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
13These you shall regard as detestable among the birds. They shall not be eaten; they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the osprey,14the buzzard, the ... View more
11You may eat any clean birds.12But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the osprey,13the buzzard, the kite, of any kind;14every r ... View more
29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight.
14If your offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, you shall choose your offering from turtledoves or pigeons.
24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight.7But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; ... View more
24Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!