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Birds of the Bible

Clean and unclean for the Israelites

Birds are divided in the Mosaic law into two classes…

  1. the clean (Leviticus 1:14-17; 5:7-10; 14:4-7), which were offered in sacrifice

  2. the unclean (Leviticus 11:13-20)

    When offered in sacrifice, they were not divided as other victims were (Genesis 15:10).

    They are mentioned also as an allowed food source for the Israelites (Deuteronomy 14:11)…

    You may eat any clean bird. —NASV

Bird references

  • The art of snaring wild birds is referred to in Psalms 124:7; Proverbs 1:17; 7:23; and Jeremiah 5:27.

  • Singing birds are mentioned in Psalms 104:12; Eccl. 12:4.

  • Their timidity is alluded to (tremble—Hos. 11:11).

  • Law forbids taking of eggs or chicks with the mother bird (Deuteronomy 22:6).

  • About the reference in Psalms 84:3 KJV

    Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.

    This may be only a comparison equivalent to, “What her house is to the sparrow, and her nest to the swallow, that thine altars are to my soul.”

    The highly idiomatic translation of this verse by Eugene H. Peterson in The Message Bible is…

    Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
    sparrows and swallows make nests there.
    They lay their eggs and raise their young,
    singing their songs in the place where we worship.
    God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God!
    How blessed they are to live and sing there!

Birds mentioned in Scripture

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Article Version: September 8, 2017