Birds and Jesus – Infant Visit To Temple

Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) by Nikhil Devasar

Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) by Nikhil Devasar

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. 13:212–15).

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.

Common Pigeon -aka Rock(Columba livia) by Daves BirdingPix

Common Pigeon -aka Rock(Columba livia) by Daves BirdingPix

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!

Questions:

  1. How old was Jesus at this time?
  2. What birds could be offered for this sacrifice?
  3. Do you think Jesus saw the birds?
  4. 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.

On Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures:

ABC’s of the Gospel

Bible Birds – Dove and Pigeon Distribution

Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata) by Robert Scanlon

Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata) by Robert Scanlon

Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; (Genesis 8:8 KJV)

Doves and Pigeons are mentioned many times throughout Scripture. When people all over the world read about them in their Bible, they probably have an idea of what that bird looks like. Why?

“Pigeons and doves are distributed everywhere on Earth, except for the driest areas of the Sahara Desert, Antarctica and its surrounding islands and the high Arctic. They have colonised most of the world’s oceanic islands, reaching eastern Polynesia and the Chatham Islands in the Pacific, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Réunion in the Indian Ocean, and the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean.” (Wikipedia)

They appear almost everywhere. During the time of sacrifices to God, before Jesus Christ became the perfect Sacrifice for our sins; doves, turtle dove and young pigeons were accepted. Just as salvation is available to all, there were birds available, no matter where you were.

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) by Dan

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) by Dan

Why are they so plentiful?

“The family has adapted to most of the habitats available on the planet. These species may be arboreal, terrestrial or semiterrestrial. Various species also inhabit savannas, grasslands, deserts, temperate woodlands and forests, mangrove forests, and even the barren sands and gravels of atolls.”

Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) by Margaret Sloan

Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) has been widely introduced around the world – by Margaret Sloan

Are the Doves and Pigeons called by the same name? No. As they have reproduced and moved to the different areas (distribution), the number of species have grown.

“Some species have large natural ranges. The Eared Dove ranges across the entirety of South America from Colombia to Tierra Del Fuego, the Eurasian Collared Dove has a massive (if discontinuous) distribution from Britain across Europe, the Middle East, India, Pakistan and China, and the Laughing Dove across most of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as India, Pakistan and the Middle East. Other species have a tiny, restricted distribution; this is most common in island endemics. The Whistling Dove is endemic to the tiny Kadavu Island in Fiji, the Caroline Ground-dove is restricted to two islands, Truk and Pohnpei in the Caroline Islands, and the Grenada Dove is restricted to Grenada in the Caribbean. Some continental species also have tiny distributions; for example, the Black-banded Fruit Dove is restricted to a small area of the Arnhem Land of Australia, the Somali Pigeon is restricted to a tiny area of northern Somalia, and Moreno’s Ground Dove is restricted to the area around Salta and Tucuman in northern Argentina.”

Rock Dove (Columba livia) by Ian

Rock Dove (Columba livia) by Ian

 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. (Genesis 15:9 KJV)

“The largest range of any species is that of the Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon. This species had a large natural distribution from Britain and Ireland to northern Africa, across Europe, Arabia, Central Asia, India, the Himalayas and up into China and Mongolia. The range of the species increased dramatically upon domestication, as the species went feral in cities around the world. The species is currently resident across most of North America, and has established itself in cities and urban areas in South America, sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The species is not the only pigeon to have increased its range due to the actions of man; several other species have become established outside of their natural range after escaping captivity, and other species have increased their natural ranges due to habitat changes caused by human activity.”

The “Pigeon” (Columba livia) is known by many names because of the different languages spoken, yet they all refer to the same bird. The scientific name,  Columba livia, refers to only that bird, no matter what they call it.

Here are some examples:

English:
Rock Pigeon
Czech:
holub skalní
German:
Felsentaube
Danish:
Klippedue
Spanish:
Paloma Bravía
Finnish:
kalliokyyhky
French:
Pigeon biset
Icelandic:
Bjargdúfa
Italian:
Piccione selvatico
Japanese:
kawarabato
Japanese:
カワラバト(ドバト)
Dutch:
Rotsduif
Norwegian:
Klippedue (Domestisert: Bydue)
Polish:
gołąb miejski
Portuguese:
Pombo-doméstico
Portuguese (Brazil):
Pombo-doméstico
Russian:
Сизый голубь
Slovak:
holub divý
Swedish:
Klippduva
Chinese:
原鸽

(Adapted from the Wikipedia’s “Columbidae” page, especially the “Distribution and Habitat” section.)

