“And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean.” (Leviticus 13:40)
Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus) by Dan at LPZoo
“And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean.” (Leviticus 13:40)
Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus) by Dan at LPZoo
And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 KJV)
Herons are one of the species listed on the “Do not eat list” as we have written about before in the various Birds of the Bible – Heron articles. The first one was written back in 2008 when I first started the blog.
Since we were out birdwatching last week over in Tampa at the bay, I thought I would share some of those photos and update the Heron information some more. We saw a Great Blue Heron, several Little Blue Herons, and several others that are “after her kind” and in the same Ardeidae – Heron, Bitterns family. There were Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets fishing along with the others. The Little Blue Herons were in breeding plumage which you could tell because of their exceptionally blue beaks. (Not real clear-I was zoomed from quite a distance)
Herons are only mentioned twice in Scripture; Leviticus 11:19 and in Deuteronomy 14:18. That modern-day family, Ardiedae, currently has 72 members which includes not only Herons and Egrets, but also Bitterns. Some of them are grouped together like, Tiger Herons, Night Herons, Pond Herons, Reef Herons and Cattle Egrets. Not sure about the Tiger Herons but the night, pond, reef, and cattle name give you a clue as to where you might find them out and about.
And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Deuteronomy 14:18 KJV)
The herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae, (some are called “egrets” or “bitterns” instead of “heron”). Within Ardeidae, all members of the genera Botaurus and Ixobrychus are referred to as “bitterns”, and — including the Zigzag Heron or Zigzag Bittern — are a monophyletic group within the Ardeidae. However, egrets are not a biologically distinct group from the herons, and tend to be named differently because they are mainly white and/or have decorative plumes. Although egrets have the same build as herons, they tend to be smaller.
The classification of the individual heron/egret species is fraught with difficulty, and there is still no clear consensus about the correct placement of many species into either of the two major genera, Ardea and Egretta. Similarly, the relationship of the genera in the family is not completely resolved. However, one species formerly considered to constitute a separate monotypic family Cochlearidae, the Boat-billed Heron, is now regarded as a member of the Ardeidae.
Although herons resemble birds in some other families, such as the storks, ibises, spoonbills and cranes, they differ from these in flying with their necks retracted, not outstretched. They are also one of the bird groups that have powder down. Some members of this group nest colonially in trees, while others, notably the bitterns, use reedbeds.
The largest species of heron is the Goliath Heron, which stand up to 152 cm (60 in) tall. The necks are able to kink in an s-shape, due to the modified shape of the sixth vertebrae. The neck is able to retract and extend, and is retracted during flight, unlike most other long-necked birds. The neck is longer in the day herons than the night herons and bitterns. The legs are long and strong and in almost every species are unfeathered from the lower part of the tibia (the exception is the Zigzag Heron). In flight the legs and feet are held backward. The feet of herons have long thin toes, with three forward pointing ones and one going backward.
The herons are a widespread family with a cosmopolitan distribution. They exist on all continents except Antarctica, and are present in most habitats except the coldest extremes of the Arctic, extremely high mountains and the driest deserts. Almost all species are associated with water, they are essentially non-swimming waterbirds that feed on the margins of lakes, rivers, swamps, ponds and the sea. They are predominately found in lowland areas, although some species live in alpine areas, and the majority of species occur in the tropics.
While the family exhibits a range of breeding strategies, overall the herons are monogamous and mostly colonial. Most day-herons and night-herons are colonial, or partly colonial depending on circumstances, whereas the bitterns and tiger-herons are mostly solitary nesters. Colonies may contain several species as well as other types of waterbird. In a study of Little Egrets and Cattle Egrets in India the majority of the colonies surveyed contained both species. (Wikipedia with editing)
Birds of the Bible – Heron – Page
Birds of the Bible – Herons – Article
Heron – Wikipedia
Ardeidae – Heron, Bitterns family
This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth, to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten. (Leviticus 11:46-47 NKJV)
The phrase “law of the animals and the birds” caught my eye while looking at Leviticus 11. We have written other articles on the “Clean and Unclean” birds in this chapter, but I like the way the verse is worded in the NKJV. See Clean vs Unclean and Deuteronomy 14:11-18 Visualized. In those articles the birds were named whether clean or unclean.
This “law of the birds” was given to the Israelites for instruction on which birds could be eaten and which were to be avoided as cuisine. But why were they selected and what significance does this have today for Christians? Here are some of the commentator’s remarks on this verse.
Believer’s Bible Commentary – “In giving this law concerning clean and unclean creatures, God was teaching lessons concerning His holiness and the necessity for His people to be holy as well (vv. 44-47).
In Mark 7:18-19, the Lord Jesus declared all foods to be ceremonially clean. And Paul taught that no food should be refused if it is received with thanksgiving (1Tim_4:1-5). However, even that would not include foods that are contaminated, culturally unacceptable, or digestively disagreeable to a person.”
So we know it was to teach God’s holiness and for the people to be holy. Also stated by:
Bible Knowledge Commentary – c. Summary and theological conclusion (Lev 11:41-47)
“The whole set of food laws is summarized by the repetition of selected examples (Lev 11:41-43). As God’s people were to distinguish between clean and unclean animals, so God had distinguished between them and other nations. These food regulations were to serve as a perpetual reminder of the holiness of God and His grace in choosing Israel (Lev 11:45).”
