Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) by Nikhil Devasar
For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. (1 Kings 10:22 KJV)
For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. (2 Chronicles 9:21 KJV)
In my reading today in I Kings 10, I came to the peacocks arriving to Israel via the Navy of Tharshish or Tarshish. We have written about them in Birds of the Bible – Peacocks (2008) and Birds of the Bible – Pied Peacock and Allies (2011). It’s time to see what else can be discovered about these beautifully created birds by the Lord.
We know He, The LORD, questioned Job about the Peacocks “goodly wings” in Job 39.
Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? (Job 39:13 KJV)
Now, in I Kings and II Chronicles, the Peacocks are arriving in ships by the Navy of Tharshish. It appears that every three years those ships arrived with its precious cargos. Where had the ships gone to collect these items. There is speculation by some writers that the ships went west to Spain and other think in another way toward India and areas in that direction. The Bible does not say, so, we really don’t know.
Does that make you curious? It make me wonder where they found those peacocks.
Checking the history of Peacocks from CreationWiki and Wikipedia, they say that there are two species of Peafowl from Asia and one species from Africa. Is that were they got these Peacocks mentioned here in Scripture? When you are reading the Bible, do questions like this every give you an urge to dig a little deeper?
First, the “Peacocks” are the males. The females are called “Peafowl” and their chicks are called “Peachicks.” Collectively the birds are called Peafowl. They all belong to the Phasianidae – Pheasants, Fowl & Allies Family.
The two species from India-Asia are the Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)
Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) by Nikhil Devasar
and the Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus).
Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) by Ian
The African member of the family is the Congo Peacock (Afropavo congensis).
Congo Peacock (Afropavo congensis) M F ©WikiC
Here are some of the thought of various commentaries:
JFB – once in three years — that is, every third year. Without the mariner’s compass they had to coast along the shore. The ivory, apes, and peacocks might have been purchased, on the outward or homeward voyage, on the north coast of Africa, where the animals were to be found. They were particularized, probably as being the rarest articles on board.
Geneva – By Tharshish is meant Cilicia, which was abundant in the variety of precious things.
Darby – 1 Kings 10:1-29 – The king of Tyre also was dependent on the king of Israel; and the queen of Sheba comes from the far south to delight herself in the wisdom of the head of God’s people, and to be filled with wonder at the sight of his glory, and to praise Jehovah who had raised him so high, and who had blessed the people in giving him to be their king. She also came with gifts; for the king’s renown had spread into distant lands. Nevertheless, although it was a true report that she had heard, the sight of his glory went far beyond all that had been said of it.
Constable – God forbade Israel’s kings from multiplying chariots (1Ki_10:26), the most effective and dreaded military machines of their day (Deu_17:16). God wanted His people to depend on Him primarily for their protection. Material prosperity and security often lead people to conclude that they have no needs when really our need for God never diminishes. Solomon fell into this trap. Wealth is not sinful in itself, but it does bring temptations with it (cf. Jam_5:1-6).
Though Solomon experienced great blessings from his faithful God, he fell prey to the sins these blessings make easier, as the writer explained in the next chapter.
Barnes – This is given as the reason of the great bountifulness of silver in the time of Solomon. The “navy of Tharshish” (not the same as the navy of Ophir, 1Ki_9:26) must therefore have imported very large quantities of that metal. Tharshish, or Tartessus, in Spain, had the richest silver mines known in the ancient world, and had a good deal of gold also; apes and ivory were produced by the opposite coast of Africa; and, if north Africa did not produce “peacocks,” which is uncertain, she may have produced the birds called here “tukkiyim,” which some translate “parrots,” others “guinea-fowl” – the latter being a purely African bird. The etymology of the Hebrew words here rendered “ivory,” “apes,” and “peacocks,” is uncertain; but even if of Indian origin, the Jews may have derived their first knowledge of ivory, apes, and peacocks, through nations which traded with India, and may thus have got the words into their language long before the time of Solomon. The names once fixed would be retained, whatever the quarter from where the things were procured afterward.
Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) at Cincinnati Zoo by Lee
We have no clear idea of where they came from, and it really does not matter other than we are told they came by ship. We know that Solomon was the wisest and wealthiest king because God promised him back when he prayed for wisdom.
And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in….. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. (1 Kings 3:7-14 KJV)
(Javan) Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus muticus) by Lee at Zoo Miami
Wow! Is that not true of those of us who know the Lord? The Lord answers our prayers many times by giving us much more than we ever asked for. As long as our prayers are in line with His Word.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (Ephesians 3:17-20 KJV)