Why does God refer to the bat as a bird in Lev. 11:19 when enumerating clean and unclean animals?

13 “These are the birds that are detestable to you. You must never eat them: the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, falcons of all kinds, 15 ravens of all kinds, 16 the eagle owl, the short-eared owl, the seagull, hawks of all kinds, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the barn owl, the desert owl, the Egyptian vulture, 19 the stork, herons of all kinds, the hoopoe, and the bat.

Clarify Share Report Asked February 09 2023 Mini Anonymous

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
Did Moses make an error when he called a bat a bird?

Moses, who was one of the most-learned in Egypt, has been attacked in several cases to undermine biblical authority. This is another of those attacks to get people to doubt that God was speaking through Moses. Let’s evaluate such a claim in more detail. 

The Hebrew word for bird is actually owph -- עוֹף which means “fowl/winged creature.” Remember to read Hebrew from right to left. The Hebrew word, "bird," -- owph -- עוֹף is spelled this way: 

ע‎	[Ayin + ו‎	Vav (v as in vogue) + פּ‎	[p]	פֵּא, פֵּה‎	Pe	p as in pool

This is the kind of thing that I loved searching for in my Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon when I took Hebrew for 3 years at Dallas Theological Seminary:

"Bird" in OT
עוֹף S 5775 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. TWOT 1582a GK 6416 70 n. m. Gn 40:17 coll. Flying creatures, fowl, insects;— ע׳ abs. Gn 1:20 +, cstr. V 21 +;— 1. fowl birds, Gn 40:17, 19 (E), 7:8 (J), 1:20, 22 (P), 1 K 5:13 +; especially (38 times) םִיַמָ שַּׁה ע׳ fowl of the sky, Gn 2:19, 20 (J), 1:26, 28, 30 (P), Ho 2:20 Ec 10:20 +, carrion birds 1 S 17:44, 46 2 S 21:10 1 K 14:11 + 11 times; יםִרָה ע׳ ψ 50:11, דֵנוֹד ע׳ Is 16:2, ע׳ אֵלָמ לוּבְכִכּ Je 5:27; redundantly ףָנָכּ ע׳ fowl of wing Gn 1:21 (P), ψ 78:27 (for food); for food also Lv 7:26 (P), 17:13; 20:25 (both H), cf. Lv 11:13, 46 (H, clean and unclean); for offering Gn 8:20 (J; הוֹרָטַּה ע׳ָה,(Lv Lv שֶׁ רֶץ הָע׳ הַהֹלְֵך עַל־אַרְבַּע (unclean and clean (insects winged. 2). P (14:1 11:20, 21 (H). ע׳ָה שׁ׳ Dt 14:19, so prob. ע׳ָה alone v 20; עַבְּאַר ר־לוֶֹ שֲׁא 

The word owph -- עוֹף -- simply means “to fly” or “has a wing.” So, the word includes birds, bats, and even flying insects. The alleged problem appears due to translation of owph as bird. Birds are included in the word owph, but owph is not limited to birds. This shows that translators aren't always perfect when handling the inerrant Word of God. Answersingensis.org

February 09 2023 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Justin Hale
Modern 'science' is now running into some trouble 'classifying' things which GOD's classification system doesn't have. Science has decided to elevate the 'genetic family' as the best way to tell the 'story' of life and its development. GOD has decided instead to teach us about various life forms based on their 'manifested traits.' 

On a social level, this would be like deciding that 'only birth children' are valid family members and that 'adopted children' are less than valid, or even 'not real children' that 'don't count' as members of a family lineage.

This idea seems reasonable enough until we encounter a creature like the 'duck-billed platypus' which is technically a warm-blooded 'mammal,' (that even nurses its young). A 'mammal' as classified by the modern genetic 'family' definitions, but it also lays eggs like a reptile or bird instead of having a live birth. 


Now what do we do? Science just treats this animal like an 'exception to the rule' instead of trying to rewrite and redefine EVERYTHING, which is what it truly MUST do in order for its classification system to be of any reliable value as 'revealed truth.' 

Why is science avoiding this?

If science must admit that any truthful and consistent narrative of life MUST include 'adopted children as equally valid members of a genetic family,' we end up with a degree of intimacy and inherent unity in nature that strongly implies that its diverse life forms are not actually 'in a contest for survival' at all. 

This 'contest' is crucial to all of the modern theories of the evolutionary development of life, even the ones that admit that 'alliances' or 'partnerships' between species sometimes occur as part of the 'overall struggle.'

If there is no 'struggle,' however, what we are REALLY seeing is 'cooperation.' And if 'cooperation' is the true fundamental drive of nature, 'random occurrence and instinctive response' does not explain it or even address it. 

Only a 'guiding Intelligence' greater than any possessed by animals would explain it because none but humans, (and those animals 'trained' by men), are individually capable of 'choosing' to cooperate until functional necessity compels it or offers it as an option. 

The 'bat' is an 'adopted child' of the bird family. If they were truly 'struggling for survival' as an expression of their deepest natural drive, birds vastly outnumber bats and some even have very deadly or ferocious traits that could have easily wiped them out in response to them 'attempting to join the flight family.' We see them 'guarding the lines' between 'species' with great ferocity, so why not their most fundamental identifying trait? 

They just didn't. 

Birds did not 'insist' on any kind of 'genetic purity,' proving that they are being driven by something else entirely. Like all of GOD's creatures, their goal is not the 'survival of the species.' It is the 'survival, balance, and full thriving of all cooperating life forms.' 

The only life forms that truly go 'extinct' are the ones rejecting this drive to 'cooperate.' At that moment, they part ways with GOD.
That basic 'cooperation drive' comes from GOD, the Author and Creator of all life forms. Nowhere else. Humans have the same fundamental choice, only we are also equipped with the capacity to CONSCIOUSLY choose it or reject it.

That 'natural phenomenon' also happens to be the basis of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the choice being offered to each individual human 'made in the image of GOD.' 

"And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15).

The word translated 'creation' there, (Biblical Greek: 'ktisis'), is the same word used in Romans 1:20, Hebrews 4:13 and elsewhere in scripture that includes 'every living thing.' 

"...you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

"For the anxious longing of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God." (Romans 8:15,19).

February 10 2023 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Add your Answer

All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.

What makes a good answer? ▼

A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.

  1. Adhere to the eBible Statement of Faith.
  2. Your answer should be complete and stand-alone.
  3. Include supporting arguments, and scripture references if possible. Seek to answer the "why".
  4. Adhere to a proper tone and spirit of love and understanding.
  5. For more info see The Complete Guide to eBible
  1. 4000 characters remaining