birds

birds

Feathered, winged vertebrates. Of the three collective terms for birds used in the Bible, one is translated as “flier,” another means literally “owner of a wing,” and a third means “winged” or “flying.” Furthermore, birds in the OT were classified either as “screamers” or as “twitterers.” To the former belonged most of the raptorial birds, such as birds of prey and owl-like birds, and to the latter the passerine (sparrowlike) birds. Important for Jewish ritual is the distinction between clean and unclean birds. There are twenty unclean “birds” listed in (Lev 11:13-19) and (Deut 14:11-20). These are the eagle, metire (“vulture”), osprey, falcon, kite, raven, ostrich, nighthawk, seagull, hawk, owl, cormorant, ibis, marsh hen (“water hen”), pelican, vulture, stork, heron, hoopoe, and bat. Most of these are raptors. The bat of course is not actually a bird, but a mammal. The clean birds, which are not specifically listed but are mentioned throughout the OT, include the pigeon, the partridge, the quail, and the passerines. All of them feature as important sources of food in different circumstances (Matt 10:29; Luke 12:6). Concerning birds as sacrifices, (Lev 1:14) specifies that turtledoves or young pigeons should be chosen for burnt offerings (Luke 2:24). In the Gospels, birds are used by Jesus as illustrations of God’s providence (Matt 6:26) or as examples of items of very little value (Luke 12:6-7; Luke 12:24).

Lev 11:13-19

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Deut 14:11-20

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Matt 10:29

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Luke 12:6

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Lev 1:14

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Luke 2:24

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Matt 6:26

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Luke 12:6-7

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Luke 12:24

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