The Winged Women of Zech 5:9-11

In Zechariah's seventh vision, the prophet beholds “winged women” carrying a basket to the land of Shinar. Some interpreters have, I think mistakenly, taken these as proof of female angels. However, several things should be noted to the contrary.


First, the beings are pictured carrying out an evil act. They take the basket containing a personification of wickedness itself to Shinar (Babylon), apparently to be set on a religious pedestal in a temple “house” constructed specifically for it. Whatever these beings are, they promote idolatry of the worst kind.

Secondly, the women have stork wings. Storks were among the birds proscribed as “unclean” according to the Old Covenant, under which Zechariah lived. The prophet would have sensed something unholy about the women.

Finally, archeologists have uncovered artifacts like the Burney Relief, believed to represent the goddess Ishtar as a winged woman. Such objects of false worship found in and around Shinar suggest that Zechariah would have understood the creatures to portray demonically-inspired religion propping up evil.