was known to the ancient Hebrews by the name () yona, perhaps, says the learned Bochart, to intimate, that she is a native of Greece; for the Greeks were anciently called (Iris) Iones, as has been already proved; and in Hebrew (□) yonim, or Javanim, that is the sons of Javan, the father of the co lony which settled in those parts. One thing is certain, if any conclusion may be drawn from the fabulous history of Greece, that the dove has resided in that country from the remotest antiquity. Herodotus mentions a very ancient tradition among the Greeks, that the Dodonæan dove, taking her place on a spreading beech, pronounced with human voice, that it was in the decree of the fates, that an oracle of Jupiter should be established there; which was by far the most ancient of all the oracles in Greece. Another is recorded by Plutarch, which was evidently transmitted from the mountains of Ararat; and proves that Deucalion was no other than the patriarch Noah, the second father of our species: That a dove sent from the ark by the former, was a sign of tempest when
she returned, and of serenity when she departed.
b Lib. ii, cap. 55.
Hieroz. lib. i, p. 17.
Langhorne's Plutarch, vol. iii, p. 61.
Greeks have another tradition, that, in the island of Crete, doves nourished Jupiter with ambrosia, brought from the streams of the ocean; a story which may be traced with ease to this line of their great poet :
αμβροσίην Διι πατρι φερεσιν.
Odyss. lib. xii, 1. 63. "They bring ambrosia to father Jove."
When the Argonauts were about to attempt a passage among the rocky isles of the Thracian Bosphorus, they were advised by the prophet Phineas, to send out a dove; which, if she passed them in safety, they might follow.d In the second book of the Iliad, several cities in Boeotia, and the Peloponnesus, are celebrated for their innumerable flocks of doves; and a cluster of islands near Smyrna, were for the same reason called Peristerides, or the pigeon islands. From this statement it may be inferred, that the dove came into Greece and the surrounding countries, very soon after the flood.
It is evident from the Scriptures, that Syria, from the earliest postdiluvian times, abounded with doves. When Abraham was received into covenant with God, not many generations after the flood, he offered in sacrifice, by the divine command, a turtle dove, and a young pigeon.* And, in the law of Moses, the sacrifice of turtle doves, and young pigeons, is every where prescribed. It is alleged from Ctesias, by Diodorus, and R. Azarias, a Jewish writer, that Semiramis, the far-famed queen of Babylon, derived her name from the note of the turtle; for it may be traced to (,) zemir, the song of birds, and particularly of the dove. Thus in the Song, " The time (,) of the singing of birds is come, and the voice
d Bochart. Hieroz. lib. i, cap. 1, p. 4, vol. iii.
e Ibid. 1. 502, &c.
* 66, 3, 76, c.
of the turtle is heard in our land." The dove was long regarded by the orientals, and particularly by the Assyrians, probably on account of her services to Noah and his family, with great veneration. A golden dove adorned the head of the Syrian goddess, and shared in the honours of that pretended deity. From the time of Semiramis, who, in the fabulous history of Assyria, was in a wonderful manner nourished and preserved by an immense flock of doves, that beautiful bird was actually worshipped as a goddess. This fact, which Ctesias records, is attested by Xenophon, who declares, that the inhabitants of Syria would not suffer them to be molested. The infatuated people looked upon them as the most sacred of the feathered race; and thought it unlawful even to touch them. The use of these birds was by law prohibited to the Syrians, from the earliest times; and, while they made no scruple to eat other fowls, they carefully abstained from the dove; because she was not only sacred to their principal goddess, but was herself elevated to the rank of a divinity, and numbered among the gods. A figure of the same bird, surrounded with the rainbow, in allusion to the flood, waved in the banners of the Assyrian monarchs. To that symbol, the prophet Jeremiah undoubtedly refers in these words: "Their land is desolate, because of the fierceness of the oppressor;" strictly, the fierceness of the dove," and because of his fierce anger." And in another part of the propecy:"Arise, and let us go again to our own people, and to the land of our nativity, from the oppressing sword;" (nan,) from the sword of the dove." For fear of the oppressing sword, (the sword of Anab. lib. i, cap. 4, sec. 9. Bochart. Hieroz. vol. iii, lib. i, cap. 1, p. 5, 6.
* Song ii, 12.
the dove,) they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land." Another allusion to the symbol which was blazoned on the standard of the Assyrian monarchs, occurs in the prophecies of Zephaniah, were Jerusalem is called the dove; because in her conduct she resembled Babylon, the capital of their empire: "Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the city (that resembles) the dove,"
The conclusion to which these statements lead, is obvious and incontrovertible, that in Syria, as in Greece, the dove had fixed her dwelling in every age. Bochart indeed admits, that the era of her apppearance in Syria and the neighbouring countries, is involved in some obscurity. Although it is quite clear from the laws of Moses respecting sacrifice, that she was common in those parts in his time; yet it may be questioned whether Abraham, when he entered into covenant with Jehovah, did offer in sacrifice a young pigeon; because the original term (na) gozal, signifies the young of the dove properly so called, of the turtle, of the wood pigeon, and other varieties of that species. But, since the turtle is uniformly joined with the pigeon, in the Mosaic laws respecting sacrifice, which were dictated by Jehovah himself, the God of Abraham and his posterity, it can scarcely be doubted, that the gozal, which the patriarch offered by the divine command on that memorable occasion, was in reality a young pigeon. It is there joined with the turtle; its blood is shed in order to ratify the covenant on which the whole Mosaic dispensation rested, to which all succeeding sacrifices, under the law, had a reference; it was therefore, strictly, the young of a dove. And, besides, if Syria did
j Jer. xxv, 38, and xlvi, 16, and 1, 16.
* See Bochart. Hieroz. lib. i, p. 19.
not lie directly in the road from the mountain on which the ark rested, to Greece, it was certainly not far distant. It is therefore to be expected, that the dove would appear in Syria, and in Greece, nearly about the same time.
The doves of Semiramis, our learned author considers as involved in equal uncertainty. The later Syrians worshipped () yonim, or domestic doves, in honour of Semiramis; but it was the wood pigeons, as may be gathered from Ctesias, that guarded the infancy of that potent queen; for the places which they frequented, says that writer, were desert and stony. Hence, the name of Semiramis, which was borrowed from that circumstance, is explained by Hesychius, the mountain dove. Nor can it be determined from the history of that sovereign, in what age the dove began to frequent the plains of Syria and Palestine, because the time when she flourished is very uncertain. According to Ctesias, a very fabulous writer, she was the wife of Ninus, who reigned at Babylon, in the days of Abraham. But others make her the daughter of Beloch, who flourished more than five hun dred years later than Ninus. Herodotus brings her down within two hundred years of the elder Cyrus, who swayed the sceptre more than fifteen hundred years after the death of Ninus, the supposed husband of Semiramis! This powerful and victorious queen, who subjected so many nations to her dominion, and shook the earth with the terror of her name, did not govern at Babylon in the time of Abraham, but Amraphel, a petty prince, and one of the confederate kings who invaded the vale of Sodom, whom Abraham surprised on their retreat, and completely defeated.