A few weeks ago, my friend came to my house at around ten, and I could see the panic on his face. I was curious to know what had happened, and he informed me that an owl was howling on his fence for over three hours, and it didn’t stop or go away.
I suggested that we make a prayer and then head back to his home and try to find a solution. The owl had already gone when we reached his home, and the compound was silent.
The next morning, I decided to do a little research, and my main question was, “What does an Owl Symbolize in the Bible?”
An owl in the Bible symbolizes something unclean and, therefore, cannot be eaten. The Bible also uses an owl to symbolize desolation, emptiness, loneliness, and destruction. Owls are only mentioned in the Old Testament and are used in scriptures that speak negatively about a place. For instance, the prophet Jeremiah makes a prophecy in Jeremiah 50:9 in which he foresees the destruction of Babylon city and desert creatures like owls inhabiting it after that.
So, join me until the end as we look more into this topic. In this article, I will explain various biblical meanings of an owl and the symbolism of an owl in the Bible.
I will also discuss the prophetic meaning of an owl and the biblical view on owls, among other interesting topics.
What is the biblical meaning of an owl?
In the Bible, an owl means something is forbidden and cannot be eaten. In Leviticus 11:13-18 God gives Moses clear instructions on what he and the Israelites are to eat and not eat: “These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey.”
Among the birds that God forbids them from eating is the owl, meaning that the bird is unclean and cannot be used for food.
Owls are also used in the Bible to mean wisdom. Although the Bible does not specifically describe the owls as wise, the bible records in Job 12:7-10 that we should ask the animals or the birds in the sky, or even the fish in the see the goodness of the Lord. “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
This verse suggests that even though they are only birds, they have the wisdom to know that they belong to God and that he will provide.
Owls have also been used in the Bible to mean judgment. The book of Isaiah 34:8-11 records the judgment that will befall the city of Edom as it narrates how the streams in this city will be turned into pitch, and her dust will be turned to burning sulfur. Isaiah 34:9 says, “Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch!”
The Bible suggests how the land will become desolate and only be inhabited by desert and screech owls.
Owls have also been used in the Bible to mean desolation. We have seen earlier as the book of Isaiah narrates how the vengeance of God will destroy Zion and how it will end up being desolated as there will be no inhabitants in it.
Owls have also been used in the Bible to mean loneliness or isolation. Prophet Jeremiah records in Jeremiah 50:39 how the city of Babylon will be avenged on the city of Babylon, its rulers, and all who live there and destroy them by his sword. The verse reads, “So desert creatures and hyenas will live there, and there the owl will dwell. It will never again be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation.”
The scriptures further imply that the waters of Babylon city will dry up, and the land will go mad with terror. After the destruction, no human can live there anymore, and desert creatures like hyenas and owls will take over the land.
Six biblical symbolisms of an owl
Isaiah 34:1-11 records the prophecy of Isaiah. In the scripture, the prophet Isaiah implies that the Lord has become angry with all the nations and that his wrath is about to fall on them.
Prophet Isaiah further records that the city of Edom will be destroyed, and its streams will dry up. The city will be so badly destroyed that no one will ever pass through it, as it will only be filled with desert creatures like the owls.
Owls have also been used in the Bible to represent desolation. Desolation can be described as s state of emptiness or abandonment, meaning that human beings no longer occupy the place.
Prophet Jeremiah reveals this in his book, as he gives a prophecy on how the city of Babylon will be brought down to ruins by the anger of the Lord, which will no longer host humans but desert creatures like the hyenas and the owls.
An owl is also used in the Bible to symbolize something that is not clean or impure. Deuteronomy 14:11-17 records the instructions which God gave to Moses and the Israelites: “You may eat any clean bird. But these you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the cormorant.”
In this book, God warns them not to eat unclean birds like the horned owl, the little owl, and the screech owl. This is because even though the owls are birds, they eat flesh with blood on them.
An owl is used in the Bible to symbolize loneliness. We can see this in Psalms 102:3-6 when the Psalms describe the situation and liken it to the desert owl: “For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.”
The psalmists narrate how his days have vanished like smoke, and his bones are burning like glowing embers. His heart is blighted and withered like grass, and because of his loud groaning, he has been reduced to skin and bones.
