- PEACOCK, bird called ταως in Greek and tavvas in the Mishnah. The peacock (Pavo cristatus) is a ritually clean bird (see dietary laws ) belonging to the pheasant family. In mishnaic times some wealthy people in Ereẓ Israel bred the peacock as an ornamental bird and even ate it on occasion, its head in particular being regarded as a great delicacy (Shab. 130a). According to the Tosefta (Kil. 1:8), "chicken, peacock, and pheasant, although resembling one another, are each heterogeneous with the other." A poetic comment on the peacock's beauty is given in the Midrash (Tanḥ. B., Lev. 33; cf. Gen. R. 7:4): "Although the peacock comes from a drop of white matter, it has 365 different colors, as many as the days in a year." The peacock originates from India, from where, it is suggested, Alexander the Great imported it into Europe. The tukkiyyim conveyed to Solomon in ships of Tarshish (I Kings 10:22; II Chron. 9:21) are most probably to be identified with peacocks, called in Tamil togai, tokai, an identification found also in ancient translations. In modern Hebrew tukki is mistakenly used to denote a parrot. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lewysohn, Zool, 189f., no. 241; F.S. Bodenheimer, Animal and Man in Bible Lands (1960), 121, 125; J. Feliks, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967), 118f., 129–32; idem, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 60. (Jehuda Feliks)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.