The raven has always been very well known to man, and is mentioned
almost at the beginning of the Bible. You remember that this was the
first bird that Noah sent out of the ark to see whether the waters had
begun to dry up; and that it did not go back to him again. I suppose it
was very glad to be at liberty after it had been shut up more than a
year; and as it lives upon the flesh of other animals, it probably found
food enough from the bodies of those that had been drowned.
It is a large bird, considerably larger than the crow; and its feathers
are very black, very glossy, and very beautiful. People in ancient
times seem to have liked a black color, and were especially pleased with
black hair; so we read in the Song of Solomon, where one who is
beautiful is described, "His locks are bushy, and black as a raven."
It is said that the raven always attacks the eye of an animal first;
seeming to prefer that to every other part. This may explain one of the
verses in Proverbs, "The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth
to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the
young eagles shall eat it." It has been the custom, in many countries,
to hang those who have been guilty of great crimes on a tree or on a
gallows in the open air; and there to leave the body for the birds to
peck at and devour if they chose. I suppose this verse means that
stubborn and disobedient children, or those who are not kind and
respectful to their parents, must expect to come to some sad end; and
they very often do so.
I have heard that the raven drives out its young ones very early from
the nest, almost before they are able to seek their food. This may
explain a verse in the Psalms, "The Lord giveth to the beast his food,
and to the young ravens which cry;" and another in Job, "Who provideth
for the raven his food ? when his young ones cry unto God, wandering for
lack of meat." Our Savior speaks of this bird in the 12th chapter of
Luke, "Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap; they have
neither store-house nor barn; and God feedeth them." He was speaking to
his disciples, and it was as much as to say, "If God takes care of the
ravens, he will certainly take care of you; so you need not be anxious
Have you read in the Bible how a good prophet's life was once saved by
ravens? The people who were living then were very wicked, and would
have been glad to kill the prophet Elijah; so God told him to go into
the wilderness and live there alone by the side of a small brook.
Elijah went to the brook, and there was water enough for him to drink,
of course, but no food to keep him from starving. You may be sure that
God did not forget his servant; but you would hardly believe, if it was
not in the Bible, that he would send the ravens to carry food to him.
Yet so it was: "the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning,
and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook." It is
supposed that he was fed in this way for as much as a year. It was a
long time to stay there by himself; but I do not think he was lonely or
afraid, for he loved God, and felt sure that He was always near him,
even in the wilderness.