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Smith's Bible Dictionary

A number of species of the owl are mentioned in the Bible, (Leviticus 11:17; 14:16; Isaiah 14:23; 34:15; Zephaniah 2:14) and in several other places the same Hebrew word is used where it is translated ostrich. (Job 30:29; Jeremiah 50:39) Some of these species were common in Palestine, and, as is well known, were often found inhabiting ruins. (Isaiah 34:11,13-15)

ATS Bible Dictionary

A night bird of prey, unfit for food. Several species are found in Palestine, and are mentioned in the Bible; as in Le 11:17 De 14:16 Isaiah 14:23 34:15 Zephaniah 2:14. One of the words, however, translated "owl," probably means "OSTRICH," (which see;) and another, Le 11:17 De 14:16 Isaiah 34:11, the ibis or night heron.

Easton's Bible Dictionary

(1.) Hebrews bath-haya'anah, "daughter of greediness" or of "shouting." In the list of unclean birds (Leviticus 11:16; Deuteronomy 14:15); also mentioned in Job 30:29; Isaiah 13:21; 34:13; 43:20; Jeremiah 50:39; Micah 1:8. In all these passages the Revised Version translates "ostrich" (q.v.), which is the correct rendering.

(2.) Hebrews yanshuph, rendered "great owl" in Leviticus 11:17; Deuteronomy 14:16, and "owl" in Isaiah 34:11. This is supposed to be the Egyptian eagle-owl (Bubo ascalaphus), which takes the place of the eagle-owl (Bubo maximus) found in Southern Europe. It is found frequenting the ruins of Egypt and also of the Holy Land. "Its cry is a loud, prolonged, and very powerful hoot. I know nothing which more vividly brought to my mind the sense of desolation and loneliness than the re-echoing hoot of two or three of these great owls as I stood at midnight among the ruined temples of Baalbek" (Tristram).

The LXX. and Vulgate render this word by "ibis", i.e., the Egyptian heron.

(3.) Hebrews kos, rendered "little owl" in Leviticus 11:17; Deuteronomy 14:16, and "owl" in Psalm 102:6. The Arabs call this bird "the mother of ruins." It is by far the most common of all the owls of Palestine. It is the Athene persica, the bird of Minerva, the symbol of ancient Athens.

(4.) Hebrews kippoz, the "great owl" (Isaiah 34:15); Revised Version, "arrow-snake;" LXX. and Vulgate, "hedgehog," reading in the text, kippod, instead of kippoz. There is no reason to doubt the correctness of the rendering of the Authorized Version. Tristram says: "The word [i.e., kippoz] is very possibly an imitation of the cry of the scops owl (Scops giu), which is very common among ruins, caves, and old walls of towns...It is a migrant, returning to Palestine in spring."

(5.) Hebrews lilith, "screech owl" (Isaiah 34:14, marg. and R.V., "night monster"). The Hebrew word is from a root signifying "night." Some species of the owl is obviously intended by this word. It may be the hooting or tawny owl (Syrnium aluco), which is common in Egypt and in many parts of Palestine. This verse in Isaiah is "descriptive of utter and perpetual desolation, of a land that should be full of ruins, and inhabited by the animals that usually make such ruins their abode."

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) Any species of raptorial birds of the family Strigidae. They have large eyes and ears, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye. They are mostly nocturnal in their habits.

2. (n.) A variety of the domestic pigeon.

3. (v. i.) To pry about; to prowl.

4. (v. i.) To carry wool or sheep out of England.

5. (v. i.) Hence, to carry on any contraband trade.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

