Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Bunny

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays


The origins of Christianity and the original customs thereof come not from pagans. They come from the Holy Bible and ancient Hebrew thought.

Easter comes not from pagan worship but from ancient Jewish thought and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures by the early Church. The claims that Easter is founded in paganism are based upon either outright lies or applying pagan parallels which can be done to virtually everything in the Scriptures, including the Old Testament. Many are well-meaning in their desire to discard “pagan” elements of Christianity but in so doing are inadvertently attacking the entire Christian faith and the Holy Bible at the same time.

On one side, Easter eggs and bunnies can be linked to pagans as these things (rabbits & eggs) were symbolically used in various ways by various cultures but on the other side they can be traced back to the Bible and shadows of Messiah embedded in nature. In order to see how these things became incorporated into the ancient celebration of Easter one must look at the writings (source documents) of the Church. We cannot assume that these customs were adopted by Christians from their pagan neighbors if there is not legitimate evidence (multiple witnesses – Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19) of this.

If we are convicted not to celebrate Christian holidays or participate in customs such as Easter eggs & bunnies we shouldn’t condemn our brothers in Messiah who do so as “pagans” when there isn’t good evidence that the origin of these customs come from paganism. We should receive them as brothers as God does in accordance with Romans 14. If they are doing it unto the Lord then they are glorifying Him and we shouldn’t speak against them and slander them (Psalm 59:19-23).

It’s up to each one of us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), being fully persuaded in our own minds (Romans 14:5-6), seeking to not put a stumbling block before our brothers (Romans 14:13-14). We are all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and He will judge whether or not someone was doing a custom unto Him or not (Romans 14:10).
Let each person be convinced in his or her own mind and follow the Lord wholeheartedly in that conviction (Romans 14:5-6). We all have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling so we ought not to point the finger of condemnation at others as each one of us falls or stands according to the Lord, not man (Romans 14:4). Regardless of what ‘side’ one chooses, we are to receive each other as the Lord has received us (Romans 14:1-4), bearing one another in love (Romans 15:1-3; 1 Corinthians 13:7).

Pagan origins of the Easter Bunny?

Redeeming Holy Days from Pagan Lies-Easter 2

“The typical image used to demonstrate that that the Easter Bunny was the consort of Ostara/Eostra is this:

easter bunny maya

…Ostara/Eostra didn’t really exist. And since she didn’t exist she couldn’t have had a bunny as a consort. But where do they get this ancient looking, archaeological type statue of Ostara and the Rabbit?

The problem with the image is that it is of a Mayan goddess (Guatemalen Ixchel). This false goddess can only be dated back to the 1600s A.D. Wrong continent. Wrong hemisphere. Wrong epoch.

All those websites, videos, and well meaning people who try to argue that Easter is pagan and use this picture to do so have a basic problem with honesty.

There is an interesting doubling up of the Easter bunny with the fictional goddess Ostara. The modern ‘histories” of Easter tend to claim 1) that Easter was originally a pagan fertility holiday 2) of devotion to the goddess Ostara (Eastre, however spelled), 3) she used eggs as a symbol of fertility, and 4) she always carried a pet bunny because it was so fertile. Now, all of these 4 claims are fiction.

What is interesting about the rabbit or hare is that it has been used by all kinds of religions around the world as a symbol. Each religion fitting its own teaching on the symbol of the rabbit. But in most cases the symbol refers to new life. In the ancient eastern Church the rabbit was used on tombstones and as a symbol of Christ. One author points out that some early Christians viewed the rabbit’s hole as a symbol of the tomb of Christ….”

“Christian art has several examples from the early times through the renaissance of rabbits as a symbol of Christ.”  {Redeeming Holy Days from Pagan Lies-Easter 2}

Easter is Pagan and Other Fables – J.P. Holding: Tekton Apologetics Ministries

“We have no record of any pagan worshipping “Ostara/Eostre.” We have no record of any rituals associated with her, and that includes no rituals that make use of rabbits and eggs, contrary to what some of the anti-Easter crowd say. Because of this, some scholars think Bede just made this story up. Others think Bede had some real goods, but we just don’t know (e.g., comments by Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 98).

Some say the use of Easter eggs has some connection to the idea that the Easter hare (not rabbit, as we’ll explain later) lays eggs. Others say that it came from early Christians in Mesopotamia who dyed eggs red to symbolize the blood of Christ. I can trace this last explanation as far back as around 1700, with the other going a little further back to the 16th century. As I’ve said before, when you have multiple explanations like this it’s often a sign that no one actually knows what the true story is, or if one ever existed in the first place.

