John T. Willis

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I am so blessed!!! Every day, when I look out my huge window just outside my office, I see three different types of doves. As a "layman," I call them "white wing," "ring-necked," and "mourning." Experts give them the correct terms. Evelyn and I spent three archaeological trips for six weeks each in the summer at a kibbuts at Banias near Dan at the foot of Mount Hermon, and it was wonderful early in the morning and every evening to hear the "soothing" calls or "coos" of the doves when we went out about 5:00 a. m. and went to dinner about 6:00 p. m.

Doves and pigeons belong to the Family Columbidae. The Class is Aves. There are approximately 300 species of doves throughout the world. Some of these species, unfortunately, are very close to extinction. Doves and pigeons built flimsy nests from sticks and other debris in trees, on ledges, or on the ground. They lay one or two eggs; both parents care for the young [squabs]. Doves feed on seeds, fruit and plants. Doves vary in size from less than a pound to almost nine pounds.

The Bible refers to "doves" 43 times, 33 times in the Old Testament and 10 times in the New Testament, in approximate 15 passages. Here are a few examples.

1. Genesis 8:8-12 [fives times]. After the long rain of the flood in the days of Noah ended, Noah sent a dove to see if the waters had subsided. The dove returned with noting. Seven days later, Noah sent the dove again, and the dove returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf. Noah knew the flood waters were subsiding. Seven days later, Noah sent the dove again, and the dove did not return.

2. Seven passages in the book of Leviticus [nine times] refer to doves and pigeons as sacrificial birds. See for example, Leviticus 1:14; 5:7, 11; etc.

3. The Song of Solomon uses the dove as a comparison with the speaker's lover [six times]. See Song of Solomon 1:15; 2:14; etc.

4. In Hezekiah's disdain because of his illness, he declares: "I moan like a dove" (Isaiah 38:14). Similarly, the Judean exiles proclaim: "like doves we moan mournfully" (Isaiah 59:11).

5. Jeremiah describes the imminent danger of Moab, saying:
"Be like the dove that nests
on the sides of the mouth of the gorge" (Jeremiah 48:28).

6. Hosea warns the people of Ephraim [=Israel]:
"Ephraim has become like a dove,
silly and without sense;
they call upon Egypt, they go to Assyria" (Hosea 7:11).

7. Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32 say that when Jesus was baptized, "he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighted on him."

8. Jesus tells his followers: "Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16).

Biblical composers=writers=poets use doves for a wide variety of reasons. Doves were a vital part of life in the ancient world. In our modern Western world, it is very easy for us to ignore or not be aware of God's wonderful creatures--like doves.

Do YOU like doves? What are some of YOUR experiences? Share this with your friends, your family, your church, your community, your nation. Let me hear from you.

John Willis


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