oul (bath ha-ya`anah; Latin Ulula): The name of every nocturnal bird of prey of the Natural Order Striges. These birds range from the great horned owl of 2 feet in length, through many subdivisions to the little screech-owl of 5 inches. All are characterized by very large heads, many have ear tufts, all have large eyes surrounded by a disk of tiny, stiff, radiating feathers. The remainder of the plumage has no aftershaft. So these birds make the softest flight of any creature traveling on wing. A volume could be written on the eye of the owl, perhaps its most wonderful feature being in the power of the bird to enlarge the iris if it wishes more distinct vision. There is material for another on the prominent and peculiar auditory parts. With almost all owls the feet are so arranged that two toes can be turned forward and two back, thus reinforcing the grip of the bird by an extra toe and giving it unusual strength of foot. All are night-hunters, taking prey to be found at that time, of size according to the strength. The owl was very numerous in the caves, ruined temples and cities, and even in the fertile valleys of Palestine. It is given place in the Bible because it was considered unfit for food and because people dreaded the cries of every branch of the numerous family. It appeared often, as most birds, in the early versions of the Bible; later translators seem to feel that it was used in several places where the ostrich really was intended (see OSTRICH). It would appear to a natural historian that the right bird could be selected by the location, where the text is confusing. The ostrich had a voice that was even more terrifying, when raised in the night, than that of the owl. But it was a bird of the desert, of wide range and traveled only by day. This would confine its habitat to the desert and the greenery where it joined fertile land, but would not bring it in very close touch with civilization. The owl is a bird of ruins, that lay mostly in the heart of rich farming lands, where prosperous cities had been built and then destroyed by enemies. Near these locations the ostrich would be pursued for its plumage, and its nesting conditions did not prevail. The location was strictly the owl's chosen haunt, and it had the voice to fit all the requirements of the text. In the lists of abominations, the original Hebrew yanshuph, derived from a root meaning twilight, is translated "great owl" (see Leviticus 11:17 and Deuteronomy 14:16). It is probable that this was a bird about 2 ft. in length, called the eagle-owl. In the same lists the word koc (nuktikorax) refers to ruins, and the bird indicated is specified as the "little owl," that is, smaller than the great owl-about the size of our barn owl. This bird is referred to as the "mother of ruins," and the translations that place it in deserted temples and cities are beyond all doubt correct. Qippoz (echinos) occurs once (Isaiah 34:15), and is translated "great owl" in former versions; lately (in the American Standard Revised Version) it is changed to "dart-snake" (the English Revised Version "arrowsnake"). In this same description lilith (onokentauros), "a specter of night," was formerly screech-owl, now it reads "night monster," which is more confusing and less suggestive. The owls in the lists of abominations (Leviticus 11:17, 18 Deuteronomy 14:16) are the little owl, the great owl and the horned owl. The only other owl of all those that produced such impressions of desolation in the Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, and Micah is referred to in Psalm 102:6:

"I am like a pelican of the wilderness;

I am become as an owl of the waste places."

Here it would appear that the bird habitual to the wilderness and the waste places, that certainly would be desert, would be the ostrich-while in any quotation referring to ruins, the owl would be the bird indicated by natural conditions.

Gene Stratton-Porter


(yanshuph; Septuagint ibis, or eibis): A member of the Palestine species of the family Strigidae. The great owl mentioned in the Bible was no doubt their largest specimen of the family, a bird fully 2 ft. in length, full feathered, with unusually large head and long ear tufts. It was a formidable and noble-appearing bird, with resounding voice. It was abundant among the ruins of temples, the tombs of Carmel, the caves of Gennesaret, and among the ruined cities of Southern Judah. It is included in the abomination lists of Leviticus 11:17 and Deuteronomy 14:16.

See OWL.

Gene Stratton-Porter


(koc; nuktikorax; Latin Athene meridionalis): A night bird of prey distinguished by a round head, and extremely large eyes. The little owl is left in the Revised Version (British and American) only in the lists of abominations (see Leviticus 11:17 Deuteronomy 14:16).

See OWL.






Strong's Hebrew
3244. yanshuph -- (a ceremonially unclean bird) perhaps an owl
... (a ceremonially unclean bird) perhaps an owl. Transliteration: yanshuph or yanshoph
Phonetic Spelling: (yan-shoof') Short Definition: owl. ...
/hebrew/3244.htm - 6k

3563b. kos -- (a kind of) owl
... (a kind of) owl. Transliteration: kos Short Definition: owl. Word Origin from the
same as kos Definition (a kind of) owl NASB Word Usage little owl (2), owl (1) ...
/hebrew/3563b.htm - 5k

8580. tinshemeth -- (an animal) perhaps owl, chameleon
... 8579, 8580. tinshemeth. 8581 . (an animal) perhaps owl, chameleon. Transliteration:
tinshemeth Phonetic Spelling: (tan-sheh'-meth) Short Definition: owl. ...
/hebrew/8580.htm - 6k

255. oach -- owl
... owl. Transliteration: oach Phonetic Spelling: (o'-akh) Short Definition: owls. Word
Origin from an unused word Definition owl NASB Word Usage owls (1). ...
/hebrew/255.htm - 5k

8464. tachmas -- male ostrich
... 8463, 8464. tachmas. 8465 . male ostrich. Transliteration: tachmas Phonetic
Spelling: (takh-mawce') Short Definition: owl. Word ...
/hebrew/8464.htm - 6k

3563. kowc -- a cup
... 3562, 3563. kowc. 3563a . a cup. Transliteration: kowc Phonetic Spelling:
(koce) Short Definition: cup. cup, small owl From an unused ...
/hebrew/3563.htm - 5k

3917. liyliyth -- a female night-demon
... a female night-demon. Transliteration: liyliyth Phonetic Spelling: (lee-leeth')
Short Definition: owl. screech owl From layil; a night spectre -- screech owl. ...
/hebrew/3917.htm - 5k