One thing we can say for sure, though, is that there’s no evidence connecting Easter eggs to any particular pagan practice. No one is able to draw a line from pagan practice “X” to show that Christians saw it, knew about it, and/or copied it. But even if they did, what’s the problem? Like I said, God owns it all, and that includes eggs. And, if He doesn’t, then you’re going to hell for ordering that farmer’s omelet down at the greasy spoon this morning!”

Holding addresses another common claim in his book “Easter is Pagan And Other Fables”:

“The use of rabbits in Easter themes comes from pagan sources! Tammuz was fond of rabbits, and they became sacred in his religion! And Ishtar’s holidays were celebrated with rabbits, too!”

If you think Elmer Fudd hates rabbits, you haven’t seen how angry the anti-Easter crowd gets over the Easter Bunny. But how much truth is there to this tracing of rabbit tracks back to these two pagan deities?
As we’ve already seen, Ishtar has nothing to do with Easter, so that’s out. I also cannot find one scrap of evidence that Tammuz was in any way “fond of rabbits.” He was a shepherd, and probably would have seen some in the pasture, but I find nothing in any scholarly source to suggest he had any special affinity towards rabbits. Only modern day popular sources make such claims and after checking dozens I am yet to find a reliable source or any original text showing that Tammuz was “fond of rabbits” (except maybe other anti-Easter books by non-scholars).

Okay, well, if the idea of rabbits at Easter didn’t come from Tammuz or Ishtar, it came from Eastre, the Teutonic goddess of spring! Rabbits were her “familiar” animal, and were part of her celebrations!

I’ve seen anti-Easter folks quote encyclopedias in support of this claim, which is at least a step in the right direction. You can also find such claims repeated in sources like Rabbits: the Animal Answer Guide (though without any documentation). There’s even a story around that Eastre had a pet rabbit who laid colored eggs, but what do serious scholars say about this?

As we pointed out earlier, the pagan goddess Eastre is unknown, other than a single reference to her in the work of the 8th century church writer Bede. Based on that, you’d be right to suppose we don’t know a lot about any stories or customs associated with her.

We complicate matters a bit when we find out that the Easter “bunny” was formerly an Easter hare. Although Bugs Bunny has been called both rabbit and hare, the two animals are not the same. Hares are larger than rabbits and live above ground, rather than underground.

Before the 20th century you can find the “Easter hare” referred to in an 1887 book titled, How to Amuse Yourselves and Others, which was a guide for keeping girls busy with activities. It refers to the “Easter hare” as laying Easter eggs.

Curiously, an 1800 edition of Atlantic Monthly contains a story – with no documentation – claiming that the “Easter hare” was derived not from the goddess Eastre and her traditions, but from Asian mythology that connects hares to the moon. It also refers to hares as a symbol for Easter as though it were a relatively recent phenomenon. The article goes on to claim that hares were called “un” by Egyptians, or “openers,” because they are born with their eyes open, which goes on to strangely draw a connection to the hare as a symbol of new life, and hence to be connected to eggs.

The strangeness of these claims is understandable when we find out that the author of this piece was one Katharine Hillard, who was a major name in the Theosophical movement – a sort of religious cult that was known for simply making up strange things about history. You might say they were the New Age’s answer to Alexander Hislop.

Another version of the origin story of the Easter bunny is that they emerged from 16th century Germany in a mythology where children would build a nest for the Easter hare to lay eggs. (Stories Rabbits Tell by Davis and Demillo.) But the 16th century is deep in the Christian era, well away from any pagan influences, so, here again, we have an uncertain origin for an Easter tradition.

To close, I should mention a popular explanation that the Easter bunny is somehow connected to a Mayan goddess named Ixchel, who is depicted holding a rabbit. It’s a little absurd to suppose that the story of the Easter Bunny, which emerged first in Europe, can somehow be traced to a rabbit figure in Central America. So, this popular notion is probably also incorrect. Ixcehl was a goddess in charge of medical matters, and midwifery. Some also think she was a moon goddess, but some scholars think this is a mistake (see, Popular Controversies in World History, ed. Steven Danver, 296) and that the figure of a Mayan moon goddess with a rabbit”  {Easter is Pagan And Other Fables – J.P. Holding: Tekton Apologetics Ministries}

Easter FAQ (As Bereans Did)

Was Ostara’s consort a hare?
No, Eostra/Ostara’s consort was not a hare or a rabbit. None have yet found evidence of Eostra/Ostara. Period. If we cannot find this goddess, then it should go without saying that no one has ever found evidence of her consort. Until we do find some evidence to base this claim on, we can conclusively say no to it. Most people just assume Eostra/Ostara is another regional goddess, such as Freya, and run with that. But the stories conjured up don’t really match Freya either!
I cannot tell you how exceedingly many websites I have been to that parrot invented claims about Eostra/Ostara. I’m estimating some 9 out of 10 websites on the subject mention Eostra/Ostara. None are documented, some are quite elaborate in their claims, but few match each other. I have heard that Eostra/Ostara had a hare as a consort, had the head of a hare, had a rabbit following, was honored with rabbits and eggs, was the goddess of the dawn, was the goddess of fertility, was honored on Easter day, was honored for a full month… the claims go on and on and on.

