The raven, conspicuous because of its black color (Son 5:11), is a member of the crow family The raven acts as a scavenger and is listed among the unclean birds (Lev 11:15; Deut 14:14). Biblical writers cite the raven as an example of God’s care for His creation (Job 38:41; Psa 147:9; Luk 12:24).
The raven was the first bird Noah sent forth from the ark following the flood (Gen 8:7). He may have selected the raven for several reasons. It can fly without rest for long spans of time. Also the raven makes its home in the rocky crags, and thus it would scout out mountain peaks emerging from the flooding earth. Finally, the raven is a resourceful bird with a remarkable memory.
God sent ravens to sustain Elijah by the brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:4-6). Ravens often store surplus food beneath leaves or in rocky crevices.
Although ravens often have been viewed as birds of evil omen, in the Elijah story they serve as symbols of God’s love for His servant and of His mighty sovereignty over nature.
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