COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in September 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Why does the raven mate differently from any other bird?

Q. Why does the raven mate differently from any other bird?

R. There are various explanations. One is that he has been punished for his lewdness in the Ark, and for the same reason also the dog has been punished.

               Others say, because he is wicked, a thief, and froward. There is one answer which combines and explains it more satisfactorily. When Noah wanted to send the raven to see whether the waters were falling, the raven fled and hid himself under the eagle's wing. Noah searched after him and found him there under the wing of the eagle. He said to him, "Go, thou wicked one, and see whether the waters are falling." The raven replied, "Hast thou not found any other bird but me." Noah replied, "I can only send one of the two birds whose first letter is either Ain or Yod." The raven replied, "Why not the eagle and dove"? (Nun, Yod). Noah said, "Because there will be a town in existence called Ai whose inhabitants will kill Yair, who will forbid the raven and permit the dove (to eat)." Then the raven replied impudently to Noah, "The reason why thou hast chosen to send me out is that thou wishest to kill me in order to marry my mate, as I belong to those birds of which thou hast introduced into the Ark only one pair."

               When Noah heard these words, he cursed the raven that he should mate differently from any other bird, and all the birds in the Ark replied Amen. Then the raven replied, "Why hast thou cursed me? I have a legal complaint against thee." Noah replied, "Because thou art lewd and foolish and dost suspect innocent people. If I do not approach my own wife, who is like unto me, whilst we are in the Ark, how can I approach thy wife, who is so different from a human being, and moreover is forbidden unto me as a married female?"

               The raven said, "Why dost thou call me lewd (fornicator)?" Noah replied, "Thine own words prove thine immorality, I have not made thee an evil name." And thus it has remained according to Noah's curse (f. 26b-27a).

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Why does the raven mate differently from any other bird?
Tale Author/Editor: Sira, Ben
Book Title: Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
Book Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1915
Country of Origin: Hebrew
Classification: unclassified

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