Is Eostra/Ostara actually Ishtar?
No. There is no record of any goddess Eostra outside of Bede’s “The Reckoning of Time” and there is no evidence for Ostara outside of Grimm’s “German Mythology”, so there is no evidence at all for such a claim relating them to Ishtar. The claim is based on nothing but shady etymology. These names are an example of what is what etymologists call a “false cognate” or “false friend”.
The words sound alike and backstory is imagined from there. Easter does not get its name from Ishtar nor any other goddess related to Ishtar. Easter has as much to do with Ishtar as Australia has to do with the Norse god Austr.

Did Easter start in Nimrod’s day?
No. That is an outright lie built on terrible etymology and pseudo-history, and passed off as fact due to repetition. There is nothing remotely in the realm of reliable historical evidence to demonstrate this. All of these sorts of Nimrod, Ishtar, Tammuz, etc claims find their beginning with Alexander Hislop. He’s the one who made it all up in the late 1840’s. Maybe you didn’t know that Hislop is completely unreliable. I can hardly blame you for not knowing this. Among the people who promote his writings are Herbert Armstrong and thus the leaders of every one of the COG splinter churches, Dave Hunt, Chuck Missler, Richard Rives, the Christadelphians, the Jehovah’s Witnesses – the list goes on and on. But if you really want the truth about Hislop, then please send away for Mr. Ralph Woodrow’s book “The Babylon Connection”. It will give you the information that you need to know about Alexander Hislop.

Think about it… Some people, following Alexander Hislop, say Easter is an ancient Babylonian holiday that was kept continuously by the Catholic Church since Nimrod’s day. But if it was always being kept then it cannot be the result of the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. It cannot be both.
If it was the product of the Council of Nicaea then it cannot be the result of the Catholic Church which only sent two representatives to the Council. It cannot be both.
The first mention of Eostre is in the eighth century, not the first century, nor the fourth century, and certainly not 2,000+ BC. They can’t all be right.

Did Ishtar have rabbits and eggs as her symbols?
No. We have no evidence of this. Ishtar’s main symbols were an eight-pointed star (probably representing the planet Venus), a pair of lions, and snakes. Various other symbols were also connected to Ishtar, but hares and eggs weren’t among them. If at any point eggs and rabbits were associated with Ishtar, then they were completely inconsequential. It makes no sense whatsoever that symbols not even associated with Ishtar would be handed down in her honor for over 3,000 years while her main symbols were lost.

Where does the tradition of the Easter Bunny come from?
No one quite knows. Yes, rabbits have been fertility symbols for millennia – they have been symbols for a great many things for millennia – but that is not prima fasciae evidence that Christians stole rabbits from the pagans. We simply do not know. But we do know the tradition is relatively recent and should not be misused to poison the entire Easter holiday.

Hares were very popular symbols among Christians in Medieval Europe, especially after the Crusades. Because people in the Middle Ages were generally ignorant about the life cycle of hares, they became symbols for a number of things. George Ferguson in his book “Signs and Symbols in Christian Art” p.20 sums a very long story up nicely as so:

    “The hare, itself defenseless, is a symbol of men who put the hope of their salvation in the Christ and His Passion. It is also a well-known symbol of lust and fecundity. A white hare is sometimes placed at the feet of the Virgin Mary to indicate her triumph over lust.”

The trail of the Easter Bunny starts in Europe, most likely the Protestants in the Alsace region of Germany. Originally the animal was a hare, not a rabbit, and it was called “Ostern Hase” which translates to Easter Hare. The first mention comes from Georg Franck von Frankenau in his writing “De Ovis Paschalibus” [“On Easter Eggs”] in 1682. He said:

    “In Alsace and the neighboring regions those eggs are called hare-eggs because of the myth that is told to make the simple-minded and children believe that the Easter Hare was laying and hiding them in the grass of the gardens, so the children search them even more eagerly, for the delectation of the smiling adults.”

The Easter Hare eventually became much like Santa Claus, bringing treats to good children and orphans. The Pennsylvania Dutch brought this tradition to the Americas, and it has developed here ever since.
 “Peter Cottontail” comes from a song whose lyrics were written in 1949 by Jack Rollins (who also wrote Frosty the Snowman). Music written by Steve Nelson, performed by Gene Autry.

