Bird. Birds in the Bible have the idea of something like “free spirits”or beings that freely and easily move from one situation to another. While they rarely engage in events and things in the world of “non-flying” beings, they have their own “agenda” of feeding themselves. Their beauty given to them by their Creator is to move swiftly through the air, and set themselves above the events of earth.

General Definition

A bird is a winged animal which in most cases can fly. For a complete list of all birds mentioned in the Bible, click on the “Animals” entry in the sidebar, then “Birds”, and below that will be an alphabetical list.


No other classification of birds than into clean and unclean is given. The Jews, before the Babylonian captivity, had no domestic fowls except pigeons . Although many birds are mentioned, there occur few allusions to their habits. Their instinct of migration, the snaring or netting them, and the caging of song birds are referred to.

Bird, Dyed.

So does the English version, Jer 12:9, wrongly interpret the Hebrew ‘áyit. which means beast of prey, sometimes also bird of prey.

Bird, Singing.

This singing bird of Soph., 2:14, according to the D.V., owes its origin to a mistranslation of the original, which most probably should be read: “And their voice shall sing at the window”; unless by a mistake of some scribe, the word qôl, voice, has been substituted for the name of some particular bird.

Birds, Speckled,

Hebrew çãbhûá’ (Jeremiah 12:9). A much discussed translation. The interpretation of the English versions, however meaningless it may seem to some, is supported by the Targum, the Syriac, and St. Jerome. In spite of these authorities many modern scholars prefer to use the word hyena, given by the Septuagint and confirmed by Ecclesiasticus, xiii, 22 as well as by the Arabic (dábúh) and rabbinical Hebrew (çebhôá’), names of the hyena.

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Thompson Chain Reference

(1) General References to Gen 1:20, 26; 9:2; Lev 11:13; Deut 14:11; 22:6; Psa 8:8; Dan 2:38
(2) God’s Care for  Deut 22:6; Mat 6:26; Luke 12:6
(3) The Nests of Psa 84:3; 104:17; Isa 34:15; Mat 8:20
(4) The Singing of Psa 104:12; Eccl 12:4; Song 2:12
(5) Names of :
  • Cormorants Lev 11:17; Deut 14:17; Isa 34:11; Zeph 2:14
  • Doves, a type of purity, offered in sacrifice  Psa 68:13; Song 6:9; Mat 3:16; Mat 10:16
  • Eagles, a type of swiftness Exo 19:4; 2Sa 1:23; Job 9:26; Prov 23:5; Isa 40:31
  • Hawks Lev 11:16; Deut 14:15; Job 39:26
  • Ostriches Job 39:13; Lam 4:3
  • Owls Lev 11:16; Deut 14:16; Isa 34:14
  • Peacocks 1Ki 10:22; Job 39:13
  • Pelicans Lev 11:18; Deut 14:17; Psa 102:6
  • Pigeons, offered in sacrifice Gen 15:9; Lev 1:14; 5:7; 12:8; 14:22; Luke 2:24
  • Quails Exo 16:13; Num 11:31; Psa 105:40
  • Ravens Gen 8:7; Deut 14:14; 1Ki 17:4; Psa 147:9; Prov 30:17; Luke 12:24
  • Sparrows Psa 84:3; 102:7; Mat 10:29; Luke 12:6
  • Storks Lev 11:19; Psa 104:17; Jer 8:7; Zec 5:9
  • Swallows Psa 84:3; Isa 38:14; Jer 8:7
  • Turtle Doves, offered in sacrifice Gen 15:9; Lev 1:14; Num 6:10; Luke 2:24
  • Vultures Lev 11:14; Deut 14:13; Job 28:7; Isa 34:15


  • Creation of, on the fifth creative day Gen 1:20-30
  • Man’s dominion over Gen 1:26, 28; 9:2-3; Ps 8:5-8; Jer 27:6; Dan 2:38; Jas 3:7
  • Appointed for food Gen 9:2-3; Deut 14:11-20
  • What species were unclean Lev 11:13-20; Deut 14:12-19
  • Used for sacrifice  (see Dove, Turtle; Pigeon)
  • Divine care of Job 38:41; Ps 147:9; Matt 10:29; Luke 12:6; Luke 12:24
  • Songs of, at the break of day Ps 104:12; Eccl 12:4; Song 2:12
  • Domesticated Job 41:5; Jas 3:7
  • Solomon’s proverbs of 1Kgs 4:33
  • Nests of Ps 104:17; Matt 8:20; Matt 13:32
  • Instincts of Prov 1:17
  • Habits of Job 39:13-18; Job 39:26-30
  • Migrate Jer 8:7
  • Mosaic law protected the mother from being taken with the young Deut 22:6-7
  • Cages of Jer 5:27; Rev 18:2 Snare
  • Figurative Isa 16:2; Isa 46:11; Jer 12:9; Ezek 39:4
  • Symbolic Dan 7:6

See Bittern; Chickens; Cormorant; Crane; Cuckoo; Dove, Turtle; Eagle; Falcon; Glede; Hawk; Hen, Figurative; Heron; Kite; Lapwing; Night Hawk; Osprey; Ossifrage; Ostriches; Owl; Partridge; Peacock; Pelican; Pigeon; Quail; Raven; Sparrow; Stork; Swallow; Swan; Vulture

