Birds of the Bible – Hawks

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Brevard Zoo by Lee

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Brevard Zoo by Lee

“Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, And spread its wings toward the south? (Job 39:26 NKJV)

In Birds of the Bible – Hawk Migration we covered Job 38:1-3 which talks about birds knowing when to head South. After taking nice pictures of the Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks at the Brevard Zoo, I decided to do another Birds of the Bible about Hawks. Just discovered that I never really did an initial one on Hawks like I did for the other Birds of the Bible articles.

According to the King James Version of Scripture, the other two verses with hawk in them are:

the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; (Leviticus 11:16 NKJV)


the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after their kinds; (Deuteronomy 14:15 NKJV)

Both of these references to the Hawk are in the list of unclean birds the Israelites were not suppose to eat. The list of Clean and Unclean birds were covered in Birds of the Bible – Clean vs. Unclean,  Birds of the Bible – The Law Of The Birds and Deuteronomy 14:11-18 Visualized.

The CEV (Contemporary English Version) combines all of the birds together in one verse in Leviticus and then again in Deuteronomy.

Eagles, vultures, buzzards, crows, ostriches, hawks, sea gulls, owls, pelicans, storks, herons, hoopoes, and bats are also disgusting, and you are forbidden to eat any of them. (Leviticus 11:13 CEV)

But don’t eat the meat of any of the following birds: eagles, vultures, falcons, kites, ravens, ostriches, owls, sea gulls, hawks, pelicans, ospreys, cormorants, storks, herons, and hoopoes. You must not eat bats. (Deuteronomy 14:12 CEV)

The GNB (Good News Bible) does basically the same with Leviticus and Deuteronomy:

You must not eat any of the following birds: eagles, owls, hawks, falcons; buzzards, vultures, crows; ostriches; seagulls, storks, herons, pelicans, cormorants; hoopoes; or bats. (Leviticus 11:13 GNB)

But these are the kinds of birds you are not to eat: eagles, owls, hawks, falcons; buzzards, vultures, crows; ostriches; seagulls, storks, herons, pelicans, cormorants; hoopoes; and bats. (Deuteronomy 14:12 GNB)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) Brevard Zoo by Lee

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) Brevard Zoo by Lee

Let’s see what other references to the Hawk can be found in other version of the Bible.

Job 28:7 talks about the vulture’s or hawk’s eye and it’s vision. The KJV and some of the others translate Job 28:7 with a “vulture’s eye”, where as the BBE, CEV, GNB, MSG, translate it as the “hawk’s eye” or the hawk. Yet others translate it as a falcon or kite.

No bird has knowledge of it, and the hawk’s eye has never seen it. (Job 28:7 BBE)

Miners go to places unseen by the eyes of hawks; (Job 28:7 CEV)

No hawk sees the roads to the mines, And no vulture ever flies over them. (Job 28:7 GNB)

Vultures are blind to its riches, hawks never lay eyes on it. (Job 28:7 MSG)

J Vernon McGee says this about the verse – “The birds fly over the earth and its mountains. There are veins of minerals down in the earth that the birds fly over and know nothing about, neither can the vulture see them. There must be precious stones and veins of riches and wealth which are completely unknown and untapped.”

Adam Clarke’s Commentary -“There is a path which no fowl knoweth – The instinct of birds is most surprising. They traverse vast forests, etc., in search of food, at a great distance from the place which they have chosen for their general residence; and return in all weathers, never missing their track: they also find their own nest without ever mistaking another of the same kind for it. Birds of passage, also, after tarrying in a foreign clime for six or seven months, return to their original abode over kingdoms and oceans, without missing their way, or deviating in the least from the proper direction; not having a single object of sight to direct their peregrinations. In such cases even the keen scent of the vulture, and the quick, piercing sight of the eagle, would be of no use. It is possible that Job may here refer to undiscovered mines and minerals; that notwithstanding man had already discovered much, yet much remained undiscovered, especially in the internal structure and contents of the earth. Since his time innumerable discoveries have been made; and yet how little do we know!”

The only Bible to translate Psalms 74:19 as a “hawk” is the BBE, while most of the rest make it “wild beast” or “wild animal”.

O give not the soul of your dove to the hawk; let not the life of the poor go out of your memory for ever. (Psalms 74:19 BBE)


The DRB (Douay-Reimes Bible) totally misinterprets this verse in my opinion. Check out other translations and you will see the difference.

