Why did the Bible categorize bats as birds?

BibleAsk Team

Bats in the Bible

The Bible records, “‘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,  the 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).

In this passage the Lord is making a distinction between the clean and unclean birds as food for man. He would have His people eat only of those foods that are best for them. The bat, here, is classed among the birds, though it is a quadruped, and this is because of its flying patterns.

In Leviticus 11, no general rule is recorded for differentiating between clean and unclean birds. Those prohibited, 20 in number, are simply named, the conclusion possibly being that all others are allowed. However, some Bible scholars believe that the list of 20 was not intended to be comprehensive, but that it points only to those creatures with which the Hebrews were familiar.

The Classification of Bats

The Linnean classification, which follows the systematic methods of the Swedish botanist Linnaeus who established the system of binomial nomenclature, was not available in the times of Moses. The classification of animals were done by function or form. In the case of a bat, the word we render birds means simply “owner of a wing” which includes birds, bats, and certain insects. The Bible does not use modern biological classifications which are found in our literature today but rather uses what was commonly known in the ancient times.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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