And the owl
The great and little owls being after mentioned, it seems best, by the word here used, to understand the "ostrich" with the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, the Oriental versions, and the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan: the account which Pliny F16 gives of the African and Ethiopic ostriches is this; that they are the largest of birds, and almost of the kind of beasts; that they exceed the height of a horseman on horseback, and are swifter than the horses; that their wings are given them to help them in their running, otherwise they are not flying fowls, nor are they lifted up from the earth. Their hoofs are like to those of harts, with which they fight, and are cloven, and serve to gather up stones, which in their flight they throw with their feet against them that follow them; they have a wonderful concoction, digesting whatever is swallowed down; and, according to Galen F17, all the parts of them, their flesh and their eggs, are hard and difficult of digestion, and excermentitious: Aben Ezra says F18, their flesh is as dry as a stick, and it is not usual to eat it, for there is no moisture in it; and therefore nothing can be eaten of the whole species, but the daughter or young one, for that being a female and little, there is some moisture in it; but not so the male when little; wherefore as the flesh of this creature is always reckoned by the Jews as unlawful to be eaten, it may the rather be supposed to be intended here, since if not here, it cannot be thought to be any where observed; and yet we find that both the eggs and the flesh of this creature have been eaten by some people: their eggs with the Indians were reckoned delicate eating, as Aelianus F19 reports; and near the Arabians and Ethiopians were a people, as both Diodorus Siculus F20 and Strabo F21 relate, who were called Struthophagi, from their living on ostriches; and they eat them in Peru, where they are common F23; and in several parts of Africa, as Nubia, Numidia, and Lybia, as Leo Africanus F24 relates:
and the night hawk;
which, according to Pliny F25, is sometimes called "cymindis", and is seldom to be found in woods, sees not so well in the day time, and wages a deadly war with the eagle, and they are often found joined together: Bochart F26 who thinks that the female ostrich is meant by the preceding bird, is of opinion that the male ostrich is meant here, there being no general name in the Hebrew language to comprehend both sexes:
and the cuckoo;
a bird well known by its voice at least: some have thought it to be the same with the hawk, changing its figure and voice; but this has been refuted by naturalists F1: but though it is here forbidden to be eaten, yet its young, when fat, are said to be of a grateful savour by Aristotle: and Pliny F2 says, no bird is to be compared to it for the sweetness of its flesh, though perhaps it may not be here intended: the word is by the Septuagint rendered a "sea gull", and so it is by Ainsworth, and which is approved of by Bochart F3:
and the hawk after his kind;
a well known bird, of which, according to Aristotle F4, there are not less than ten sorts: Pliny F5 says sixteen; it has its name in Hebrew from flying, it being a bird that flies very swiftly; see ( Job 39:26 ) the hawk was a symbol of deity with the Egyptians, and was reverenced and worshipped by them F6.
F16 Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 1. Vid. Aristot. de Part. Animal. l. 4. c. 14.
F17 Apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 14. col. 226.
F18 Pirush in Exod. xxiii. 19.
F19 De Animal. l. 14. c. 13.
F20 Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 162.
F21 Geograph. l. 16. p. 531.
F23 Calmet's Dictionary in the word "Ostrich".
F24 Descriptio Africae, l. 6. p. 601, 605, 613. l. 9. p. 766.
F25 Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 8.
F26 Ut supra, (Apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2.) c. 15. col. 235.
F1 Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 6. c. 7. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 9.
F3 Ut supra, (Apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 15.) col. 26.
F4 Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 36.
F5 Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 8.
F6 Plutarch. de Iside & Osyr. Strabo. Geograph. l. 17. p. 559, 562. Diodor. Sicul. l. 1. p. 78. Clement. Alex. Stromat. l. 5. p. 566.