Concise Bible Dictionary

These are employed as symbols of evil agents: as, in the dream of Pharaoh’s baker, the birds ate the bakemeats he was carrying on his head, Ge 40:17 ; and in the parable of the Sower the fowls or birds which devoured the seed by the wayside are interpreted by Christ to signify ‘the wicked one.’ Mt 13:4,19. In the parable of the Mustard Seed the kingdom of heaven becomes a great system with roots in the earth, under the protection of which the birds of the air find shelter. Mt 13:31,32. The Greek is πετεινον, the same in the two parables.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Many of the birds mentioned in the Bible were large birds of prey, of which there were many species inPalestine. They fed on small animals that they killed themselves and on the carcasses of larger animals that had either died or been killed by wild beasts. They even fed on the bodies of dead soldiers that lay scattered over the battlefield after war. Among these birds were vultures, eagles, hawks, falcons, ravens, owls and kites. The law of Moses did not allow Israelites to use any of these birds as food (Lev 11:13-19; Job 9:26; 28:7; 39:26; Psa 79:2; Isa 34:15; Jer 49:16; Eze 39:4; Mat 24:28). The ostrich, though not a bird of prey, was considered a wild and fearsome bird, living in desolate or deserted places (Isa 13:21; 34:13; Jer 50:39).

There were many migratory birds inPalestine, and almost every month some departed and others arrived. The most common among these birds were the cormorant, ibis, crane, pelican, stork, seagull and heron. Israelite law again prohibited the use of these as food (Lev 11:13-19; Jer 8:7). It did not prohibit the eating of quails (Exo 16:13; Num 11:31-32; Psa 105:40).

Birds that were commonly seen around towns and villages were sparrows, swallows, doves and pigeons. Since these were allowable as food, people often caught them in traps, and then cooked and sold them (Lev 5:7; Psa 84:3; 91:3; Prov 26:2; Eccles 9:12; Amos 3:5; Mat 10:29). Israelites also kept chickens, both for their meat and for their eggs (1Ki 4:23; Mat 23:37; 26:34).


Birds, like other animals, were divided by Moses into clean and unclean; the former might be eaten, the latter not. The general ground of distinction is, that those which feed on grain or seeds are clean; while those which devour flesh, fish, or carrion, are unclean. Turtledoves, young pigeons, and perhaps some other kinds of birds, were prescribed in the Mosaic law as offerings, Lev 5:7-10; 14:4-7; Luke 2:24.

There is great difficulty in accurately determining the different species of birds prohibited in Lev 11:13-19 Deut 14:11-20, and the proper version of the Hebrew names. The information we have respecting them may be found under the names by which they are translated in our Bible.

Moses, to inculcate humanity on the Israelites, ordered them, if they found a bird’s nest, not to take the dam with the young, but to suffer the old one to fly away, and to take the young only, Deut 22:6, 7.

Cages for singing birds are alluded to in Jer 5:27; and snares in Pr 7:23; Ec 9:12. Birds of prey are emblems of destroying hosts, Isa 46:11 Jer 12:9; Eze 32:4; Rev 19:17-19; and the Lord comes to the defense of his people with the swiftness of the eagle, Isa 31:5


bûrds (עיט, ‛ayiṭ; Greek variously τὰ πετεινά, tá peteiná (Mat 13:4) τὰ ὄρνεα τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, tá órnea toú ouranoú (Rev 19:17) ὄρνις, órnis (Mat 23:37; Luk 13:34) Latin, avis; Old English “brid”):

I. Meaning of the Word

All authorities agree that the exact origin of the word bird, as we apply it to feathered creatures, is unknown.

1. In Early Hebrew

The Hebrew ‛ayiṭ means to “tear and scratch the face,” and in its original form undoubtedly applied to birds of prey. It is probable that no spot of equal size on the face of the globe ever collected such numbers of vultures, eagles and hawks as ancientPalestine. The land was so luxuriant that flocks and herds fed from the face of Nature. In cities, villages, and among tent-dwellers incessant slaughter went on for food, while the heavens must almost have been obscured by the ascending smoke from the burning of sacrificed animals and birds, required by law of every man and woman. From all these slain creatures the offal was thrown to the birds. There were no guns; the arrows of bowmen or “throw sticks” were the only protection against them, and these arms made no noise to frighten feathered creatures, and did small damage. So it easily can be seen that the birds would increase in large numbers and become so bold that men were often in actual conflict with them, and no doubt their faces and hands were torn and scratched.

2. In Later Usage

Later, as birds of song and those useful for food came into their lives, the word was stretched to cover all feathered creatures. In the King James Version ‛ayiṭ is translated “fowl,” and occurs several times: “And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away” (Gen 15:11). “They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth; and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them” (Isa 18:6). “There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen” (Job 28:7). The American Standard Revised Version changes these and all other references to feathered creatures to “birds,” making a long list. The Hebrew ‛ayiṭ in its final acceptance was used inPalestineas “bird” is with us.

3. In Old English

Our earliest known form of the word is the Old English “brid,” but they applied the term to the young of any creature. Later its meaning was narrowed to young produced from eggs, and the form changed to “bird.”

II. Natural History of Birds

The first known traces of birds appear in the formation of the Triassic period, and are found in the shape of footprints on the red sandstone of theConnecticutvalley.