7091. qippoz -- perhaps arrow snake
... great owl. From an unused root meaning to contract, ie Spring forward; an
arrow-snake (as darting on its prey) -- great owl. 7090, 7091. qippoz. 7092 . ...
/hebrew/7091.htm - 6k

1323. bath -- daughter
... villages (17), woman (1), women (1). apple of the eye, branch, company, daughter,
first, old, owl, town,. From banah (as feminine of ...
/hebrew/1323.htm - 6k

3284. yaanah -- perhaps greed
... ostriches* (1). owl. Feminine of ya'en, and meaning the same -- + owl. see HEBREW
ya'en. 3283, 3284. yaanah. 3285 . Strong's Numbers.
/hebrew/3284.htm - 6k


Agrippa, who was Also Called Herod, Having Persecuted the Apostles ...
... 6, 44 ad. [340] The passage in Josephus reads: "But as he presently afterward looked
up he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head, and immediately ...
/.../pamphilius/church history/chapter x agrippa who was also.htm

Psalm CII.
... 7. "I am become like a pelican in the wilderness, and like an owl among ruined walls"
(ver.6). Behold three birds and three places: the pelican, the owl, and ...
/.../christianbookshelf.org/augustine/exposition on the book of psalms/psalm cii.htm

On the Animals
... [Job 39:26]. The owl is Christ, or the saint who despices infidels; in the psalm:
I am made like an owl in its dwelling. [Ps.101(102):7 Vulgate]. ...
/.../eucherius/the formulae of st eucherius of lyons/iv on the animals.htm

Other Platonist Arguments Considered.
... The eyes of the owl cannot endure the sun, whilst the eagle is so well able to face
his glory, that the noble character of its young is determined by the ...
/.../a treatise on the soul/chapter viii other platonist arguments considered.htm

The Astrotheosophists; Aratus Imitated by the Heresiarchs; his ...
... They, however, gazing intently on the very extraordinary wonder, admirers as they
are of trifles, are fascinated like a bird called the owl, which example it ...
/.../chapter xlvi the astrotheosophists aratus imitated.htm

The Release of Saint George.
... A hooting owl of hideous aspect sat on his shoulder, while he brandished
an iron club covered with spikes, like his armour, red-hot. ...
/.../kingston/the seven champions of christendom/chapter eleven the release of.htm

But this New Cloudy Political Cowardice Has Rendered Useless the ...
... The old tyrants invoked the past; the new tyrants will invoke the future evolution
has produced the snail and the owl; evolution can produce a workman who ...
/.../chesterton/whats wrong with the world/chapter 3 but this new.htm

Whether There was any Reasonable Cause for the Ceremonial ...
... The owl, which sees clearly at night, but cannot see in the daytime, denotes those
who are clever in temporal affairs, but dull in spiritual matters. ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/whether there was any reasonable.htm

Book 18 Footnotes
... ch.10., omit the words an owl"on a certain rope, which Josephus's present copies
retain, and only have the explicatory word or angel; as if he meant that ...
/.../josephus/the antiquities of the jews/book 18 footnotes.htm

Oh, How He Loves!
... By his divine foresight, he looked upon human nature as a palace that had been
plundered, and broken down, and in its ruins he perceived the owl, the bittern ...
/.../spurgeon/spurgeons sermons volume 56 1910/oh how he loves.htm

Owl (11 Occurrences)
... (2.) Hebrews yanshuph, rendered "great owl" in Leviticus 11:17; Deuteronomy
14:16, and "owl" in Isaiah 34:11. This is supposed to ...
/o/owl.htm - 18k

Horned (5 Occurrences)
... a fall. (BBE DBY JPS NAS). Leviticus 11:16 the horned owl, the screech owl,
and the gull, any kind of hawk, (WEB NIV). Leviticus 11 ...
/h/horned.htm - 7k

Screech (4 Occurrences)
... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. OWL, SCREECH. See NIGHT-MONSTER. SCREECH OWL.
skrech. See NIGHT-MONSTER. Multi-Version Concordance Screech (4 Occurrences). ...
/s/screech.htm - 8k

Swan (2 Occurrences)
... SWAN. swon (tinshemeth, "chameleon," "tree-toad," "water-hen," "owl"; kuknos; Latin
cygnus; Anglo-Saxon: swan and swon): Mentioned only in old versions and the ...
/s/swan.htm - 8k

Ostrich (9 Occurrences)
... the Hebrew pl. renanim, properly meaning "ostriches," as in the Revised Version.
(see OWL .). Noah Webster's Dictionary. (n.) A large ...
/o/ostrich.htm - 18k

Porcupine (3 Occurrences)
... the Revised Version (British and American) "porcupine"; Septuagint echinos "hedgehog";
qippoz (Isaiah 34:15), the King James Version "great owl," the English ...
/p/porcupine.htm - 11k

