- DOVE (Heb. יוֹנָה, yonah), the domesticated (Columba domestica) as well as the wild pigeon, of which several species are found in Ereẓ Israel, in whose caves and rock clefts brood large flocks of rock pigeons (Columba livia), considered to be the original species of the domesticated variety. It builds its nest in the clefts of precipitous rocks inaccessible to birds and animals of prey (Jer. 48:28). Sepulchral chambers, hewn in caves in several places in Israel, are used by doves for brooding, and in the Bet Guvrin region there are columbaria consisting of tens of thousands of such chambers. Among the varieties of the rock pigeon is a wild variety found in Jerusalem which broods under the caves of houses and is known as the "loft-dove" in contradistinction to the "cote dove" which is bred (Tosef., Beẓah 1:10). The Mishnah refers to the catching of wild doves in nets (BK 7:7). The dove, which is permitted as food, was brought as an offering by the poor (Lev. 5:7) and by the Nazirite (Num. 6:10). Because of their importance as a sacrifice, the state of the young doves' development was taken into account when intercalating the year (Sanh. 11a). The sages held that the dove was eligible for sacrifices because "there is none among the birds more persecuted than doves" (BK 93a). It is monogamous, the female following the male (cf. Hos. 7:11). At nesting time the males coo (Isa. 59:11). The dove symbolizes beauty, innocence, and purity (Song 1:15; 5:2). The "benei yonah" which were used as sacrifices are defined in the Talmud as tender young doves until "their feathers begin to glisten"; they are identical with the gozal (Gen. 15:9; cf. Kin. 2:1; Ḥul. 22b). Of a superior domestic stock were the "hardesiot" doves, a name derived, some contend, from that of King Herod who, according to Josephus, bred doves (Jos., Wars, 5:181; cf. Ḥul. 139b). Among those ineligible to act as witnesses is one who decoys doves from his neighbor's dovecote or who engages in pigeon races (Sanh. 25a). The first dove mentioned in the Bible is the one sent by noah which brought back an olive leaf (Gen. 8:8–11) – according to rabbinic tradition from the Mount of Olives. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lewysohn, Zool, 199ff.; Tristam, Nat Hist, 211–6; Y. Aharoni, Torat ha-Ḥai, 1 (1923), 103–5; F.S. Bodenheimer, Ha-Ḥai be-Arẓot ha-Mikra, 2 (1956), 385–92; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 54. ADD Bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 238. (Jehuda Feliks)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.