POULTRY AND EGGS
Consumption of fowl was permitted under the Levitical code, except for birds of prey
and carrion eaters (Leviticus 11: 13-19). Old Testament Hebrews ate quail (Exodus
16: 12-13; Numbers 11: 31-32), and partridge (1 Samuel 26: 20).
They also kept domesticated fowl (1 Kings 4:23), perhaps ducks or peacocks, but probably
not chickens. Fowling is mentioned in Psalms 91:3, 124: 7, Proverbs 6: 5, Jeremiah
5: 26, and Hosea 9: 8. Chickens were introduced to Palestine by the Romans c. 60
B.C. A rooster played a central role in the poignant story of Peter's multiple denials
of Jesus. (Matthew 26: 74-75).
Jesus used the mother hen as a metaphor to illustrate His protective feelings toward
Jerusalem (Matthew 23: 27). Another of the Lord's parables tells us incidentally
that sparrows were sold for food (with discounts for quantity purchases) in Matthew
10: 29 and Luke 12: 6.
The Hebrews foraged for birds' eggs, and an interesting "environmental protection
law" is mentioned in Deuteronomy 22: 67:
"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.
"But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the
young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that
thou mayest prolong thy days."
The penalty for breaking this law was forty lashes. Gathering eggs is noted in Isaiah
10: 14, and Jesus mentions eggs, perhaps in this instance chicken's eggs, in Luke