The Friday before Easter is called in the Christian world “Good Friday”. In the Jewish world, it is called, “Passover.” It is interesting to me that while many churches are finalizing plans to have Easter egg hunts, the Jewish people are celebrating the release of their people from Egypt through the Seder. On the Seder plate lies an egg (beitzah). Why do we find an egg? There are numerous thoughts. The egg is symbolic of Temple sacrifice (historic). The egg reminds us that God has no beginning and no end (theological). The egg is the food of mourning (psychological). The egg is a symbol of springtime and rebirth (seasonal). Last, but not least, the egg is a symbol of life (physical).
There is another thought. The egg represents the Jewish people. When we left Egypt, we were like this unhatched egg. We were free from the prison of Egypt and the constraints of slavery, but the people weren’t quite fully born. It would take seven weeks for them to stand at the foot of Mount Sinai, and then another forty years through the wilderness before the conquest of Canaan. The Jewish people were an unhatched egg coming out of Egypt, but it would be when God has given them the Torah and the Land that they have hatched and are ready to grow.
There is still another thought. The egg represents the Jewish people. The hotter the egg cooks, the tougher it becomes. So, too, the hotter the oppressive heat, the tougher the Jewish people get.
It is surprising to me that none of these come from either the Bible or the Talmud. The closest we get is that the word for egg in Aramaic (the language of the Talmud) is the same word for “please” – baya. In search for what the egg might mean in the Bible, I found very few references at all. Ultimately, there doesn’t seem to be a “Thus saith the Lord” on this one. We are free to come to conclusions based on the egg itself, on theological grounds, or on simple tradition.
For me, personally, I prefer the idea of the egg being a symbol of life. Just like the egg has been laid, but it takes a certain amount of time for it to be hatched, so too do we experience the first fruits of resurrection in the New Covenant through Christ Jesus, but we still await the day that we will “hatch”, receiving our resurrected bodies. In this, we see the symbolism of being brought out of our Egypt, under the oppression of the prince of the kingdom of the air, and into His marvelous light. “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
In regards to theological interpretations, we see the egg as an oval. There is no beginning or end point. The egg cannot stand up on its own, and likewise we cannot stand without God to support us. The egg is one egg, and yet three distinct parts – like the trinity. We have the shell, the white, and the yolk, each being the egg and comprising the whole of the egg, but each also being distinguished from the other two components.
When we look at the egg and what it might signify, there are many ways to perceive it. We could look for symbolism with the egg alone, or we could contrast it with other parts of the Seder plate. We could add some of the other aspects of the Seder plate to come to conclusions about what the egg might signify. What do you think? What does the egg mean to you?