occurs in our version as the translation of סוס (sus, literally a leaper, from its swiftness, Isa 38:14) or סיס (sis, Jer 8:7), in connection with another bird, the עַגוּר (agur', the chatterer, or, as Gesenius renders it in Isaiah, the chattering, as an epithet of the other), which latter is rendered "swallow" in our version. The Rabbins agree with our version in rendering the former of these words (sus or sis) by "crane;" but Bochart and Gesenius (in accordance with the Sept., Theod., and Vulg.), more correctly, as we think, decide in favor of "swallow;" while Luther, rejecting both, prefers "heron." Where so much diversity of opinion reigns, it will be most safe to search for the true meaning by examining the internal evidence furnished by the texts in question, the two names occurring in no other instance. In Isaiah, allusion is made to the voice of both the species (if distinct), which is described by the verb "to chatter," in accordance, or nearly so, with all critical authorities. SEE SWALLOW. In Jeremiah, where both names occur in the same order, the birds are represented as "observing the time of their coming." Now, if the "crane" of Europe had been meant by either denomination, the clamorous habits of the species would not have been expressed as "chattering;" and it is most probable that the striking characteristics of that bird, which are so elegantly and forcibly displayed in Hesiod and Aristophanes, would have supplied the lofty diction of prophetical inspiration with associations of a character still more exalted. Sus or sis is the name of a fabulous long-legged bird in Arabian legends, but it also indicates the expressive sound of the swallow's voice, while agur is transferred with slight alteration to the stork in several northern tongues. The Teuticon aiber, Dutch oyevaer, Esthonian aigr and aigro, therefore support the view that the latter term is a tribal epithet of one of the great wading birds; but neither the Hebrew text nor the Teutonic names point to the crane of Europe (Ardea grus, Linn., Grus cinerea of later ornithologists), since that species has a loud trumpet voice, and therefore does not "chatter;" but especially because in its migrations it crosses the Mediterranean into Africa, and does not appear in Palestine, unless by accident (driven thither possible by a western storm of wind); and when a troop of cranes alight under these circumstances, it is only for a moment; they do not give evidence of purposely assembling like the swallow. Thus the few characteristics indicated might seem to point out the stork, which does assemble in Syria in flocks before its departure, and is not a clamorous bird, having little or no voice But as the stork is clearly designated by a different appellation in the original, SEE STORK, we must search for another species as the representative of the sus, or at least of the latter term; and we fortunately find one which completely answers to the conditions required; for, being neither a genuine crane, a stork, nor a heron, having a feeble voice, and striking, but distinct manners, it is remarkable for beauty, numbers, residence, and periodical arrival and departure. The Numidian crane (Ardea virgo of Linn., the Grus virgo of later writers, and Anthropoides virgo of some) is the bird, we have every reason to conclude, intended by "agur," though not coming from the north, but from Central Africa, down the Nile (the very circumstance which puzzled Hasselquist), and in the spring arriving in Palestine, while troops of them proceed to Asia Minor, and some as far north as the Caspian. They are frequently found portrayed on Egyptian monuments, and the naturalist just quoted, who saw them on the Nile, afterwards shot one near Smyrna. they visit the swamp above that city, and the lake of Tiberias, and depart in the fall, but do not utter the clangor of the crane, nor adopt its flight in two columns, forming an acute angle, the better to cleave the air. This bird is not more than three feet in length; it is of a beautiful bluish gray, with the cheeks, throat, breast, and tips of the long hinder feathers and quills black, and a tuft of delicate white plumes behind each eye. It has a peculiar dancing walk, which gave rise to its French denomination of "demoiselle" (see the Penny Cyclopaedia, s. v, Herons). SEE BIRD.

The Hebrew term sus occurs frequently elsewhere, but only in the sense of "horse" or cavalry.

Bible concordance for CRANE.

Definition of crane

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

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