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English Bible Dictionary

Ostrich

 

A large bird, native of African and Arabia, nearly ten feet high, having s long neck and short wings. It seeks retired places, (Job 30:29; Lamentations 4:13) and has a peculiar mournful cry that is sometimes mistaken by the Arabs for that of the lion. (Micah 1:8) In (Job 39:13-18) will be found a description of the bird's habits. Ostriches are polygamous; the hens lay their eggs promiscuously in one nest, which is merely a hole scratched in the sand; the eggs are then covered over to the depth of about a foot, and are, in the case of those birds which are found within the tropics, generally left for the greater part of the day to the heat of the sun, the parent-birds taking their turns at incubation during the night. The habit of the ostrich leaving its eggs to be matured by the sun's heat is usually appealed to in order to confirm the scriptural account, "she leaveth her eggs to the earth;" but this is probably the case only with the tropical birds. We believe that the true explanation of this passage is that some of the eggs are left exposed around the nest for the nourishment of the young birds, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. It is a general belief among the Arabs that the ostrich is a very stupid bird; indeed they have a proverb, "stupid as an ostrich." As is well known, the ostrich will swallow almost any substance, iron, stones, and even has been known to swallow "several leaden bullets scorching hot from the mould." But in many other respects the ostrich is not as stupid as this would indicate, and is very hard to capture. It is the largest of all known birds, and perhaps the swiftest of all cursorial animals. -The feathers so much prized are the long white plumes of the wings. The best are brought from Barbary and the west coast of Africa.

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