Pelican (5 Occurrences)
... They are next mentioned in Psalm 102:6: "I am like a pelican of the wilderness;
I am become as an owl of the waste places." Here David from the depths of ...
/p/pelican.htm - 11k

Hawk (6 Occurrences)
... Any member of the eagle, vulture, owl or hawk families driven to desperation would
"tear and scratch" with the claws and bite in self-defence. ...
/h/hawk.htm - 14k

Ibis (2 Occurrences)
... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. IBIS. i'-bis. In Isaiah 34:11, yanshoph, which
is rendered "owl," apparently indicates the sacred ibis (Ibis religiosa). ...
/i/ibis.htm - 7k

... Porpoise RODENTIA: Mouse, Mole-Rat (sv MOLE), Porcupine, Hare Birds: PASSERES: Sparrow,
Swallow, Raven, Hoopoe, Night Hawk RAPTORES: Great Owl, Little Owl...
/z/zoology.htm - 18k

Is there any special meaning/symbolism to owls in the Bible? | GotQuestions.org

What is a succubus? What is an incubus? | GotQuestions.org

Who was Lilith / Lillith? Does the Bible say anything about Adam having another wife before Eve? | GotQuestions.org

Owl: Dictionary and Thesaurus | Clyx.com

Bible ConcordanceBible DictionaryBible EncyclopediaTopical BibleBible Thesuarus
Owl (11 Occurrences)

Leviticus 11:16
the horned owl, the screech owl, and the gull, any kind of hawk,

Leviticus 11:17
the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl,

Leviticus 11:18
the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey,

Deuteronomy 14:15
and the ostrich, and the owl, and the seagull, and the hawk after its kind,

Deuteronomy 14:16
the little owl, and the great owl, and the horned owl,

Deuteronomy 14:17
and the pelican, and the vulture, and the cormorant,
(See NIV)

Psalms 102:6
I am like a pelican of the wilderness. I have become as an owl of the waste places.

Isaiah 34:11
But the pelican and the porcupine will possess it. The owl and the raven will dwell in it. He will stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness.

Isaiah 34:15
There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.

Jeremiah 50:39
Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.
(Root in KJV WBS NIV)

Micah 1:8
For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will howl like the jackals, and moan like the daughters of owls.



Owl in RV Ostrich is Substituted

Owl: Unclean

The Owl: Careful of Its Young

The Owl: Illustrative of Mourners

The Owl: Inhabits Deserted Cities and Houses

The Owl: Mournful in Voice

The Owl: Solitary in Disposition

The Owl: Unclean and not to be Eaten

The Owl: Varieties of

Related Terms

Horned (5 Occurrences)

Screech (4 Occurrences)

Swan (2 Occurrences)

Ostrich (9 Occurrences)

Porcupine (3 Occurrences)

Pelican (5 Occurrences)

Hawk (6 Occurrences)

Ibis (2 Occurrences)


Unclean (393 Occurrences)

Gull (2 Occurrences)

Cormorant (4 Occurrences)



Little (2458 Occurrences)

Night (3322 Occurrences)

Abomination (78 Occurrences)

Osprey (4 Occurrences)

Water-hen (2 Occurrences)

Birds (125 Occurrences)

Mole (2 Occurrences)

Chameleon (1 Occurrence)

Cuckow (2 Occurrences)

Cuckoo (2 Occurrences)

Vulture (16 Occurrences)


Hedgehog (3 Occurrences)

Serpent (40 Occurrences)

Nest (22 Occurrences)

Owing (7 Occurrences)

Owls (7 Occurrences)

Arrowsnake (1 Occurrence)

Hoot (1 Occurrence)

Great (10383 Occurrences)

Hen (7 Occurrences)

Vultures (6 Occurrences)

Vacancy (3 Occurrences)

Nighthawk (2 Occurrences)

Night-hawk (2 Occurrences)

Living-places (17 Occurrences)

Gannet (2 Occurrences)

Resemble (15 Occurrences)

Emptiness (17 Occurrences)

Doorstep (11 Occurrences)

Plummet (4 Occurrences)

Plumb (6 Occurrences)

Partridge (2 Occurrences)

Plummets (1 Occurrence)

Creature (73 Occurrences)

Carrion-vulture (2 Occurrences)

Seagull (1 Occurrence)

Horn (108 Occurrences)

Hedge-hog (2 Occurrences)

Ruins (84 Occurrences)

Doorways (26 Occurrences)

Raven (7 Occurrences)

Bittern (4 Occurrences)

Desert (322 Occurrences)

Tops (37 Occurrences)

Desolate (189 Occurrences)

Money (284 Occurrences)

Creatures (83 Occurrences)

Stretch (73 Occurrences)

Shadow (72 Occurrences)

Confusion (71 Occurrences)

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