The color orange is not mentioned directly in the Bible. This could be because, in Bible time, a name had not yet been coined for the color. Instead, colors like red, gold, and yellow would be used to symbolize the orange color. For instance, instead of referring to flames as orange, they would be referred to as yellow or red. Since Orange is not a primary color, the best way to understand its symbolism is to study the symbolism of the primary colors that make up orange; these colors are yellow and red.
Now, even though orange is not mentioned in the Bible, the appearance of orange objects (e.g. fire) is undeniable. The color orange is used to symbolize God’s presence (glory) or God’s judgment in retribution. The exact symbolism depends on the context.
What is the Symbolism of Yellow in the Bible?
The cool yellow is often associated with brightness and visibility and with good reason – it is the most visible light spectrum to the human eye. This is why it is commonly used in signage as well as in emergency and rescue vehicles.
The word Yellow appears around four times in the Bible (King James Version). In three of these times, yellow is derived from the Hebrew word tsahob (Strong’s Concordance #H6669). For the fourth instance, it is derived from the Hebrew word “Yeraqraq” (Strong’s #H3422).
The word Yeraqraq is used to denote the glory of Israel when they had just entered into Canaan after spending 430 years in slavery.
Though you lie down among the sheepfolds, you will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold (Yeraqraq, Psalm 68:13, NKJV).
On the other hand, “Tsahob” was used when diagnosing whether a person was sick with leprosy and needed to be quarantined.
If a man or woman has a sore on the head or the beard, then the priest shall examine the sore; and indeed if it appears deeper than the skin, and there is in it thin yellow (Tsahob) hair, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a scaly leprosy of the head or beard (Leviticus 13:29 – 30, NKJV).
The color yellow also appears in materials that are mentioned in the Bible. For instance, we know that God rained brimstone and fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Also, in the book of Revelation, a huge army is unleashed to kill a third of humans. This army is described to be adorned in armor that resembled fire (red), jacinth (blue), and brimstone (Rev. 9:17). The Greek word that is translated as brimstone (Strong’s #G2306) is the same word for sulfur. Sulfur is a highly flammable yellow substance.
So, in summary, the color yellow can be used to signify God’s glory or God’s judgment. It all depends on the context.
What is the Symbolism of Red in the Bible?
Red has a strong wavelength and is considered to be the second most popular color. It is so popular that it appears on 75% of the world’s flags. Just like yellow, red is commonly used in signage and is also utilized in traffic lights to denote a stop or give directions.
The word red appears 53 times in the Bible (King James Version). Its most common usage is in the books of Exodus, Numbers, and Pslams respectively. As such, the color red is more popular in the Old Testament as it is only mentioned 6 times in the New Testament out of the total 53 mentions in the entire bible.
Several Hebrew words are translated as red but the most commonly used words are adom (Strong’s Concordance #H122), “Chakliyl” (Strong’s Concordance #H2447), adam (Strong’s Concordance #H119), and “Uph” (Strong’s Concordance #H5488 and Strong’s Concordance #H5489). Two Greek words are used in the New Testament for red and these are purrhazo (Strong’s Concordance #G4449), purrhos (Strong’s Concordance #G4450), and eruthros (Strong’s Concordance #G2063).
The color red in Scripture often symbolizes sin, divine retribution against sinners, bloodshed, and war. It can also signify the temptation to sin. Notably, it represents the possibility of transformation, as in the verse from Isaiah: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
Symbolism of Orange
The symbolism of the color orange can therefore be an amalgamation of the symbolisms of its two parent colors – yellow and red. As we have already established, the color yellow can be used to denote the glory of God which can result in his blessing (like he did by taking Israel into Canaan), or it can denote judgment (like was the case when the leprous people were declared unclean). Interestingly, the color red has somewhat related symbolism since it denotes bloodshed, war, or divine retribution.
Depending on the context, the color orange can therefore mean several things. Since the color orange is not mentioned explicitly, we have to infer its meaning from the orange objects used in the Bible. Fire is one of the most common objects in the Bible and we know that fire has an orange flame. So what does fire denote in the Bible?
The first symbol of fire is God’s protection. We know from scripture that God sent a pillar of cloud over Israel at night and a pillar of cloud during the day for as long as they were in the wilderness. The fire kept them warm on the cold nights of the wilderness and it also illuminated their camp in the pitch darkness. But fire also symbolizes judgment. One of the best references to this is when God burnt down Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone.
In the Bible, the color orange is not explicitly mentioned, as it had not yet been coined as a distinct color during biblical times. Instead, the symbolism of orange can be understood through its parent colors, yellow and red. Yellow is associated with brightness, visibility, and God’s glory or judgment, depending on the context. It is mentioned in the Bible in various situations, such as describing the glory of Israel. On the other hand, red is often associated with sin, divine retribution, bloodshed, and war, but it also represents the possibility of transformation and forgiveness. The symbolism of orange, therefore, combines the meanings of yellow and red. Depending on the context, orange can signify God’s blessings or God’s divine judgment.