1. Earliest Traces and Specimens

This must have been an ancient sea bed over which stalked large birds, leaving deeply imprinted impressions of their feet. These impressions baked in the sun, and were drifted full of fine wind-driven sand before the return of the tide. Thus were preserved to us the traces of 33 species of birds all of which are proven by their footprints to have been much larger than our birds of today. The largest impressions ever found measured15 inchesin length by10 inwidth, and were set from 4 to6 ft. apart. This evidence would form the basis for an estimate of a bird at least four times as large as an ostrich. That a bird of this size ever existed was not given credence until the finding of the remains of the dinornis inNew Zealand. The largest specimen of this bird stood 10 1/2 ft. in height. The first complete skeleton of a bird was found in the limestone of the Jurassic period inSolenhofen,Bavaria. This bird had 13 teeth above and 3 below, each set in a separate socket, wings ending in three-fingered claws much longer than the claws of the feet, and a tail of 20 vertebrae, as long as the body, having a row of long feathers down each side of it, the specimen close to the size of a crow. The first preserved likeness of a bird was found frescoed on the inside of a tomb of Maydoon, and is supposed to antedate the time of Moses 3,000 years. It is now carefully preserved in themuseumofCairo. The painting represents six geese, four of which can be recognized readily as the ancestors of two species known today. Scientists now admit that Moses was right in assigning the origin of birds to the water, as their structure is closer reptilian than mammalian, and they reproduce by eggs. To us it seems a long stretch between the reptile with a frame most nearly bird-like and a feathered creature, but there is a possibility that forms making closer connection yet will be found.

2. Structural Formation

The trunk of a bird is compact and in almost all instances boat-shaped. Without doubt prehistoric man conceived his idea of navigation and fashioned his vessel from the body of a water bird, and then noticed that a soaring bird steered its course with its tail and so added the rudder. The structural formation of a bird is so arranged as to give powerful flight and perfect respiration. In the case of a few birds that do not fly, the wings are beaten to assist in attaining speed in running, as the ostrich, or to help in swimming under the water, as the auk. The skull of a young bird is made up of parts, as is that of man or animal; but with age these parts join so evenly that they appear in a seamless formation. The jaws extend beyond the face, forming a bill that varies in length and shape with species, and it is used in securing food, in defense, feather dressing, nest building – in fact it is a combination of the mouth and hand of man. The spine is practically immovable, because of the ribs attached to the upper half and the bony structure supporting the pelvic joints of the lower. In sharp contrast with this the neck is formed of from 10 to 23 vertebrae, and is so flexible that a bird can turn its head completely around, a thing impossible to man or beast. The breast bone is large, strong, and provided with a ridge in the middle, largest in birds of strong flight, smallest in swimmers, and lacking only in birds that do not fly, as the ostrich. The wings correspond to the arms of man, and are now used in flight and swimming only. Such skeletons as the Archeopteryx prove that the bones now combined in the tip of the wing were once claws. This shows that as birds spread over land and developed wing power in searching longer distances for food or when driven by varying conditions of climate, the wings were used more in flight, and the claws gradually joined in a tip and were given covering that grew feathers, while the bill became the instrument for taking food and for defense. At the same time the long tail proving an encumbrance, it gradually wore away and contracted to the present form. Studied in detail of bony structure, muscle, and complicated arrangement of feathers of differing sizes, the wing of a bird proves one of Nature’s marvels. The legs are used in walking or swimming, the thigh joint being so enveloped in the body that the true leg is often mistaken for it. This makes the knee of a man correspond to the heel of a bird, and in young birds of prey especially, the shank or tarsus is used in walking, until the bones harden and the birds are enabled to bear their weight on the feet and straighten the shank. The toes vary with species. Pliny classified birds by them: “The first and principal difference and distinction in birds is taken from their feet; for they have either hooked talons, as Hawkes, or long round claws as Hens, or else they be broad, flat and whole-footed as Geese.” Flight is only possible to a bird when both wings are so nearly full-feathered that it balances perfectly. In sleep almost every bird places its head under its wing and stands on one foot. The arrangement by which this is accomplished, without tiring the bird in the least, is little short of miraculous and can be the result only of slow ages of evolution. In the most finished degree this provision for the comfort of the bird is found among cranes and other long-legged water birds. The bone of one part of the leg fits into the bone of the part above, so that it is practically locked into place with no exertion on the part of the bird. At the same time the muscles that work the claws, cross the joints of the leg so that they are stretched by the weight of the bird, and with no effort, it stands on earth or perches on a branch. This explains the question so frequently asked as to why the feet of a perching bird do not become so cramped and tired that it falls.

3. Birds’ Food, Blood, Etc.

Birds feed according to their nature, some on prey taken alive, some on the carrion of dead bodies, some on fish and vegetable products of the water, some on fruit seed, insects and worms of the land. Almost every bird indulges in a combination of differing foods. Their blood is from 12 degrees to 16 degrees warmer than that of the rest of the animal kingdom, and they exhibit a corresponding exhilaration of spirits. Some indulge in hours of sailing and soaring, some in bubbling notes of song, while others dart near earth in playful dashes of flight. Birds are supposed to be rather deficient in the senses of taste and touch, and to have unusually keen vision. They reproduce by eggs that they deposit in a previously selected and prepared spot, and brood for a length of time varying with the species. The young of birds of prey, song birds, and some water birds, remain in the nests for differing lengths of time and are fed by the old birds; while others of the water birds and most of the game birds leave the nest as soon as the down is dry, and find food as they are taught by their elders, being sheltered at night so long as needful.

