Proverbs 30:17 describes the fate of those who disobey their parents, concluding they will have an unnatural death and be eaten by birds of prey:

The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. (Proverbs 30:17, ESV)

My question is why does the author refer to two different kinds of birds - first the raven, then the eagle. Is this done for emphasis or do the two different birds have different symbolic importance? (It is probably safe to conclude the author is not intending this to be read as literally a case of one bird removing the eye only to have a different bird eat it.)

1 Answer 1


I am seeing parallelism here. There is a two-fold disobedience; one in disobeying the father by mocking and the other in disobeying the mother by disregarding her direction. I lean towards your thought on emphasis. The parallelism in the second part of the proverb gives a two-fold response to the two-fold disobedience. That being said, the particular reason for two separate birds (one plucking and one eating) is to emphasize on the two negative forms of this disobedience. The emphasis remains on the former half of the passage as doubly bad, and not necessarily any hidden meaning behind the two types of birds.

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