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CAGE. A device so-called when used by the fowler to keep his live birds, but “basket” when used for fruit (Jer.5.27; Amos.8.1-Amos.8.2). Cf. Rev.18.2 KJV.

CAGE (כְּלוּב, H3990, סוּגַר, H6050; LXX ἄγγος, γαλεάγρα, παγίς; NT φυλακή, G5871). A box-like receptacle or enclosure for confining animals or birds, constructed with openwork of bars, wires, etc.

1. (כְּלוּב, H3990, cage, basket; cave (Jer 5:27; Amos 8:1, 2).

2. סוּגַר, H6050, cage, prison (Ezek 19:9 only). Perhaps a loan-word from Assyrian sigaru (cage). In New Heb. סוּגָר with Qāmes (instead of Pattah) means dog-collar or chain.

3. ἄγγος, G35, vessel, container, receptacle (Amos 8:1, 2). Occurs six times in LXX. Used of a cinerary urn (Herodotus i. 113). Tischendorf, WH, Nestle, and Aland read ἄγγη in Matthew 13:48; Souter ἀγγει̂α.

4. γαλεάγρα weasel-trap/cage; generally cage for beasts (Ezek 19:9 only; KJV ward; RSV cage).

5. παγίς, G4075, trap, snare, noose (Jer 5:27). Found in Aristophanes. Occurs sixty-one times in LXX (to tr. eight Heb. words); five times in NT. Appears in a 5th cent. a.d. Christian epitaph (MM).

6. φυλακή, G5871, watch, guard. Found in Homer, Aristotle, Philo, Josephus. Occurs 117 times in LXX (to tr. eight Heb. words); forty-seven times in NT. KJV cage; RSV haunt (Rev 18:2).

Akkadian šigâru (cage) was perhaps a wooden, ladder-like neck stock, in which as many as six captives could be held at the same time.


Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum (1828-1877), 3573; G. Kaibel (ed), Epigrammata Graeca ex lapidibus conlects (1878), 421.3 f.; C. Michel (ed.), Recueil d’Inscriptions Grecques (1900), 1361.4f.; H. von Gaertringen, Die Inschriften von Priene (1906), 28.4; B. P. Grenfell, A. S. Hunt, and E. J. Goodspeed (eds.), The Tebtunis Papyri, II (1902-1907), 282.7; H. St. John Thackeray, A Grammar of the OT in Greek, I (1909), 102; B. Reicke, The Disobedient Spirits and Christian Baptism (1946), 116f.; J. B. Pritchard (ed), Ancient Near Eastern Texts (1950), 298.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The earliest known form of cage made to confine a bird, for the pleasure of its song or the beauty of its coloring, was a crude affair of willows or other pliable twigs. Later cages were made of pottery, and now they are mostly made of wire. References in the Bible make it very clear that people were accustomed to confine in cages such birds as they especially prized for pets, or to detain them for market purposes. James indicated that cages were common when he wrote (Jam 3:7): "For every kind of beasts and birds .... is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind." In Job (Job 41:5) we find these lines "Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?" The only way to play with a bird is to confine it so that it grows accustomed to you and thus loses fear. Jeremiah compared the civil state of Judah to a "cage (crate) full of birds" (Jer 5:27), "the houses of the rich being stuffed with craftily-obtained wealth and articles of luxury" (HDB). The sale of sparrows as an article of food still continues in the eastern markets. Jesus referred to this (Mt 10:29) and it was He who entered the temple and overthrew "the seats of them that sold the doves" (Mt 21:12). In Re 18:2 we find a reference to "a hold (the King James Version "cage") of every unclean and hateful bird." See also Ecclesiasticus 11:30.

Gene Stratton-Porter

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