III. Birds of the Bible

The birds of the Bible were the same species and form as exist inPalestinetoday. Because of their wonderful coloring, powerful flight, joyous song, and their similarity to humanity in home-making and the business of raising their young, birds have been given much attention, and have held conspicuous place since the dawn of history. When the brain of man was young and more credulous than today he saw omens, signs and miracles in the characteristic acts of birds, and attributed to them various marvelous powers: some were considered of good omen and a blessing, and some were bad and a curse.

1. Earliest Mention

The historians of the Bible frequently used birds in comparison, simile, and metaphor. They are first mentioned in Gen 7:14-15, “They, and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort.” This is the enumeration of the feathered creatures taken into the ark to be preserved for the perpetuation of species after the flood abated. They are next found in the description of the sacrifice of Abram, where it was specified that he was to use, with the animals slaughtered, a turtle dove and a young pigeon, the birds not to be divided. It is also recorded that the birds of prey were attracted by the carcasses as described in Gen 15:9-11, “And he said unto him, Take me a heifer three years old, and a she-goat three years old, and a ram three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon. And he took him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each half over against the other: but the birds divided he not. And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.”Palestineabounded in several varieties of “doves” (which see) and their devotion to each other, and tender, gentle characteristics had marked them as a loved possession of the land; while the clay cotes of pigeons were reckoned in establishing an estimate of a man’s wealth.

2. Used in Sacrifice

In an abandon of gratitude to God these people offered of their best-loved and most prized possessions as sacrifice; and so it is not surprising to find the history of burnt offerings frequently mentioning these birds which were loved and prized above all others. Their use is first commanded in Lev 1:14-17, “And if his oblation to Yahweh be a burnt-offering of birds, then he shall offer his oblation of turtle-doves, or of young pigeons. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off its head , and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be drained out on the side of the altar; and he shall take away its crop with the filth thereof, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, in the place of the ashes.” Again in Lev 5:7-10, we read: “And if his means suffice not for a lamb, then he shall bring his trespass-offering for that wherein he hath sinned, two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, unto Yahweh; one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering.” Throughout the Bible these birds figure in the history of sacrifice (Lev 12:8; 14:4-8; Num 6:10, etc.).

3. Other References

The custom of weaving cages of willow wands, in which to confine birds for pets, seems to be referred to when Job asks (Job 41:5): “Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?”

See Job 12:7 : “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; And the birds of the heavens, and they shall tell thee.”

David was thinking of the swift homeward flight of an eagle when he wrote: “In Yahweh do I take refuge: How say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?” (Psa 11:1).

His early days guarding the flocks of his father no doubt suggested to him the statement found in Psa 50:11 : “I know all the birds of the mountains; And the wild beasts of the field are mine” (the Revised Version margin, “in my mind”).

In describingLebanon, the Psalmist wrote of its waters: “By them the birds of the heavens have their habitation; They sing among the branches” (Psa 104:12).

He mentioned its trees: “Where the birds make their nests: As for the stork, the fir-trees are her house” (Psa 104:17).

See also Psa 78:27; 148:10.

The origin of the oft-quoted phrase, “A little bird told me,” can be found in Ecc 10:20 : “Revile not the king, no, not in thy thought; and revile not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the heavens shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.” In a poetical description of spring in the Song of Solomon, we read: “The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land” (Son 2:12).

In his prophecy concerning Ethiopia, Isaiah wrote, “They shall be left together unto the ravenous birds of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth; and the ravenous birds shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them” (Isa 18:6). In foretelling God’s judgment upon Babylon, Isaiah (Isa 46:11) refers to Cyrus as “a ravenous bird (called) from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country”; “probably in allusion to the fact that the griffon was the emblem of Persia; and embroidered on its standard” (HDB, I, 632); (see EAGLE). Jer 4:25 describes the habit of birds, which invariably seek shelter before an approaching storm. In His denunciation ofIsrael, Yahweh questions, in Jer 12:9, “Is my heritage unto me as a speckled bird of prey? are the birds of prey against her round about?” When Jeremiah threatened the destruction ofJerusalem, he wrote that Yahweh would “cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies will I give to be food for the birds of the heavens” (Jer 19:7): that is, He would leave them for the carrion eaters. Ezekiel threatens the same fate to the inhabitants of Gog (Eze 39:4, Eze 39:17). Hosea (Hos 9:11) prophesies of Ephraim, “Their glory shall fly away like a bird.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentions the birds, as recorded by Mat 6:26 : “Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they?” In the sermon from the boat where He spoke the parable of the Sower He again mentioned the birds: “As he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the birds came and devoured them” (Mat 13:4). Mark describes the same sermon in Mar 4:4, and Mar 4:32 quotes the parable of the Mustard Seed: “Yet when it is sown, (it) groweth up, and becometh greater than all the herbs, and putteth out great branches; so that the birds of the heaven can lodge under the shadow thereof.” In Luk 8:5, Luke gives his version of the parable of the Sower, and in Luk 13:19 of the Mustard Seed. See also Rev 19:17, Rev 19:21. These constitute all the important references to birds in the Bible, with the exception of a few that seem to belong properly under such subjects as TRAP; NET; CAGE, etc..

