And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work. (Zephaniah 2:14 KJV)
This verse in Zephaniah is a bit confusing because some of the characteristics mentioned are not in line with a bittern’s normal behavior. So, let’s look into this verse a little deeper.
Pulling up my e-Sword program, I am heading to the “Compare” mode. Wow! This is going to be interesting. What a variation of birds and animals listed for that verse.
- ACV, ASV, BBE, RV, Disciple’s, WEB - pelican and the porcupine
- ABP, Brenton - chameleons; and hedgehogs
- AKJV, KJV, IAV, JUB, UKJV, Webster - cormorant and the bittern
- AMP, NAS77, NASB, YLT - pelican and the hedgehog
- Bishops, Geneva - pellicanes and owles
- CEV - all kinds of desert owls
- CJB - jackdaws and owls
- Darby, ECB, HRB, LITV, JPS, MKJV, NKJV - pelican and the bittern
- DRB - bittern and the urchin
- ERV - Owls and crows
- ESV - owl and the hedgehog
- GNB, MSG, NET – Owls
- GW - pelicans and herons
- HCSB, ISV, NIV, NRSV - desert owl and the screech owl
- KJ2000 - vulture and the hedgehog
- TRC - pelicans and storks
See what my mean?
Here are the Strong’s Definitions for those two word in order of occurance.
From H6958; probably the pelican (from vomiting): – cormorant.
From H7088; a species of bird, perhaps the bittern (from its contracted form): – bittern.
At least 14 versions use the “bittern” as one of the two birds. Now to look further in the verse, it mentions that they are lodged in the upper parts with their voice singing in the windows. That is where I am curious about it being a bittern. Have you heard a bittern “sing”? Here a few of their “songs” from xeno-canto.
Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
Pinnated Bittern (Botaurus pinnatus)
Stripe-backed Bittern (Ixobrychus involucris)
Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis)
Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis)
I am not as concerned as to which birds were there as much as if you read the context, you realize that the birds and critters are there because the places are deserted. Like a “ghost town” you see in the movies, with creatures occupying the windows and rafters. Why? Because of the Lord’s judgement on the people. Verses 10-13 explain this:
This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts. The LORD will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen. Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword. And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness. (Zephaniah 2:10-13 KJV)
Maybe we should heed the warnings and examples given throughout Scripture. We have a loving God and Lord who created everything and cares about it, but He is also a God of Judgment. John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But if you continue reading, you see that there is also judgment.
(17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
(18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
(19) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
(20) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
(21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
John 3:17-21 KJV
I trust you know the Lord as your personal Savior.