Of Big Birds and Bibles

I admit I was not listening closely as the Old Testament lesson from Isaiah was read (I blame the lectern mic settings for being too quiet for me to hear clearly…..) but my head snapped up as I heard “The beasts of the field shall honour me, the jackals and the ostriches: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.”

Ostriches? In the deserts of the ancient middle east?

I am certainly not an expert on animal origins and migrations….but my brain told me that ostriches are from Australia (wrong-they are NOT native down-under-ers, but are native to the savannahs of Africa).

So I googled it (surreptitiously, hidden away up there in the choir loft) and I was stunned to find no less than eleven references to the big birds in the Old Testament: Job, Leviticus, Micah, Lamentations, Isaiah, Deuteronomy and Jeremiah all reference the ostrich and its activities….and at the post-service fellowship I asked Pastors Katlin and David whether the ancient Hebrew texts might be otherwise interpreted and be referring to some other fowl (they didn’t know).

…and THAT (after arriving home from church, mind you) sent me down a rabbit hole (forgive the jump in metaphors, there….) of biblical ostrich apologetics.

Did you know that there is controversy over ostrich behaviour as described in biblical texts between “creationists” and more mainstream theologians?

I learned an amazing amount about biblical big birds today. Until now, I must have had my head buried in the sand!