Dove

Dove

(יוֹנָה, yonah', prob. referring to the sexual warmth of that bird; περιστερά; both terms occasionally rendered "pigeon"). There are probably several species of doves or pigeons included in the Hebrew name with its Greek equivalent. It may contain all those that inhabit Palestine, exclusive of the turtle-doves properly so called. SEE TURTLE DOVE. In modern systems, the doves are included in the natural family of Columbida, or pigeon tribe, which comprises the pigeons, doves, and turtles; but naturalists are still divided as to the proper place of the family, and the limits of the respective subdivisions (see Bochart, Hieroz. 2:542 sq.). Syria possesses several species of pigeon: the Columba enas, or stock-dove; C. palumbus, or ring-dove; C. domestica, lisia; the common pigeon in several varieties, such as the Barbary, Turkish or Persian carrier, crisp, and shaker. These are still watched in their flight in the same manner as anciently their number, gyrations, and other manoeuvres were observed by soothsayers. The wild species, as well as the turtle-doves migrate from Palestine to the south, but stock and ring-doves are not long absent. In the wild state, doves generally build their nests in the holes or clefts of the rocks, or in excavated trees, but they are easily taught submission and familiarity with mankind, and, when domesticated, build in structures erected for their accommodation, called "dove-cotes" (comp. Song 2:14; Jer 48:28; Isa 60:8). Doves are kept in a domesticated state in many parts of the East. The pigeoncot is a universal feature in the houses of Upper Egypt. In Persia pigeon-houses are erected at a distance from the dwellings, for the purpose of collecting the dung as manure. The allusion in Isa 60:8, is to the immense compact masses of these birds that Eastern travelers describe, as they are seen flying to their cotes or places of general resort. They sometimes resemble a distant heavy cloud, and are so dense as to obscure the rays of the sun. Stanley (Syr. and Pal. page 257), speaking of Ascalon as the haunt of the Syrian Venus, says: "Her temple is destroyed, but the sacred doves — sacred by immemorial legends on the spot, and celebrated there even as late as Eusebius still fill with their cooings the luxuriant gardens which grow in the sandy hollow within the ruined walls." See below. The dove has been by some considered (though in an obscure passage) as an early national standard (Ps 68:13), being likewise held in pagan Syria and Phoenicia to be an ensign and a divinity, resplendent with silver and gold, and so venerated as to be regarded as holy, and forbidden as an article of food. (See Engel, Kypros, 2:184; Creuzer, Symbol. 2:70-77.) It is supposed that the dove was placed upon the standards of the Assyrians and Babylonians in honor of Semiramis. This explains the expression in Jer 25:38, "from before the fierceness of the dove," i.e., the Assyrian (comp. Jer 46:16; Jer 1; Jer 16). There is, however, no representation of the dove among the sculptures of Nineveh, so that it could hardly have been a common emblem of the nation at the time when they were executed; and the word in the above three passages of Jeremiah admits another interpretation (Gesenius, Thesaur. page 601 a). By the Hebrew law, however (see Mishna, Yom Tob, 1:3; Baba Bathra, 2:5 sq.; Bab-kamma, 7:7), doves and turtle-doves were the only birds that could be offered in sacrifice, and they were usually selected for that purpose by the less wealthy (Ge 15:9; Le 5:7; Le 12:6; Lu 2:24); and, to supply the demand for them, dealers in these birds sat about the precincts of the Temple (Mt 21:12, etc.). The brown wooddove is said to be intended by the Hebrew name; but all the sacred birds, unless expressly mentioned, were pure white, or with some roseate feathers about the wing coverts, such as are still frequently bred from the carrier-pigeon of Scandiroon. It is this kind which Tibullus notices (1:7). The carrier-birds are represented in Egyptian bas-reliefs, where priests are shown letting them fly on a message. All pigeons in their true wild plumage have iridescent colors about the neck, And often reflected flashes of the same colors on the shoulders, which are the source of the silver and gold feathers ascribed to them in poetical diction; and thence the epithet of purple bestowed upon them all, though most applicable to the vinous and slatycolored species. This beauty of plumage is alluded to in Ps 68:16, where the design of the Psalmist is to present, in contrast, the condition of the Hebrews at two different periods of their history: in the day of their affliction and calamity they were covered as it were with Shame and confusion, but in the day of their prosperity they should resemble the cleanest and most beautiful of birds. The dove was the harbinger of reconciliation with God (Ge 8:8,10, etc.), when Noah Sent one from the ark to ascertain if the waters of the Deluge had assuaged. The association of the dove and the olive is not only natural, but highly emblematical (Thomson, Land and Book, 1:69). The dove is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures as the emblem of purity and innocence, and so it doubtless was viewed by the Psalmist (Ps 55:6-8), although with a special allusion to the swiftness of that bird's flight (comp. Sophocl. (Ed. Colossians 1081; Eurip. Bacch. 1090). By an almost anthropomorphic extension of this idea, the dove is, figuratively, next to man, the most exalted of animals, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, a sentiment that appears to be couched in the description of creation (Ge 1:2), where the Spirit is represented as brooding ("moved") over the surface of chaos. (See treatises on this point by Augusti, Die Taube, in Gieseler and Lucke's Zeitschr. 3:56-64; Moller, De columba, Frib. 1721; Schmid, De

