Archive for the ‘Birds in the Bible’ Category

Birds in the Bible: “a bird of prey from the east” (Isaiah 46:9-11)

   “Remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me,

declaring the end from the beginning
    and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
    and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

calling a bird of prey from the east,

    the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
    I have purposed, and I will do it.”

Isaiah 46:9-11 (ESV)

Birds in the Bible: “like birds from Egypt, like doves” (Hosea 11:10-11)


Birds by Jacqui Dunham


Zipporah (from the Hebrew צִפּוֹר or tzippor) means “bird” or “sparrow.” According to the book of Exodus, she was the wife of Moses. She is celebrated in American pop culture especially in the animated film, “The Prince of Egypt,” voiced by Michelle Pfeiffer.

“16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. 18 When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?”19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. 22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” 

Exodus 2:16-22

Sapientia 5:7-11


Birds on March 25th

BirdsoftheBibleI’m so glad my copies of two bird books came today. Or maybe they came in the last few days — I’ve been out of town — but it was nice to get them today and flip through them. The illustrations in Birds of the Bible are lovely and precise, and when combined with scripture quotations about birds, they have a deeply meaningful impact. A Gathering of Birds will take me longer to read, but tonight, I began with the Count of Buffon’s essay on the Nightingale:

“There can be no properly constituted man to whom the name of the nightingale does not recall one of those beautiful spring evenings when, the night sky serene and clear, the air tranquil, and all nature silenced and listening, he has harkened, ravished, to the canticle of this woodland songster.”

GatheringofBirdsOf course, the nightingale does not live in America. Our nightingale is the Northern Mockingbird, which I deeply love:  a prodigious composer, a musical genius! But the nightingale is a figure in poetry:  an avian spark in our shared imagination.

Speaking of “beautiful spring evenings,” on which the birds sing, how good to remember that spring is here! The first day of Spring came and went this year, but it is interesting to remember that March 25th was the first day of the New Year in England in the Middle Ages (between 1155-1752), which is doubtless one of the reasons it is also New Year’s Day in the Shire in Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

This year, March 25th is also Good Friday.

Bird Cross site

Bird Cross by Donald Gialanella

“The Ballad of the God-Makers”

A bird flew out at the break of day
   From the nest where it had curled,
And ere the eve the bird had set
   Fear on the kings of the world.
The first tree it lit upon
   Was green with leaves unshed;
The second tree it lit upon
   Was red with apples red;
The third tree it lit upon
   Was barren and was brown,
Save for a dead man nailed thereon
   On a hill above a town.
That night the kings of the earth were gay
   And filled the cup and can;
Last night the kings of the earth were chill
   For dread of a naked man.
‘If he speak two more words,’ they said,
   ‘The slave is more than the free;
If he speak three more words,’ they said,
‘The stars are under the sea.’
Said the King of the East to the King of the West,
   I wot his frown was set,
‘Lo, let us slay him and make him as dung,
   It is well that the world forget.’
Said the King of the West to the King of the East,
   I wot his smile was dread,
‘Nay, let us slay him and make him a god,
   It is well that our god be dead.’
They set the young man on a hill,
   They nailed him to a rod;
And there in darkness and in blood
   They made themselves a god.
And the mightiest word was left unsaid,
   And the world had never a mark,
And the strongest man of the sons of men
   Went dumb into the dark.
Then hymns and harps of praise they brought,
   Incense and gold and myrrh,
And they thronged above the seraphim,
   The poor dead carpenter.
‘Thou art the prince of all,’ they sang,
   ‘Ocean and earth and air.’
Then the bird flew on to the cruel cross,
   And hid in the dead man’s hair.
‘Thou art the son of the world.’ they cried,         `
   ‘Speak if our prayers be heard.’
And the brown bird stirred in the dead man’s hair
   And it seemed that the dead man stirred.
Then a shriek went up like the world’s last cry
   From all nations under heaven,
And a master fell before a slave
   And begged to be forgiven.
They cowered, for dread in his wakened eyes
   The ancient wrath to see;
And a bird flew out of the dead Christ’s hair,
   And lit on a lemon tree.
by G.K. Chesterton

Birds in the Bible: “Who Provides?”

“Who provides for the raven its prey,

when its young ones cry to God for help

and wander about for lack of food?

Job 38:41