Claims of rank paganism are simply overstating the facts. It could be quite as innocent as the tale related by Doctor von Frankenau. Since the Easter Bunny traces its roots to the 1600’s, then I find it quite anachronistic to smear the entire Easter festival on its account.

Articles about the Eostre myth by Adrian Bott (“your friendly pagan sceptic”)

Rational blogs: No, it’s not all about Ishtar. Some mythbusting Easter facts from your friendly pagan sceptic

“No, Eostre’s symbol wasn’t a hare. That was an unsupported guess made by the folklorist Jacob Grimm in 1835. Grimm was baffled by the Easter Hare tradition, finding it ‘unintelligible’, and guessed that ‘the hare was probably the sacred animal of Ostara’. Later writers misrepresented his guess as a statement of fact.”

 The modern myth of the Easter bunny

“There is no definitive historical evidence that a goddess named Eostre and her hare companion was part of pagan folklore
Did you know that Easter was originally a pagan festival dedicated to Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, whose consort was a hare, the forerunner of our Easter bunny? Of course you did. Every year the fecund muck of the internet bursts forth afresh with cheery did-you-know explanations like this, setting modern practices in a context of ancient and tragically interrupted pagan belief.

The trouble is that they are wrong. The colourful myths of Eostre and her hare companion, who in some versions is a bird transformed into an egg-laying rabbit, aren’t historically pagan. They are modern fabrications, cludged together in an unresearched assumption of pagan precedence.”

Hunting the spurious Eostre Hare

“I’ve blogged extensively about Eostre in the past and don’t intend to repeat any of that here. The short version: there is only one reference to her anywhere, in Bede; he gives absolutely no information about her except for her name; and everything else that people claim about her, such as having a sacred hare companion, is wholly unsupported by evidence.

This is not even a controversial stance. On the contrary, it is exactly what the Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore states: ‘Nowadays, many writers claim that hares were sacred to the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, but there is no shred of evidence for this; Bede, the only writer to mention Eostre, does not link her with any animal.'”


The Bunny Rabbit


Rabbits are associated with Spring as they are symbols of fertility/life.  Rabbits reproduce according to the Fibonacci sequence which is connected with Spring & life.


The Hebrew word for rabbit is ארנבת ‘arnevet’ which comes from a combination of ארן ‘aron’ which means a tree of the forest (ash – Isaiah 44:14) and the word ניב ‘niyv’ from whence comes the word ‘nibble.’  Hence, the rabbit is the “forest nibbler”. In Hebrew, ניב ‘niyv’ means fruit/fruitful or to flourish and increase which rabbits are prolific in.


ארן ‘aron’ comes from the root word רן ‘ran’ which has the meaning of joyful rejoicing and singing.  Spring is the time of joyful rejoicing (Isaiah 61:10-11), when the rabbit is seen again ‘nibbling’ on the plants which have come back to life.


ארן ‘aron’ also has the meaning of an ark or box (from the root אר meaning light/order).   ארן ‘aron’ (ark) is from the root אר which is also the root of the word מאורה ‘me`orah’ which means a den, or literally a “lighted hole when viewed from inside”.  This also connects to the rabbit as they dwell in holes in the ground.


ניב ‘niyv’  comes from the root נב which means the ‘seed inside.’ This points to believers who are born again from above with the Seed of the Word of God.

Jas 1:18  Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Jas 1:21  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
1Jn 3:9  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
1Pe 1:23  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
1Pe 1:24  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
1Pe 1:25  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.


On a deeper level this “seed inside” concept pictures the Tabernacle/Temple where the seed/Word/Light dwelt inside the ark of the covenant.

Ark of the Covenant – DNA – Jacob’s Pillar

There are interesting connections between the ark of the covenant and Jacob’s pillar & DNA .


The ladder

Gen 28:11  And he came on a place and stayed the night there, for the sun had gone. And he took stones of the place and placed them at his head; and he lay down in that place.
Gen 28:12  And he dreamed. And, behold, a ladder was placed on the earth, its top reaching to the heavens. And, behold, the angels of God were going up and going down on it!

Gen 28:17  And he was afraid, and said, How fearful is this place! This is nothing except the house of God, and this is the door to Heaven.
Gen 28:18  And Jacob started up early in the morning and took the stone which he had placed at his head, and he placed it as a pillar; and he poured oil on the top of it.
Gen 28:19  And he called the name of that place, The House of God
{Bethel}. And yet the name of the city was at first Luz.


The ladder = Messiah


Joh 1:51  And He says to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, From now on you will see Heaven opened, and “the angels of God ascending and descending” on the Son of Man.


Messiah Jesus = the Word


Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.


