Spirit Animals In Judaism

The most notorious talking animal in the Torah is the snake (nachash) in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden). More about the snake later. Yep, we have spirit animals in Jewish literature (Torah, Midrash and folklore) and they converse with humans! All are meant to mentor or impart a message, as spirit animals do.

I love the kind of stuff that takes the stuffiness out of religion!

King David and The Spider

(Ben Sirah 23b, אוצר מדרשים Otzar Midrashim 47)

When King David was a young shepherd boy watching over his father’s sheep, he often came across spiders’ webs strung across tree branches, shining in the sun. David thought the spiders were fascinating creatures to weave such webs, but he could see no purpose in them.

One day David decided to ask GD. “Why, O Creator of the world, did you make spiders? You can’t even wear their webs as clothing!”

GD answered David, “A day will come when you will need the work of this creature. Then you will thank me.” David grew up to become a King and a courageous warrior. He married King Saul’s daughter and the people of the land looked up to him.

His father-in-law, King Saul, saw King David as a threat to his authority and power. He sent his soldiers to kill his son-in-law and eliminate the competition. King David ran away to the wilderness, hoping King Saul’s anger would dissipate and he could return to his home. No dice. King Saul did not have a change of heart.

With King Saul’s soldiers closing in, King David ran inside a cave to hide. He heard the footsteps of the soldiers and knew it wouldn’t be long before they discovered his hiding place.

At that moment, King David spotted a small spider at the front of the cave. The spider tells him, “GD sent me to save you.” King David scoffed in disbelief, asking “How can a little creature like you possibly save me from King Saul’s army?” With lighting speed, the spider began spinning a web across the entire mouth of the cave. Just as he finished King David heard one of King Saul’s men exclaim, “He couldn’t possibly be hiding in here, for the spider’s web across the mouth of the cave is unbroken.”

As so it came to be that a talking spider saved King David’s life. King David thanked GD for creating all the creatures, especially the itsy bitsy spider.

Noah and The Raven

Noah is famous for sending a dove out to see if it was safe to leave the ark after the great flood, but the dove was not the first bird Noah sent out, that distinction goes to the raven. (Bereisheet/Genesis 8:7)

Midrash has the raven confronting Noah. The raven believes GD hates him because he told Noah to bring seven of each Kosher animal and only two of each non-Kosher animal, putting his species at risk for extinction. The raven speaks to Noah and outright accuses Noah of trying to kill him and his species by sending him out of the ark to investigate, knowing he and his female mate are the only two ravens left in the world.”Why me? The raven asks. “Because,” Noah says, “The world has no need of you. You’re no good to eat or to sacrifice.”

The raven goes out, but just keeps circling the ark, leaving Noah all fermished (confused). At that point, GD steps in and tells Noah to take the raven back into the ark (Midrash/Genesis Rabah 38:4). Having failed with the raven, Noah sends out a dove to suss out the situation. The dove complies, cooing placidly, as is her nature. There are seven of her kind, therefore she doesn’t have the same concerns as the raven.

Later on, GD assigns ravens (not any other type of bird) the crucial task of feeding the prophet Elijah/Eliyahu — bringing him bread and meat every morning and evening. (Melachim I – I Kings – Chapter 17)

Click Page 2 below for Spirit Animals Part 2!

4 thoughts on “Spirit Animals In Judaism

  1. Phil Sutherland

    I like Spiritual Animals. I have been around animals all my life. I have had many exotic pets including a variety of birds, one of which was in the Raven Family, a Crow. I also have had a groundhog, raccoon, white rats (my father brought home from his laboratory experiments), rabbits, cats, and many dogs. I also worked on farms and ranches with a variety of animals including horses, donkeys, cows, chickens and goats. So, my exposure to animals is fairly extensive. I have also belonged to zoos and animal exhibits areas as well as traveling in such places as the Amazon Rain Forest in Brazil, the Jungles of Panama and Vietnam where my contact with other species was fairly broad. I have observed that many species are very close to humans in intelligence, such as the porpoise. Almost all animals possess abilities that humans do not. So, I feel at times our measure of intelligence is strictly based upon human abilities, and does not take into account, the abilities of animals that go far beyond our own. Animals also have an innate instinct for the world around us that we either don’t have or are not tuned into. Dogs and other animals have an incredible sense of smell way beyond our own. Some, like the Eagle, can see objects moving at great distance. Birds and some other animals can sense danger long before our meager senses tell us that it is present, such as earthquakes. I remember one experiment that I watched online where a group of chimps and humans were put into a room with increasingly difficult buttons to push in order to open up a food storage area. One chimp and one human was shown each subsequent series of buttons to push as they became more and more difficult. The chimp was easily able to remember the buttons to push each time, and not only that, but, was able to communicate it to the other chimps so they too could access the food. The human had trouble memorizing the buttons beyond a few buttons, and often they would not share with the other humans when they did, preferring to not share. My observation of the varieties of species has shown me that our measure of intelligence, and abilities is definitely skewed toward what humans can do, and don’t take into consideration the huge number of things that animals can do that humans cannot. While animals do not talk the same way as humans do, they definitely communicate and sometimes in a much more significant way. I also believe that they are tuned into the spiritual realm in a very profound way. Having seen animals behavior, and been around so many, I have also learned that they can communicate with us too, if we tune in to what they are trying to tell us. We can learn to have a much deeper connection to G-d by learning from animals, especially such concepts as love and devotion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wild Pomegranate

      I love spirit animals too and they’re intrinsic to Judaism. Very cool information and interesting you have shared about animals!! I also believe they have a ‘pure’ connection to the spirit realm, unfettered by human biases and obstructive thoughts. They definitely communicate with us and it’s a beautiful thing! Thank you for sharing all your experiences and reflections!!


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