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Colours in the Bible

.....and their meaning...

Grey

 

 

The colour grey in scripture is translated from the Hebrew word 'seybah' which signifies grey hair, hoary head  and old age.

The other Hebrew word is 'siyb' meaning greyheaded or to be grey.

Thus we see the connection in scripture between grey and old age.

"But he said, "My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any calamity should befall him along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave." Gen 42:38

Old age earns respect and the younger must respect those older than themselves. Under the Law of Moses the Israelites were commanded:

"You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD." Leviticus 19:32

Old age and grey hair is the glory of the aged:

 "The glory of young men is their strength, And the splendor of old men is their gray head."  Proverbs 20:29

and connected with wisdom and experience:

"Both the gray–haired and the aged are among us, Much older than your father." Job 15:10

 

Further information

  Grey hair in scripture also refers to the speckled hair of sheep and goats, for example the wages of Jacob:

"And it happened, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams which leaped upon the flocks were streaked, speckled, and gray–spotted." Genesis 31:10

"And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray–spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you." Genesis 31:12

Related Symbols: compassion and care

The compassion and care of God is demonstrated towards His people in His love and care for them right from birth through to old age.   "Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you." Isaiah 46:4

"He raises the poor out of the dust, And lifts the needy out of the ash heap" Psalm 113:7 (see below for the symbolic meaning of ash)

 
However because of sin Israel were at times estranged from their God and did not realise that old age and declining strength had come upon them because of their forsaking God and His ways. Thus grey can be symbolic of weakness.   "Aliens have devoured his strength, But he does not know it; Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, Yet he does not know it." Hosea 7:9
 

Related Symbols: ash

Ash being grey in colour is worth also considering in its symbolic relationship to sorrow and mourning. "Then Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore her robe of many colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head and went away crying bitterly." 2Samuel 13:19

"And in every province where the king’s command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes." Esther 4:3

 

See also Jeremiah 6:26
Ash may also be symbolic of destruction "You defiled your sanctuaries By the multitude of your iniquities, By the iniquity of your trading; Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you." Jeremiah 28:18
  See also Malachi 4:3; 2 Peter 2:6

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