DNA Ladder


DNA & Language

Nucleotide    Character (Letter)

Codon        Letter

Gene        Word

Operon        Sentence

Regulon    Paragraph

DNA        Book

Simplified it could be said

Nucleotide bases    Letters

Codons            Words

Genes            Sentences

Book            DNA


DNA is a message from God.  The DNA molecule is just the carrier.  Similar to the Torah.  The Torah is the “heart of God,” His character/Image…the scrolls and books on which it is written are the carrier.

Speaking the Language of Recombinant DNA

As George Williams puts it: “The gene is a package of information, not an object. The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA molecule is the medium, it’s not the message”


The DNA molecule is the instruction manual for the forming of amino acids which are made are the structural elements of proteins that turn into the biochemical units that drive all biological processes.  There are only 22 amino acids found in proteins.  Certain proteins are called enzymes.  They are catalysts (agents that are necessary for a reaction to occur but are not themselves changed in the process); others are called structural proteins which help to build cells and tissues.


If DNA can be thought of as the language of life, then the four bases can be seen as letters and the codons as arrangements of letters, or words. But like English, DNA’s language is more than words. Some codons function as punctuation marks, containing instructions to stop or start manufacturing a protein. This chemically simple yet stunningly complex DNA molecule dictates not only what proteins the organism will be made of, but how these proteins are to be arranged.


We have seen that one codon contains the instructions for one amino acid, and that sequences of codons specify the production of proteins. Groups of codons that have been arranged in “grammatically” correct sentences to form specific proteins are called “genes”.


DNA contains all the information needed to perpetuate life. This information builds in complexity from nucleotides to codons to genes, ultimately giving the complete text to form the body.


His body = the Temple


Joh 2:19  Jesus said to them, Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.
Joh 2:20  Then the Jews said, This sanctuary was forty six years being built, and do You raise it up in three days?
Joh 2:21  But He spoke about the sanctuary of His body.


The Temple/Tabernacle = the Body


Exo 25:8  And let them make a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell in their midst.
2Co 6:16  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

1Co 3:16  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

Easter Bunny

easter bunny

Many believe that the Easter Bunny/Easter Hare came forth from Ishtar or Ostara/Eostra.  The problem is that this claim is not backed up with fact.

“There is no definitive historical evidence that a goddess named Eostre and her hare companion was part of pagan folklore”.  {The modern myth of the Easter bunny}

Redeeming Holy Days from Pagan Lies-Easter 2

“…Ostara/Eostra didn’t really exist. And since she didn’t exist she couldn’t have had a bunny as a consort….”

“The modern ‘histories” of Easter tend to claim 1) that Easter was originally a pagan fertility holiday 2) of devotion to the goddess Ostara (Eastre, however spelled), 3) she used eggs as a symbol of fertility, and 4) she always carried a pet bunny because it was so fertile. Now, all of these 4 claims are fiction.”

“In the ancient eastern Church the rabbit was used on tombstones and as a symbol of Christ. One author points out that some early Christians viewed the rabbit’s hole as a symbol of the tomb of Christ.”

“Christian art has several examples from the early times through the renaissance of rabbits as a symbol of Christ.”

Titian’s Madonna and Child
Titian’s Madonna and Child


“The idea of rabbits as a symbol of vitality, rebirth and resurrection derives from antiquity. This explains their role in connection with Easter, the resurrection of Christ. The unusual presentation in Christian iconography of a Madonna with the Infant Jesus playing with a white rabbit in Titian’s Parisian painting, can thus be interpreted christologically. Together with the basket of bread and wine, a symbol of the sacrificial death of Christ, the picture may be interpreted as the resurrection of Christ after death.”

“The phenomenon of superfetation, where embryos from different menstrual cycles are present in the uterus, results in hares and rabbits being able to give birth seemingly without having been impregnated, which caused them to be seen as symbols of virginity. Rabbits also live underground, an echo of the tomb of Christ.”    {Rabbits and hares in art}


Just as with the Easter egg, the Easter Bunny has connections back to Judaism.


“16th century German scholar Rabbi Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, saw the rabbits as a symbol of the Diaspora. The replica of the Chodorow Synagogue from Poland (on display at the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora in Tel Aviv) has a ceiling with a large central painting which depicts a double headed eagle holds two brown rabbits in its claws without harming them. The painting is surrounded by a citation from the end of Deuteronomy:

.כנשר יעיר קינו על גוזליו ירחף. יפרוש כנפיו יקחהו ישאהו על אברתו

—Deuteronomy 32:11, The Song of Moses

This may be translated: “As an eagle that stirreth up her nest, hovereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her pinions (…thus is G’d to the Jewish people).”  {Three Hares in Judaism}


Deu 32:11  As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
Deu 32:12  So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.


