Psalms 104:17

Psalms 104:17

Where the birds make their nests
As they do in large, tall, spreading trees: not any particular "birds", as the sparrow, to which the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, and Apollinarius, restrain it: but birds in general are intended; and especially such as build in large trees, as before and after mentioned. Jarchi applies it to the Israelites dwelling among the trees in the garden of Eden: and it may be much better applied to the saints dwelling in the churches, among the trees of righteousness, under the shadow of Gospel ordinances; see ( Ezekiel 17:23 ) ( Matthew 13:31 Matthew 13:32 ) .

As for the stork, the fir trees are her house;
where she makes her nest, and brings up her young. Kimchi says it is a large bird, and builds its nest in high trees, as in cedars; but the bird which goes by the name of "pelargus" with the Greeks, and of "ciconia" with the Latins, and of "stork" with us, for the most part builds its nest on the tops of towers and temples F23, and the roofs of high houses, and seldom in trees; and when it does, it is in such that are not far from the habitations of men, which it loves to be near: perhaps the reason of its not building on houses in Palestine might be because their roofs were flat and frequented, and therefore built on high trees there, as fir trees and cedars. And Olympiodorus F24 says it does not lay its eggs on the ground, but on high trees; and Michaelis on the text attests, that he himself had seen, in many places in Germany, storks nests on very high and dry oaks. It has its name in Hebrew from a word F25 which signifies "holy", "merciful", and "beneficent"; because of the great care which it takes of its dam when grown old F26: and a like behaviour among men is called piety by the apostle, ( 1 Timothy 5:4 ) . But in the Chaldee tongue, and so in the Targum, it has its name from its whiteness; for though its wings are black, the feathers of its body are white: and so Virgil F1 describes it as a white bird, and as an enemy to serpents; for which reason the Thessalians forbad the killing them, on pain of banishment {b}. It was an unclean bird, according to the ceremonial law, ( Leviticus 11:19 ) . Good men are called by the same name, holy and beneficent; and though they are unclean by nature, yet Christ, the green fir tree, ( Hosea 14:8 ) is the house of their habitation; in him they dwell by faith, who receives sinners, and eats with them, ( Luke 15:2 ) . It is usual with the Latin poets to call the nests of birds their houses F3.


FOOTNOTES:

F23 Vid. Turnebi Adversar. l. 8. c. 18. & Praetorii Disp. Histor. Physic. de Crotalistria, c. 6. Heldelin. in ibid. c. 11.
F24 Apud Bachart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 29. col. 330.
F25 (hdyox) a (dox) Buxtorf. Lexic. fol. 247.
F26 Solinus, c. 53. Aelian. de Animal. l. 3. c. 23.
F1 "Candida venit avis longis invisa colubris", Georgic. l. 2.
F2 Plutarch. de Iside et Osir. prope finem.
F3 "Frondiferasque domos avium", Lucret. l. 1. v. 19. "Antiquasque domos avium", Virgil. Georgic. l. 2. v. 209.
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