Harmless, Sweet and Gentle, With a Bubbly Laugh
by Petra van der Zande
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What do the laughing dove, almond tree, jackal and wormwood have in common?
For one thing, they are mentioned in the Bible.
Secondly, they are an integrated part of our Jerusalem neighborhood.
This article describes the Laughing Dove.
The Psalmist speaks about the dove’s power of flight, “So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” Psalm 55:6 NIV.
Jeremiah recalls its nesting habits, “And be like the dove which makes her nest in the sides of the cave’s mouth.” Jeremiah 48:28 NIV.
In Song of Songs the beloved’s eyes are compared to those of the dove, “Behold, you are fair, my love... you have dove’s eyes behind your veil.” Songs of Solomon 4:1 NIV.
This bird was chosen to symbolize God’s descending spirit after Jesus’ baptism, “And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.”” John 1:32 NIV.
The Hebrew word for pigeon is “yonah”, while “tor” refers to the turtle-dove.
In Israel we know the Pigeon (Rock Dove), the Turtle Dove and its close (but smaller) relative the Laughing Dove, so called because of their sweet sound.
“Doo,doo,dooh,dooh,dooh,do,” the laughing dove sings. Its beautiful pinkish-brown head with black-spotted scarf bobs to and fro.
A few years ago we had a couple nesting in the courtyard’s lemon tree.
The life-long, monogamous couple has several nests a year, each with two white eggs.
This particular nest was made of small twigs, perched securely in some branches.
Full of trust, they stayed put while our family moved about only a few meters away.
After an incubation of around 14 days - shared by both parents - the young (called “squabs”) were born and fed with “pigeon’s milk”. This is partially digested food, mixed with a secretion from the walls of the crop.
Although still unable to fly, the youngsters moved out of the nest and the parents continued feeding them elsewhere.
Because they rely heavily on water, they usually stay in the vicinities of gardens.
The laughing dove walks with short, shuffling steps, looking for available seeds and grains. We spot them often between the Artemisia (wormwood) bushes.
Smaller in size than the turtle-dove, it’s more colorful, with grayish blue and copper on the wings.
I missed the gentle “Doodoodoo-doo-doodoo” when the dove family moved away.
Doves and pigeons were important animals in Bible times.
Unable to afford a lamb, you were allowed to offer turtledoves or pigeons at the Temple.
A special officer was in charge of caring for the doves, which had to be bought and handed over to the priest to be sacrificed.
As the Law stated, Jesus was redeemed as a firstborn son - 31 days after birth - with a pair of doves or two young pigeons. This simple statement showed his parents were poor people.
Betting on the swiftness and endurance of doves was a known practice in Talmudic times. Such gamblers were not admitted as witnesses in court.
People used to keep doves in dovecots and in the house. It is known that Herod had pigeon towers in the palace gardens. But even today, when you walk through the Old City of Jerusalem, you often hear the soft cooing of a Turtle dove held in a little cage.
The gentleness and grace of the dove make it a favorite simile for female beauty and tenderness, and its faithfulness to its mate is a symbol of conjugal fidelity and devotion.
Jesus warned us to be on our guard, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16 NIV
The laughing (turtle) dove - a “poor men’s” bird.
Harmless, sweet, and gentle with a bubbly laugh, trustful of man.
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Good lesson on doves and their representation in the Bible. I like the way you described the birds and their habitat. You used the senses very well - I could see and hear the doves! Nicely done. I would start the article at "The Psalmist speaks about the dove’s power of flight..." The ending was a bit disappointing in that I was expecting you to compare the dove and/or its characteristics to a believer. Perhaps there is something in the way a dove is harmless, sweet and gentle that can be used by believers in their daily walk with the Lord? Just a suggestion! :) Thank you for posting this article.