The psalmist then likens himself to a dessert owl among the ruins. The scripture suggests how the author of the book of Psalms feels lonely, like the desert owls who live in places with no other inhabitants.
Owls have also been used in the book of Micha to symbolize mourning. In Micah 1, prophet Micah gives a prophecy that he was given by God concerning Jerusalem and Samaria. “The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.”
In the prophecy, Micha records how the Lord will come from his dwelling place and destroy these places, as they had gone against him. Prophet Micha narrates how God will break the idols in Samaria in pieces and destroy all of her beautiful valleys and land.
This destruction will lead to the prophet Micah weeping and wailing, as he will moan like an owl. The owl in this scripture is used to symbolize the weeping that will be done after the wrath of God has to befall Samaria.
An owl could symbolize wisdom and knowledge
Scholars have also suggested that an owl could be used in the Bible to symbolize knowledge and wisdom. They support their argument based on Job 12:7, where God tells us to ask the animals or the birds of their air to teach us: “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; “
They believe that God spoke about all the birds he created to possess wisdom and the owl cannot be excluded.
What is the prophetic meaning of an owl?
It could mean a problem in your life that needs to be fixed.
Seeing an owl may prophetically suggest that it is time to fix your problems instead of letting them consume you. In the Bible, we have seen that an owl represents misery which can lead to sadness.
Letting these two take over your life can be risky as they may lead you into depression. In this situation, the best thing to do is to try and fix the initial problem to prevent your life from falling further.
It could also mean that something is coming to an end.
Spotting an owl or encountering it may prophetically suggest that something in your life may be coming to an end. Spiritual people suggest that this indication may be of good course or bad, depending on the situation.
For instance, it is suggested that spotting an owl can be a sign that something good is about to be taken from your life, like your finances or even your job.
Transition/ begging of something new
It has also been implied that an owl may mean something new will come into your life prophetically, as owls can signify new opportunities. Spotting an owl may also prophetically mean that you are about to transition from your regular life and enter a new phase of life.
Since some people regard owls as wise animals, it is believed that when you interpret your encounter with an owl with this message, you should try and use your wisdom to change your life for the better.
It could come as a warning sign.
Owls have been associated with bad luck most of the time, and the presence of an owl may prophetically be interpreted as a sign of warning.
Seeing an owl may be a sign that your life is about to take a wrong turn or something bad is about to happen. No one loves misery or destruction, so you should take this warning seriously.
Owls could also prophetically suggest that there is evil or dark energy against your life. In most religions, owls are usually linked with negative things, so coming in contact with an owl may imply that there is the presence of dark forces or that someone is planning evil against you.
This indicates that you should be keen on your surroundings and those around you, as they differ from how you portray them.
What do owls mean in different cultures?
In African culture, the presence or sound of an owl suggested that the spirit of death was hovering around the place, and people were immediately called to stone off or drive off an owl.
Most Africans believe that an owl comes to announce a person’s death, especially if someone is currently sick around the area.
In Indian, owls are seen as a representation of wisdom and power. Owls are also seen as very helpful in the Indian culture and are regarded as a sacred creatures.
In Native American cultures, owls are seen as a sign of bad luck and energy. The people also believe that owls are associated with ghosts and evil spirits and that humans should not interact with or entertain them.
The Maya and the Aztecs also consider an owl representing destruction and death. Mictlantecuhtli, the God of death in Aztec culture, was usually associate with an owl.
In this culture, it was also believed that a person would die if they heard an owl making its sound.
Ancient European cultures
Ancient Europe cultures associate the owl with something positive, as they suggest that encountering or hearing the sound of an owl means that one has wisdom.
In Hinduism culture, an owl is seen as a special creature, considered the mount or head of their goddess Lakshmi. The Hindus usually associate the owl with fortune, wealth, and good luck, just like their goddess.
Owls have also been used in some Hindu cultures to represent evil. Some Hindus also believe that owls are a messenger of death and that spotting them may mean that death may fall on the person or any other person around whom the owl has been spotted or heard.
Ancient and Sumerian cultures
In Sumerian cultures, an owl was associated with evil, specifically Lilith, who is believed to have a connection with Satan. Babylon and Akkadian cultures also have the same belief and view an owl as a creature of bad omen.
In Japanese culture, the owl is seen as a bird that brings Goodluck and is usually associated with good things. For instance, the Japanese believe that seeing or hearing an owl cry may mean that it has brought good news to someone or is offering them protection.
