"If you happen to come upon a bird's nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; 7 you shall certainly let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days." (Deuteronomy 22:6-7)This is one of the more peculiar scriptures in the Bible. There appears to be three different schools of thought as to what this scripture meant and means to us today. First are those who believe this to be a random law created by God to teach us obedience. Beyond our obedience to God's regulations, this scripture has little else to offer us in the way of spiritual insight, enlightenment, or guidance. However, this interpretation does not take into considerations Moses' warning and promise, "that you may prolong your days." Everywhere else this promise is made it is always referring back to an issue of the heart and to a life lived righteously. This promise was never adjoined to a specific law but rather to the fruits of righteous behavior.
The second interpretation is that this law is to teach us the need for compassion for all living creatures. It is assumed that a compassionate heart would be inclined to let the mother go instead of her witnessing the death of her young. However, it seems to me that true compassion would let both mother and young live. Some might even say that it would be more compassionate to take both the mother and the young lest she should grieve the loss of her offspring.
The third interpretation is that this law is to teach us to live an ecologically sustainable lifestyle. By sparing the mother she could produce more eggs and young to repopulate the bird population and to continue to provide food for us to eat. However, it seems to me that it would be better to only take some of the young. This way another generation can mature and also provide eggs and young even after the mother dies. This would provide a more sustainable food supply for mankind.
So what it the correct interpretation of this scripture? I have no idea. However, it does appear that God views the bond between a mother and her child as special and sacred. Consider these other scriptures.
"When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day on it shall be accepted as a sacrifice of an offering by fire to the Lord. 28 "But, whether it is an ox or a sheep, you shall not kill both it and its young in one day." (Leviticus 22:27-28)Notice the prohibitions enumerated here apply only to the mother and her young, not to the father. There is something very deep, fundamental, and even spiritual about the bonds between a mother and her young; a bond that is quite different from the bonds between father and his children.
"You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk." (Exodus 34:26)
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