|spar'-o ((tzippor) chirp, twitter)
RELATED: Birds, Zoology
Easton's Bible Dictionary
Mentioned among the offerings made by the very poor.
Two sparrows were sold for a farthing ( Matthew 10:29 ), and five for two farthings
( Luke 12:6 ). The Hebrew word thus rendered is tsippor , which properly denotes
the whole family of small birds which feed on grain ( Leviticus 14:4 ; Psalms
84:3 ; 102:7 ). The Greek word of the New Testament is strouthion ( Matthew 10:29
- 31 ), which is thus correctly rendered.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(Hebrew tzippor, from a root signifying to "chirp" or
"twitter," which appears to be a phonetic representation of the call-note of any
passerine (sparrow-like) bird). This Hebrew word occurs upwards of forty times
in the Old Testament. In all passages except two it is rendered by the Authorized
Version indifferently "bird" or "fowl." and denotes any small bird, both of the
sparrow-like species and such as the starling, chaffinch, greenfinch, linnet,
goldfinch, corn-bunting, pipits, blackbird, song-thrush, etc. In ( Psalms 84:3
) and Psalms 102:7 it is rendered "sparrow." The Greek stauthion (Authorized Version
"sparrow") occurs twice in the New Testament, ( Matthew 10:29 ; Luke 12:6 , 12:7
) (The birds above mentioned are found in great numbers in Palestine and are of
very little value, selling for the merest trifle and are thus strikingly used
by our Saviour, ( Matthew 10:20 ) as an illustration of our Fathers care for his
children. --ED.) The blue thrush (Petrocossyphus cyaneus ) is probably the bird
to which the psalmist alludes in ( Proverbs 102:7 ) as "the sparrow that sitteth
alone upon the house-top." It is a solitary bird, eschewing the society of its
own species, and rarely more than a pair are seen together. The English tree-sparrow
(Passer montanus , Linn.) is also very common, and may be seen in numbers on Mount
Olivet and also about the sacred enclosure of the mosque of Omar. This is perhaps
the exact species referred to in ( Psalms 84:3 ) Dr. Thompson, in speaking of
the great numbers of the house-sparrows and field-sparrows in troublesome and
impertinent generation, and nestle just where you do not want them. They stop
your stove-- and water-pipes with their rubbish, build in the windows and under
the beams of the roof, and would stuff your hat full of stubble in half a day
if they found it hanging in a place to suit them."
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
spar'-o (tsippor; strouthion; Latin passer):
A small bird of the Fringillidae family. The Hebrew tsippor seems to have been
a generic name under which were placed all small birds that frequented houses
and gardens. The word occurs about 40 times in the Bible, and is indiscriminately
translated "bird" "fowl" or "sparrow." Our translators have used the word "sparrow"
where they felt that this bird best filled the requirements of the texts. Sparrows
are small brown and gray birds of friendly habit that swarm over the northern
part of Palestine, and West of the Sea of Galilee, where the hills, plains and
fertile fields are scattered over with villages. They build in the vineyards,
orchards and bushes of the walled gardens surrounding houses, on the ground or
in nooks and crannies of vine-covered walls. They live on seeds, small green buds
and tiny insects and worms. Some members of the family sing musically; all are
great chatterers when about the business of life. Repeatedly they are mentioned
by Bible writers, but most of the references lose force as applying to the bird
family, because they are translated "bird" or "fowl." In a few instances the word
"sparrow" is used, and in some of these, painstaking commentators feel that what
is said does not apply to the sparrow.
For example see Psalms 102:7:
|"I watch, and am become like a sparrow
That is alone upon the housetop."
The feeling that this is not characteristic of the sparrow arises from the fact
that it is such a friendly bird that if it were on the housetop it would be surrounded
by half a dozen of its kind; so it has been suggested that a solitary thrush was
intended. There is little force in the change. Thrushes of today are shy, timid
birds of thickets and deep undergrowth. Occasionally a stray one comes around
a house at migration, but once settled to the business of living they are the
last and most infrequent bird to appear near the haunts of man. And bird habits
do not change in one or two thousand years. In an overwhelmed hour the Psalmist
poured out his heart before the Almighty. The reason he said he was like a "sparrow
that is alone upon the housetop" was because it is the most unusual thing in the
world for a sparrow to sit mourning alone, and therefore it attracted attention
and made a forceful comparison. It only happens when the bird's mate has been
killed or its nest and young destroyed, and this most cheerful of birds sitting
solitary and dejected made a deep impression on the Psalmist who, when his hour
of trouble came, said he was like the mourning sparrow--alone on the housetop.
Another exquisite song describes the bird in its secure and happy hour:
| "Yea, the sparrow hath found her a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even thine altars, O Yahweh of hosts,
My King, and my God" (Psalms 84:3).
When the mind of man was young and he looked on the commonest acts of
creatures around him as filled with mystery, miracle and sign--he held in superstitious
reverence any bird that built on a temple, because he thought it meant that the
bird thus building claimed the protection of God in so doing. For these reasons
all temple builders were so reverenced that authentic instances are given of people
being put to death, if they disturbed temple nests or builders. Because he noticed
the sparrow in joyful conditions is good reason why the Psalmist should have been
attracted by its mourning. There is a reference to the widespread distribution
of these birds in Proverbs 26:2:
| "As the sparrow in her wandering, as the swallow in her flying,
So the curse that is causeless alighteth not."
Once settled in a location, no bird clings more faithfully to its nest and young,
so this "wandering" could only mean that they scatter widely in choosing locations.
| "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father."
This is a reference to the common custom in the East
of catching small birds, and selling them to be skinned, roasted and sold as tid-bits--a
bird to a mouthful. These lines no doubt are the origin of the oft-quoted phrase,
"He marks the fall of the sparrow." Then in verse 31 comes this comforting assurance:
"Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows." Luke 12:6: "Are
not five sparrows sold for two pence? and not one of them is forgotten in the
sight of God." This affirms the implication of Mark that these tiny birds were
an article of commerce in the days of Jesus, just as they are now in the Far East.
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