The first time, listed in the Gospels, when Jesus, in His Humanity, is near a bird, was at His dedication. According to the Jewish law, the first born son was to be dedicated at the temple. This was to take place 40 days after he was born. This was so that Mary, his earthly mother, to be purified and Jesus could be dedicated. This was not His first visit, as at eight days old he was there.
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord“), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:22-24 NIV)
Bible Gateway’s – MacArthur Study Bible (NKJV) note:
“2:22 her purification. A woman who bore a son was ceremonially unclean for 40 days (twice that if she bore a daughter—Lev. 12:2–5). After that she was to offer a yearling lamb and a dove or pigeon (Lev. 12:6). If poor, she could offer two doves or pigeons (Lev. 12:8). Mary’s offering indicates that she and Joseph were poor (v. 24). to Jerusalem. A journey of about 6 mi. from Bethlehem. to present Him to the Lord. The dedication of the firstborn son was also required by Moses’ law (v. 23, cf. Ex. 13:2, 12–15).
At forty days old, we could assume that Jesus was not really aware of the doves or pigeons that were used for this offering. Assumptions are not always 100% correct. We are not going to delve into that discussion here. Nor will we try to assume whether other birds were near Jesus at the manger. We are just going to use what the Word says.
The reason the turtledove or pigeons were used, was because of the finances of his mother and Joseph, his step-father.
“2:24 turtledoves. See Leviticus 12:8. Joseph, despite his royal lineage, was only a young carpenter, too poor to bring a lamb for his offering.” (Defender’s Bible)
“The fact that they offered two pigeons instead of a lamb and a pigeon is an indication that Joseph and Mary were not wealthy. Levitical law required a woman, after the birth of a son, to purify herself for 40 days before going to the temple to offer a sacrifice for her purification. The law stated that she was to offer a lamb and a dove, but if she could not afford these, she could offer two pigeons or doves” (Leviticus 12:2–8). (Halley’s Bible Handbook Notes)
As we journey on with Jesus and the Birds, He will be telling about them by way of parables and others means. Stay tuned!
- How old was Jesus at this time?
- What birds could be offered for this sacrifice?
- Do you think Jesus saw the birds?
- Do babies look around at that age?
For notes and helps, I am using several resources beside God’s Word, the Bible. I use Bible Gateway as a source for many different Bible versions and study helps. Many are free, but a paid option is also available. [That is what I use – $3.99 month)
I also have many different Bibles I own and use, of which my favorite is the Defender’s Bible by Henry Morris. (older version) This can also be used online at Defender’s Bible from I.C.R.