3,221 Year-old bird list

    You are going to have a little trouble believing this, as I did at first, especially when you see the length, detail and birds on the list. You will have even less faith in believing whose list it is. Most of these birds, 70% of the list, can be found on Ambergris, some are unknown today or extinct. I have researched and verified the translation in Greek, Hebrew and King James English. There are, of course, small differences and a few extra birds are on the Hebrew list. I discovered it by accident. Sometimes I see things in print that are not intended to be funny but end up humorous, unintentionally. I was perusing one of these after I clicked on the December cover of Sport Diver Magazine. The caption read “World’s largest Grouper,” but pictured was what everyone in San Pedro calls a “Jew Fish.” So I read the story looking for a mistaken identification and discovered Jews had appealed to the “American Fishes Society” to rename the fish because they felt the name Jew Fish was offensive. I thought, okay! That is not bad, perhaps it is offensive, but the new official name is “Goliath Grouper,” and that struck me as funny. As I remember my Bible studies, I recall Goliath being slain by David, a young soldier in the Israeli army, and Goliath being a Philistine champion from Gath, a village in what is now Palestine. So yes, the Jews were offended by the name of this fish, so they had it changed to be named after a Palestinian. I think that is funny, but what the heck, I am a heathen. Anyway, while doing a web search of where Philistine and Palestine connect, surfing through Leviticus in the Old Testament of the Bible, up pops a bird list that Jehovah gave Moses.

    I said you were going to have trouble believing this, so just wait till you see the list. At first I thought I had a virus but there it was—a 3,221 year-old bird list God gave Moses. Most everyone knows about pork and the Hebrews, how God gave the law to Moses to pass along. Old Testament, Leviticus 11: 9-11 and most Roman Catholic fisherman know about verse 12, “eat only things from the sea that have fins and scales.” But few know about verse 13. Among the birds listed, these are the ones you may not eat: Eagle, Metire, Ossifrage a.k.a. “Lammergeier,” Vulture Family, Osprey, Falcon(all kinds), Kite, Raven (all kinds), Ostrich, Night Hawk, Seagull, Hawk (all kinds), Owl (specifically, Great Owl) Cormorant, Ibis, Marsh Hen (extinct), Pelican, Vulture, Stork, Herons (all kinds), Hoopoe, Lapwing and Bat.

    Let’s look at the list, since taxonomy was not born yet. This was 3000 years before Carl Linnaeus’s time, and I would guess Moses somehow got a bat on his bird list. If anyone out there knows what a Lapwing or Hoopoe is, please call me. I suspect if a bat made the list they may not necessarily have to be birds, just flying things. I compared the list in Greek with English and a literal translation of Hebrew to English. I am stumped as to what a Metire is but in Greek it is an Ossifrage. A friend e-mailed me and said it is in Madagascar. Some of the translations included extra birds such as: “Little Owl,” as well as “Great Cuckow” which I believe to be a Marsh Hen, “Swan,” “Gier Eagle,” and “Buzzard.”

    Leviticus 11:14-19goes on with details of things we should not do with them, other than have them for dinner, such as touching their dead bodies or eating crops grown from where their dead bodies fell.

    Wow! Doesn’t this bring up a lot of questions? Why these birds? Is it because they are all meat eaters? What about the birds who are not on the list? Or could this list be all the birds that were known at the time? What is okay about a wren, sparrow or dove? Why would God not want us to have anything to do with these birds in particular? The Bible was translated from Hebrew and parts from Greek to English. Things are always lost in translation. Gallis is an Old World word for chicken and I am sure Belizeans are relieved it is not on the list. If you still find all this hard to believe, just reach into the top drawer of the nightstand beside the bed in your next hotel room. Look it up for yourself, it is an awesome bird book!

Birds of Ambergris Caye

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