Turtle, Turtle-dove

Turtle, Turtle-dove

Its peculiar peaceful and gentle habit its often referred to in Scripture. A pair was offered in sacrifice by Mary at her purification ( Luke 2:24 ). The pigeon and the turtle-dove were the only birds permitted to be offered in sacrifice ( Leviticus 1:14 ; 5:7 ; 14:22 ; Leviticus 15:14 Leviticus 15:29 , etc.). The Latin name of this bird, turtur , is derived from its note, and is a repetition of the Hebrew name tor . Three species are found in Palestine, (1) the turtle-dove (Turtur auritus), (2) the collared turtle (T. risorius), and (3) the palm turtle (T. Senegalensis). But it is to the first of these species which the various passages of Scripture refer. It is a migratory bird ( Jeremiah 8:7 ; Cant Jeremiah 2:11 Jeremiah 2:12 ). "Search the glades and valleys, even by sultry Jordan, at the end of March, and not a turtle-dove is to be seen. Return in the second week of April, and clouds of doves are feeding on the clovers of the plain. They overspread the whole face of the land." "Immediately on its arrival it pours forth from every garden, grove, and wooded hill its melancholy yet soothing ditty unceasingly from early dawn till sunset. It is from its plaintive and continuous note, doubtless, that David, pouring forth his heart's sorrow to God, compares himself to a turtle-dove" ( Psalms 74:19 ).

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Turtle, Turtle-dove". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

Turtle, Turtle-dove

Turtur auritus (Heb. tor ). The name is phonetic, evidently derived from the plaintive cooing of the bird. It is one of the smaller members of the group of birds which ornithologists usually call pigeons . The turtle-dove occurs first in Scripture in ( Genesis 15:9 ) In the Levitical law a pair of turtle-doves or of young pigeons are constantly prescribed as a substitute for those who were too poor to provide a lamb or a kid. The offering of two young pigeons must have been one easily within the reach of the poorest. The admission of a pair of turtle-doves was perhaps a yet further concession to extreme poverty, for they were extremely numerous, and their young might easily be found and captured by those who did not possess pigeons. In the valley of the Jordan, an allied species, the palm-dove (so named because it builds its nest in the palm tree), or Egyptian turtle-- Turtur aegyptiacus , Temm.--is by no means uncommon. It is not improbable that the palm-dove may in some measure have supplied the sacrifice in the wilderness, for it is found in amazing numbers wherever the palm tree occurs, whether wild or cultivated. From its habit of pairing for life, and its fidelity to its mate, the turtle-dove was a symbol of purity and an appropriate offering. The regular migration of the turtle-dove and its return in the spring are alluded to in ( Jeremiah 8:7 ) and Song 2:11,12 It is from its plaintive note doubtless that David in ( Psalms 74:19 ) pouring forth his lament to God, compares himself to a turtle-dove.


Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Turtle, Turtledove'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.