Genesis 15:9-10 NKJV

9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.

Not much is said about the positioning of birds in this sacrifice we are only told that they should not be divided

Could the birds have been placed opposite each other so as to match each half of the animal or they were placed together on either side of the half?

  • The 'earthly' creatures were divided and the pieces paired. The 'heavenly' creatures were not divided but were a pair, in and of themselves. A good question +1.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 30, 2019 at 13:09
  • The first three animals were too large to be left in one piece, and the two birds were too small to be sliced.
    – Lucian
    Mar 31, 2019 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


The text almost gives the answer.

The large animals, heifer, goat and ram were to be cut in two, and the two birds left uncut. Abram then placed the halved animals on either side of a short path - the two doves were placed one on each side of the path as well (uncut).

Thus, the birds were placed opposite each other. Gill summarizes this as follows:

but the birds divided he not; but laid them one against another, as the pieces were laid; so the birds used in sacrifice under the law were not to be divided, Leviticus 1:17; which may signify, that when the people of the Jews, in the latter day, are converted, and brought together into their own land, when they will better answer the character of turtles and doves than they ever did, will be no more divided and separated from each other.

The pulpit commentary offers a similar interpretation:

but the birds divided he not. So afterwards in the Mosaic legislation (Leviticus 1:7). Wordsworth detects in the non-dividing of the birds an emblem of "the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of peace and love; which is a Spirit of unity, and of "Christ's human spirit, which was not divisible." Kalisch, with more probability, recognizes as the reason of their not being divided the fact that such division was not required, both fowls being regarded as one part of the sacrifice only, and each, as the half, being placed opposite the other.

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