RAVEN (Hebrew, "'oreb"):

The first bird specifically mentioned in the Old Testament (Gen. viii. 7), where it is referred to in connection with Noah and the ark. It is included among the unclean brids in Lev. xi. 15 and Deut. xiv. 14, where the term embraces the whole family of Corvidœ—crows, rooks, jackdaws, etc. It has eight species in Palestine. The raven lives generally in deep, rocky glens and desolate places (comp. Isa. xxxiv. 11). Its habit of commencing its attack by picking out the eyes of its victim is alluded to in Prov. xxx. 17. The figure of the raven is used illustratively where references are made to the care with which God watches over His creatures (comp. Ps. cxlvii. 9). Ravens are said to have provided Elijah with food (I Kings xvii. 3-6). The dark, glossy plumage of the raven is compared to the locks of youth (Cant. v. 11).

In the Talmud, besides "'oreb" (B. Ḳ. 92b, etc.), the raven is designated "pushḳanẓa" (B.B.73b), and, from its croaking, "ḳorḳor" (B. B. 23a). "Shalak" in Lev. xi. 17 is explained in Ḥul. 63a as a bird which takes fishes from the sea, and Rashi adds, "It is the water-raven" (comp. Targ. ad loc., and see Cormorant). "Zarzir" is considered a species of raven, and this gave rise to the proverb: "The zarzir goes to the raven, for it is of its kind"—the equivalent of the English "Birds of a feather flock together" (see Ḥul. 62a, 65b; and, for other species, Ḥul. 63a, 64a). While ravens love one another (Pes. 113b) they lack affection toward their young as long as the latter remain unadorned with black plumage (Ket. 49b); but Providence takes care of them by causing worms to arise from their excrement (B. B. 8a et al.). In copulation the spittle ejected from the mouth of the male into that of the female effects conception (Sanh. 108b). The wealthy domesticated the raven (Shab. 126b), but on account of its filthiness the bird was frightened away from the Temple by means of a scarecrow (Men. 107a). The croaking of the raven was an ill omen (Shab. 67b). The comparison of dark locks with the plumage of the raven is found also in Ḥag. 14a. See Dove.

  • Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 198;
  • Lewysohn, Z. T. p. 172.
E. G. H. I. M. C.
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