Medieval artists used the imagery of the rabbit to portray the concept of abiding under the shadow of God’s wings.

“The Physiologus, an inexhaustible resource for medieval artists, states that when in danger the rabbit seeks safety by climbing high up rocky cliffs, but when running back down, because of its short front legs, it is quickly caught by its predators.  Likewise, according to the teaching of St. Basil, men should seek his salvation in the rock of Christ, rather than descending to seek worldly things and falling into the hands of the devil.”  {Rabbits and hares in art}

The concept of hiding in the cleft of the rock is linked to abiding under the shadow of God’s wings.  See Little Guy in the Eye study.

Abiding in the cleft of the rock = abiding under the shelter of His wings

Psa 61:4 I will dwell in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.

Abiding in the Tabernacle = abiding in the shelter of His wings

Rev 7:15  Because of this they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His sanctuary. And He sitting on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.

Psa 27:5  For in the day of evil He shall hide me in His shelter; in the secrecy of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me up on a rock.

Rock of Etam

Jdg 15:8  And he struck them hip on thigh, a great slaughter, and went down and lived in the cleft of the rock Etam.




BDB Definition:

Etam = “lair of wild beasts”

A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H5861





BDB Definition:

1) bird of prey, a swooper

Part of Speech: noun masculine

A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H5860


Samson dwelling in the cleft of the Rock (Messiah) at Etam (Eagles wings).


The root word of עיטם ‘Etam’ is עט.


Here we see that the word Etam means an eagle’s wings in the sense of wrapping.  Samson dwelt in the cleft of the Rock (Rock = Messiah 1 Corinthians 10:4) in the city of Etam (wrapped in eagles wings).

It is also interesting that the word for pen/stylus comes from this same root word and is associated with the eagle’s/bird of prey’s talons. This is yet another association of the eagles wing’s with the Word.

ayit 2
Abiding under the shadow of His wings = abiding in the Word/Messiah.

Dwelling in the cleft of the Rock is also teaching about intimate relationship with the Almighty.

Exo 33:18  And he said, I pray, let me see Your glory.


Exo 33:19  And He said, I will cause all My goodness to pass before your face. And I will call out the name of Jehovah (calling upon/calling out the name of the LORD is associated with the physical manifestation of the LORD on the earth) before your face. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.

Exo 33:20  And He said, You are not able to see My face; for no man can see Me and live.

Exo 33:21  And Jehovah said, Behold, a place by Me! And you shall stand on a rock.

Exo 33:22  And as My glory is passing it will be that I will put you in a cleft of the rock; and I will cover My hand over you during My passing.

Exo 33:23  And I will remove My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face cannot be seen.

The chicken and her chicks (Easter egg connection) also displays this “shadow of the wings” imagery.

Originally, the word “chicken” referred to chicks and not the species itself as it does today.  The chicken as a species was simply called the fowl.  The word ‘chicken’ further displays this as the etymology traces back to the Old English ‘cicen’ which meant “young fowl”.  The picture displayed in this aspect of the chicken shadow picture is that of chicks abiding under the wings of their mother, of being born again and converted as children (Matthew 18:3-4) abiding under the wings of Messiah as the “little guy in His Eye” (Psalm 17:8).

chicks under wing

Mat_23:37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

The word for chickens in Matthew 23:37 is νοσσίον ‘nossion’ which comes from the root νεοσσός ‘neossos’ which means a “young creature”.  νοσσίον ‘nossion’ is used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word אפרה ‘ephroach’ which means both chicken and young/youth.


The word for fowl in Hebrew is עוף ‘oph’ which means a winged creature from the root עף ‘aph’ which literally means the covering of the wings.

oph chicken
The hen is known for its incredible motherly instincts, known to sacrifice its life for the sake of its chicks.

Bravest Silkie in the World

The Sacrifice of the White Hen

These stories of hens sacrificing their lives for the sake of the brood are excellent examples of the love of God for mankind.

The Hebrew word for כיפור ‘kippur,’ as in atonement (Romans 5:11), comes from the root word חף ‘chaph’ which means to cover.

Rom 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5:9  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Rom 5:10  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Rom 5:11  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

חף ‘chaph’ – ‘one who enters a tent and is protected by the owner.’  A place of protection.  One who is innocent, as in one whose actions are covered.

Messiah is the Door that we enter in order to abide in His ‘House’ (John 10:7) it is through Him that we are covered/hidden.  This is the definition of who the Israel of God is (Galatians 6:16)…His hidden ones (Psalm 83:3).  It is by the covenant cut in Messiah (Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 42:6), by His sacrifice on the cross that we are covered (1 John 1:7).

