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Bats of a Feather

by Bodie Hodge on October 13, 2008

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 passage reads:

Leviticus 11:13–19
These are the birds [05775 Pwe ‘owph] you are to detest and not eat because they are detestable: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

The Hebrew word for bird is actually owph which means “fowl/winged creature.”1 The word owph 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.

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  1. F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Brigg Hebrew and English Lexicon, 9th printing (Hendrickson Publishers, September 2005), p. 773


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