Harper’s Bible Dictionary
edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)
You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition, edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms, http://www.borders.com, or http://www.christianbook.com.
quail, a small plump gamebird. It is generally agreed that the Hebrew word translated ‘quail’ in the ot (selaw) denotes the common quail (Coturnix coturnix). Its plumage is of a sandy brown base color with black and pale streaks. The quail breeds in Europe and western Asia and passes through Palestine and Sinai on its way to its winter quarters in Africa.
During the Exodus large flocks of quail provided the Israelites with the food God had promised them (Exod. 16:13; Num. 11:31; Ps. 105:40). The large numbers so easily collected by the Hebrews (over a hundred bushels per person) can be explained by the fact that the quail, though a strong flyer over short stretches, is dependent on the wind to cover large distances. Changes in the wind direction force it to the ground and make it easy prey. In ancient Egypt quails were potted and pickled in large quantities, but excessive hunting has now considerably decreased their numbers.
Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer