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SPARROW (Heb. צִפּוֹר דְּרוֹר, ẓippor deror or דְּרוֹר, deror, but sometimes the word ẓippor "bird" refers to the sparrow), the Passer domesticus biblicus, the house sparrow, which is the most common bird in Israel during all seasons of the years. It "dwells in the house as in the field" and its name ẓippor deror ("free bird") is explained by the fact that "it does not submit to authority" (Beẓah 24a); and, despite the fact that it lives in populated areas, it cannot be domesticated. It nests in the interstices of rooftops and stone walls. It is referred to as nesting between the stones of the Temple (Ps. 84:4), and to this day some make their nests between the stones of the *Western Wall. It possesses the characteristics of a kasher bird (see *Dietary Laws) and there are Jewish communities which permit it for food. "Two ẓipporim" were used for the purification ceremony of the leper (Lev. 14:4) and for the house cleansed from leprosy (ibid., 14:49); according to the Mishnah (Neg. 14:1) ẓipporei deror, i.e., house sparrows, are meant. Some would identify the deror with the swallow, but the descriptions of the deror in rabbinical literature leave no doubt that it refers to the sparrow.


Lewysohn, Zool, 187 (no. 237), 206–9 (nos. 256 and 257); F.S. Bodenheimer, Animal and Man in Bible Lands (1960), 56, 119, 120 (no. 20); J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 61. add. bibliography: J. Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 222.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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spar·row / ˈsparō/ • n. 1. a small finchlike Old World bird (Passer and other genera, family Passeridae or Ploceidae) related to the weaverbirds, typically with brown and gray plumage. 2. any of a number of birds that resemble true sparrows in size or color, including an American bunting and a waxbill.

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sparrow Any of a number of small finch-like birds that live in or around human settlements. Typical is the house sparrow. The male has a chestnut mantle, grey crown and rump, and black bib. The female is duller and lacks the bib and grey rump. Sparrows feed, roost, and dust-bathe in noisy, twittering flocks. Basically seed-eaters, with a preference for grain, they are widely regarded as pests. They also eat fruit, worms, and household scraps. Length: 14.5cm (5.75in). Family Ploceidae; species Passer domesticus.

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sparrow OE. spearwa = OHG. sparo, MHG. sparwe, ON. spǫrr, Goth. sparwa :- Gmc. *sparwan-, *sparwaz.

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