NEST (קֵן, H7860). There are frequent references to birds and their nests in the OT, and sometimes the word is used fig. to refer to the home of a human being (
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
A receptacle prepared by a bird for receiving its eggs and young. Nests differ with species. Eagles use a large heap of coarse sticks and twigs on the cleft of a mountain (
Each nest so follows the building laws of its owner’s species that any expert ornithologist can tell from a nest which bird builded it. Early in incubation a bird deserts a nest readily because it hopes to build another in a place not so easily discoverable and where it can deposit more eggs. When the young have progressed until their quickening is perceptible through the thin shells pressed against the breast of the mother, she develops a boldness called by scientists the "brooding fever." In this state the wildest of birds frequently will suffer your touch before deserting the nest. Especially is this the case if the young are just on the point of emerging. The first Biblical reference to the nest of a bird will be found in Balaam’s fourth prophecy in
"Then I said, I shall die in my nest,
And I shall multiply my days as the sand:"
is, he hoped in his days of prosperity to die in the home he had builded for his wife and children. In
"Yea, the sparrow hath found her a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
she may lay her young,
Even thine altars, O Yahweh of hosts,
My King, and my God."
These lines are rich and ripe with meaning, for in those days all the world protected a temple nest, even to the infliction of the death penalty on anyone interfering with it. This was because the bird was supposed to be claiming the protection of the gods. Hebrew, Arab and Egyptian guarded all nests on places of worship. Pagan Rome executed the shoemaker who killed a raven that built on a temple, and Athens took the same revenge on the man who destroyed the nest of a swallow. Isaiah compared the destruction of Assyria to the robbing of a bird’s nest: "And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the peoples; and as one gathereth eggs that are forsaken, have I gathered all the earth: and there was none that moved the wing, or that opened the mouth, or chirped" (