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Colours in the Bible

.....and their meaning...

Crimson and Scarlet

 

 

The Hebrew word 'towla' (Masculine) and 'towle' (feminine) means scarlet or crimson. The Hebrew word 'karmiyl' means crimson, red or carmine. The Hebrew word 'shaniy' means scarlet or crimson. 'Shaniy' signifies the colour obtained from the insect ‘coccus ilicis’. The dried body of the female provides a colouring matter from which dye can be made and then used to colour cloth scarlet or crimson.

In the New Testament the Greek word 'kokkinos' means scarlet or scarlet coloured.

Crimson or scarlet is one of the colours associated with the fine materials used in the construction of the Tabernacle and Temple:

"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

"..he made the veil of blue, purple, crimson, and fine linen, and wove cherubim into it." 2Chron 3:14

Each colour in the Tabernacle construction had a meaning of its own and both crimson and scarlet are associated with sin. For example God says to His people Israel through the prophet Isaiah:

"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow ; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool." Isa 1:18

 

Further information

  Scarlet was the colour of the cord that Rahab was told to display from her window if she and her family were to be saved when Jericho was destroyed (Joshua 2:17-21)

When Pilate had condemned Jesus to be crucified the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and clothed him in a scarlet robe, twisted a crown of thorns and placed it upon His head. Thus they mocked Jesus claim to be a King saying "Hail, King of the Jews" (Matthew 27:27-30)

Scarlet is the colour of the beast and the clothing of the woman riding it as described in Revelation. This vision symbolises the corruption of true religion and represents a political and religious system that persecutes the true followers of Christ and represents all that is corrupt in God's sight (Revelation 17:3-6)

In the Song of Solomon scarlet is used in the description of the beauty of the bride where we read "Your lips are like a strand of scarlet.." (Song 4:1-5)

Related Symbols: Purification

The colour scarlet is also associated with cleansing and purification   "Then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop." Leviticus 14:4
  "For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you." Hebrews 9:19-20
  See also Num 19:6-9

Other Related Symbols

The virtuous woman who as part of her loving care for her family provides warm clothing   "She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet." Proverbs 31:21

Dried insects

  The insect ‘coccus ilicis’ is related to the cochineal insect and found on the twigs and branches of evergreen oaks in Southern Europe and North Africa. They belong to the family of insects known as Coccidae or Scale-insects. When the female of the species is ready to lay eggs, she attaches her body firmly to the tree. The eggs are laid beneath her body and following the egg laying the insect dies. Thus the eggs are protected by the insects body until the larvae  are hatched. It was from the dead bodies of these insects that the scarlet dyes used in ancient times were extracted.

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