The wing of the ostrich is like the wings of the heron, and of the hawk. (Job 39:13 DRB)

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) ©BirdwatchingBliss

Isaiah has several verses mentioning the hawk. Isaiah 34 talks about a gathering of birds and these verses mention the hawk:

Owls, hawks, and wild animals will make it their home. God will leave it in ruins, merely a pile of rocks. (Isaiah 34:11 CEV)

Horned owl and hawk will possess it, screech owl and raven will live there; he will stretch over it the measuring line of confusion and the plumbline of the empty void. (Isaiah 34:11 CJB)

But the hawk and the porcupine shall possess it, the owl and the raven shall dwell in it. He shall stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness. (Isaiah 34:11 ESV)

The arrowsnake will make her hole and put her eggs there, and get her young together under her shade: there the hawks will come together by twos. (Isaiah 34:15 BBE)

There the owl nests and lays and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow; indeed, there the hawks are gathered, each one with her mate. (Isaiah 34:15 ESV)

The tree snake will make its nest and lay eggs there, And it will hatch and gather them under its protection. Yes, the hawks will be gathered there, Every one with its kind. (Isaiah 34:15 NASB)

The tree snake shall make its nest and lay eggs there, And it will hatch and gather them under its protection. Yes, the hawks shall be gathered there, Every one with its kind. (Isaiah 34:15 NAS77)

There the arrow snake shall make her nest and lay eggs And hatch, and gather them under her shadow; There also shall the hawks be gathered, Every one with her mate. (Isaiah 34:15 NKJV)

Cooper's Hawk Wild at Lowry Pk Zoo

Cooper’s Hawk Wild at Lowry Pk Zoo

Isaiah again in Chapter 46 verse 11 has been translated by some to contain a hawk:

and brought someone from a distant land to do what I wanted. He attacked from the east, like a hawk swooping down. Now I will keep my promise and do what I planned. (Isaiah 46:11 CEV)

I am calling a man to come from the east; he will swoop down like a hawk and accomplish what I have planned. I have spoken, and it will be done. (Isaiah 46:11 GNB)


Here are just various verses that mention hawks:

My people are like a hawk surrounded and attacked by other hawks. Tell the wild animals to come and eat their fill. (Jeremiah 12:9 CEV)

My chosen people are like a bird attacked from all sides by hawks. Call the wild animals to come and join in the feast! (Jeremiah 12:9 GNB)

It happened at once. Nebuchadnezzar was driven out of human company, ate grass like an ox, and was soaked in heaven’s dew. His hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a hawk. (Daniel 4:33 MSG)


Then there are a couple of verse that use “hawk” not as a bird “per se,” but a verb:

They don’t seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God’s business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares. After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it. (Romans 10:3 MSG)

For we are not as many, hawking the Word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 2:17 MKJV)

Hawks are in the Accipitridae Family of Kites, Hawks & Eagles and can be read about in the Birds of the Bible – Hawk section.

The term hawk can be used in several ways: (from Wikipedia)

  • In strict usage in Australia and Africa, to mean any of the species in the subfamily Accipitrinae, which comprises the genera Accipiter, Micronisus, Melierax, Urotriorchis and Megatriorchis. The large and widespread Accipiter genus includes goshawks, sparrowhawks, the Sharp-shinned Hawk and others. These are mainly woodland birds with long tails and high visual acuity, hunting by sudden dashes from a concealed perch.
  • More generally (especially in North America) to mean falcons or small to medium-sized members of the Accipitridae—the family which includes the “true hawks” as well as eagles, kites, harriers and buzzards.
  • Loosely, to mean almost any bird of prey outside of the order Strigiformes (owls).

The common names of birds in various parts of the world often use hawk in the second sense. For example, the Osprey or “fish hawk”; or, in North America, the various Buteo species (e.g., the Red-tailed Hawk, B. jamaicensis).

In February 2005, the Canadian ornithologist Louis Lefebvre announced a method of measuring avian “IQ” in terms of their innovation in feeding habits. Hawks were named among the most intelligent birds based on his scale. Hawks are widely reputed to have visual acuity several times that of a normal human being. This is due to the many photoreceptors in the retina (up to 1,000,000 per square mm for Buteo, against 200,000 for humans), an exceptional number of nerves connecting these receptors to the brain, and an indented fovea, which magnifies the central portion of the visual field.

See also:

Birds of the Bible

Birds of the Bible – Hawk Migration
Ian’s Bird of the Week – Spotted Harrier
Raptor ID
Raptor Overview

Nave’s Topical Bible – Hawk
Accipitriformes – Order, Accipitridae – Family (Kites, Hawks & Eagles

Wordless Birds

3 thoughts on “Birds of the Bible – Hawks

  1. Pingback: Our Highway of Holiness | When two become one – Sabine shares

    • Thanks, Angie, for the great compliment. It is enjoyable searching for all the birds in the Scriptures. More than I ever thought when I first started searching for them.


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