Deuteronomy 22:6
If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young:
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(6) If a bird’s nest.—On this precept there is a remarkable comment in the Talmud (Kiddushin, p. 39, b). “Rabbi Akiba says, You will not find a single duty prescribed in the Law with a promise of reward attached to it, which has not also the resurrection of the dead hanging thereby. In the command to honour thy father and mother, it is written (Deuteronomy 5) ‘that thy days may be prolonged and that it may go well with thee.’ In the liberty of the nest it is written (here), ‘that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.’ Suppose a man’s father says to him, Climb up the tower and bring me the young birds. He ascends the tower, lets the dam go, and takes the young. But on his way back, he falls and is killed. Where is the ‘going well ‘in his case, and where is the prolonging of his days? Aye, but that it may go well with thee in the world where all goes well, and that thy days may be prolonged in that world where all is abiding.”

Deuteronomy 22:6-7. Thou shalt not take the dam with the young — This and such like merciful precepts of the law of Moses tended to humanize the hearts of the Israelites, to produce in them a sense of the divine providence extending itself to all creatures, and to teach them to exercise dominion over them with gentleness. The command also respected posterity, restrained a selfish and covetous disposition, and taught them not to monopolize all to themselves, but leave the hopes of a future seed for others.

22:5-12 God's providence extends itself to the smallest affairs, and his precepts do so, that even in them we may be in the fear of the Lord, as we are under his eye and care. Yet the tendency of these laws, which seem little, is such, that being found among the things of God's law, they are to be accounted great things. If we would prove ourselves to be God's people, we must have respect to his will and to his glory, and not to the vain fashions of the world. Even in putting on our garments, as in eating or in drinking, all must be done with a serious regard to preserve our own and others' purity in heart and actions. Our eye should be single, our heart simple, and our behaviour all of a piece.These precepts are designed to cultivate a spirit of humanity. Compare Deuteronomy 25:4; Leviticus 22:28; and 1 Corinthians 9:9-10.6, 7. If a bird's nest chance to be before thee—This is a beautiful instance of the humanizing spirit of the Mosaic law, in checking a tendency to wanton destructiveness and encouraging a spirit of kind and compassionate tenderness to the tiniest creatures. But there was wisdom as well as humanity in the precept; for, as birds are well known to serve important uses in the economy of nature, the extirpation of a species, whether of edible or ravenous birds, must in any country be productive of serious evils. But Palestine, in particular, was situated in a climate which produced poisonous snakes and scorpions; and the deserts and mountains would have been overrun with them as well as immense swarms of flies, locusts, mice, and vermin of various kinds if the birds which fed upon them were extirpated [Michaelis]. Accordingly, the counsel given in this passage was wise as well as humane, to leave the hen undisturbed for the propagation of the species, while the taking of the brood occasionally was permitted as a check to too rapid an increase. No text from Poole on this verse.

If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in any tree, or on the ground,.... Which are the usual places in which birds build their nests; and this, as Jarchi observes, excepts such nests that are prepared, that is, that are purposely made for fowls kept at home; and with which agrees the Jewish canon, which says (t)"the letting go (the dam out of) the nest is not used but of a fowl, and it is not used but of what is not prepared; what is that which is not prepared? such as geese and hens, whose nest is in an orchard; but if their nest is in the house, and so doves kept at home, a man is free from letting (the dam) go;''that is, he is not obliged to let it go; and this is to be understood of clean birds only; so the Targum of Jonathan,"the nests of clean birds;''agreeably to the same canons and the explanation of them (u),"an unclean bird is free from letting go; so an unclean bird, that sits upon the eggs of a clean bird, also a clean bird that sits upon the eggs of an unclean bird, are free from letting go,''or persons are not obliged to let such go:

whether they be young ones or eggs; that are in the nest; and the Jewish canon is (w),"if there is but one young one, or one egg, a man is obliged to let go the dam, as it is said a nest: a nest is a word of a large sense:"

and the dam sitting upon the young or upon eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young; according to the above canon,"if she is flying at the time her wings reach the nest, a man is bound to let her go; but if her wings touch not the nest, he is free from letting her go--if the young ones are capable of flying, or the eggs rotten, he is free from letting her go, as it is said, and the dam sitting, &c. as the young are alive, so the eggs must be firm and sound, rotten ones are excepted; and as eggs have need of their dam, so the young have need of their dam; those (therefore) that can fly are excepted:''the dam is not to be taken with her young upon any account; yea, it is said (x), not even to cleanse a leper; and whoever does take her is to be beaten: this law was made partly to preserve the species of birds, and prevent the decrease of them; for a dam let go might breed again, and to this purpose are the verses ascribed to Phocylides (y), which contain the substance of this law, and this reason of it: and partly, as Maimonides observes (z), that the dam might not be afflicted at the sight of the spoil of her young; for this law does not prohibit the taking of her in any other place but in her nest, nor after her young are taken, but not together; and, as the same writer remarks, if the law would have such care taken of beasts and birds, that they might be freed from sorrow and distress, how much more of man? Wherefore the intention of this law is to teach humanity, compassion, and pity in men to one another, and to forbid cruelty, covetousness, and such like vices; as also to instruct in the doctrine of Providence, which has a respect to birds; and our Lord may be thought to have this law in view, Luke 12:6.

(t) Misn. Cholin, c. 12. sect. 1.((u) Ib. sect. 2.((w) Ib. sect. 3.((x) Misn. Cholin, c. 12. sect. 5. (y) , &c. Poem. admon. l. 80, 81. (z) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 48.

If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, {e} thou shalt not take the dam with the young:

(e) If God detests cruelty done to little birds, how much more to man, made according to his image?

6, 7. Of Sparing the Mother-bird. Peculiar to D. No reason of ritual such as we found from Deuteronomy 14:21 is traceable here. The motive may be prudence; had it been kindness to animals (as in Deuteronomy 25:4, and H. Leviticus 22:27 f.) we should have expected an injunction not to take the whole brood. Either D or possibly a later editor has in Deuteronomy 22:7 added the same inducement which is attached to the Fifth Commandment, as if reverence for motherhood were the motive. Steuern.’s idea that this was suggested by Deuteronomy 24:16 is far-fetched. Cp. Luke 12:6.

Verses 6, 7. - (Cf. Leviticus 22:28; Exodus 23:19.) These precepts are designed to foster humane feeling towards the lower animals, and not less to preserve regard to that affectionate relation between parents and their young which God has established as a law in the animal world. That thou mayest prolong thy days (cf. Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 20:12). Deuteronomy 22:6The affectionate relation of parents to their young, which God had established even in the animal world, was also to be kept just as sacred. If any one found a bird's nest by the road upon a tree, or upon the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting upon them, he was not to take the mother with the young ones, but to let the mother fly, and only take the young. נקרא for נקרה, as in Exodus 5:3. The command is related to the one in Leviticus 22:28 and Exodus 23:19, and is placed upon a par with the commandment relating to parents, by the fact that obedience is urged upon the people by the same promise in both instances (vid., Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 20:12).
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