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Water Hen

WATER HEN (תִּנְשֶׁ֫מֶת, H9492, Lev 11:18; Deut 14:16 only, meaning uncertain; water hen RSV; Swan KJV; horned owl ASV). It is impossible to suggest a tr. for this Heb. word. The LXX and Vul. tr. Porphyrio or Ibis (not the same bird); the former is a genus of rails and water hens, of which Pal. has eight species but there is nothing to support this tr. Driver (PE2 [1955] 15) suggests “little owl.” Swan (KJV) cannot be correct. The mute swan is a winter visitor to the lakes and rivers but was prob. unknown to the Israelites, esp. in the desert. In any case, there seems no reason why such a plant-eating bird should be unclean.

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