Fowl Are Fair on Day 5

Fowl Are Fair on Day Five, with Special Attention to Galliforms

Dr. James J. S. Johnson


Red Junglefowl (wild equivalent of domestic chicken) Frederic Pelsey photo

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl [‘ôph] that may fly [ye‘ôphēph] above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.  And God created great whales [tannînim ha-gadolîm], and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl [‘ôph kanaph] after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl [‘ôph] multiply in the earth. (Genesis 1:20-22)

In the Holy Bible, King James Version, the term “fowl” is repeatedly used to denote birds in general – animals who fly with wings and feathers. Nowadays, however, we usually limit the term “fowl” to refer to “waterfowl” (like ducks) or landfowl, like chickens.  The latter category – landfowl – are, generally speaking, birds that stay close to the ground because their body plan is fairly heavy (which is not good for intense or prolonged flying), like chickens or turkeys.  The fancy term for these landfowl is GALLIFORM, meaning shaped like a chicken.

Accordingly, God is glorified by His creation of poultry (domesticated chicken-like birds) and similar landfowl (a/k/a “gamefowl”), both being taxonomically categorized as Galliforms (i.e., birds whose physical forms that resemble big or small chickens).

Galliforms, as large ground-dwelling birds, are well-known for eating seeds and insects (both of which are often found on or near the ground). As noted above, their body weight encumbers them from flying very much or very far, although they can and do fly short distances when needed.  When chased, by predators, they often run and hide (as is indicated in 1st Samuel 26:18 & 26:20).  These often-domesticated birds include chicken, quails, pheasants, tragopans, argus, grouse, guineafowl, incubator birds, craciforms (such as guan, chachalaca and curassow), ptarmigan, turkey, and peafowl.  1st-Samuel26.20-partridge-slide

The typical icon of the galliform group (according to taxonomist Carl Linnaeus, in A.D. 1758) is Gallus gallus, a label assigned to both Asia’s wild Junglefowl and the domestic Chicken.  Many of these birds, especially chickens and turkeys, are raised by humans, for their eggs or to be eaten (as meat).  CodfishLays1000000Eggs-poem

As we know from Scripture (Luke 11:12-13), poultry eggs are a truly good source of nutrition for humans, and the whites (albumen) of eggs taste better when seasoned with salt (Job 6:6).

Galliform birds mostly live mostly sedentary lives (although some seasonally migrate) in moderate climate zones of Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa, Australia, and many islands. (Don’t expect to find them in the super-dry Sahara Desert or in super-cold Antarctica.)


AMERICAN TURKEYS Schuylkill Center for Envir’l Educ’n photo

Some of these poultry birds are usually found only live in certain parts of the world (such as wild turkeys, which are biogeographically native only to North and South America), yet they can be introduced (as immigrants) to other places that have similar climates.  Because landfowl usually nest on or near the ground they are often victims to predators, including humans; accordingly it is important to avoid over-hunting them (and over-harvesting their eggs); this conservation-relevant reality (and concern) is acknowledged by Moses in Deuteronomy 22:6-7.

Amazingly, the Lord Jesus once compared His own willingness and ability, to care and protect humans, to that of a galliform – specifically, a mother hen — who uses her own body to protectively care for her own hatchling baby chicks (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34).    How good it is to belong to Him forever!

LUKE 13:34 ( image)

Birds of the Bible – Review II

Blue Jay at Bok Tower by Dan's Pix

Blue Jay II at Bok Tower by Dan’s Pix

I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. (Psalms 77:11-12 KJV)

In 2008 Birds of the Bible – Review was written. Needless to say, many more articles have been added since then. Please take some time over the next few days and check out articles that you may have missed or you are new and didn’t know of their existence.

Scripture tells us to remember the Lord’s blessings and all His benefits. I consider watching birds one of the Lord’s great blessings. The previous articles were written in an attempt to honor the Lord through telling about His birds. I trust you will dig around and discover some interesting new or old avian friends to read and learn about.

Another reason for this blog is to ask for prayer for me. On Wednesday last week, I had a Squamous Cell Cancer removed from my neck, just under my chin. They attempted to remove it 6 months ago, but didn’t get it all. This time, he cut it out and I have an inch and half row of stitches. On Saturday, it started turning red and irritating me. Monday when I went back to have it looked at, it was infected. So, now I am on an antibiotic, which makes me sort of  drowsy. It hurts to lift my head up to look at the monitor (it pulls on the stitches), so the blogs have slowed down. My stitches are supposed to come out next Tuesday, the 8th of October.

Praise the Lord, with over 1,500 articles and 1,100 pages of material, surely there is something you haven’t read before. There are tabs or menus along the top which help you find different topics. Check them out. By you reading, it will also help my page view counts while I am in a “coasting” mode. Thank you.

