In the Hebrew Scriptures there is no apparent reference to the domestic chicken (Gallus domesticus), but in the Christian Greek Scriptures Jesus Christ referred to the hen gathering her chicks under her protective wings in his simile concerning his desire to gather unresponsive Jerusalem. (Mt 23:37; Lu 13:34) The Greek word there used (orʹnis) is generic and hence may refer to any bird, wild or domesticated. But in Attic Greek it usually meant a hen, since this was the most common and useful of the domestic fowl. Jesus’ reference to a son asking his father for an egg (Lu 11:11, 12) indicates that the domestic hen was common in Palestine at that time. (See COCK.) From the Greek orʹnis (genitive: orʹni·thos) comes the English word “ornithology,” the branch of zoology that deals with birds.
Certain rabbinic laws forbade the eating of eggs laid on the Sabbath day, since it was held that this constituted work on the part of the hen; some, however, allowed the eating of the eggs if the hen was one kept for eating and not for laying. (Babylonian Talmud, Bezah 2a, b) The Bible, however, contains no such rules.