One of the most familiar species of pigeon. The most common term for dove in the O. T. is "yonah," comprising the whole family of Columbidœ, but in particular denoting the dove (Columba), as distinguished from the turtle-dove (Turtur), for which "tor" is used exclusively. The dove is first mentioned in the account of the Deluge (Gen. viii. 8-12) as one of the birds sent out from the Ark. In the sacrificial code the dove and turtle-dove were the only birds admitted as sacrifices (Lev. v. 8; xii. 6, 8; xiv. 5, 22; xv. 14, 29). The dove seems to have been early domesticated in Palestine (compare Isa. lx. 8, where the dove-cot ["arubbah"] is referred to). Four species of Columbœ and three of Turtur at present inhabit Palestine in large numbers (see Tristram, "The Natural History of the Bible," pp. 214, 216, London, 1889).
The Talmud mentions about ten species or varieties of Columbidœ, among them being: "tasil" or "ta'ẓil" (Ḥul. 62a. 140b; B. B. 75a); "ẓulẓalta" and "ẓilẓela," abbreviated into "ẓuẓla" (Sanh. 100a; Shab. 80b); "ḥamimta" (Giṭ.69b); "daẓipe" and "kupshana," explained to be "turtles of the street" (Ḥul. 62a); "torin shel reḥabah" (= half-tamed doves). The young dove is called "ben yonah" or "bar gozala" (Ḥul. 22a, 76b). More specific terms for the young of a dove are "pargeyot" and "peridah" (B. M. 24b, 84b; compare Rashi); "niful" denotes the unfledged dove, while "gozal," as in the Bible, indicates the young of any bird, and is even used of helpless babes (Pes. 49a). Of domesticated doves three varieties are mentioned: (1) those kept in the dovecot ("shobak"); (2) those kept in the house (properly the attic, "'aliyyah"); and (3) Herodian doves("hordesi'ot"; Beẓah 24a; Shab. 155b; Ḥul. 138b). The last variety is so named because Herod was accustomed to keep them in pigeon-towers in the gardens surrounding his palace (compare Josephus, "B. J." v.4, § 4). For the regulations concerning the breeding and rearing of doves see B. K. 79b; B. B. 22b, 24b; Shab. 155b.
Betting on the swiftness and endurance of doves was well known in Talmudic times, and those who practised it ("mafriḥe yonim") were placed in one category with gamblers and usurers, and were not admitted as witnesses in court (Sanh. 24b; R. H. 22a). According to Rashi to B. B. 80a, the dove begins to lay when it is two months old, and breeds every month, with the exception of the month of Adar (compare Cant. R. i. 15, iv. 1). For illustrations of the fertility of the dove see Ber. 44a; Lam. R. ii. 4; and Ker. 28a. Mustard is considered the favored food of doves (Shab. 128a). The Temple had a special officer to care for the doves ("ḳinnin") used for sacrifice (Yer. Shek. v. 1). Turtle-doves were preferred for sacrifices because mentioned in the first place in the sacrificial code (Ker. 28a).
The gentleness and grace of the dove make it a favorite simile for female beauty and tenderness (Cant. i. 15; iv. 1; v. 2, 12; vi. 9; compare Ber. 56b), and its faithfulness to its mate is a symbol of conjugal fidelity and devotion ('Er.100b). It is especially an emblem of unjustly persecuted Israel (Ps. lxxiv. 19; compare B. Ḳ. 93a), and its wings, iridescent with silver and gold (Ps. lxviii. 13), are compared with the commandments which hedge around and protect Israel (Ber. 53b; Shab. 49a, 130a). For a detailed comparison of the dove with Israel see Cant. R. i. 15, iv. 1. It is often contrasted with the cunningand treacherous raven (Giṭ. 45a; Ḳid. 70b; compare Sanh. 100b). It is also an image of the Spirit of God (Ḥag. 15a; Targ. to Cant. ii. 12; Rashi to Gen. i. 2; compare Sanh. 108b).
The anecdote of the Samaritans having worshiped the image of a dove on Mt. Gerizim (Ḥul. 6a; compare Yer. 'Ab. Zarah v. 44d) probably arose from the fact that after Hadrian the Romans erected a brazen bird there (compare Jost, "Gesch. der Juden," i. 61, 75; Herzfeld, "Gesch. Israels," ii. 596).
- Tristram, The Natural History of the Bible, pp. 211-220;
- L. Lewysohn, Die Zoologie des Talmuds, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1858, pp. 1, 188, 199-206;
- C. L. Schlichter, De Turture Eiusque Qualitat. Usu Antiqu., etc., Halle, 1739;
- Lorenz, Die Taube im Alterthum, Leipsic, 1886.