|oul ((bath-haya'anah), daughter of greediness, (yanshuph) great owl, (kos) little owl, (kippoz) great owl, (lilith) screech owl)
RELATED: Birds, Great Owl, Little Owl, Zoology
Easton's Bible Dictionary
(1) Hebrew. bath-haya'anah, "daughter of greediness" or of "shouting."
In the list of unclean birds ( Leviticus
11:16 ; Deuteronomy
14:15 ); also mentioned in Job
30:29 ; Isaiah
13:21 ; 34:13
50:39 ; Micah
1:8 . In all these passages the Revised Version translates "ostrich" (q.v.),
which is the correct rendering.
(2) Hebrew. yanshuph, rendered "great owl"
11:17 ; Deuteronomy
14:16 , and "owl" in Isaiah
34:11 . This is supposed to be the Egyptian eagle-owl (Bubo ascalaphus), which
takes the place of the eagle-owl (Bubo maximus) found in Southern Europe. It is
found frequenting the ruins of Egypt and also of the Holy Land. "Its cry is a
loud, prolonged, and very powerful hoot. I know nothing which more vividly brought
to my mind the sense of desolation and loneliness than the re-echoing hoot of
two or three of these great owls as I stood at midnight among the ruined temples
of Baalbek" (Tristram). The LXX. and Vulgate render this word by "ibis", i.e.,
the Egyptian heron.
(3) Hebrew. kos, rendered "little owl"
11:17 ; Deuteronomy
14:16 , and "owl" in Psalms
102:6 . The Arabs call this bird "the mother of ruins." It is by far the most
common of all the owls of Palestine. It is the Athene persica, the bird of Minerva,
the symbol of ancient Athens.
(4) Hebrew. kippoz, the "great owl"
34:15 ); Revised Version, "arrow-snake;" LXX. and Vulgate, "hedgehog," reading
in the text, kippod, instead of kippoz. There is no reason to doubt the correctness
of the rendering of the Authorized Version. Tristram says: "The word [i.e., kippoz]
is very possibly an imitation of the cry of the scops owl (Scops giu), which is
very common among ruins, caves, and old walls of towns...It is a migrant, returning
to Palestine in spring."
(5) Hebrew. lilith, "screech owl"
34:14 , marg. and RSV, "night monster"). The Hebrew word is from a root signifying
"night." Some species of the owl is obviously intended by this word. It may be
the hooting or tawny owl (Syrnium aluco), which is common in Egypt and in many
parts of Palestine. This verse in Isaiah is "descriptive of utter and perpetual
desolation, of a land that should be full of ruins, and inhabited by the animals
that usually make such ruins their abode."
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
A number of species of the owl are mentioned in the Bible,
11:17 ; 14:16
14:23 ; 34:15
2:14 ) and in several other places the same Hebrew word is used where it is
translated ostrich. ( Job
30:29 ; Jeremiah
50:39 ) Some of these species were common in Palestine, and, as is well known,
were often found inhabiting ruins. ( Isaiah
34:11 , 34:13
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
oul (bath ha-ya'anah; Latin Ulula):
The name of every nocturnal bird of prey of the Natural Order Striges. These birds
range from the great horned owl of 2 feet in length, through many subdivisions
to the little screech-owl of 5 inches. All are characterized by very large heads,
many have ear tufts, all have large eyes surrounded by a disk of tiny, stiff,
radiating feathers. The remainder of the plumage has no aftershaft. So these birds
make the softest flight of any creature traveling on wing. A volume could be written
on the eye of the owl, perhaps its most wonderful feature being in the power of
the bird to enlarge the iris if it wishes more distinct vision. There is material
for another on the prominent and peculiar auditory parts. With almost all owls
the feet are so arranged that two toes can be turned forward and two back, thus
reinforcing the grip of the bird by an extra toe and giving it unusual strength
of foot. All are night-hunters, taking prey to be found at that time, of size
according to the strength. The owl was very numerous in the caves, ruined temples
and cities, and even in the fertile valleys of Palestine. It is given place in
the Bible because it was considered unfit for food and because people dreaded
the cries of every branch of the numerous family. It appeared often, as most birds,
in the early versions of the Bible; later translators seem to feel that it was
used in several places where the ostrich really was intended (see OSTRICH). It
would appear to a natural historian that the right bird could be selected by the
location, where the text is confusing. The ostrich had a voice that was even more
terrifying, when raised in the night, than that of the owl. But it was a bird
of the desert, of wide range and traveled only by day. This would confine its
habitat to the desert and the greenery where it joined fertile land, but would
not bring it in very close touch with civilization. The owl is a bird of ruins,
that lay mostly in the heart of rich farming lands, where prosperous cities had
been built and then destroyed by enemies. Near these locations the ostrich would
be pursued for its plumage, and its nesting conditions did not prevail. The location
was strictly the owl's chosen haunt, and it had the voice to fit all the requirements
of the text.
In the lists of abominations, the original Hebrew yanshuph, derived from a root
meaning twilight, is translated "great owl" (see Leviticus
11:17 and Deuteronomy
14:16). It is probable that this was a bird about 2 ft. in length, called
In the same lists the word koc (nuktikorax) refers to ruins, and the bird indicated
is specified as the "little owl," that is, smaller than the great owl--about the
size of our barn owl. This bird is referred to as the "mother of ruins," and the
translations that place it in deserted temples and cities are beyond all doubt
Qippoz (echinos) occurs once (Isaiah
34:15), and is translated "great owl" in former versions; lately (in the American
Standard Revised Version) it is changed to "dart-snake" (the English Revised Version
In this same description lilith (onokentauros), "a specter of night," was formerly
screech-owl, now it reads "night monster," which is more confusing and less suggestive.
The owls in the lists of abominations (Leviticus
11:17 , 18
14:16) are the little owl, the great owl and the horned owl. The only other
owl of all those that produced such impressions of desolation in the Books of
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, and Micah is referred to in Psalms
102:6: "I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am become as an owl of the
Here it would appear that the bird habitual to the wilderness and the waste places,
that certainly would be desert, would be the ostrich--while in any quotation referring
to ruins, the owl would be the bird indicated by natural conditions.
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