Ravens in Biblical Mythology

Regardless of  anyone’s personal philosophy, we believe it is important to learn the significance symbols such as the Crow and Raven have had in cultures throughout the centuries.  Ravens appear several times throughout the Bible, and without having a background in theology it is hard to say if they are used as symbols of greater meaning because of their intelligence, or because they were just prolific in that time period.

What we do know is that Crows and Ravens have appeared more times and across greater expanse of earth, history, and culture than any other bird in existence. They play prominent roles in Native American, Japanese, Wiccan, and Hindu mythology, many tales which still hold religious meaning today.

1.The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook.

2. Leviticus 11:13 instructs the Israelites not to eat certain birds because they are “detestable”.  One of these birds,of course, is the raven although no further indication is given as to why the Raven is considered detestable (likely due to eating carrion).

3.The same command not to eat the meat of detestable birds is repeated in Deut. 14:14.  Ironically the stork, commonly thought of today as a  baby courier, is categorized alongside the raven as detestable.

4.According to Job 38:40-41, God feeds the ravens and their young , a belief also shared by Hindus.

5.Echoing this sentiment, Psalm 147:9 says that God gives the young ravens food when they call.

6.Luke 12:24 and Psalm 137 offer a common adage, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

7.Song of Solomon describes the man’s hair as  “black as a raven” (SOS  5:11)

8.Psalm 30: 17 says that “the eye that mocks the father will be pecked out by the ravens in the valley”.  This passage has later been translated or adapted to include vultures and hawks to appeal to the current day man’s association with carrion.

9.In talking about the desert and its distinct desolation, Isaiah 34:11 describes the ‘owl and raven’ as nesting there, attempting to portray a place where there was once life and now where there is only death. This passage has later been translated to include cormorants, storks, pelicans, somehow hedgehogs, and porcupines, but the raven part has stayed consistent.

By Lorna Effler

10.The first bird Noah sent out from the ark was a white raven (Gen. 8:7), which kept flying back and forth until the water dried up from the earth.   Today this has evolved into a dove with an olive branch.