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OWL:

Rendering in the English versions of the following Hebrew words: "kos" (Lev. xi. 17; A. V. "little owl"); "yanshuf" (ib.; A. V. "great owl"; LXX. ἶβις); "tinshemet" (ib. v. 18; R. V., after the Samaritan and Targum, "horned owl"; Vulgate and A. V. "swan"). The Authorized Version renders "bat ha-ya'anah," "ḳippoz," and "lilit" also by "owl" (but see Ostrich; Serpent).

"Kos," referred to in Ps. cii. 7 as living among ruins, may be identified with the Carina glaux, the emblem of Pallas Athene, and called by the Arabs "bumah," the most abundant of all owls in Palestine. "Yanshuf" is usually identified with the Bubo ascalaphus, which inhabits ruins and caves throughout Palestine, but is especially abundant around Petra, the ancient Edom (comp. Isa. xxxiv. 11). There are also found in Palestine the white owl, the great horned owl, the wood-owl (Syrnium aluco), the Indian fish-owl (Ketupa ceylonensis), and the long-eared and the short-eared owl (Strix otus and S. brachyotus).

The terms for "owl" occurring in the Talmud are: , and . This bird was eaten in Babylon, but was forbidden as food in Meraba,where it was called (Ḥul. 63a). There is also or (or ; comp. Targ. on "kos," Lev. xi. 17), described by Rashi as a bird screeching in the night, with a countenance resembling that of a cat, the cheeks of a man, and having the eyes in front (Niddah 23a; Ber. 57b). It is said that its appearance in dreams is of bad omen (ib.).

Bibliography:
  • Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 191;
  • Lewysohn, Z. T. p. 162.
E. G. H. I. M. C.
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