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Birds of the Bible – Pelican Study (by Lee Dusing)

Great White Pelican by Birdway
In Previous articles about the Pelicans; Birds of the Bible – Pelicans and Pelicans II they were introduced as being in the Pelecanidae family. Here in the U.S. we have the American White Pelican and the Brown Pelican. They are listed as “unclean” in the Scriptures (Levitucus 11:18 and Deuteronomy 14:17), meaning they were not to be eaten by the Israelites.

Depending on which version of the Bible you use, “Pelican” is not always used in one, but shows up in another. That is what makes “birdwatching the Scriptures” so interesting. Take for instance Isaiah 34:11:

But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it, Also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it. And He shall stretch out over it The line of confusion and the stones of emptiness. (NKJV)

Using e-Sword Free Bible Program’s” compare feature, observe these differences.
Pelican and porcupine – ASV, NKJV, RV
Pelican and hedgehog – NASB, NAS77, YLT
Pelican and bittern – Darby, JPS
Pelican and herons – GW
Cormorant and bittern – KJV, MKJV, Webster
Hawk and porcupine – ESV
Owls and ravens only mentioned – GNB
Owls, hawks, and wild animals – CEV
Birds of the waste land – BBE

Another interesting verse:

Flocks will lie down in her midst, All beasts which range in herds; Both the pelican and the hedgehog Will lodge in the tops of her pillars; Birds will sing in the window, Desolation will be on the threshold; For He has laid bare the cedar work. (Zephaniah 2:14 NASB)

This verse uses pelican, raven, hedgehog, owl, cormorant depending on the version.

When Nave’s Topical Bible‘s – Pelican and Torrey’s Topical Textbook‘s – Birds are referenced, it appears that they used the King James Version (KJV).

Australian Pelican by Birdway
All of that said to help you realize as you study the Bible, looking for birds, be aware that just because it’s not found on the first search, try another version and the bird may appear. I personally prefer to use the KJV, NKJV, NASB, and ESV as my main versions. The others are fine, some better than others, but those mentioned, in my opinion, are closer to the originals. Why they vary, I am not sure. The Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries in the KJV and NASB use H6893, which is kaw-ath’ , which means “probably the pelican (from vomiting): – cormorant.”
We do know that the Pelicans are mentioned in the Bible and I really enjoy watching them. We get to see the American White and the Brown Pelicans here in Florida. It would be neat to see the Austrailian, Dalmation, Great White, Pink-backed, Peruvian and Spot-billed Pelicans.

I also love to watch the pelicans skim over the water and also fly in formation like a squadron of bombers. I have included two videos of them skimming. Visit the Pelican Videos and Photos for more. See the Sidebar.

*All photos used with permission.



Pelican in flight in Cuba
Another by arlens47 that “Follows the flight of a pelican as he starts to go out to sea, then reverses course and lands in the water off the coast of Santa Cruz, California. Background music is Thorn Birds Theme by the Joe Reisman Orchestra.
Flight of the Pelican