The Hebrew word derohrʹ is also translated “liberty” in certain texts (Lev. 25:10; Isa. 61:1), and some commentators consider the name as describing the graceful free-flying swallow with its uninhibited movement. Others associate the Hebrew name with the Arabic darra, meaning to flow copiously or stream, and connect this with the swift darting of the bird as it catches insects in flight.
The psalmist, in proclaiming his yearning for the courtyards of Jehovah’s house, makes reference to the swallow’s finding a nest for herself in which to place her young. (Ps. 84:1-3) Swallows frequently build their cuplike nests (formed of mud pellets) on buildings or houses, often under the eaves, and hence some understand this passage to mean that swallows nested in the temple structure, as they do today in similar buildings throughout the land. However, the psalmist does not state this and seems, rather, to be employing a simile here in which the swallow, having found her nest, is a symbol of peace and security such as the psalmist found in Jehovah’s courts.
The other reference to the swallow occurs at Proverbs 26:2, stating that even “as a bird has cause for fleeing and just as a swallow for flying, so a malediction itself does not come without real cause.” (NW) Some translations render the Hebrew instead as a “curse that is causeless [and] does not alight” (RS; see also AS, Ro), and so consider the text to mean that such a causeless curse does not come to fulfillment or “alight,” but, rather, is like the restless flight of the swallow as it continues almost tirelessly on the wing in pursuit of its insect prey. In the surrounding verses the writer is discussing the fool and his ways, and thus in the rendering first cited (NW) the sense may be instead that, even as the flying of the birds when fleeing from danger or searching for food has a real cause, so, too, if a fool’s course brings a malediction upon him, it was not without there being real cause; his foolish course was responsible.—Compare verse 3; also Proverbs 1:22-32.
The swallow, particularly the common or barn swallow, is abundant in Palestine. Some swallows spend the year there, whereas others arrive in March and depart at the approach of winter. Small, with long powerful wings and, usually, a forked tail, the swallow is a bird of unusually graceful and speedy flight, able to cover long distances in migration. The plumage often has a rich iridescent hue; its song is a pleasant combination of soft twittering and warbling.