What does the Bible say about owls?

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By BibleAsk Team


Owls in the Bible

Owls are birds from the order Strigiformes, which includes over 200 species. These birds are mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey typified by a large, broad head, binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight.  

Owls are only mentioned in the Old Testament (Job 30:29; Isaiah 34:13; 43:20, etc.). At the very beginning, owls were created on the fifth day with the rest of the birds (Genesis 1:20-23). Genesis 2:19 states that “every fowl of the air” was formed by God “out of the ground.” 

Owls are considered unclean birds. The Lord instructs, “‘And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, he ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat” (Leviticus 11:13-19, NKJV). The creatures here listed as “unclean” are hygienically unfit for human use as food. 

In the Bible, the owl is a symbol of utter loneliness, melancholy and desolation. The Psalmist writes, “Because of the sound of my groaning my bones cling to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert” (Psalm 102:3–6, NKJV also Zephaniah 2:13). 

In Isaiah 34:14, the word owl (Hebrew), lilith, means a “wicked demon” in Akkadian. The prophet wrote, “The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest” (Isaiah 34:14, KJV) 

In Jeremiah 50:39, the Lord describes the destruction of Babylon as the desert birds: “So desert creatures and hyenas will live there, and there the owl will dwell. It will never again be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation” (ch. 50:39, KJV). The passage when read in Hebrew suggests the shrill cries of wild creatures as they walk in the ruins of Babylon

Micah resembles the sound of an owl to a sad lament for the doomed end of Israel and Judah for their apostasy: “Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls” (Micah 1:8, KJV).  

In His service, 
BibleAsk Team 

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