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The Incredible Symbolism Of The Color Green In The Bible

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Colors in the Bible have such rich symbolism. Over the past year, we’ve been examining the colors in the Bible (Red, Blue, Yellow, red, white and black) and today, we’ll park on green and take a good look at the color green in the Bible. (For an overview of colors in the Bible, see this post).

 

green in the Bible

 

Symbolic Meanings of Green in the Bible

 

Green, a secondary color, is made by mixing Yellow (trials, for one) with Blue (Word of God, living water, etc). So combining yellow and blue gives us green. Most biblical scholars agree that one of the primary meanings behind green in the Bible is immortality.

 

The waters of Nimrim are dried up
and the grass is withered;
the vegetation is gone
and nothing green is left.

Isaiah 15:6

 

Green is also symbolic of resurrection and the greenness of Spring, praise, growth, prosperity, new beginning, flourishing, and restoration. The color green occurs rather often in Scripture, usually referring to the color of vegetation.

 

The color green in the Bible is associated with everlasting life, growth, and fertility. It also appears for nations and is also used to signify fruitfulness.

 

The idea of fruitfulness is described in the following passage, where the God furnishes His children with everything they need for their spiritual sustenance and the confidence that His children will place in Him will bear fruits:

 

 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

    whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

    that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

    its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

    and never fails to bear fruit.” –

Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

The color green also refers to the fragility of human life,  We grow, thrive, but just for a time then life ends.

 

Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh?

    Can reeds thrive without water?

While still growing and uncut,

    they wither more quickly than grass.

Such is the destiny of all who forget God;

    so perishes the hope of the godless. – 

Job 8:11-13

 

Variations of the Hebrew word for green found in The Old Testament:

‘abiyb
(aw-beeb’)

 

In Leviticus, ‘abiyb’ is used to describe the greening of ears of corn. It was to be part of the first fruits offering – a seasonal offering to be made to God. The same word is used for the season of ‘greening’, or the onset of spring.

 

If you bring a grain offering of firstfruits to the LORD, offer crushed heads of new grain roasted in the fire. Leviticus 2:14

 

‘Deshe

(deh’-sheh)

 

‘Deshe’ is another word used for the green of tender new shoots of grass. These would be the new shoots of grass, the light, almost yellow green. It is the word used to describe the green pastures.

 

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. Genesis 1:11

 

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. Psalm 23:2

 

Green in the Bible

 

Ra’anan
(rah-an-awn’)

The Hebrew word for green, ra`anan, occurs most frequently (twenty times) in the Old Testament and always indicates the greenness of the mature leaves of trees. A thriving tree after several years of surviving the extremes of hot summers and frigid winters. This is the color of the leaves of blooming with healthy roots deep and wide and branches reaching out. This is the color represents life and surviving.

 

They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 1 Kings 14:23

 

Yaraq
(yaw-rawk’)

 

This form of the Hebrew word for green is most often found when describing herbs, vegetables and other greens.

 

Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred. Proverbs 15:17

 

Yarowq
(yaw-rawk’)

 

This variation of a Hebrew word that simply means: greens, green plants, green thing.

 

It ranges the hills for its pasture and searches for any green thing. Job 39:8

 

Yereq
(yeh’-rek)

 

The Hebrew word ‘yereq’ is one of the earliest Hebrew words used for green. In Genesis, it is a word that describes the greenness of edible herbs. It is the color of what food should be: fresh, vibrant and sustaining life.

 

And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. Genesis 1:30 

 

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This green tree is also a powerful image of a righteous man, one who heeds the commandments of God.

 

They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:8  

An image of a tree with a text overlay with Jeremiah 17:8 quoted

Unfortunately, mature trees with shade were often the sites of pagan idol worship. A majority of the verses using this word for green are found in verses where God condemns the rituals and false worship practiced under the leafy branches of majestic trees in high places.

 

All sorts of pagan sacrifices and incense were offered under mature trees, whose beauty should have been a visible reminder of the greatness of God. Green is in this context a color of strength, power, and vigor that could only have come from God himself.

 

In the Old Testament, we see the “spreading tree” misused, and worship twisted or perverted provoking the following command:

 

Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Deuteronomy 12:2 

 

It is also the color of abundance, first as the vividness of the tender shoot, then as the deep richness of the mature leaf or tree. 

 

Green in the Bible: New Testament

 

In the New Testament the word for green is the Greek, “chlōros”(khlō-ro’s). The word, chlorophyll, that we all learned in middle school biology comes from that root word. It means verdant, dun-colored, green, pale.

 

Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. Mark 6:39

An image of grass with dew on it and a text overlay quoting Mark 6:39

In Revelation, the word ‘chlōros’ is used to describe the ‘pale’ (greenish yellow pale) horse of Death.

 

In our culture, we often use green to describe feeling nauseaous and sometimes even “green with envy”. It makes sense since the Bible uses green to describe the palor or paleness of death.

 

I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:8 

 

Green, with many shades, nuances and variations, is the color of life – either vibrant, flourishing life, or the even the life flowing or leaving. Green is a color that is life affirming, just as our Creator gave us life and affirms it daily with His love.

 

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One of the most important symbolism with color green is that of everlasting life. Jesus in the following verse tells his disciples to endeavor for food that will lead them to eternal life:

 

“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”

– John 6:27, NASB

 

More Symbolic Verses about Green in the Bible:

 

Life

Isaiah 15:6,  Luke 23:31

 

Growth

Ezekiel 17:24

 

Fruitful

Jeremiah 11:16; 17:8, Hosea 14:8, Luke 23:31

 

Fresh or Undefiled

Song of Solomon 1:16, Luke 23:31

 

Maturity

Job 15:31-32

 

Frailty

Psalm 37:2

 

Which meaning of the color green in the Bible was most surprising to you? Which is your favorite verse including the color green in the Bible?

 

If you want to learn more about Bible symbolism, the below recommendation is a terrific resource (and inexpensive, too!) for Bible symbolism, including a section on color.

 

Because of Him,

Sue

 

12 thoughts on “The Incredible Symbolism Of The Color Green In The Bible”

  1. OMGOODNESS!!! This was a beautiful article and even more beautiful was how I was led here. I don’t invest the time I would like in the symbolisms of the Bible but I’ve always been interested and when special things happen in my life, I often search where there may be a connection or a special word from the Lord to me. I received a gift from the Lord yesterday and what I learned from this article this morning has overtaken me …. I’m speechless! THANK YOU!!!

  2. Susan,
    Thank you for sharing your research into the colors and their symbolism found in the Bible. . . fascinating . . .
    Your insights into Scripture open up more understanding into His Word. . . You are a blessing!
    Praying for your healing from cancer. . . May Jehovah Rapha give you peace and strength . . .
    Shalom,
    Norma
    My favorite verse concerning “green” is Jeremiah 17:7-8

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