The Ostrich in Bible Times

The ostrich is listed among the unclean birds for the Israelites in Leviticus 11:16 and Deuteronomy 14:15. Job laments that he is “a companion of ostriches” (Job 30:29). The longest section of scripture mentioning the ostrich is in the the response by the LORD.

“The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beast may trample them. She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding. When she rouses herself to flee, she laughs at the horse and his rider. (Job 39:13-18 ESV)

Ostrich at the Hai Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ostriches at the Hai Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Archaeologists uncovered this ostrich egg pictured below from the MB II level (1750–1550 B.C.) at Lachish. The sign with the display at the British Museum says,

Ostriches were native to the Levant and their eggs, plain or decorated were often included in tomb deposits.

Ostrich Egg discovered at MB II Lachish. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ostrich Egg discovered at MB II Lachish. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., Jeremiah lamented that “the daughter of my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.” (Lamentations 4:3 ESV)

2 responses to “The Ostrich in Bible Times

  1. I had a group in South Africa about 20 years ago to visit an ostrich farm. The entire group of about 20+ ate plenty from one egg. Also had some ostrich meat. I don’t recall it being too bad.

  2. G’day, An historical occasion! My FIRST blog post.
    Have got to comment on the Ostrich egg. When I was a young feller some 60 odd year ago I was jackarooing on a very large sheep station in South Australia. Previously to that time there had been an Ostrich Farm and long after the farm folded, the birds still roamed and not only survived, but prospered, and the eggs were fairly plentiful.
    So, early one morning after a I’d had a wild night on the booze, this bloke woke me up and said “Hey Mate! You finished with this?” And as he said that he dragged out this large bowl from under my bed. ‘Course I looked over and into the vilest looking concoction of beaten Ostrich egg, onion rings and parsely.
    I skipped breakfast that morning, but later on I tried Ostrich Omlette, and fair dinkum, you couldn’t tell it from the good old chooks egg omlette

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