Turtle, Turtle-dove

Turtle, Turtle-dove - Its peculiar peaceful and gentle habit its often referred to in Scripture. A pair was offered in sacrifice by Mary at her purification (Luke 2:24). The pigeon and the turtle-dove were the only birds permitted to be offered in sacrifice (Lev. 1:14; 5:7; 14:22; 15:14, 29, etc.). The Latin name of this bird, turtur, is derived from its note, and is a repetition of the Hebrew name tor. Three species are found in Palestine,

(1) the turtle-dove (Turtur auritus),

(2) the collared turtle (T. risorius), and

(3) the palm turtle (T. Senegalensis). But it is to the first of these species which the various passages of Scripture refer. It is a migratory bird (Jer. 8:7; Cant. 2:11, 12). "Search the glades and valleys, even by sultry Jordan, at the end of March, and not a turtle-dove is to be seen. Return in the second week of April, and clouds of doves are feeding on the clovers of the plain. They overspread the whole face of the land." "Immediately on its arrival it pours forth from every garden, grove, and wooded hill its melancholy yet soothing ditty unceasingly from early dawn till sunset. It is from its plaintive and continuous note, doubtless, that David, pouring forth his heart's sorrow to God, compares himself to a turtle-dove" (Ps. 74:19).

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