Here are the Birds of the Bible Topics:

Birds of the Bible

Miscellaneous articles:

Names of Birds Study

Harriet Newell Cook – The Scripture Alphabet of Animals

Disclaimer About Bible Version Usage


Birds of the Bible – The Bat?

And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. (Leviticus 11:19-20 KJV) and
And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Deuteronomy 14:18 KJV)

Townsends Big-eared Bat from Wikipedia

These verses show up at the end of the list of “unclean birds.” I have heard people say or write that since the Bat is not a bird, that make the Scriptures incorrect and not true. Let’s look at this a little closer. For one thing, the following verses go on to mention “fowls that go upon all fours” and other critters that are not birds. “Fowl” in the Bible refers to being covered with wings and that includes birds, bats, insects, and others that fly.

Here is what some of the commentators say about these verses.

Gill – “and the bat; a little bird which flies in the night, Aben Ezra says; Kimchi (s) describes it a mouse with wings, which flies in the night, and we sometimes call it the “flitter mouse”; it is a creature between a fowl and a beast; and, as Aristotle says (t), it partakes of both, and is of neither; and it is the only fowl, as Pliny (u) observes, that has teeth and teats, that brings forth animals, and nourishes them with milk. It is a creature so very disagreeable, that one would think almost there was no need of a law to forbid the eating of it; and yet it is said by some to be eatable, and to be eaten, as Strabo (w) affirms, yea, to be delicious food. It is asserted (x), that there is a sort of them in the east, larger than ordinary, and is salted and eaten–that there are bats in China as large as pullets, and are as delicate eating.”

Dan holding a bat at Avon Park AF Range

Clarke – “The bat – עטלף  atalleph, so called, according to Parkhurst, from עט  at, to fly, and עלף  alaph, darkness or obscurity, because it flies about in the dusk of the evening, and in the night: so the Septuagint νυκτερις, from νυξ, the night; and the Vulgate vespertilio, from vesper, the evening. This being a sort of monster partaking of the nature of both a bird and beast, it might well be classed among unclean animals, or animals the use of which in food should be avoided.” “Lev 11:20  All fowls that creep – Such as the bat, already mentioned, which has claws attached to its leathern wings, and which serve in place of feet to crawl by, the feet and legs not being distinct; but this may also include all the different kinds of insects, with the exceptions in the following verse.”
JFB – “the bat — the great or Ternat bat, known in the East, noted for its voracity and filthiness.” Lev 11:20  All fowls that creep, etc. — By “fowls” here are to be understood all creatures with wings and “going upon all fours,” not a restriction to animals which have exactly four feet, because many “creeping things” have more than that number. The prohibition is regarded generally as extending to insects, reptiles, and worms.”

Here are some interesting facts about the bat (not a bird) from Wikipedia:

1) Bats are flying mammals in the order Chiroptera (pronounced /kaɪˈrɒptərə/). The forelimbs of bats are webbed and developed as wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums and colugos, glide rather than fly, and only for short distances. Bats do not flap their entire forelimbs, as birds do, but instead flap their spread out digits, which are very long and covered with a thin membrane or patagium. Chiroptera comes from two Greek words, cheir (χείρ) “hand” and pteron (πτερόν) “wing.”

Fruit Bat at Avon Park AF Range

2) There are about 1,100 bat species worldwide. About seventy percent of bats are insectivores. Most of the rest are frugivores, or fruit eaters. A few species feed from animals other than insects. Bats are present throughout most of the world and perform vital ecological roles such as pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plants depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds.
3) Bats range in size from Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat measuring 29–33 mm (1.14–1.30 in) in length and 2 g (0.07 oz) in mass,[4] to the Giant Golden-crowned Flying-fox, which has a wing span of 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) and weighs approximately 1.2 kg (3 lb).
4) Bat echolocation is a perceptual system where ultrasonic sounds are emitted specifically to produce echoes. By comparing the outgoing pulse with the returning echoes the brain and auditory nervous system can produce detailed images of the bat’s surroundings. This allows bats to detect, localize and even classify their prey in complete darkness. At 130 decibels in intensity, bat calls are some of the most intense airborne animal sounds.
5) The finger bones of bats are much more flexible than those of other mammals. One reason is that the cartilage in their fingers lacks calcium and other minerals nearer the tips, increasing their ability to bend without splintering. The cross-section of the finger bone is also flattened compared to the circular cross section that human finger bones have, and is very flexible. The skin on their wing membranes has more elasticity and so can stretch much more than other mammals. The wings of bats are much thinner than those of birds, so bats can manoeuvre more quickly and more accurately than birds. It is also delicate, ripping easily. However the tissue of the bat’s membrane is able to regrow, such that small tears can heal quickly.
6) The teeth of microbats resemble insectivorans. They are very sharp to bite through the hardened armor of insects or the skin of fruit.
7) Mammals have one-way valves in veins to prevent the blood from flowing backwards, but bats also have one-way valves in arteries.
8) One species of bat has the longest tongue of any mammal relative to its body size. This is beneficial to them in terms of pollination and feeding their long narrow tongues can reach deep into the long cup shape of some flowers. When their tongue retracts, it coils up inside their rib cage.

