[Heb., ʼai·yahʹ, “black kite”; da·ʼahʹ, “red kite”; and perhaps dai·yahʹ, “glede,” likely a variety of kite].
The kite is a bird of prey and scavenger combined. Both the black kite and the red kite, the common varieties found in Palestine, are included among the unclean birds according to the Law. (Le 11:13, 14; De 14:12, 13) The Deuteronomy list contains ra·ʼahʹ in place of da·ʼahʹ, as in Leviticus, but this is considered to be probably due to a scribal substitution of the Hebrew equivalent of “r” (ר) for “d” (ד), the letters being very similar in appearance.
The Hebrew name ʼai·yahʹ is believed to be in imitation of the piercing cry of the black kite (classified by ornithologists as Milvus migrans).
The original meaning of the Hebrew name da·ʼahʹ is uncertain, but it is suggested that it indicates a “swooping or darting flight,” as in the expression “he came darting [from Heb., da·ʼahʹ] upon the wings of a spirit” (Ps 18:10), and in references to the ‘pouncing’ of the eagle. (De 28:49; Jer 48:40; 49:22) The name thus points to a bird of prey, and Koehler and Baumgartner (Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, Leiden, 1958, p. 198) suggest the red kite (Milvus milvus).
Job uses the black kite as an example of superior sharp-sightedness, while showing that man’s ingenuity and his search for wealth lead him into underground paths that even the farseeing birds of prey cannot see.—Job 28:7.
Most black kites pass through Palestine to spend the winter in Africa. An increasing number winter in Israel. They build their nests in the forks of tall trees and store food in the nest before laying eggs. The red kite, a rare winter visitor, is a reddish-brown bird, barred with black, with a grayish-white head.
[Picture on page 178]
Black kite; a bird not suitable for food, according to the Mosaic Law