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Colours in the Bible

.....and their meaning...

Purple

 

 

The colour Purple in scripture is translated from the Hebrew words 'argaman' which means purple or red-purple and 'arg@van' meaning purple. The colour purple was found for example in the materials used for constructing  of the Tabernacle and Temple. We read that God commanded Moses saying:

"Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim you shall weave them." Exod 26:1

and

"You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim." Exod 26:31

The Greek word 'porphura', which refers to purple and the purple fish, a species of shell fish or mussel from which the dye colour is derived. This species was relatively rare and thus the purple dye was quite valuable. Two more Greek words  are 'porphurous' which means purple or dyed in purple and 'porphuropolis' which refers to a seller of purple or fabric dyed in purple. In this context we can think of Lydia to whom Paul preached:

"Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul." Acts 16:14

 

Further information

  The colour purple is associated with royalty and status for example: "So Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad." Esther 8:15

See also: Judges 8:26; Daniel 5:7&16.

Related Symbols

The curtains in the Tabernacle had purple thread used in their construction. In this context the purple represents the royalty and Kingship of God. The curtain itself symbolises the separation of man from the most Holy things associated with God.   "..the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains." 2 Samuel 7:2
Purple is also associated with riches and finery, for example in the parable that Jesus told of a rich man:   "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day." Luke 16:19

Purple speaks of the corruption and corrupting influence of riches

 

"The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication." Rev 17:4

"Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!" Revelation 18:16

Jesus was clothed in purple as a sign of royalty, but in mockery of His claim to be the promised Messiah and  heir to the throne of David.   "And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, .... And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him." Mark 15:17&20

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