Leviticus 11:19

19 and the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe, and the bat.

Leviticus 11:19 Meaning and Commentary

Leviticus 11:19

And the stork
. A bird of passage, ( Jeremiah 8:7 ) it has its name from kindness, which it exercises both to its dam, and to its young. Various writers F2 speak of the kindness of these birds to their dams, which when they are old they take care of and feed them, to which the apostle is thought to allude, ( 1 Timothy 5:4 ) and its tenderness to its young is no less manifest: when the city of Delf in Holland was on fire, the storks were seen very busy to save their young from the flames, and which when they could not do, threw themselves into the midst of them, and perished with them, as Drusius from the Dutch historians relates. It is said to feed upon serpents; and hence by Virgil F3 to be "invisa colubris"; and Juvenal F4 says, it nourishes its young with them; and which may be a reason of its being forbid to be eaten, and is the reason given by the Mahometans F5 for the prohibition of it; though on this account it was in great honour in Thessaly, that country being freed from serpents by it, and therefore they made it a capital crime to kill them, as Pliny F6 relates; formerly people would not eat the stork, but at present it is much esteemed for the deliciousness of its flesh F7

the heron after her kind;
this bird has its name in Hebrew from its being soon angry, as Aben Ezra observes; and Jarchi calls it the angry vulture or kite, as it is in the Talmud F8; and adds, and it appears to me to be what they call the "heron", one sort of which named "asterias", as there is one sort so called by Pliny F9; it becomes tame in Egypt, and so well understands the voice of a man, as Aelianus


F11 reports, that if anyone by way of reproach calls it a servant or slothful, it is immediately exceeding angry. There are three kinds of herons, as both Aristotle F12 and Pliny F13; and by a learned man of ours F14, their names are thus given, the criel or dwarf heron, the blue heron, and the bittour; some reckon nineteen:

and the lapwing;
the upupa or hoopoe; it has its name in Hebrew, according to Jarchi, from its having a double crest; and so Pliny F15 ascribes to it a double or folded crest, and speaks of it as a filthy bird; and, according to Aristotle F16 and Aelian F17, its nest is chiefly made of human dung, that by the ill smell of it men may be kept from taking its young; and therefore may well be reckoned among impure fowl. Calmet F18 says, there is no such thing as a lapwing to be seen in any part of England; but there are such as we call so, whether the same bird with this I cannot say:

and the bat;
a little bird which flies in the night, Aben Ezra says; Kimchi F19 describes it a mouse with wings, which flies in the night, and we sometimes call it the "flitter mouse"; it is a creature between a fowl and a beast; and, as Aristotle says F20, it partakes of both, and is of neither; and it is the only fowl, as Pliny F21 observes, that has teeth and teats, that brings forth animals, and nourishes them with milk. It is a creature so very disagreeable, that one would think almost there was no need of a law to forbid the eating of it; and yet it is said by some to be eatable, and to be eaten, as Strabo F23 affirms, yea, to be delicious food. It is asserted F24, that there is a sort of them in the east, larger than ordinary, and is salted and eaten--that there are bats in China as large as pullets, and are as delicate eating. Of these several fowls before mentioned, some are of the ravenous kind, and are an emblem of persecutors and covetous persons, and such as live by rapine and violence; others are of a lustful nature, and are an emblem of those who serve various lusts and pleasures, and give up themselves to uncleanness; others are night birds, and are a proper emblem of them whose works are works of darkness, and love darkness rather than the light; and others never rise higher than the earth, and so may denote earthly minded persons; and others live on impure things, and so fitly represent such who live an impure life; with all such the people of God are to have no fellowship.

F2 Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 13. Aelian. de Animal. l. 3. c. 23. & l. 10. c. 16. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 23.
F3 Georgic. l. 2.
F4 Satyr. 14.
F5 Apud Bochart. ut supra, (Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2.) c. 29. col. 329.
F6 Ut supra. (Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 23.)
F7 Calmet in the word "Stork".
F8 T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 63. 1.
F9 Ut supra, (F6) c. 60. so Aristot. l. 9. c. 1.
F11 De Animal. l. 5. c. 36.
F12 Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 1.
F13 Ut supra. (Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 23.)
F14 Ainsworth's Dictionary, in voce "Ardea".
F15 Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 29.
F16 Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 15.
F17 De Animal. l. 3. c. 26.
F18 Dictionary, in the word "Lapwing".
F19 Sepher Shorash. in voc. (Plje) .
F20 De Part. Animal. l. 4. c. 13.
F21 Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 61. l. 11. c. 37.
F23 Geograph. l. 16.
F24 Calmet's Dictionary in the word "Bat".

Leviticus 11:19 In-Context

17 and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
18 and the horned owl, and the pelican, and the vulture,
19 and the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe, and the bat.
20 All winged creeping things that go upon all fours are an abomination unto you.
21 Yet these may ye eat of all winged creeping things that go upon all fours, which have legs above their feet, wherewith to leap upon the earth.
The American Standard Version is in the public domain.