Of all of the Birds Of The Bible, doves have become known as "the bird of peace." There are numerous references to doves, which was sometimes used interchangeably in some translations to include pigeons, in The Bible, literal and symbolic, after their first mention at the time of The Flood:
- "Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put forth his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked Olive Leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she did not return to him any more." (Genesis 8:8-12 RSV)
- Doves were classified as clean according to the dietary laws given by God to Moses (see Clean and Unclean), and were thereby acceptable for sacrifice (Genesis 15:9, Leviticus 5:7 and 12:6-8, Luke 2:22-24).
- In his distress, King David pleaded, "O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest." (Psalm 55:6 RSV)
- The dove became a symbol of The Holy Spirit -
"And when Jesus was baptized [see John The Baptist and Baptism], He went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:16-17 RSV)
- In sending The Twelve Apostles out into the world to preach The Gospel, The Lord used doves in an analogy that they were to be both very good and very careful -
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16 RSV)
- In one of the most famous incidents of Bible History, upon entering the city Jesus Christ drove out those who were selling doves and exchanging money within the Temple area -
"And when He entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, "Who is this?" And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee." And Jesus entered the Temple of God [see Temples] and drove out all who sold and bought in the Temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you make it a den of robbers." (Matthew 21:10-13 RSV)
Fact Finder: Did Joseph and Mary take doves as a Temple offering, according to Levitical law, after the birth of The Savior?
Luke 2:22-24, Leviticus 12:6-8