spar'-o (tsippor; strouthion; Latin passer): A small bird of
the Fringillidae family. The Hebrew tsippor seems to have
been a generic name under which were placed all small birds
that frequented houses and gardens. The word occurs about 40
times in the Bible, and is indiscriminately translated
"bird" "fowl" or "sparrow." Our translators have used the
word "sparrow" where they felt that this bird best filled
the requirements of the texts. Sparrows are small brown and
gray birds of friendly habit that swarm over the northern
part of Israel, and West of the Sea of Galilee, where the
hills, plains and fertile fields are scattered over with
villages. They build in the vineyards, orchards and bushes
of the walled gardens surrounding houses, on the ground or
in nooks and crannies of vine-covered walls. They live on
seeds, small green buds and tiny insects and worms. Some
members of the family sing musically; all are great
chatterers when about the business of life. Repeatedly they
are mentioned by Bible writers, but most of the references
lose force as applying to the bird family, because they are
translated "bird" or "fowl." In a few instances the word
"sparrow" is used, and in some of these, painstaking
commentators feel that what is said does not apply to the
sparrow. For example see Ps 102:7:...
-Two, sold for a farthing
Mt 10:29; Lu 12:6
(Heb. tzippor, from a root signifying to "chirp" or
"twitter," which appears to be a phonetic representation of
the call-note of any passerine (sparrow-like) bird). This
Hebrew word occurs upwards of forty times in the Old
Testament. In all passages except two it is rendered by the
Authorized Version indifferently "bird" or "fowl." and
denotes any small bird, both of the sparrow-like species and
such as the starling, chaffinch, greenfinch, linnet,
goldfinch, corn-bunting, pipits, blackbird, song-thrush,
etc. In Ps 84:3 and Psal 102:7
it is rendered "sparrow." The Greek stauthion
(Authorized Version "sparrow") occurs twice in the New
Testament, Mt 10:29; Lu 12:6,7 (The birds above mentioned
are found in great numbers in Israel and are of very little
value, selling for the merest trifle and are thus strikingly
used by our Saviour, Mt 10:20 as an illustration of our
Father's care for his children. --ED.) The blue thrush
(Petrocossyphus cyaneus) is probably the bird to which the
psalmist alludes in Pr 102:7 as "the sparrow that sitteth
alone upon the house-top." It is a solitary bird, eschewing
the society of its own species, and rarely more than a pair
are seen together. The English tree-sparrow (Passer
montanus, Linn.) is also very common, and may be seen in
numbers on Mount Olivet and also about the sacred enclosure
of the mosque of Omar. This is perhaps the exact species
referred to in Ps 84:3 Dr. Thompson, in speaking of the
great numbers of the house-sparrows and field-sparrows in
troublesome and impertinent generation, and nestle just
where you do not want them. They stop your stove-- and
water-pipes with their rubbish, build in the windows and
under the beams of the roof, and would stuff your hat full
of stubble in half a day if they found it hanging in a place
to suit them."
Mentioned among the offerings made by the very poor. Two
sparrows were sold for a farthing (Matt. 10:29), and
two farthings (Luke 12:6). The Hebrew word thus
_tsippor_, which properly denotes the whole family of
birds which feed on grain (Lev. 14:4; Ps. 84:3;
Greek word of the New Testament is _strouthion_ (Matt.
10:29-31), which is thus correctly rendered.
Related to Hebrew tsipor, imitation of the sound made by it,
"tzip" (Psalm 84:3. (See BIRD.) Leviticus 14:4-7 margin.) On
the meaning of the rite in cleansing leper's, one tsippor
killed, the other dipped in its blood and let loose alive,
Cowper writes: "Dipped in his fellow's blood, The living bird
went free; The type, well understood, Expressed the sinner's
plea; Described a guilty soul enlarged, And by a Saviour's
death discharged." Its commonness gives point to Jesus'
remark, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing ... one of
them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. ...
Fear ye not therefore ye are of more value than many sparrows"
(Matthew 10:29; Matthew 10:31; Luke 12:6-7). There are one
hundred different species of the passerine order in Israel.
Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest
for herself, where she may lay her young, [even] thine altars,
O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.
I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.
Sparrow. - The Hebrew word çíppôr, found over 40 times, is a general name for all small passerine birds, of which there exist about 150 species in the Holy Land.
Bird. - No other classification of birds than into clean and unclean is given. The Jews, before the Babylonian captivity, had no domestic fowls except pigeons . Although many birds are mentioned, there occur few allusions to their habits. Their instinct of migration, the snaring or netting them, and the caging of song birds are referred to.
Bird, Dyed. - So does the English version, Jer., xii, 9, wrongly interpret the Hebrew 'áyit. which means beast of prey, sometimes also bird of prey.
Bird, Singing. - This singing bird of Soph., ii, 14, according to the D.V., owes its origin to a mistranslation of the original, which most probably should be read: "And their voice shall sing at the window"; unless by a mistake of some scribe, the word qôl, voice, has been substituted for the name of some particular bird.
Birds, Speckled, Hebrew çãbhûá' (Jeremiah 12:9). A much discussed translation. The interpretation of the English versions, however meaningless it may seem to some, is supported by the Targum, the Syriac, and St. Jerome. In spite of these authorities many modern scholars prefer to use the word hyena, given by the Septuagint and confirmed by Ecclesiasticus, xiii, 22 as well as by the Arabic (dábúh) and rabbinical Hebrew (çebhôá'), names of the hyena.