Cheyne Encyclopedia Biblica

References to birds generally are very frequent in O.T. and N.T.

1. Kinds referred to.

The following terms (translated in EV ‘bird’ or ‘fowl’)  are used to denote the members of the family alves collectively:

Eccl 10:20; Isa 16:2; Hos 9:11; Gen 7:14; Lev 14:6, 51; Prov 1:17; and birds of prey Gen 15:11; Isa 18:6; 4:11; Jer 12:9; Ezek 39:4; Job 28:7. πετεινα and τα πετειωα  Mt 8:20; 13:32; Job 28:7, Rom 1:23; Jas 3./; 1Co 15:39; and Rev 18:2; 19:17,21.

Birds of the smaller kinds are not so often distinguished as the larger; but special reference is made to several species, both large and small. Mentions seems to be made, for example, of the Bittern, Buzzard (see also Glede), Blue Thrush (see Sparrow), Cormorant, Crane, Dove, Egyptian Vulture (See Gier Eagle), Griffon (See Eagle, Hawk, Heron, Hoopoe, Sacred Ibis (see Swan), Kite, Night Hawk, Osprey, Ossierage, Ostrich Owl, Pigeon (see Dove), partridge, Peacock, Pelican, Quail, Raven, Stork, Swallow, Tern (See Cuckow), Black Vulture (See Vulture), and the domestic fowl (see Cock), Details and discussions concerning all of which will be found in the special articles. Sparrow occurs occasional in EV … which denoted any small passerine bird.

2. Use.

That feathered animals abounded in Palestine is clear from the many reference s to them in OT and NT, and lapse of time has produced no change in this respect. Naturally the eggs and the birds themselves were used for food (Exo 16:12; Num 11:32; Job 6:6; Neh 5:18; Psa 78:27; Luke 11:12; Acts 10:12; 11:6; See Fowls… The Torah divides them into clean and unclean (Lev 11:13; Deut 14:20). Many contrivances for capturing birds were in common use (Psa 91:3; 124:7; Prov 1:17; 6:5; 7:23; Amos 3:5; Ecc 9:12; Jer 5:27; Hos 7:12; 9:8; Ecclus. 11:30). The Torah protects them against cruelty (Deu 22:6). Sometimes the captives were tamed and treated as pets (Job 41.5; 40:29), Bar 3:17; Ecclus. 27:19; James 3:7). Only in cases of extreme poverty does the Torah allow birds to be used for sacrifice. Naturally, common small birds, on account of their abundance, were of little value; they were probably so numerous as to prove a nuisance (Mat 10:29, 31; Luke 12:6). To what extent –if any– birds were studied for omens in Israel as in Babylonia… it is difficult to determine (See Lev 19.26; Deut 18:10; 2Ki 21:6; 2Ch 33:6; 1Ki 4:33, 5:13; and compare with Divination.

3. Literary and popular allusions.

Allusions to their habits in metaphors, similes, and proverbial expressions prove how prominent they were in the life and thought of the people… They were evidently observed with the keenest interest as being links between earth and heaven, and regarded with a certain awe (Job 12:7; 28:21; 35:11; Eccles 10:20). It was noticed how they cared for and protected their young (Deut 32:11; Exo 19:4; Isa 31:5; Mat 23:37); how and where they made their nests (Psa 104:12, 17; Ezek 31:6) sometimes (according to the a pleasing byt very doubtful interpretation) in the very temple itself (Psa 84:3). in what sad plight they wandered about when cast out of the nest (Prov 27:8; Isa 16:2; 31:5; Mt 23:37); how swiftly they flew away when scared (Hos 9:11; Psa 11:1); how eagerly they returned to their nest (Hos 11:11); how free from care they are (Mt 6:26); how regularly they migrated (Jer 8:7; Prov 26:2); how voracious they were (Gen 40:17; Mt 13:4; Mark 4:4; Luke 8:5); how they descended from the clouds in a bevy (Ecclus. 43:17), and with what delight they gathered in a leafy tree (Dan 4:9, 12) Ecllus. 27:9; Mt 13:32; Luke 13:19). How sweetly they warbled (Eccles. 12:4; Wisd. 17:18; Cant 2:12; Psa 104:12); how God recognises and protects them; and how they praise and reverence him (Psa 14:8, 10; Eze 38:20). Further, Israel’s enemy is often pictured as a rapacious bird that sights its prey afar off and swoops down upon it (Isa 46:11; Jer 12:9; Deut 28:49; Rev 19:17, 21). Thus, ‘to destroy’ is to give a man’s flesh to the birds of the air for meat (Gen 30:19; Deut 28:26; 1Sam 17:44, 46; 16:4; 21:24; Psa 79:2; Jer 7:33; 16:4; 19:7; 34:20; Ezek 29:5). A place is desolate when its only inhabitants are the birds of the air (Ezek 31:13; 32:4; Isa 18:6), and an utter desolation when even these too have perished (Jer 4:25; 12:4; Hos 4:3; Zeph 1:3). The saying in Mat 8:20 where Jesus contrasts himself with the birds which have nests, has not yet been made perfectly clear.

From Pastor David Cox

Humans and most animals are limited in their movements. We can go in any direction except up. Until man copied birds flight, humans had a very difficult time “going up.” Birds embody a spirit that “flies”, which means their movement is like our movement, but with the addition of height and depth, in other words, birds move up and down through space.

