The Symbolism of Black in the Bible
Black is, of course, the darkest color. It lacks brightness or a hue, and although it absorbs light, it does not reflect any back. Scripture states that God is light (Psalm 104:2, 1John 1:5) and that the meaning of the devil’s name before he became God’s adversary was ‘light bringer’ (Isaiah 14:12). The universe God initially created was filled with His light, both literally and figuratively (see Revelation 21:23 – 24, 22:5) and was not black or dark.
When Lucifer chose to sin the light both in himself and that which he brought became black (which God determined beforehand would be a consequence of disobedience as we see in Isaiah 45:7). He became the first dark or black ‘thing’ that had ever existed when he turned from God.
In the physical universe, a black hole is a celestial object whose massive gravity pulls in all matter, including light, yet itself remains dark. Lucifer became a spiritual example of this physical happening when he took all the light God gave him and turned it into darkness.
The color black symbolizes suffering and death in the Bible. It’s used to represent mourning (Job 30:28, 30, Jeremiah 14:2), famine (Lamentations 5:10, Revelation 6:5), judgment of sin (Jude 13), death and the grave (Job 10:21-22), and more. The color black lacks brightness and hue. It does not reflect any light. Instead, black only absorbs light. The Bible tells us that God is light (Psalm 104, 1 John 1:5). It’s interesting that prior to Satan’s fall from Heaven, he was an angel of light (an angel of God), and, when he sinned, he fell like lightning from Heaven (Luke 10:18). Now Satan exists in darkness, no longer in God’s light.
Similarly, Adam was created in light and perfection, in the image of God, with God’s Holy Spirit to lead and guide him. But when Adam sinned, his light left him and the curse of death was pronounced upon him. Since Adam, all have been born in the “blackness” of sin.
Similarly, Adam was created in light and perfection, in the image of God, with God’s Holy Spirit to lead and guide him. But when Adam sinned, his light left him and death was pronounced upon him. Since Adam, all have been born in the “blackness” of sin.
There is none righteous; all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.- Romans 3:10, 23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 6:23
Black can also represent the deceitful treatment of Job’s friends (Job 6:16), God’s judgment (Zechariah 6:2, 6) or affliction, calamity, adversity or suffering for one’s sins (Lamentations 4:8, Job 3:5, 30:26, Psalm 107:10, 143:3, Isaiah 5:30, 8:22, Joel 2:6, Zephaniah 1:14 – 15, Revelation 16:10).
The color black can also signify punishment that is eternal for disobeying God (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30), a place of temporary restraint for disobedient angels (2Peter 2:4) or Satan, his ways and the power of evil (Acts 26:18, 1Thessalonians 5:5).
In the KJV Bible, the word ‘black’ occurs eighteen times, three of which are in the New Testament. The words translated as this color and its very similar references such as “dark,” “darkness,” etc. come from a variety of original language sources.
Apart from the symbolism of black in the Bible. Black also occurs when describing objects including hair, marble, skin, the sky, the sun and the sun and moon together (Matthew 5:36, Leviticus 13:31, Esther 1:6, Job 30:30, 1Kings 18:45, Proverbs 7:9, Revelation 6:12, Joel 2:10).
The Bible is clear in its condemnation of occult practices such as witchcraft, fortune telling (soothsaying), consulting the dead through mediums (channeling), sorcery, astrology and alike (Deuteronomy 18, Leviticus 19:31, 20, Acts 19:18 – 19 and so on). Because of their “darkness”, these practices are known as black magic.
Overview of Black in The Bible
Black is primarily associated with the negative aspects of human experience – including death, disease, famine, and sorrow – all of which are the results of sin. The exception is the implication of health when describing hair.
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Hebrew and Greek Forms of Black in the Bible
Original Word: שָׁחֹר
Original Word: μέλας, αινα, αν
BibleHub shared some references to black in the Bible in various forms that shed some light on its usage.
NAS: has remained, however, and black hair
KJV: at a stay, and [that] there is black hair
NAS: I am black but lovely, O daughters
KJV: I [am] black, but comely,
NAS: are [like] clusters of dates [And] black as a raven.
KJV: [are] bushy, [and] black as a raven.
NAS: with the second chariot black horses,
KJV: chariot black horses;
Did you learn anything new in this study of black in the Bible? If so, tell me below. If you have something to add, I’d love to hear it!
What did you think of this series on color symbolism in the Bible?
While I haven’t found many resources on color symbolism in the Bible, the below recommendation is a terrific resource (and inexpensive, too!) for Bible symbolism, including a section on color.
Because He Lives,