Owls can also be used when wishing someone the best of luck in Japanese culture, and an owl-related git can be given to a person to symbolize luck.
What are the Spiritual Meanings of Owls?
A message from a departed loved one.
An owl may be used to spiritually suggest that one has a message from their loved one who has passed away. Since owls are largely associated with death, some spiritualists suggest that the sound of an owl may be a message from a person in the spiritual world.
It may imply that one needs a spiritual awakening.
Seeing an owl may spiritually suggest that one has a spiritual gift and should try and tap into it. Owls are one of the unique birds active during the night when every other creature is sleeping. With this, it is suggested that they have a high spiritual intuition.
Transition or new beginnings
An owl may also mean that one is transitioning into another phase of their life, or their life is about to change for either better or worse. Most of the time, an owl may mean that you are about to lose something meaningful in your life by it through death or even relationships, and you may be affected by it.
Owls can also mean that you should hope for the best, as a positive transition is about to happen.
Owls are also used in the spiritual world to mean that one is wise or possesses extraordinary wisdom from the rest. Owls are considered wise creatures; encountering them may mean possessing special wisdom.
What does it mean when an owl visits your home?
An owl visiting your home may suggest a few things. If you spot an owl in your home and have a sick person, it may suggest that the person will die soon.
Owls are depicted to be messengers of death, and so it may have appeared to give you an early message.
Seeing an owl in your home may also mean that a deceased loved one has visited you and wants to assure you that they are still with you in spirit. In other cultures, an owl visiting your home may indicate that good luck is coming your way or that you are wise.
What does it mean when an owl crosses your path?
An owl may cross your path for good and bad reasons. In some cultures, an owl crossing your path means you are in danger or something is wrong. For instance, in African cultures, when an owl crosses your path, you should cancel your journey and go back home, as something bad may happen on your way.
This may also mean losing a loved one to death soon. There are, however, rare cases in which an owl crossing your path has been associated with something good.
What does a white owl mean?
A white owl may mean anything positive in your life, as they are usually associated with purity. Seeing a white owl may mean that you have special knowledge or wisdom than the people around you.
This may also mean that you possess certain characteristics and virtues that can greatly help you. Seeing a white owl may also mean that you have a spiritual gift and intuition and should explore it.
Generally, a white owl is suggested to be a messenger of good and not bad news.
What does it mean to see an owl in your dreams?
Seeing an owl in your dream may suggest that change is coming, and you should be ready to embrace it. It also implies that your life is about to transform for the better, and you should use your intuition to make the right decisions as you work through that.
Seeing an owl in your dream may also be a warning sign that something bad may happen and that you should be alert. Seeing an owl in your dreams may also suggest that your dead loved one has a message for you or is looking over you.
An owl as a spirit guide animal
An owl, as a spirit animal, is considered to have a deep intuition and wisdom that one can use to get more opportunities or elevate their life. As a spirit animal, an owl will help us tap into our potential using our wisdom and emerge winners in any difficult situation.
As a spirit animal, an owl also gives us the courage to face our fears and develop the strength to overcome anything. An owl as a spirit animal may also help you to make effective decisions in your life, as you possess the same wisdom.
Does the Bible say owls are evil?
No scripture in the Bible has explicitly stated that owls are evil. However, the Bible has associated owls with negative things, making them appear as evil creatures.
First, Moses and the Israelites are warned by God not to use owls are food, as they are unclean birds.
Several prophets in their Bible also use owls to describe their hardships or prophecies on destruction. For instance, the prophet Isaiah makes a prophecy concerning the destruction of the city of Edom.
He reveals how the city will be brought down, abandoned, and will only be inhabited by owls. The scripture associates the owl with a place that has been abandoned by human beings, making it a lonely and sad place.
Prophet Micah also likens his cry in the book of Micah to that of an owl, suggesting that owls do not carry good news.
Are owls bad omen in the Bible?
The Bible does not define owls as bad omens in the Bible. However, the Bible describes or links owls with bad omens. Owls are only mentioned in the Old Testament, and there is no positive mention of them, except where the Bible generally talks about all the birds.
It is important to note the circumstances in which the Bible has mentioned or used owls to get a clear interpretation and meaning.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.