God has graciously created the Bat to fulfill its role in doing His will. He has given it exactly what it needs. To some, it may seem a contradiction, but to those of us who believe in creation, there is no conflict.

Below is something we read recently from Comments on Here and Hereafter by Bob Jones, Sr., p. 79-80.

“The animals and fowls decided to have a battle, so the story goes. The animals lined up one one side and the fowls on the other. In the crowd was a little bat. The animals came upon the bat, and he dropped his wings, showed his teeth and said, ‘I am an animal.’ the fowls came upon the bat. He stretched his wings and said, ‘I am a fowl.’ I have known people like the bat. Whatever crowd they are in, that is what they are. They are like the chameleon. They are colored by their surroundings. God’s people, instead of being affected by their surroundings, should affect their surroundings. A good, consecrated Christian who will be faithful to his trust will have some influence upon his environment.”

Birds of the Bible – Fowl (Birds) of Every Wing

In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell. (Ezekiel 17:23 KJV)

Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) Left Wing by Lee at Lowry Park Zoo

Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) Left Wing by Lee at Lowry Park Zoo

The phrase “Fowl (or Birds) of Every Wing” caught my interest. Remembering the article I recently wrote about the Sunbittern with it’s beautiful wings, I thought that might be neat to show some of the other bird’s fancy wings. Also, since I have been busy updating the Birds of the World pages, I thought that showing different birds from around the world would be interesting for you. But, first, what is that verse referring to anyway?

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible summarized Ezekiel 17:23 as a future prophecy referring to Christ,
“In the mountain of the height of Israel – He shall make his appearance at the temple, and found his Church at Jerusalem.
Shalt bring forth boughs – Apostles, evangelists, and their successors in the Gospel ministry.
And bear fruit – Multitudes of souls shall be converted by their preaching.
And under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing – All the nations of the earth shall receive his Gospel.
In the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell – Trust in him alone for salvation, and be saved in their trusting.”

Bay-backed Shrike (Lanius vittatus) by Nikhil Devasa

Bay-backed Shrike (Lanius vittatus) by Nikhil Devasa

“But it left room for the sovereignty of God, who would bring down the high tree and exalt the low tree, who would dry up the green tree and make the dry tree to flourish. His grace would take the little forgotten branch of the house of David and raise it up in Israel upon the mountain of His power, where He would cause it to become a goodly cedar, bearing fruit, and sheltering all that would seek the protection of its shadow. All the powers of the earth should know the word and the works of Jehovah.” (John Darby’ Synopsis)

“Both the Jews and Gentiles will be gathered into it.” (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell; by whom are designed converted sinners of all sorts, and of all nations, Jews and Gentiles; compared to birds, because weak, defenceless, and timorous; exposed to danger; and wonderfully delivered; are subject to wander and go astray; and for their chirping and warbling notes: now these may be said to “dwell” under the “shadow” of the “branches” of this “goodly cedar”, Christ and his church; that is, under the ministration of the word and ordinances, which is a very delightful and refreshing shadow, a very safe and fruitful one, Son_2:3; and here saints choose to dwell, and determine to abide and continue, as it is their interest and happiness so to do; and what a flocking and tabernacling of these birds here will there be in the latter day, where they will chirp and sing in the height of Zion? Isa_66:4; compare with this Mat_13:32; where our Lord is thought by some to allude to this passage.” (John Gill’s Exposition)

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) Female by Nikhil

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) Female by Nikhil

under it … all fowl — the Gospel “mustard tree,” small at first, but at length receiving all under its covert (Mat_13:32); the antithesis to Antichrist, symbolized by Assyria, of which the same is said (Eze_31:6), and Babylon (Dan_4:12). Antichrist assumes in mimicry the universal power really belonging to Christ.” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown)

“under it … all fowl — the Gospel “mustard tree,” small at first, but at length receiving all under its covert (Mat_13:32); the antithesis to Antichrist, symbolized by Assyria, of which the same is said (Eze_31:6), and Babylon (Dan_4:12). Antichrist assumes in mimicry the universal power really belonging to Christ.” (Life Application Study Bible)

There are other commentaries I could quote, but these are sufficient to understand that these “fowl of every wing” represent those who from around the world have accepted or will accept Christ the Lord as their Savior. (Gospel Message) We have shelter and refuge under this tree. There was a tree of life in the Garden of Eden, but access to it was forbidden because of sin, but two verses in Revelation speak of future access to that tree.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7 KJV)
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14 KJV)

All commentary quotes are from e-Sword which is a free Bible program. More of the “Fowl of Every Wing” will be covered in future Birds of the Bible.