Did You Know?
Why was it beneficial that both turtledoves and pigeons were acceptable as offerings?
UNDER the Law, both turtledoves and pigeons were acceptable as offerings to Jehovah. These two birds were always mentioned together in the laws about sacrifices and were interchangeable. (Lev. 1:14; 12:8; 14:30) Why was this beneficial? One reason was that turtledoves were not always readily available. Why not?
Turtledoves are migratory birds that live throughout the land of Israel during the warmer months. Each October, they migrate south to warmer countries, returning to Israel in the spring. (Song of Sol. 2:11, 12; Jer. 8:7) In ancient Israel, this meant that it was difficult for the Israelites to offer turtledoves as a sacrifice during the wintertime.
On the other hand, pigeons do not usually migrate, so they were available in Israel year-round. What is more, pigeons were domesticated. (Compare John 2:14, 16.) According to the book Bible Plants and Animals, “all the villages and towns in Palestine had domesticated pigeons. Each homeowner had his dovecote, or hole in the wall, where the birds could live.”—Compare Isaiah 60:8.
Jehovah thus showed that he is both loving and reasonable by accepting as offerings birds that were readily available to the Israelites throughout the year.