Banded Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus cinctus) by Ian

Banded Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus cinctus) by Ian

The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:12 NKJV)

Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) by Nikhil

Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) by Nikhil

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29 KJV)

As mentioned above, if a person could not afford a lamb or ram, then Turtle Dove and Pigeons were accepted. They were plentiful and available. Since the Lord paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sin, the need to use these birds is no longer needed. As a birdwatcher, I am thankful. As a Christian, I am most thankful for the Lord’s sacrifice for my sins.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

See:

*

Birds of the Bible – How Many Are There? I

Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)Raven (Corvus corax) by Kent Nickell

Northern Raven (Corvus corax) by Kent Nickell

The list of the Birds of the Bible varies according to which version of the Bible you use. We have discussed this in other articles, but don’t think I ever actually listed them all. An article from Birding and the Bible says there are 29 and then questions 2 of them, the Glede and the Ossifrage, adding the Swift, his lists is 28 or 29.

The sidebar here has links to 33 pages of Bible Birds. There are a few more I am considering adding. After this study, I may find even more. I am going to write this as I do my research using my e-Sword program (free). Currently, I have quite a few versions of the Scriptures loaded and want to see what is listed. (Disclaimer About Bible Version Usage) Let’s get started.

The very first reference to birds or fowls, is in Genesis 1:21. That is where God created “every winged fowl after his kind” (KJV) or ” every winged bird according to its kind” (NKJV). Most agree with, “And God saw that it was good.” Here are some of the other ways of stating it:

  • “winged creature feathered  according to type.” (ABP+)
  • “every creature that flies with wings according to its kind,” (Brenton)
  • “every kind of bird that flies in the air.” (ERV)
  • ” all kinds of birds.” (GNB)
  • “He created every kind of bird that flies.” (NIrV)

So basically, all agree that the birds or fowls were created after their kind or type on the fifth day (1:23) and that God saw that it was good. That right there includes all the major families of birds, some have become extinct, some which interbred within their kinds, etc. until today we now have over 10,000 named species of birds. (Birds of the World)

In Genesis 1:25 God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion” over birds, etc. The term his is given as “dominion over”, “have rule over”, “power over” (GNB), “be masters over” (ISV), “So they can be responsible for” (MSG).

Then in Genesis 2:20, Adam named the birds that the LORD God brought to him. The version all agree that they are birds or fowls or the air or heavens.

In chapter 3, Adam and Eve sin against God and we all come under the judgement including the critters, birds included. By chapter 6, things are so bad that the LORD tells Noah to bring two of every kind of critter into the Ark and then in 6:20, the birds are again mentioned. They are to be preserved in pairs of sevens. Again, no specific named bird is mentioned throughout chapter 6 or 7.

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) by Lee

During and after the Flood, then we finally here of specific named birds. The first bird named in the Bible is the Raven. Noah opened the window of the ark and “sent forth a raven” and it flew back and forth “until the waters were dried up from off the earth.” (KJV) Other than spelling differences, they all agree on the Raven. The same is true of verse 8 where the Dove was released. The Dove kept coming back until the waters were totally dried up. The third time it was released, it did not return.

So now we have 2 Birds of the Bible – the Raven and the Dove.

The next reference to birds is in 9:2 where the birds now have a fear of humans placed on them. They, the birds, are told to multiply and fill the earth and are given a covenant or promise by God that the earth would never be destroyed by a worldwide flood again. Gen 9:10-17 – the Rainbow.

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. (Genesis 9:2 KJV)

King Vulture Brevard Zoo 120913 by Lee

King Vulture Brevard Zoo by Lee

In Genesis 15:9 we find the next birds, a Turtledove, young pigeon and in 15:11, the vultures. Two are sacrificed birds, the other is coming to take from the alter.

So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:9-11 NKJV)

Let’s see how these birds are given in the various translations. “dove” several, “turtle” (DRB), “mourning dove” (GW), “even a nestling” (LITV), and “young bird” (YLT). Most are in agreement with spelling differences from the old English of some of the translations.

Verse 11 has: birds of prey, birds, fowls, large birds (DRB), swoopers (ECB), Vultures (GNB, MSG, NKJV), and ravenous birds (YLT). Never heard of “swoopers”, so I guess that one doesn’t count. What you think? They all realize that some birds came swooping down trying to get at the sacrifice, but Abram drove them away.

Our list of Birds of the Bible so far:

Also mentioned:

  • Swooper (Gen 15:11)

For now, that is enough. To be continued in Part II.

Birds of the Bible

Wordless Birds

*