why do partridges need to lay so many eggs
[1st century CE] ( Natural History, Book 10, 51): Partridges protect their nests with thorns and twigs so that they are safe from animals. After the eggs are laid the partridge moves them somewhere else, so that the laying place does not become known, and covers them with soft dust. The hens hide their eggs even from their mates, because the males break the eggs so that the females remain available to them. The cocks fight duels with each other over their desire for the hens; it is said that the loser in the fight has to submit sexually to the winner. The hens can become pregnant by merely standing facing the cock, and if they open their beak and put out their tongue at that time, they are sexually excited. Even the air blown from a cock flying overhead, or the sound of a cock crowing, is enough to cause pregnancy. If a fowler approaches the nest, the hen will lure him away by running away while pretending to be injured. If the hen has no eggs to protect, she does not run but lies on her back in a furrow and holds a clod of earth in her claws to cover herself. [7th century CE] ( Etymologies, Book 12, 7:63): The partridge (
perdix ) gets its name from perdesthai (to break wind).
It is an impure bird because through lust males have sex with males. It is a deceitful bird that steals and hatches the eggs of other birds, but it gets no benefit from this, because when the chicks hear the voice of their true mother they leave the one who hatched them and return to their mother. PARTRIDGE [Heb. , qoбreйй ]. A chickenlike (gallinaceous) bird, stout-bodied, smaller than the pheasant, able to run and dodge with great swiftness, seldom resorting to flight and tiring quickly when it does. Two kinds of partridges found in Palestine are the sand partridge ( Ammoperdix heyi ) and the rock partridge ( Alectoris graeca ). The sand partridge is found in deserts and on rocky slopes, while the rock partridge is found principally in the hill country that is covered with sparse vegetation.
The Hebrew name of this bird means Бcaller. Б While the partridge does have a ringing call, some believe its Hebrew name is intended to imitate the grating Бkrrr-icБ sound the bird makes when it is flushed. The partridge has a delicate flesh and was hunted as food from ancient times, the hunters often using throwing sticks to bring down the bird when it was flushed from cover. Since the partridge seeks escape by running, dodging behind rocks and other obstacles, and seeking out a hiding place in clefts of rocks or similar places of concealment, David, moving from hiding place to hiding place in his endeavor to evade King SaulБs relentless pursuit, aptly likened himself to Бa partridge upon the mountains. БББ ; compare. The text at, likening the man unjustly amassing wealth to Бthe partridge that has gathered together [or, possibly, hatched] what it has not laid,Б has been the subject of much discussion.
Whereas certain ancient writers described the partridge as taking eggs from other hensБ nests and incubating them, present-day naturalists state that none of the birds classified as partridges have such a practice. However, Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros refers to Jewish zoologist Israel Aharoni (1882-1946), a writer of works on Palestinian animal life, as having found Б2 layings of 11 eggs each of 2 different females [partridges] in the same nest. Б (By L. б Koehler and W. б Baumgartner, Leiden, 1958, p. б 851) Thus, the Encyclopaedia Judaica (1973, Vol. б 13, col. 156) states: БSometimes two females lay eggs in the same nest, in which case one gains the upper hand and drives the other away; however her small body is unable to keep such a large number of eggs warm, so that eventually the embryos die. It was to this that the proverb [in ] referred when speaking of one who robs another of his possessions without ultimately deriving any benefit.
Б in the King James Version reads: БAs the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool. Б In support of this alternative interpretation, John Sawyer reasons that Бthe point is the proverbial vulnerability of the partridgeБs nest, exposed as it is to marauding predators of many kinds, compared to the vulnerability of the fool who puts his trust in base gain. Б He goes on to say that the effectiveness of the proverb in Бdoes not depend on the treachery of the brooding partridge, but on its vulnerability, compared to the false sense of security of the fool who thinks he can get away with his criminal acquisitiveness. б. б. unaware of the dangers hanging over him and defenceless when disaster strikes. БББ Vetus Testamentum, Leiden, 1978, pp. б 324, 328, 329.
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