raven Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
raven in Easton's Bible Dictionary
Heb. 'orebh, from a root meaning "to be black" (compare Cant.
5:11); first mentioned as "sent forth" by Noah from the ark
(Gen. 8:7). "Every raven after his kind" was forbidden as food
(Lev. 11:15; Deut. 14:14). Ravens feed mostly on carrion, and
hence their food is procured with difficulty (Job 38:41; Ps.
147:9). When they attack kids or lambs or weak animals, it is
said that they first pick out the eyes of their victims (Prov.
30:17). When Elijah was concealed by the brook Cherith, God
commanded the ravens to bring him "bread and flesh in the
morning, and bread and flesh in the evening" (1 Kings 17:3-6).
(See ELIJAH T0001167.)
There are eight species of ravens in Israel, and they are
everywhere very numerous in that land.
raven in Smith's Bible Dictionary
(black). The Hebrew oreb is applied to the several species of the crow family, a number of which are found in Israel. The raven belongs to the order Insessores, family Corvidae. (It resembles the crow, but is larger weighing three pounds; its black color is more iridescent, and it is gifted with greater sagacity. "There is something weird and shrewd in the expression of the raven's countenance, a union of cunning and malignity which may have contributed to give it among widely-revered nations a reputation for preternatural knowledge." One writer says that the smell of death is so grateful to them that when in passing over sheep a tainted smell is perceptible, they cry and croak vehemently. It may be that in passing over a human habitation, if a sickly or cadaverous smell arises, they should make it known by their cries, and so has arisen the idea that the croaking of a raven is the premonition of death.--ED.) A raven was sent out by Noah from the ark. #Ge 8:7| This bird was not allowed as food by the Mosaic law. #Le 11:15| Elijah was cared for by ravens. #1Ki 17:4,6| They are expressly mentioned as instances of God's protecting love and goodness. #Job 38:41; Lu 12:24| The raven's carnivorous habits, and especially his readiness to attack the eye, are alluded to in #Pr 30:17| To the fact of the raven being a common bird in Israel, and to its habit of flying restlessly about in constant search for food to satisfy its voracious appetite, may perhaps be traced the reason for its being selected by our Lord and the inspired writers as the especial object of God's providing care.
raven in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
RA'VEN (black). Song 6:11. Under this term are evidently included the various birds of the crow family, some eight or more species of which are found in Palestine. The raven, like most of its congeners, feeds principally on carrion. It resembles our crow in size, shape, and color, and is ceremonially unclean. Lev 11:15. When about to feed upon a dead body, it is said to seize first upon the eyes. Hence the allusion, Prov 30:17, implying the exposure of the body in the open field, than which nothing was regarded as more disgraceful. See Burial. Ravens live in desolate regions, Isa 34:11, and it is only by restless flight over large areas that they are able to obtain even an uncertain living. Job 38:41; Ps 147:9; Luke 12:24. But Raven. (Corvus Corax. After Houghton.) they do not, as has been believed, turn their young from the nest before they are able to supply themselves with food. Whether the raven sent out of the ark by Noah ever returned to him is not agreed: according to the literal reading of the Hebrew, also of the Samaritan text, and the Chaldee, it did; but a different opinion is supported by the LXX., the Syriac, the Latin, and most of the Fathers. Gen 8:7. There is no reason for questioning the simple statements of 1 Kgs 17:4-7 concerning the miraculous feeding of Elijah at the brook Cherith by these birds.
raven in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
'oreb, from a root "black," including the crow. Not allowed as food (Leviticus 11:15). Of the order Insessores, family Corvidae. Genesis 8:7, Noah's first messenger from the ark, which kept going forth and returning, resting on the ark but never entering, feeding on the floating carcasses; type of the carnal soul that having left God finds no rest (Isaiah 57:20-21); like Satan (Job 1:7; Job 2:2). Ravens fed Elijah at the brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:4; 1 Kings 17:6) when cut off from intercourse with men, who might have betrayed him to Ahab. When even the voracious ravens were against their nature made to care for him more than for themselves, his confidence was strengthened in Jehovah's illimitable resources to help him in his coming conflict with the idolatrous priests, dislikes the raven as of ill omen God cares for it (Job 38:41; Psalm 147:9; Luke 12:24).
The raven is singled out as exemplifying God's care for His creatures because of their restless flying in search for food to satisfy their voracious appetites. With their hoarse cry they unconsciously appeal to their Maker and Preserver for their necessary food, and never in vain, though they neither sow nor reap neither have storehouse nor barn. A lesson of faith to us. The ravens build their nests in solitary "valleys," hence a sign of desolation (Isaiah 34:11). Birds of prey attack the eye especially. The mocker of his father shall die a death of shame, and be a prey to the "raven of the valley" (Proverbs 30:17). The shrewd and ill visage of the raven, its mourning hue, its solitary haunts, harsh croak, instant scenting of premonitory decomposition even before death, made it be regarded as of ill omen. The glossy steel-blue black of the raven is the image of the bridegroom's locks (Song of Solomon 5:11).