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It once happened that travelers on a vessel noticed a bird. As he stood in the water, it merely covered his feet, and his head knocked against the sky. The onlookers thought the water could not have any depth at that point, and they prepared to take a bath there. The bird the travelers saw was none other than the Ziz. His wings are so huge that unfurled they darken the sun. They protect the earth against the storms of the south; without their aid the earth would not be able to resist the winds blowing thence. The fluid from it flooded sixty cities, and the shock crushed three hundred cedars.
~ The Jewish aggadot

The Ziz is a giant griffin-like bird in Jewish mythology, said to be large enough to be able to block out the sun with its wingspan. It is one of the first three primordial beasts to be created by God and lords over the skies with its other two cohorts, the Leviathan and the Behemoth, ruling over the sea and the earth respectively.

Description

The Ziz is as monstrous of size as Leviathan herself. His ankles rest on the earth, and his head reaches to the very sky. One notable account of Ziz details a group of travelers on a vessel noticed a colossal bird that stood in the water, the water merely covered his feet, and his head pressed against the sky. The onlookers thought the water could not have any depth at that point, and they prepared to take a bath there. But before they could, an angel warned them, "Alight not here! Once a carpenter's axe slipped from his hand at this spot, and it took it seven years to touch bottom." The bird the travelers saw was none other than the Ziz.

History

Beast of the Sky

Before God created Man, He made the first beasts which each ruled over the three layers of the Earth. The first among them was the Leviathan, a primordial creature that swam within the oceans of chaos and was tamed by God to then roam within the depths of the Earth's waters, lording over the creatures of the sea. The second was the Behemoth, who lorded over the earth and its creatures and the third was the Ziz himself, who lorded over the skies and its creatures. These beasts were created as representations of the Earth's majesty and to express the dominant power of nature over man and are the only three beasts that Adam and Eve have no lordship over.

However, after the War in Heaven, the very fundamental nature of creation itself shifted dramatically and among these disturbances was the animal kingdom turning against one another for the sake of survival as well against their former masters that being Adam and Eve. This also affected the three primordial beasts; Behemoth, Ziz, and the Leviathan itself. The effect caused them to turn against one another thereby spurning the three layers of what makes up the Earth as well as those that dwell within them into chaos. As a result, God was forced to separate these three mighty beasts lest they caused untold natural destruction upon the planet and its inhabitants.

Prophesied Death

The Ziz does appear to cause as much havoc as its primeval brethren though its carelessness is another catastrophic matter. It is said that once an egg of the Ziz fell to the ground and broke, the fluid from it flooded sixty cities, and the shock crushed three hundred cedars. Fortunately such accidents do not occur frequently. As a rule the bird lets her eggs slide gently into her nest. This one mishap was because the egg was rotten, and the bird cast it away carelessly.

When it comes to the prophecy pertaining the deaths of the Banes of Job and their flesh and hide providing nourishment and shelter for the righteous men of God it is unknown if Ziz is also part of this prophecy. However, given how Leviathan and Behemoth would give food and shelter using their bodies like any human would use on a slain animal since time immemorial it is safe to assume that Ziz would also be a part of the prophecy given its avian nature; especially since birds and their eggs would be used as sustenance for humans.

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