Leviticus 11:17

17 and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,

Leviticus 11:17 Meaning and Commentary

Leviticus 11:17

And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl.
] Ainsworth translates the words just the reverse, and takes the first word to signify the great owl, and the last the little one; the great owl may intend the great horn owl, called sometimes the eagle owl, which is thus described; it is of the size of a goose, and has large wings, capable of extending to a surprising breadth: its head is much of the size and figure of that of a cat, and has clusters of black feathers over the ears, rising to three fingers' height; its eyes are very large, and the feathers of its rump long, and extremely soft; its eyes have yellow irises, and its beak black and crooked: it is all over mottled with white, reddish, and black spots; its legs are very strong, and are hairy down to the very ends of the toes, their covering being of a whitish brown F7: and as this is called the great horn owl, others, in comparison of it, may be called the little owl. Some reckon several species of owls--there are of three sizes; the large ones are as big as a capon, the middle sized are as big as a wood pigeon, the smaller sort about the size of an ordinary pigeon--the horned owl is of two kinds, a larger and a smaller--the great owl is also of two sorts, that is, of a larger and a smaller kind F8; it is a bird sacred to Minerva: but though it is pretty plain that the last of the words used signifies a bird that flies in the twilight of the evening, from whence it seems to have its name, as Aben Ezra, Ben Gersom, and other Jewish writers observe, and fitly agrees with the owl which is not seen in the day, but appears about that time; yet the first is thought by Bochart


F9 to be the "onocrotalus" or "pelican", which has under its bill a bag or sack, which will hold a large quantity of anything; and the word here used has the signification of a cup or vessel, see ( Psalms 102:6 ) . The word we render "cormorant", the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan paraphrase it, a drawer of fish out of the sea, so Baal Hatturim; and thus it is interpreted in the Talmud F11; and the gloss upon it says, this is the water raven, which is the same with the cormorant; for the cormorant is no other than "corvus aquaticus", or water raven; (See Gill on Zephaniah 2:14). The Septuagint render it by "catarrhactes", which, according to the description of it F12, resides by rocks and shores that hang over water; and when it sees fishes swimming in it, it will fly on high, and contract its feathers, and flounce into the water, and fetch out the fish; and so is of the same nature, though not the same creature with the cormorant. Aben Ezra observes, that some say this is a bird which casts its young as soon as born; and this is said of the "catarrhactes", that it lets down its young into the sea, and draws them out again, and hereby inures them to this exercise F13.

F7 Ray's Ornithol. p. 63. apud Supplement to Chambers's Dictionary in the word "Bubo".
F8 Calmet's Dictionary in the word "Owl".
F9 Ut supra, (Apud Bochard. Heirozoic. par. 2. l. 2.) c. 20. col. 275.
F11 Bab. Cholin, fol. 63. 1.
F12 Gesner. apud Bochart. ut supra, (F9) c. 21. col. 278.
F13 Ibid.

Leviticus 11:17 In-Context

15 every raven after its kind,
16 and the ostrich, and the night-hawk, and the seamew, and the hawk after its kind,
17 and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
18 and the horned owl, and the pelican, and the vulture,
19 and the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe, and the bat.
The American Standard Version is in the public domain.