columbis, Helmst. 1711, 1731; Schwebel, De columbarum cultu, Onold. 1767; E. F. Wernsdorf, De simulacro columbae,Viteb. 1773; Id. De columba sancta Syrorum, Helmst. 1761; J. C. Wernsdorf, De columba, Helmst. 1770; Ziebich, De columba pentecostali,Viteb. 1737.) The Holy Spirit descended, as a dove descends, upon our Savior at his baptismvisibly with that peculiar hovering motion which distinguishes the descent of a dove (Mt 3:16; Mr 1:10; Lu 3:22; Joh 1:32). (See the treatises on this incident, in Latin, by Adler [Sorav. 1822], Bohmer [Jen. 1727], Christ [Jen. 1727], Riess [Marb. 1736], Kechenberg [Cob. 1741], Varemus [Kil. 1671; Viteb. 1713, 1728], Ziebich [Ger. 1772]; in German by Schulthess [in Winer's Krit. Jour. 4:257-294].) The dove is also a noted symbol of tender and devoted affection, especially in the Canticles (1:15; 2:14, etc.). The conjugal fidelity of the dove has been celebrated by every writer who has described or alluded to her character (Song 1:15). She admits but of one mate, and never forsakes him until death puts an end to their union. The black pigeon, when her mate dies, obstinately rejects another, and continues in a widowed state for life. Hence among the Egyptians a black pigeon was the symbol of a widow who declined to enter again into the marriage relation. These facts have been transferred, by later authors, to the widowed turtle, which, deaf to the solicitations of another mate, continues, in mournful strains, to deplore her loss until death puts a period to her sorrows. (On the emblematical uses of the dove, see further Wemyss, Symbol. Dict. s.v.) The cooing of the dove, when solitary, is often alluded to in Scripture (Isa 38:14; Isa 59:11; Na 2:7). SEE PIGEON.

Definition of dove

In Christian art, the dove is employed as the emblem of the Holy Ghost, following the literal interpretation, which is doubtless the true one, of Mt 3:16. After images and pictures began to be allowed in churches, the Holy Ghost was represented by the effigies of a silver dove hovering over the altar, and the baptistery had the same. The place over the altar where it was suspended was called peristerion, from περιστερά, a dove (Bingham, Orig. Ecclesiastes book 8, chapter 6, § 19).

"From the dove being a symbol of purity, it is generally represented white, with its beak and claws red, as they occur in nature. In the older pictures, a golden nimbus surrounds its head, the nimbus being frequently divided by a cross, either red or black. In stained-glass windows we see the dove with seven rays proceeding from it, terminating in seven stars, significative of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Holding an olive-branch, the dove is an emblem of peace. When seen issuing from the lips of dying saints and martyrs, it represents the human soul purified by suffering. A dove with six wings is a type of the Church of Christ; and when so employed, it has the breast and belly of silver, and the back of gold, two wings being attached to the head, two to the shoulders, and two to the feet. The pyx or box for containing the Host (q.v.) in Roman Catholic churches is sometimes made in the form of a dove, and suspended over the altar, and the dove is often placed on the covers of fonts. In this position it may still be seen in parish churches in England" (Chambers, Encyclopaedia, s.v.). See also Martigny, Dict. des Antiquites Chretiennes (Paris, 1865, page 164; Didron, Christian Iconography (Bohn), page 451; Jehan, Dict. des Origines du Christianisme (Paris, 1856), art. Colombe.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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