Jesus And Birds – His Dedication

European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) ©WikiC

European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) ©WikiC

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..

“Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “EVERY MALE WHO OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD” ), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.” (Luke 2:22-24 NKJV)

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 Rock Pigeon Pair ©ARKive

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 Birds, He will be telling about them by way of parables and others means. Stay tuned!


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.

Jesus and Birds – Introduction

Birds of the Bible

Birds and Jesus – Kids and younger reader version

Birds of the Bible – At the Lord’s Dedication

Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) by Nikhil

Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) by Nikhil

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcision of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. (Luke 2:21-24 KJV) (emphasis mine)

When hearing about the “Christmas Story.” as some call it, most of the time it is quoted from Luke 2. Remember that chapter also mentions Christ’s circumcision and dedication. The sacrifice to be offered for that occasion was a lamb or either a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons.

European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) ©WikiC

European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) ©WikiC

Mary and Joseph were not wealthy and they were allowed to bring “A pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons. The proper offering was a lamb for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or dove for a sin offering; but for the poor an alternative was allowed instead of the more costly present of a lamb, a second pigeon or dove might be brought. The deep poverty of Mary and Joseph is shown in this offering. They would never have put the sanctuary off with the humbler had the richer gift been in their power.” (Pulpit Commentary – emphasis mine)

Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) with newly hatched young ©WikiC

Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) with newly hatched young ©WikiC

The fact that Joseph and Mary brought a pair of birds instead of a lamb shows that they were very poor. The gifts of the wise men were after this.” (People’s New Testament Commentary) At the nativity scene, many place the wise men, yet, Christ was a young child, not an infant when they, the wise men, arrived. It would have taken time for them to get there.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11 KJV)

More could be said about the birth of Christ here, but for today, our Birds of the Bible are these two birds from the Columbidae Family. If I were Emma Foster or my author friend Sandra Conner, you would hear a tale from the birds point of view. But the best that comes to mind would be them having a conversation about the privilege of being the ones used as a sacrifice for the Son of God, in the flesh, who was their Creator. Of all the doves and turtle dove used as sacrifices over the many years, these two, if a bird could, felt very blessed.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. (Luke 2:11-16 KJV)

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Pigeons and Doves of Israel today:

Birds of the Bible

Columbidae Family

Emma Foster

Sandra Conner

Gospel Presentation

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