From a spiritual perspective, birds are very similar to angels in their ascendent and descendent up to heaven (“heaven” has a two-fold meaning of both where God lives, and also above our heads, both within our atmosphere and space). In a long view, we (all humans) will go up to God or down to hell. So that is a final destination for all humans.

But there is another view to consider. Prayer. When we pray, we (our thoughts and words) go up to God. To expand on that concept, we have a brief audience with our Maker and Creator, with our Sustainer. Our prayers are like birds in that they ascend into the heaven.

More Posts on Birds




1. A judge of Israel, (Jude 12:13; Jude 12:15) perhaps the same person as Bedan, in (1 Samuel 12:11) (B.C. 1233-1225).

2. Son of Shashak. (1 Chronicles 8:23)

3. First-born son of Jehiel, son of Gideon. (1 Chronicles 8:30; 1Chr 9:35; 1Chr 9:36).

4. Son of Micah, a contemporary of Josiah, (2 Chronicles 34:20) called Achbor in (2 Kings 22:12) (B.C. 628.)

5. A city in the tribe if Asher, given to the Gershonites, (Joshua 21:30; 1 Chronicles 6:74) the modern Abdeh, 10 miles northeast of Accho.

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Meaning: the valley or plain.



1. a city in the northern part of the land of Israel 2Sam 20:14, apparently on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali, from its connection with places in that neighbourhood, 1Ki 15:20; 2Ki 15:29. It seems to have once enjoyed considerable reputation for its counsellors, 2Sam 20.18; and to have been called Mother, 19. (Metropolis in the Septuagint). Josephus, likewise, calls it a metropolis of Israel, though he writes the name Abelmachea, and Abellana; which later spelling has led some to conjecture that in his time it was called by the Greeks Abelene or Abela. Upon the occasion of the quarrel between the men of Judah and Isael about David’s return to Jerusalem, Sheba made a party against David, and withdrew to this city; but the inhabitants being closely pressed by Joab, David’s general, and at the advice of a “wise woman” within the city, cut off Sheba’s head and threw it over the wall to Joab, that they might be spared the horrors of a siege. So Joab retired from before the place, B.C. 1022. It is also called Abel of Bethmaacrah, 2Sam 20:15; Abel-Bethmaachah 1Ki 15:20; 2Ki 15:29; and in the parallel passage, 2Chr 16:4, Abel-Maim. During the reign of Baasha, king of Israel, this city was taken and pillaged by Benhadad, king of Syria; and aout 200 years afterwards, in the days of Pekah, king of Israel, it was again taken by Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, when its inhabitants, together with those of many beighbouring places, were carried captive to Assyria. It has been supposed that Belen, Judith 4:4; is a corrupt form of Abel-Maim. Some have fancied that Abel was the same with Abila of Lysanias, near Damascus, which cannot have been the case, for the bounds of Naphtali (in whcih tribe Abel probably was) never extended so ar in that direction. Others identify Abel with Abila of Phoenicia mentioned by Eusebius. Its most probable site has been fixed to the Northwest of the Bahr of Huleh, at a place called Abil el Kamh.


(1): the name of several places in Palestine, probably signifies a meadow .

(2): (i.e., breath, vapor, transitoriness , probably so called from the shortness of his life), the second son of Adam, murdered by his brother Cain, (Genesis 4:1-16) he was a keeper or feeder of sheep. Our Lord spoke of Abel as the first martyr, (Matthew 23:35) so did the early Church subsequently. The traditional site of his murder and his grave are pointed out near Damascus.


H1893 H59

1. Son of Adam

– History of Gén 4:1-15; Gén 4:25

– References to the death of Mat 23:35; Luc 11:51; Heb 11:4; Heb 12:24; 1Jn 3:12

• 2. A stone 1Sa 6:18


ā´bel (ה בל, hebhel; Ἄβελ, Ábel; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek Hábel; etymology uncertain. Some translation “a breath,” “vapor,” “transitoriness,” which are suggestive of his brief existence and tragic end; others take it to be a variant of Jabal, yābhāl, “shepherd” or “herdman,” Gen 4:20. Compare Assyrian ablu and Babylonian abil, “son”): The second son of Adam and Eve. The absence of the verb hārāh (Gen 4:2; compare Gen 4:1) has been taken to imply, perhaps truly, that Cain and Abel were twins.

1. A Shepherd

“Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground,” thus representing the two fundamental pursuits of civilized life, the two earliest subdivisions of the human race. On the Hebrew tradition of the superiority of the pastoral over agricultural and city life, see Expositor Times, V, 351ff. The narrative may possibly bear witness to the primitive idea that pastoral life was more pleasing to Yahweh than husbandry.

2. A Worshipper

“In process of time,” the two brothers came in a solemn manner to sacrifice unto Yahweh, in order to express their gratitude to Him whose tenants they were in the land (Gen 4:3, Gen 4:4. See SACRIFICE). How Yahweh signified His acceptance of the one offering and rejection of the other, we are not told. That it was due to the difference in the material of the sacrifice or in their manner of offering was probably the belief among the early Israelites, who regarded animal offerings as superior to cereal offerings. Both kinds, however, were fully in accord with Hebrew law and custom. It has been suggested that the Septuagint rendering of Gen 4:7 makes Cain’s offense a ritual one, the offering not being “correctly” made or rightly divided, and hence rejected as irregular. “If thou makest a proper offering, but dost not cut in pieces rightly, art thou not in fault? Be still!” The Septuagint evidently took the rebuke to turn upon Cain’s neglect to prepare his offering according to strict ceremonial requirements. διέλῃς, diélēs (Septuagint in the place cited.), however, implies נתח, (אנתּח nāthaḥ (nattaḥ), and would only apply to animal sacrifices. Compare Exo 29:17; Lev 8:20; Jdg 19:29; 1Ki 18:23; and see COUCH.