The practical applications for today are given in several of the commentaries such as:
Matthew Henry’s Condensed Commentary – “These laws seem to have been intended,
1. As a test of the people’s obedience, as Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge; and to teach them self-denial, and the government of their appetites.
2. To keep the Israelites distinct from other nations. Many also of these forbidden animals were objects of superstition and idolatry to the heathen.
3. The people were taught to make distinctions between the holy and unholy in their companions and intimate connexions.
4. The law forbad, not only the eating of the unclean beasts, but the touching of them. Those who would be kept from any sin, must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, or coming near it. The exceptions are very minute, and all were designed to call forth constant care and exactness in their obedience; and to teach us to obey. Whilst we enjoy our Christian liberty, and are free from such burdensome observances, we must be careful not to abuse our liberty. For the Lord hath redeemed and called his people, that they may be holy, even as he is holy. We must come out, and be separate from the world; we must leave the company of the ungodly, and all needless connexions with those who are dead in sin; we must be zealous of good works devoted followers of God, and companions of his people.”
Through The Bible With J Vernon McGee – CLASSIFICATION OF CLEAN AND UNCLEAN MADE BY A HOLY GOD
“It is God who makes the sharp distinction between the clean and the unclean. Holiness in little things is essential. This is the real test of God’s man. The acid test of any life of any of God’s people is this. God says, “I am your Lord. I am holy. Be ye holy.”
My friend, you must make the decision as to whether you are going to walk with God and for God in this contaminated world. This is the lesson for us from his chapter of the clean and the unclean.”
We are told in Scripture that the birds can teach us:
But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; (Job 12:7 NKJV)
Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, And makes us wiser than the birds of heaven? (Job 35:11 NKJV)
Maybe we should watch and observe things about them and also comprehend truths taught about them from the God who created them.
Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 42:6 NKJV)
We will continue on with the Birds of the Bible – Foundation series.
In the last blog the “Fall” of Adam and Eve was mentioned and because of that, the “Curse” is now on them and all of God’s creation. Death comes on the scene, mankind now has sinned and now each person is born as a sinner. The ground is cursed and thorns and thistle now appear.
By Genesis Chapter 6, God has had it with the sins of man.
And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. (Genesis 6:5-7 KJV)
All is not lost because, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:8 KJV) Because of the grace found by Noah, the LORD gives him instructions about how to build an ark including the size, materials to use, who and what will be on board, and why the ark will be needed. God makes a covenant with Noah and tells him to come in with his wife and his sons and his son’s wives.
And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. (Genesis 6:19-20 KJV)
He was also to provide food for all of them. And Noah obeyed all that he was told. Noah spent over 100 years preparing the ark and trying to warn others of the coming judgment. There was plenty of room on the ark for more than the 8 people who boarded the ark. The others refused to repent.
When we get to Chapter 7, the boarding of the ark takes place and the rain and flood begins. “And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.” (Genesis 7:1-5)
Noah did not have to round up the animals, they came to him. Because not every animal we see today came on board but the main kinds (for instance the “bird kinds” may have had a “warbler kind” but not have black and white warblers,yellow-rumped warblers, hooded warbler, etc.), which ever ones they were, there was plenty of room for them. I have an idea that because the LORD sent the animals, birds, and critters, that their DNA’s were of the highest quality. (That is my opinion)
If you read the rest of Genesis 7, you will see that the global flood came and covered everything and only those who were in the ark survived, plus some of those that live in the water.
And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. (Genesis 7:21-23)
In Foundation #4 we will find out about what the birds go through as they come off the ark and after.
In our study on the Birds of the Bible, it has been mentioned whether a bird is “clean” or “unclean.” As I have prepared the blogs, I have been considering why a bird is on the clean or unclean list. I had been saving this blog for later, but due to unexpected travel, I’ll do it now.
In Genesis 9:3 it is stated that “every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you.” So, of course, the birds would be included in this as well. In Deuteronomy 14:11-20, a list of birds is given to signify which birds are unclean and not eaten; basically, all the rest can be consumed. But why are some birds unclean: Looking at the list, the eagle, ossifrage, kite, glede, vulture, and the hawk are known to eat dead animals (carrion). It would not be very healthy to eat them. The other birds on the list are all meat eaters, and maybe that has something to do with their being placed on the unclean list. Are the birds bad because of what they eat? No. Each one was created exactly for the purpose God intended. The carrion eaters help keep the land clean. Another passage mentions the list of unclean birds in Lev 11:13-20.
Some of the other birds on the list are a mystery to me. For instance the Cormorant, Swan, Pelican, Heron, and the Stork are birds I watch here in Florida, and they all seem to be fish eaters. One article mentions that the Heron used to be eaten, but they were fishy tasting and they stopped eating them. Why is it that no matter how many things we are given with only a few put off limits, that someone always has to try the few. Does that not sound like what happened in the garden of Eden when Eve just had to try the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When God puts something off-limits or says it is “unclean,” there is a good reason for it. Most times it is for our benefit because God loves us and doesn’t want us harmed. The “clean” birds mostly have a diet of grain, fruits, and vegetation. Could that be why they are okay to eat? With all the good birds available like chicken, turkey, quail, duck, etc., I’d much rather sit down to a Thanksgiving meal of turkey than vulture.
The birds used for the sacrifices were all clean birds.
Then the #1 reason to eat or not eat a bird according to the list is: AND GOD SAID
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