Zephaniah 2:14 The Bible Babble Buffet at its Best 


Zephaniah 2:14 

KJB –  CORMORANT (a large sea bird) and THE BITTERN (similar to the heron) – both aquatic birds.




NIV Spanish version (Nueva Versión Internacional) 2015 – “el pelícano como la garza.” = PELICAN and the HERON.


NASB – PELICAN and THE HEDGEHOG – revision of the ASV




ESV 2011- THE OWL and THE HEDGEHOG – revision of the RSV




NRSV 1989 – THE DESERT OWL and THE SCREECH OWL – revision of the RSV


NKJV – PELICAN and THE BITTERN – But translates the same word as A PORCUPINE in Isaiah.


Holman Christian Standard 2003 Edition – DESERT OWL AND THE SCREECH OWL


Holman Christian Standard bible 2017 Edition – EAGLE OWLS AND HERONS


Easy-to-Read Version 2006 – OWLS and CROW


NET bible 2006 – OWLS (that’s it)


The Thomson Translation 1808 – CHAMELEONS and PORCUPINES


Greek Septuagint, Complete Apostle’s bible 2005 – CHAMELEONS and HEDGEHOGS 


Living Bible 1971 – THE VULTURES and THE OWLS


God’s First Truth Translation 1999 – PELICANS and STORKS


Names of God Bible 2011 – PELICANS AND HERONS  


The Katapi New Standard Bible 2012 – THE VULTURE and THE HEDGEHOG


The Catholic Versions


The Catholic Douay-Rheims 1610 and Douay 1950 both read “THE BITTERN and THE URCHIN”


The Jerusalem bible 1968 says: “THE PELICAN and THE HERON”


The St. Joseph New American bible 1970 has: “THE SCREECH OWL and THE DESERT OWL”


And the New Jerusalem bible 1985 now goes with: “THE PELICAN and THE PORCUPINE”


Famous Mantra of the Bible Agnostics – “We need to go to the Hebrew to find out what God really said.”




Reading like the King James Bible are The Webster Bible 1833, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 – “the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge”, The Word of Yah Bible 1993, The Revised Webster Bible 1995, The 21st Century KJV 1994, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, the Jubilee Bible 2010, The Hebrew Transliteration Scripture 2010, The Bond Slave Version 2012, The Biblos Bible 2013 – “the cormorant and the bittern” and the Modern English Version 2014.


The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 – “both THE CORMORANT AND THE BITTERN”


The Jewish Virtual Library Tanach 1994 – “both the CORMORANT AND THE BITTERN shall lodge in the upper lintels of it”



The Hebrew Transliteration Scriptures 2010 – “both the CORMORANT AND THE BITTERN shall lodge in the upper lintels of it”



The NKJV adds to this mess by reading differently than the KJB and saying it was a PELICAN and a BITTERN. None of these modern English versions (NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman, NET) match any of the others. Ain’t $cholar$hip Grand!


And in Isaiah 34:11 the KJB has the same two birds mentioned – “But the CORMORANT and the BITTERN shall possess it”, but this time the NKJV says: “But the PELICAN and THE PORCUPINE shall posses it”


The exact same Hebrew word the NKJV has as BITTERN in Zephaniah 2:14 it now has as A PORCUPINE in Isaiah 34:11.


Now, I have to admit that zoology is not my strong point, but I’m pretty sure there is a difference between a bittern, which is a heron-like wading bird, and a porcupine.  But I could be wrong about that;-)



Additional Notes:  Since writing this article some have wondered about why the KJB (and others as well) have translated the same Hebrew word # 6893 kph-ath as both “pelican” (3 times) and as “cormorant” (2 times).  They have also translated the word #7994 shah-lahch (found only 2 times) as “cormorant”. 


Here are some facts that may help explain this. The cormorant itself is very similar to the pelican.  The Dictionaries define the cormorant as “a large, voracious sea bird with webbed toes and a pouch of skin under its beak, into which it puts fish.”  


The two times this word #6893 is translated as “cormorant” instead of “pelican” are found in the context where the “pelican” itself is specifically mentioned. Hebrew words often have a fairly wide variety of general meanings, and when this word is found where the “pelican” is also mentioned, then it seems that the KJB translators (who were experts in the Hebrew language) sided with the meaning of “the cormorant” in those contexts.  Here are the contexts – 


The KJB has this same Hebrew word as “pelican” in Leviticus 11:18  In Leviticus 11:17-18 we read: “And the little owl, and the CORMORANT (#7994), and the great owl, And the swan, and THE PELICAN (#6893), and the pier eagle”  The other verse is Deuteronomy 14:17 where we read: “And the PELICAN (#6893), and the gier eagle, and THE CORMORANT (#7994)


Also translating Deuteronomy 14:17 as “and the PELICAN…and THE CORMORANT” are the Bishops’ bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Revised Version 1885, the ASV 1901, Young’s 1898, the RSV 1946-1971, Bible in Basic English 1961, God’s Word Translation 1995, NASB 1995, the Complete Jewish Bible 1998, World English Bible 2000, A Conservative Version 2005, Jubilee Bible 2010, New Heart English Bible 2010, Names of God Bible 2011, Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011, the ISV 2014,  the Modern English Version 2014 and The Tree of Life Version 2015.