The rich provided large and expensive cotes of molded pottery for their birds, each section big enough for the home of one pair of birds, the regular rows of openings resembling lattice work, so that Isaiah refers to them as "windows" (
In wild estate, rock and wood pigeons swarmed in countless numbers through rocky caves and caverns and over the plains of Gennesaret, the forests of Gilead and the woody slopes of Carmel. They remained throughout the season, breeding at all times. The doves were migratory, and were kept in confinement only as caged pets or to be held for sale for sacrifice. For these purposes, it appears that the dove was slightly preferred. When only one bird was to be used, a dove is always specified; where two, almost in every case the dove is mentioned first. Where one or the other will suffice, the dove seems to have been given preference. This may have been because it required greater effort to procure a dove, and so it was considered a greater sacrifice. Everyone having a home of any sort had pigeons they could use, or they could be taken wild at any time. The dove is first mentioned in
It will be observed that the dove is mentioned first, and it is specified that the pigeon was to be young. It is probable that the people protected their domesticated pigeons by using the wild for sacrifice, whenever possible. Young birds could be taken from a nest at almost any time. The old birds, among the wild, were shy creatures and far more difficult to capture in nets or snares than doves that came close to cities and villages to live, and exhibited much less fear of man than the wild pigeons. The next reference is in
"And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tent of meeting" (
"O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock,
In the covert of the steep place,
Let me see thy countenance,
Let me hear thy voice;
For sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely."
Here the text reads "dove," but the description of the location and the implication of the text prove the bird to have been a rock pigeon--a tender, loving thing, yet shy and timid, that peeps with eyes of bright concern over the rocks of its chosen home, down at the intruder.