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Ravens are very similar to crows (they're both of the genus Corvus), but ravens have a larger head and upper body. They can reach a length of up to 26 inches / 66 centimeters. Like crows, ravens are omnivorous scavengers; they will eat almost anything, in any condition - hence the reason that they are regarded as unclean for food (see below). They're hardy (a raven in captivity lived 69 years) and intelligent (pet ravens have been taught to "talk"). As in ancient times, ravens are found widely around the world, from sea coasts to the mountains, from wilderness areas to large cities. Ravens were quite common in the land during Bible History.

"Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made, and sent forth a raven"

During the time of The Flood, when the waters began to recede, Noah sent out a raven, before the dove, perhaps for a very practical reason: ravens are natural carrion eaters (a great amount of which would be available after the flood), whereas doves are not:

Noah's Ark

"At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made, and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him" (Genesis 8:6-8 RSV)

Ravens are among the birds that are not to be consumed by humans (see Clean and Unclean):

"And these you shall have in abomination among the birds, they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the osprey, the kite, the falcon according to its kind, every raven according to its kind, the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk according to its kind, the owl, the cormorant, the ibis, the water hen, the pelican, the carrion vulture, the stork, the heron according to its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat" (Leviticus 11:13-19 RSV)

The Hebrew word for raven, pronounced oh-rabe, is synonymous for black:

"My beloved is all radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven" (Song of Solomon 5:10-11 RSV)

Elijah was miraculously supplied with food by ravens:

"Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As The Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word."

"And the word of The Lord came to him, "Depart from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there."

"So he went and did according to the word of The Lord; he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook." (1 Kings 17:1-6 RSV)

Jesus Christ used ravens in a lesson about setting priorities in life - obey God first, foremost and always; then take care of worldly needs.

"And He said to His disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!" (Luke 12:22-24 RSV)

Fact Finder: What other kinds of birds are found in The Bible?
See Birds Of The Bible

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