3. A Righteous Man

The true reason for the Divine preference is doubtless to be found in the disposition of the brothers (see CAIN). Well-doing consisted not in the outward offering (Gen 4:7) but in the right state of mind and feeling. The acceptability depends on the inner motives and moral characters of the offerers. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent (abundant, pleı́ōna) sacrifice than Cain” (Heb 11:4). The “more abundant sacrifice,” Westcott thinks, “suggests the deeper gratitude of Abel, and shows a fuller sense of the claims of God” to the best. Cain’s “works (the collective expression of his inner life) were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1Jo 3:12). “It would be an outrage if the gods looked to gifts and sacrifices and not to the soul” (Alcibiades II.149E.150A). Cain’s heart was no longer pure; it had a criminal propensity, springing from envy and jealousy, which rendered both his offering and person unacceptable. His evil works and hatred of his brother culminated in the act of murder, specifically evoked by the opposite character of Abel’s works and the acceptance of his offering. The evil man cannot endure the sight of goodness in another.

4. A Martyr

Abel ranks as the first martyr (Mat 23:35), whose blood cried for vengeance (Gen 4:10; compare Rev 6:9, Rev 6:10) and brought despair (Gen 4:13), whereas that of Jesus appeals to God for forgiveness and speaks peace (Heb 12:24) and is preferred before Abel’s.

5. A Type

The first two brothers in history stand as the types and representatives of the two main and enduring divisions of mankind, and bear witness to the absolute antithesis and eternal enmity between good and evil.


1. The second son of Adam and Eve. He became a shepherd, and offered to God a sacrifice from his flocks, at the same time that Cain his brother offered the fruits of the earth. God had respect to Abel’s sacrifice, and not to Cain’s; hence Cain in anger killed Abel, Ge 4:1-26. It was “by faith” that Abel offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain; that is, his heart was right towards God, and he worshipped Him in trustful obedience to the divine directions. His offering, made by the shedding of blood, was that of a penitent sinner confiding in the atonement ordained of God; and it was accepted, “God testifying of his gifts,” probably by fire from heaven; “by which he obtained witness that he was righteous,” that is, justified, Heb 11:4. “The blood of Abel” called from the ground for vengeance, Ge 4:10; but the blood of Christ claims forgiveness and salvation for his people, Heb 12:24; 1Jo 1:7

2. Abel is also a prefix in the names of several towns. In such cases it signifies a grassy place or meadow.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

The second son of Adam and Eve, Abel was a keeper of sheep. Like his elder brother Cain, he made an offering to God of things God had given him (Gen 4:1-4). Abel was a righteous man (Mat 23:35), and he offered his sacrifice in a thankful attitude of sincere faith (Gen 4:4; Heb 11:4). Cain was an unrighteous man (1Jo 3:12) and offered his sacrifice in the wrong attitude. God therefore rejected his sacrifice (Gen 4:5; for further details see SACRIFICE).

In envy and anger, Cain killed Abel (Gen 4:8). But God gave to Adam and Eve another son, Seth, who helped maintain the sort of faith in God that Abel had shown (Gen 4:25-26).

Concise Bible Dictionary

The second Son of Adam. The name Hebel given him by his mother, signifying ‘breath’ or ‘vanity,’ possibly originated in her disappointment at Cain not proving to be the promised Redeemer. In process of time the great difference in the two brothers was manifested by Abel offering to God a slain animal, whilst Cain brought the fruit of his own labour from the cursed ground, ignoring the facts that in the fall of Adam life had been forfeited and the ground cursed. Abel presented a sacrifice in the way of faith through a slain firstling of the flock, Heb 11:4. He thus obtained a witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: cf. Mt 23:35. Thus early were brought out in clear lines the two seeds: one born of God, and the other ‘of that wicked one.’ 1Jo 3:12. Abel is a type of Christ, as Cain is that of the Jew. As the Jews broke the law against both God and their neighbour, so Cain disregarded God’s judgment on man, and slew his brother. In Cain is also exemplified the religion of the natural man, who, disregarding his distance from God, thinks he can approach at any time and with any form of worship.


