In B'Midbar 11:31 it is stated:

וְרוּחַ נָסַע מֵאֵת יי וַיָּגָז שַׂלְוִים מִן־הַיָּם וַיִּטֹּשׁ עַל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶה כְּדֶרֶךְ יֹום כֹּה וּכְדֶרֶךְ יֹום כֹּה סְבִיבֹות הַֽמַּחֲנֶה וּכְאַמָּתַיִם עַל־פְּנֵי הָאָֽרֶץ

"A wind went forth from the Lord and swept quails from the sea and spread them over the camp about one day's journey this way and one day's journey that way, around the camp, about two cubits above the ground."

Are שַׂלְוִים definitively quails? I ask because it states they came מִן־הַיָּם which could mean from the sea, or from the west. Comparing this, the complainers remembered the "fish" from Mitzrayim. Could it be that they ate fish of some sort rather than quail, or are there any sources that insinuate a definite definition of שַׂלְוִים?

  • 1
    FWIW, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's commentary cites no opposing view.
    – msh210
    May 21 '13 at 21:53
  • Interesting question, but is wind more likely to carry fish or, say, birds and locusts?
    – Fred
    May 21 '13 at 23:04
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    It is more likely to carry birds and locust for sure - only thing is, this being an obvious display of HaShem's might, could it not be out of the ordinary? I notice that Shemot 14:21 speaks of the בְּרוּחַ קָדִים parting the sea, so it isn't out of the question for the wind to do something seemingly impossible, right?
    – Kovesh
    May 21 '13 at 23:27
  • msh210, I'm sorry I don't understand exactly what you mean - do you mean that there is no opposing view therefore it shouldn't be questioned, or does it mean there has been no opposing view to contradict this possible explanation?
    – Kovesh
    May 21 '13 at 23:29
  • @Kovesh It is conceivable, but I would expect that an identification as fish would have been more obvious if that was the case. Anyway, the Talmud identifies it as a type of bird (Yoma 75b).
    – Fred
    May 21 '13 at 23:42

To flesh out Fred's comment: in Yoma 75b, R. Yehoshua ben Korchah states that the verb שטוח ("spreading out") in the next verse also implies שחוט, "slaughtering," indicating that שליו is something that requires shechitah - thus excluding fish (and locusts). Although Rebbi disagrees with that exegesis, he doesn't seem to argue with the basic fact of what שליו is.

(A few lines further down, the Gemara definitively identifies it as an avian species. First of all, it says that one variety of שליו is called פסיוני, which in Bava Kamma 55a is listed in a group of birds that are kilayim; second, it describes the שליו proper as כציפורתא, "like a small bird.")

Also, in Chullin 105a the verse describing the aftermath, "While the meat was still between their teeth..." (11:33), is used as a source for the rule that you can't eat dairy while there is still meat stuck between your teeth. Which again implies that the meat they ate was just that, something to which the laws of basar bechalav would apply - again excluding fish.

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    Basar bechalav doesn't apply (deoraita) to birds.
    – Double AA
    May 23 '13 at 4:01
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    @DoubleAA: neither does the whole issue of eating meat and milk one after the other; mideoraisa it's only if they're cooked together that they're forbidden. So the whole thing is only an asmachta.
    – Alex
    May 23 '13 at 16:10

The Tur (יו''ד ס' פ''ט) says that if you ate 'basar', even 'chaya' and עוף you must wait 6 hours. We derive the law of waiting between meat and milk from the episode of the שליו, that the שליו 'meat' was in between their teeth: (Ex. 11:32 ) "הַבָּשָׂר, עוֹדֶנּוּ בֵּין שִׁנֵּיהֶם"

Perhaps this means that the Tur holds שליו not to be quail since a quail would be considered עוף.

  • Are you making a diyuk in the word even? Can you elaborate on that?
    – Double AA
    Sep 22 '13 at 5:26
  • @DoubleAA, yes, when i saw it i thought it could be an implication, although i agree its not explicit.
    – bondonk
    Sep 22 '13 at 11:02

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