On the cross, Messiah gathered all mankind unto Him under His outstretched Arms as a hen gathers her chicks (John 12:32; Matthew 23:37).  Amazingly, the Hebrew word for this spreading forth of the wings of a hen to gather her chicks or an eagle gathering her chicks under her wings is רחף ‘rachaph’ which also comes form the root word חף ‘chaph.’

It is through His Outstretched Arms (wings) that Messiah is calling us (John 3:14; 12:32) and gathering us together as a Shepherd does His flock (John 10:14-16).  This is how we enter the Door into the House, this is how we are declared innocent and pure in His eyes.  This is how we become His friends and enter into His tents in an intimate relationship.

When one has an intimate relationship with another, they appear as a ‘little guy in the eye‘ or as the ‘apple of the eye.’

Deu 32:10  He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Deu 32:11  As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:

Abiding in the Shadow of His wings means we are protected from adversity.

Psa 91:1  He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psa 91:2  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Psa 91:3  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
Psa 91:4  He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Psa 91:14  Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
Psa 91:15  He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
Psa 91:16  With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. 

The Hebrew word for salvation in Psalm 91:16 is ישועה ‘yeshuah’ from whence comes the Jesus.

This intimate relationship of appearing as a little guy in the Eye of the Creator, and abiding under the shadow of His Wings is accomplished in the work of Messiah on the cross.

John Gill commentary on Matthew 23:37
How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Christ here speaks as a man, and the minister of the circumcision, and expresses an human affection for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and an human wish, and will for their temporal good; which he very aptly signifies by the hen, which is a very affectionate creature to its young, and which it endeavours to screen from danger, by covering with its wings. So the “Shekinah” with the Jews is called, צפרא קדישא, “the holy bird” (m); and that phrase, לחסות תחת כנפי השכינח, “to betake one’s self, or to come to trust under the wings of the Shekinah”, is often used (n) for to become a proselyte to the true religion, and worship of God, as Jethro, and Ruth the Moabitess did. An expression much like to this here is used by an apocryphal writer of 2 Esdras:

“I gathered you together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings: but now, what shall I do unto you? I will cast you out from my face.” (2 Esdras 1:30).

Luk 13:34  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood {νοσσιά ‘nossia’} under her wings, and ye would not!

The Greek word for brood in Luke 13:34 is νοσσιά ‘nossia’ which means a nest or brood of birds.  The Hebrew equivalent is קן ‘qen.’  This word pictures the nest of a bird where the eggs are gathered and protected by the hen.



The Hebrew word for zeal displays a beautiful picture of the Most High, who is zealous over His people (Zion…His House).  The Hebrew word for zealous is קנא ‘qana’ which is pictured in the natural in a parent bird guarding and protecting its nest and eggs from predators.  A bird protecting, overshadowing, its brood is one of the most beautiful pictures of God’s love for His people.

Mankind is at enmity with God, we can only enter His ‘nest’ through the sacrifice of Messiah (Ephesians 2:1-22).  It was the zealous love of God for mankind that He sent His only begotten Son (John 3:16).

Isa 9:6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isa 9:7  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Isa 59:16  And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
Isa 59:17  For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.

Zeal for His house sent Messiah to the cross to bear the sins/reproaches of mankind.

Psa 69:9  For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.

Psa 89:50  Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people;
Psa 89:51  Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.

Rom 15:3  For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.


Three Hares

Dreihasenfenster (Window of Three Hares) in Paderborn Cathedral

“Christian art has several examples from the early times through the renaissance of rabbits as a symbol of Christ.”

“To name just a few The three hare window in Paderborn, Germany and also in the monastery Muottatal in Switzerland, where three rabbits are together in a triangle with only one ear each showing, symbolizing the Trinity.”  {Three Hares}

Three hares in Judaism

Three Hares motif in the replica of the Gwozdziec synagogue ceiling.

“Not only do they appear among floral and animal ornaments, but they are often in a distinguished location, directly above the Torah ark, the place where the holy scriptures repose.”

“Some Jewish thinkers, such as 16th century German scholar Rabbi Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, saw the rabbits as a symbol for Jews in the Diaspora. 1 In an Augsburg Haggadah dated from 1534, he described an illustration of dogs hunting hares as the hares escaping as follows:  “The hare is representative of the Jewish people and the dogs their enemies and … (they are) an allegory of the persecution and salvation of the Jewish people.”

“Indeed, depictions of hare hunts are found in numerous Passover prayer books. One example can be found in the Prague Haggadah of 1526.”

