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Many of the birds mentioned in the Bible were large birds of prey, of which there were many species in Palestine. They fed on small animals that they killed themselves and on the carcasses of larger animals that had either died or been killed by wild beasts. They even fed on the bodies of dead soldiers that lay scattered over the battlefield after war. Among these birds were vultures, eagles, hawks, falcons, ravens, owls and kites. The law of Moses did not allow Israelites to use any of these birds as food (Leviticus 11:13-19; Job 9:26; Job 28:7; Job 39:26; Psalms 79:2; Isaiah 34:15; Jeremiah 49:16; Ezekiel 39:4; Matthew 24:28). The ostrich, though not a bird of prey, was considered a wild and fearsome bird, living in desolate or deserted places (Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:13; Jeremiah 50:39).

There were many migratory birds in Palestine, and almost every month some departed and others arrived. The most common among these birds were the cormorant, ibis, crane, pelican, stork, seagull and heron. Israelite law again prohibited the use of these as food (Leviticus 11:13-19; Jeremiah 8:7). It did not prohibit the eating of quails (Exodus 16:13; Numbers 11:31-32; Psalms 105:40).

Birds that were commonly seen around towns and villages were sparrows, swallows, doves and pigeons. Since these were allowable as food, people often caught them in traps, and then cooked and sold them (Leviticus 5:7; Psalms 84:3; Psalms 91:3; Proverbs 26:2; Ecclesiastes 9:12; Amos 3:5; Matthew 10:29). Israelites also kept chickens, both for their meat and for their eggs (1 Kings 4:23; Matthew 23:37; Matthew 26:34).

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Birds'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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