International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
chik’-’-n, chik’-in (Anglo-Saxon, cicen or cycen; Latin, Gallus ferrugineus; alektruon, masculine and fem.): A barnyard fowl of any age. The record is to be found in the books of the disciples, but Jesus is responsible for the only direct mention of chickens in the Bible. Mt 23:37, contains this: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Luke’s version of the same scene says: "Even as a hen gathereth her own brood under her wings" (Lu 13:34). There is no reference to chickens in the Old Testament sufficiently clear to specify our common domestic bird. The many references to "fatted fowl" in these older records, in accordance with the text and the history of the other nations, were pigeons, guineas, ducks, geese and swans. The importation of peafowl by Solomon is mentioned. The cock and hen are distinctive birds and would have been equally a marvel worth recording had they been introduced at that time. From the history of the bird in other countries it is a safe estimate to place their entrance into Palestine between five and six hundred years BC. That would allow sufficient time for them to increase and spread until they would be well known and common enough to be used effectively in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Every historical fact and indication points to the capture and domestication of the red jungle fowl in Burma. The Chinese records prove that they first secured imported fowl from the West in 1400 BC. Their use for food dated from 1200 to 800 BC, in the Book of Manu, but it was specified that only those that ran wild were to be eaten. From these countries they were imported to Greece and Italy, and from there carried south into Palestine Homer ([?] 10; compare also alektruon, P 602) names a man Cock, alektor, which seems to indicate that he knew the bird. Pindar gives them slight mention; Aristophanes wrote of them as "Persian birds," which indicates that they worked their way westward by importation. I cannot find them in the records of Aristotle, but Aristophanes advanced the idea that not the gods, but the birds were rulers of men in ancient times, and compared the comb of the cock with the crown of a king, and pointed out that when he "merely crows at dawn all jump up to their work" (Aves, 489-90). They were common in Italy in the days of Pliny, who was ten years old at the time of the crucifixion of Christ. Pliny gave many rules for raising chickens, proving that much was known of their habits in his time. Yet so credulous was he and so saturated with superstition, that, mixed with his instructions for preserving eggs, brooding and raising chickens, is the statement that on account of the fighting power of the cocks the lions feared them. He wrote that a man named Galerius in the time of the consuls, Lepidus and Catulus, owned a barnyard fowl that spoke. He names Lenius Strabo as the first man to devise a "coupe" to keep fowl in and "cram" them to fatness. He gave the laws governing the use of fowl at table and recorded that in Egypt eggs were hatched in manure beds, which is conclusive proof that birds had been carried across the Mediterranean several centuries previous. The records of Babylon, 600 BC, contain figures undoubtedly intended for cocks, and they were reproduced in marble in Lycia at that time, In all these reproductions the birds have the drooping tail of the wild, and there is no record of the date at which they erected the tail, lifted the head and assumed the upright bearing of today.