(Heb. Hebhel), a breath, or vanity, the second son of Adam and Eve. He was put to death by his brother Cain (Gen. 4:1-16). Guided by the instruction of their father, the two brothers were trained in the duty of worshipping God. “And in process of time” (marg. “at the end of days”, i.e., on the Sabbath) each of them offered up to God of the first-fruits of his labours. Cain, as a husbandman, offered the fruits of the field; Abel, as a shepherd, of the firstlings of his flock. “The Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering; but unto Cain and his offering he had not respect” (Gen. 4:3-5). On this account Cain was angry with his brother, and formed the design of putting him to death; a design which he at length found an opportunity of carrying into effect (Gen. 4:8,9. Comp. 1 John 3:12). There are several references to Abel in the New Testament. Our Saviour speaks of him as “righteous” (Matt. 23:35). “The blood of sprinkling” is said to speak “better things than that of Abel” (Heb. 12:24); i.e., the blood of Jesus is the reality of which the blood of the offering made by Abel was only the type. The comparison here is between the sacrifice offered by Christ and that offered by Abel, and not between the blood of Christ calling for mercy and the blood of the murdered Abel calling for vengeance, as has sometimes been supposed. It is also said (Heb. 11:4) that “Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” This sacrifice was made “by faith;” this faith rested in God, not only as the Creator and the God of providence, but especially in God as the great Redeemer, whose sacrifice was typified by the sacrifices which, no doubt by the divine institution, were offered from the days of Adam downward. On account of that “faith” which looked forward to the great atoning sacrifice, Abel’s offering was accepted of God. Cain’s offering had no such reference, and therefore was rejected. Abel was the first martyr, as he was the first of our race to die.

Abel (Heb. ‘abhel), lamentation (1 Sam. 6:18), the name given to the great stone in Joshua’s field whereon the ark was “set down.” The Revised Version, however, following the Targum and the LXX., reads in the Hebrew text _’ebhen_ (= a stone), and accordingly translates “unto the great stone, whereon they set down the ark.” This reading is to be preferred.

Abel (Heb. ‘abhel), a grassy place, a meadow. This word enters into the composition of the following words:


Hebrew Hebel. Second of Adam and Eve’s sons, Genesis 4: Abel means “vanity” or “weakness”, “vapor” or “transitoriness”. Cain means “possession”; for Eve said at his birth, “I have gotten as a possession a man from Jehovah,” or as the Hebrew (eth) may mean, “with the help of Jehovah”; she inferring the commencement of the fulfillment of the promise of the Redeemer (Gen 3:15) herein. On the contrary, Abel’s weakness of body suggested his name: moreover prophetic inspiration guided her to choose one indicative of his untimely death. But God’s way is here from the first shown, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2Co 12:9; Heb 11:34. The cause of Cain’s hatred was “because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1Jo 3:12). Envy of the godly was “the way of Cain” (Jud 1:11). “Faith” was present in Abel, absent from Cain (Heb 11:4); consequently the kind of sacrifice (the mode of showing faith) Abel offered was “much more a sacrifice” (Wycliffe; so the Greek) than Cain’s. “By faith Abel offered unto God a much more sacrifice than Cain,” i.e. one which had more of the true virtue of sacrifice; for it was an animal sacrifice of the firstlings of the flock, a token of the forfeiture of man’s life by sin, and a type of the Redeemer to be bruised in heel that He might bruise the serpent’s head.

God’s having made for man coats of skin presupposes the slaying of animals; and doubtless implies that Abel’s sacrifice of an animal life was an act of faith which rested on God’s command (though not expressly recorded) that such were the sacrifices He required. If it had not been God’s command, it would have been presumptuous will worship (Col 2:23), and taking of a life which man had no right over before the flood (Gen 9:2-4). Cain in self-righteous unbelief, refusing to confess his guilt and need of atonement (typified by sacrifice), presented a mere thank offering of the first fruits; not, like Abel, feeling his need of the propitiatory offering for sin. So “God had respect unto Abel (first) and (then) to his offering.” “God testified of his gifts” by consuming them with fire from the shekinah or cherubic symbol E. of Eden (“the presence of the Lord”: Gen 4:16; Gen 3:24), where the first sacrifices were offered. Thus” he obtained witness that he was righteous,” namely, with the righteousness which is by faith to the sincere penitent.

Christ calls him “righteous”: Mat 23:35. Abel represents the regenerate, Cain the unregenerate natural man. Abel offered the best, Cain that most readily procured. The words “in process of time” (Gen 4:3 margin), “at the end of days,” probably mark the definite time appointed for public worship already in paradise, the seventh day sabbath. The firstling and the fat point to the divine dignity and infinite fullness of the Spirit in the coming Messiah. “By faith he being dead yet speaketh” to us; his “blood crying from the ground to God” (Gen 4:10) shows how precious in God’s sight is the death of His saints (Psa 116:15; Rev 6:10). The shedding of Abel’s blood is the first, as that of Jesus is the last and crowning guilt which brought the accumulated vengeance on the Jews (Luk 11:51; Mat 23:34-35-38). There is a further avenging of still more accentuated guilt, of innocent blood yet coming on “them that dwell on the earth”. (Revelation 11). In Heb 12:24, it is written “Christ’s blood of sprinkling speaketh better things than that of Abel,” namely, than the blood of Abel’s animal sacrifice. For Abel’s is but the type, Christ’s the antitype and one only true propitiatory sacrifice. To deny the propitiation would make Cain’s offering to be as much a sacrifice as Abel’s. Tradition makes the place of his murder and grave to be near Damascus. (See ABILA.)


son of Adam, slain by Cain Gen 4:2, 8; Mat 23:35; Heb 11:4; 12:24

Abel [H1893][H59]
David Cox’s Topical Bible Concordance

1. Son of Adam
– History of Gen. 4:1-15, 25.
– References to the death of Mat. 23:35; Luk. 11:51; Heb. 11:4; 12:24; 1Jn. 3:12.
2. A stone 1Sa. 6:18.