In the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 22, verses 6 and 7, it reads:

6 If you happen to notice a bird’s nest along the road, whether in a tree or on the ground, and there are chicks or eggs with the mother bird sitting on them, you must not take the mother from the young. 7 You must be sure to let the mother go, but you may take the young for yourself. Do this so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.
(Deuteronomy 22:6-7, NET)

‮‪22:6‬ כִּ֣י יִקָּרֵ֣א קַן־צִפֹּ֣ור ׀ לְפָנֶ֡יךָ בַּדֶּ֜רֶךְ בְּכָל־עֵ֣ץ ׀ אֹ֣ו עַל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֶפְרֹחִים֙ אֹ֣ו בֵיצִ֔ים וְהָאֵ֤ם רֹבֶ֨צֶת֙ עַל־הָֽאֶפְרֹחִ֔ים אֹ֖ו עַל־הַבֵּיצִ֑ים לֹא־תִקַּ֥ח הָאֵ֖ם עַל־הַבָּנִֽים׃ ‪22:7‬ שַׁלֵּ֤חַ תְּשַׁלַּח֙ אֶת־הָאֵ֔ם וְאֶת־הַבָּנִ֖ים תִּֽקַּֽח־לָ֑ךְ לְמַ֨עַן֙ יִ֣יטַב לָ֔ךְ וְהַאֲרַכְתָּ֖ יָמִֽים׃ ס ‬
(Deuteronomy 22:6-7, BHS)

When the versículo says "but you may take the young for yourself": what was happening with the eggs? Only chicks and not eggs? How should one interpret this verse?

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    Pablo, here is one monograph on the subject: Eliezer Segal, “Justice, Mercy and a Bird’s Nest,” JJS 42 (1991): 176–95. Another discussion looking through the eyes of rabbinic Judiaism and early Christianity would be: R. M. Johnston, “ ‘The Least of the Commandments’: Deuteronomy 22:6–7 in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity,” AUSS 20 (1982): 205–15.
    – Joseph
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 22:58
  • @PaulVargas An interesting question....somewhat similar to 'boiling a kid in it's mother's milk'. They were certainly allowed to eat the mother, when there was no young, yet not when she was with young, assisting them. The admonition against cruelty was reflected in the Law, separating them from the cruelty exercised by the nations around them.
    – Tau
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 0:10
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    I believe the point of the precept is that it is okay to leave a mother without her babies (born or unborn) but not to leave babies (born or unborn) without their mother. I wonder what Moses would think about poachers today who kill adult elephants and rhinos for their tusks and leave the abandoned babies on their own...
    – user10231
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 11:40

3 Answers 3


The verse begins by referring to "אֶפְרֹחִים אֹו בֵיצִים" ("chicks or eggs"). It then refers to "בָּנִים", which, while translated as "young", literally means "sons", and here means "children".

Since both the chicks and the eggs are the children of the mother, the terms "אֶפְרֹחִים אֹו בֵיצִים" and "בָּנִים" are equivalent, and one may eat both the chicks and the eggs.

  • Welcome to Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Two solid answers on your first day, very nice. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.
    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 14:51
  • @Inkbug Hey, Moshe, thanks for your answer. – By the way, welcome aboard! Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 17:29

It seems like it refers primarily to providing more food for later on, since it is mentioned that you will 'live long' if you do this, rather than the well being of the animal. This is not to suggest that animal welfare didn't exist for an Israelite, they were to allow their Ox to eat the corn they tread out, give their animals rest, and to show compassion to their animals (Proverbs 12:10).


Moses instructions not to take the fallen mother bird along with her chicks or eggs were both an injunction against cruelty and a charge to encourage posterity. The life of the chosen people depended on the propagation of other living things. The human race endangers the posterity of other living things at their own peril.

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