occurs in the A. V. at Le 11:13; De 14:12 (where it is classed among unclean birds), as the rendering of the פֶּרֶס (pe'res; Sept. γρύψ,Vuulg. gryps), which is supposed to be derived from the root pairas', פָּרִס, to break, from the power of its beak to crush the bones of its victims. Hence the Latin compound ossifrage, or bone-breaker, is simply a translation of the Hebrew name. There has been much difference of opinion as to the bird intended by this term, but it is evidently a large bird of the eagle kind, and is very possibly called in these passages by a general name, bestowed indefinitely by the Jews. with no accurate discrimination of species. The Targum of Onkelos, and the Sept. and Vulg., understand the "vulture," and many modern versions concur in this reading. Others think the word denotes the black eagle, and some the falcon. It is perhaps the great sea-eagle, which, as it differs in its colors during the several stages of its growth, has obtained three distinct systematic names: Falco ossifragus, Falco albicilla, Falco albicandus. When it has attained its fifth year, it puts on its last suit, which is a dusky brown, intermixed with gray, with a white tail. It is about the size of the golden eagle, and inhabits the cliffs along the sea-shore. It is found in the northern parts of Europe and in Asia. But most prefer to identify the Hebrew bird in question with the species commonly known as the Vulture of the Alps, which was the ossifrage of the Romans. It was called by the Hellenic nations phene (φήνη), and is known as the Lammergeyer in Switzerland. This is the largest flying bird of the Old World, and inhabits the highest ranges of mountains in Europe, Western Asia, and Africa. Not only does he push kids and lambs, and even men, off the rocks, but he takes the bones of animals that other birds of prey have denuded of the flesh high up into the air, and lets them fall upon a stone in order to crack them and render them more digestible even for his enormous powers of deglutition. (See. Mr. Simpson's very interesting account of the Lammergeyer in Ibis, 2:282.) The Lammergeyer, or bearded vulture, as it is sometimes called, is one of the largest of the birds of prey. It is not uncommon in the East; and Mr. Tristram several times observed this bird "sailing over the high mountain-passes west of the Jordan" (Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 171). The species in Europe is. little if at all inferior in size to the Condor of South America, measuring from the point of the bill to the end of the tail four feet two or three inches, and sometimes ten feet in the expanse of wing; the head and neck are not, like those of vultures, naked, but covered .with whitish narrow feathers; and there is a beard of bristly hair under the lower mandible; the rest of the plumage is nearly black and brown, with some whitish streaks on the shoulders, and an abundance of pale rust color on the back of the neck, the thighs, vent, and legs; the toes are short and bluish, and the claws strong. In the young the head and neck are black, and the species or variety of Abyssinia appears to be rusty and yellowish on the neck and stomach. It is the griffon of Cuvier, Gypaetos barbatus of nomenclators, and γρύψ, of the Sept. The Arabs, according to Bruce, use the names Abu-Duch'n and Nisser-Werk, which is a proof that they consider it a kind of eagle, and perhaps confound this species with the great sea-eagle, which has likewise a few bristles under the throat; and commentators who have often represented Peres to be the black vulture, or a great vulture, were only viewing the Gypaetos as forming one of the order Accipitres, according to the Linnoean arrangement, where Vultur barbatus (Syst. Nat.) is the last of that genus, although in the thirteenth edition (by Gmelin) we find the name changed to Falco barbatus, and located immediately before F. albicilla, or the sea-eagle, showing that until a still more accurate classification placed the species in a separate genus, ornithologists had no determined idea of the true place it should occupy, and consequently by what generical appellation it was to be distinguished.

Bible concordance for OSSIFRAGE.

Definition of ossifrage

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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