Intriguingly, the hare hunt depictions in Hagadot also provide as a mnemonic tools. The Yiddish expression “YakNeHaz” – literally “hunt a hare”, is an abbreviation meant to help remember the complicated order of blessings when the Pessach Seder and Motzei Shabbat coincide, as it is the case this year (2008): Y = Yain (wine) K= kidush (blessing), N= ner (candlelight) H = havdalah (Shabbat ceremony) Z = zeman (blessing related to time).”  {How do the rabbits get into the synagogue?}

The Hare-Hunting Haggadot

“There is a mnemonic to help remember the sequence of events when the Pesach Seder is held on Saturday night: YaKNeHaZ

Yayin (wine)
Kiddush (sanctification)
Ner (light the candles by transferring from an existing flame, such as from a yahrzeit candle, and say l’hadlik ner shel yom tov)
Havdalah (In this case, one does not repeat the blessing over wine, which was said in Kiddush, nor the blessing over spices, because the chag continues, but only over the fire. There is a special version of the Havdalah berachah, which ends ha-mavdil bein kodesh l’kodesh.)
Z’man (Shehecheyanu)

The mnemonic YaKNeHaZ sounds somewhat similar to a German expression (jag den Has) which means “hunt the hare” and for this reason, some medieval haggadot were decorated with a picture of a rabbit-hunting scene.

Here is an example from a haggadah published in Prague in 1526:”

hare hunt



Lepus 2

This imagery of the hounds and rabbits in connection with redemption traces back to the constellation of Gemini and its three decan constellations, Canis Major & Canis Minor (dogs) and Lepus (rabbit).

lepus under orion

Lepus is located beneath the head of Orion who pictures “light breaking forth in the Redeemer”.  The picture is that of the ancient prophecy in the Garden where God promises that the Seed of the woman would crush the head of the enemy.  Gemini depicts the Messiah as the ruler or judge who comes to suffer in order to defeat His enemy, harkening back to this ancient prophecy as well.

Gen 3:15  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Canis Major depics the “coming glorious Prince of Princes”, Canis Minor the “exalted Redeemer”.  It is interesting to note that in the Egyptian Denderah zodiac, Canis Major is depicted as a hawk and Canis Minor as a man with a staff (a shepherd).

Could this be where the connection between eagles and rabbits comes from in Jewish tradition?  The Shepherd pictures salvation and defeat of one’s enemies. The word salvation, ישועה ‘yeshuah’ (the source of the name Jesus) comes from the Hebrew word שע ‘sha’ which has the meaning of a shepherd who watches over his sheep, destroying any enemy of the flock.

The stars in the constellation of Lepus tell the story of the enemy who is defeated by the Redeemer.  Arnebo comes from the Hebrew word ער ‘ar’ which means enemy (Psalm 139:20).  Nibal means “mad” or “foolish” from the Hebrew word נבל ‘nabal’ (1 Samuel 25:25).  This word is also translated as “viol” as in the noise of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:11).  Rakis means to bind with a chain from the Hebrew word רכס ‘rakas’ (Exodus 28:28) pointing to the binding of the devil (Revelation 20:2).  רכס ‘rakas’ also has the meaning of “pride” (Psalm 31:20), one of the character traits of the adversary (Ezekiel 28:5).  Sugia means the deceiver (Revelation 12:9) from the Hebrew word שגה ‘shagah’ which also means to “wander” (Job 1:7; 2:2).  Arnebeth means an hare but also to pluck, as in the plucking of those who persecute God’s people (Psalm 80:12).



hopping bunny

The English word hope comes from the Old English ‘hopian’ which means to wish, expect or look forward to something.  It is related to the word ‘hop’ as in one who leaps for expectation.  This is related to the Hebrew word פסח ‘pasach’ (passover) which means to hop or limp.

Hope in the Resurrection (Easter)

1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He according to His great mercy having regenerated us to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 1Pe 1:18  knowing that not with corruptible things, silver or gold, were you redeemed from your worthless way of life handed down from your fathers,
1Pe 1:19  but with precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot,
1Pe 1:20  indeed having been foreknown before the foundation of the world, but revealed in the last times because of you,
1Pe 1:21  the ones believing in God through Him, He raising Him from the dead, and giving glory to Him so that your faith and hope may be in God.
1Pe 1:22  Having purified your souls in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to unpretended brotherly love, love one another fervently out of a pure heart,
1Pe 1:23  being regenerated, not by corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the living Word of God, and remaining forever.
1Pe 1:24  Because “all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of men as the flower of grass; the grass was dried, and its flower fell out,
1Pe 1:25  but the Word of the Lord remains forever.” And this is the Word announced as gospel to you. Isaiah 40:6-8



Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays part 1

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays part 2

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Examine Yourself

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Pagan Christianity?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Alexander Hislop

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Ralph Woodrow

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Pagan Parallels

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Church Fathers & Paganism

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Constantine

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Origins of Christian Holidays

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter & Paganism?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Eggs

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Lily






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