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stork Summary and Overview

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stork in Easton's Bible Dictionary

Heb. hasidah, meaning "kindness," indicating thus the character of the bird, which is noted for its affection for its young. It is in the list of birds forbidden to be eaten by the Levitical law (Lev. 11:19; Deut. 14:18). It is like the crane, but larger in size. Two species are found in Israel, the white, which are dispersed in pairs over the whole country; and the black, which live in marshy places and in great flocks. They migrate to Israel periodically (about the 22nd of March). Jeremiah alludes to this (Jer. 8:7). At the appointed time they return with unerring sagacity to their old haunts, and re-occupy their old nests. "There is a well-authenticated account of the devotion of a stork which, at the burning of the town of Delft, after repeated and unsuccessful attempts to carry off her young, chose rather to remain and perish with them than leave them to their fate. Well might the Romans call it the pia avis!" In Job 39:13 (A.V.), instead of the expression "or wings and feathers unto the ostrich" (marg., "the feathers of the stork and ostrich"), the Revised Version has "are her pinions and feathers kindly" (marg., instead of "kindly," reads "like the stork's"). The object of this somewhat obscure verse seems to be to point out a contrast between the stork, as distinguished for her affection for her young, and the ostrich, as distinguished for her indifference. Zechariah (5:9) alludes to the beauty and power of the stork's wings.

stork in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(Heb. chasidah), a large bird of passage of the heron family. The of the largest and most conspicuous of land birds, standing nearly four feet high, the jet black of its wings and its bright red beak and legs contrasting finely with the pure white of its plumage. #Zec 6:9| In the neighborhood of man it devours readily all kinds of offal and garbage. For this reason, doubtless it is placed in the list of unclean birds by the Mosaic law. #Le 11:19; De 14:18| The range of the white stork extends over the whole of Europe, except the British isles, where it is now a rare visitant, and over northern Africa and Asia as far at least as Burmah. The black stork (Ciconia nigra, Linn.), though less abundant in places, is scarcely less widely distributed, but has a more easterly range than its congener. Both species are very numerous in Israel. While the black stork is never found about buildings, but prefers marshy places in forests and breeds on the tops of the loftiest trees, the white stork attaches itself to man and for the service which it renders in the destruction of reptiles and the removal of offal has been repaid from the earliest times by protection and reverence, The derivation of chasidah (from chesed, "kindness") points to the paternal and filial attachment of which the stork seems to have been a type among the Hebrews no less than the Greeks and Romans. It was believed that the young repaid the care of their parents by attaching themselves to them for life, and tending them in old age. That the parental attachment of the stork is very strong has been proved on many occasions, Few migratory birds are more punctual to the time of their reappearance than the white stork. The stork has no note, and the only sound it emits is that caused by the sudden snapping of its long mandibles.

stork in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

STORK (the pious), a bird of passage, much like the crane, but larger. It feeds on insects, snails, frogs, and The Stork. (Ciconia Alba. After Tristram.) offal, and was reckoned among unclean birds. The common stork (Ciconia alba) stands nearly 4 feet high, and is white except the extremities of the wings, which are black. Its long legs enable it to seek its food in the water as well as on the land, and its bill is so formed as to retain its slippery prey. In Palestine it builds its nest on trees, Ps 104:17, or on lofty ruins, but in Europe it everywhere appropriates chimney-tops and the eaves of houses. In Hebrew as in Latin the stork is "the pious bird," and its English name comes, indirectly at least, from the Greek storye, which signifies "natural affection." Unquestionably, these birds exhibit unusual tenderness toward their young and their mates, but the ancient opinion that the offspring recognize their parents all through life and carefully tend them in age, it is a pity to say, is probably apocryphal. Storks are singularly regular in their migrations to and from Africa. They pass over Syria in vast flocks, which sail high in the heaven, and as their legions wheel in the sky and even dim the sunlight the most stupid mind is awakened to admiration. Jer 8:7. "In various parts of Holland the nest of the stork, built on the chimney-top, remains undisturbed for many succeeding years, and the owners return with unerring sagacity to the well-known spot. The joy which they manifest on again taking possession of their deserted dwelling, and the attachment which they testify toward their benevolent hosts, are familiar in the mouths of every one. "In all the countries where the stork breeds it is protected: boxes are provided on the tops of the houses, and he considers himself a fortunate man whose roof the stork selects. There is a well authenticated account of the devotion of a stork, which at the burning of the town of Delft, after repeated and unsuccessful attempts to carry off her young, chose rather to remain and perish with them than leave them to their fate. Well might the Romans call it pia aris! "The beauty and power of the stork's wings are seized on as an illustration by Zechariah: 'The wind was in their wings, for they had wings like the wings of a stork.' Zech 5:9. The black pinions of the stork, suddenly expanded from their white body, have a striking effect, having a spread of nearly 7 feet, and the bird on the wing, showing its long bright-red bill and steering itself by its long red legs, stretched out far behind its tail, is a noble sight. The stork has no organs of voice, and the only sound it emits is caused by the sharp and rapid snapping of its bill, like the rattle of castanets." - Tristram. This bird seems to be fond of the society of man, is often seen stalking in the crowded street, and is superstitiously protected in the East. Its marked preference for Muslims over Christians is, however, not due to special attachment to the faith of Islam, as the Turks boast, but to the greater amount of offal to be found about Mohammedan dwellings, and, what is more creditable, to the kinder treatment the bird receives at their hands. The black stork (Ciconia nigra) is abundant about the waters of Palestine. It builds its nest in trees, is somewhat smaller and darker- colored than the white species, and is unlike it in shunning the society of man. See Peacock.

stork in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Four feet high, with jet black wings and bright red beak and legs (Zechariah 5:9). Chacidah, the white stork, Ciconia, alba, unclean because of its unclean feeding (Leviticus 11:19). From Hebrew chacid, "dutiful," "piously affectionate." The black stork is more common in the East (but Septuagint translated "heron".) Its confiding nature toward man, its utility in clearing away offal and reptiles, its attachment to its young, and kindness to the old and feeble, its grave contemplative look, and its predilection for pinnacles of temples, mosques, and churches, have made it in all ages an object of man's special regard and protection; so that in Thessaly it was a capital crime to kill a stork (Pliny, H. N. 10:21). In the burning of Delft formerly, and more lately in the battle of Friedland, a mother stork, having vainly tried to extricate her young, perished in the flames herself. The stork punctually observes "her appointed times" of migration at the end of March and beginning of April; in Holland she remains until October. Storks' nests, unless disturbed, are rebuilt for generations on the same site (Jeremiah 8:7). Regularly they return every spring from their winter abodes in sunnier climes, but God's people will not return to Him even when "the winter" of His wrath is past and He invites them back to "the spring" of His favor. They build their large nests in lofty trees, in the absence of lofty towers and ruins, to which their liking for man's society attracts them (Psalm 104:17). (On Job 39:13, sSee OSTRICH.)