A person engaged in the capture of birds. (Pr 6:5; Ps 124:7) Among the Hebrews, this seems to have been done primarily by means of traps, snares, or nets, although other means may well have been used, such as bow and arrow, and sling.
After the Flood, birds, properly bled, were made available to man as food. (Ge 9:2-4) Although the Mosaic Law later proscribed the eating of certain kinds, a great variety of birds were counted as “clean” for eating. (De 14:11-20) Birds caught in hunting were to have their blood ‘poured out and covered with dust.’ (Le 17:13, 14) In addition to use as food (Ne 5:18; 1Ki 4:22, 23), some of the captured birds, specifically young pigeons and turtledoves, could be used in sacrifices (Le 1:14), and birdcatchers probably supplied some of the doves sold at the temple in Jerusalem during the time Jesus was on earth. (Joh 2:14, 16) Some birds of lovely plumage or attractive song were likely sold as pets.—Compare Job 41:5; 1Ki 10:22.
Traps and Snares. Of the Hebrew terms used to designate traps and snares, two (moh·qeshʹ and pach) are considered to relate primarily to those used by birdcatchers. It has been suggested that moh·qeshʹ (“snare”; Am 3:5) denotes a snare that was operated by the birdcatcher (or a team of them), while pach (Job 22:10; Ps 91:3) describes a trap that was sprung automatically upon the bird’s entry therein. The bird was drawn into the trap by means of bait or a lure. (Pr 7:23) The Hebrew word for “birdcatcher” (ya·qushʹ or ya·qohshʹ) comes from the root verb ya·qoshʹ, meaning “lay a snare.”—Jer 50:24.
The birdcatcher of ancient times had to study the various habits and peculiarities of each kind of bird and employ clever methods of concealment and camouflage in placing traps. (Compare Job 18:10; Ps 64:5, 6; 140:5.) Because of the placement of their eyes on each side of the head, most birds have a wider range of vision than do humans. Also, some birds can discern objects at a distance that would require the use of binoculars by men. Such vision, added to the natural cautiousness of birds, points up the truth of the proverb that “it is for nothing that the net is spread before the eyes of anything owning wings.”—Pr 1:17.
Man, unable to foresee the future and limited in his ability to cope with calamity, is likened to “birds that are being taken in a trap [Heb., bap·pachʹ], . . . ensnared at a calamitous time, when it falls upon them suddenly.” (Ec 9:12) The righteous are confronted with subtle snares, hidden traps, attractive lures, and bait placed in their path to draw them into the domain of the wicked who seek to bring them to moral and spiritual ruin. (Ps 119:110; 142:3; Ho 9:8) False prophetesses are condemned for “hunting down . . . souls as though they were flying things.” (Eze 13:17-23) However, because Jehovah proves to be with his faithful servants, their “soul is like a bird that is escaped from the trap of baiters. The trap is broken, and we ourselves have escaped.” (Ps 124:1, 7, 8) The psalmist prayed: “Keep me from the clutches of the trap [phach] that they have laid for me and from the snares [u·mo·qeshohthʹ, feminine plural form of moh·qeshʹ] of those practicing what is hurtful. The wicked will fall into their own nets all together, while I, for my part, pass by.”—Ps 141:9, 10.