Symbolism in the Bible

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What is the symbolic meaning of certain words and phrases found within the Bible? Below is a list of select words and phrases along with their meaning and a few verses in which they are found.

Abraham's Bosom
A close, personal relationship
Luke 16:22 - 23

Ark of the Covenant
The Presence of God
2Chronicles 7:1 - 3, Ezekiel 8 - 11

Armor
War, Spiritual Protection
Jeremiah 50:35 - 37, Romans 13:12, Ephesians 6

Arrows
War, God's judgment
Job 6:4, Psalm 38:2

Ashes
Insignificance, Worthlessness
Genesis 18:27, Job 30:19

What is laying on of hands?
Does God have a sense of humor?
What were Samson's last words?

Ass
Humility, Peace, Wildness
Zechariah 9:9, Matthew 21:5, Genesis 16:12


Destruction of Sodom with brimstone
Destruction of Sodom with brimstone

Babylon
Man's system of rule that is led and deceived by Satan the devil
Revelation 14:8, 16:19, 17:3, 5

Bald, Baldness
Barrenness
Jeremiah 47:5

Banner
Rallying point or place for God's people
Isaiah 5:26, 11:10, Jeremiah 4:21

Beasts
Worldly kingdoms ran by carnal men
Daniel 7:17, 1Corinthians 15:32

Bitter, Bitterness
Cruelty, Misery
Genesis 27:34, Exodus 15:23, Numbers 5:18

Blindness
Lack of mental or spiritual perception, inability to make moral distinctions
Isaiah 42:16, 18 - 19, Matthew 23:16, John 9:39

Body
A whole person, that which is corrupt
Romans 6:6, 12, 7:24, Hebrews 10:5

Bowels
Deep emotion or feelings
Job 30:27, Lamentations 1:20

Brass
Firm, strong, hardness, obstinacy
Psalm 107:16, Isaiah 48:4, Ezekiel 22:18

Brimstone
Utter destruction and punishment
Job 18:15, Psalm 11:6, Isaiah 30:33, Luke 17:29, Revelation 9:17

Candles or Candlesticks
True churches of God
Revelation 1:20, 2:1

Chariots
Angelic hosts
Zechariah 6:1, Psalm 68:17

Cloak
To hide, make an excuse
1Thessalonians 2:5, John 15:22

Cornerstone
The Messiah or Savior of man
Psalm 118:22, Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, 1Peter 2:7

Crown
Victory over something, a reward
James 1:12, Revelation 2:10

Cup
That which is portioned out, especially God's judgments. Can also represent Jesus' sufferings.
Psalm 11:6, Revelation 14:10, Matthew 26:39

Dark, Darkness
Moral depravity and its punishment
Psalm 82:5, Proverbs 2:13, John 3:19

Day
Span of a human life, an indefinite time period, a set time, a past time, a future time
Genesis 3:14, 5:4, 25:24, Psalm 18:18, Deuteronomy 31:14

Deaf
Disregard for the things of God
Isaiah 29:18, 42:18 - 19

Door
Opportunity, Freedom, Power
Matthew 25:10, Acts 14:27, 1Corinthians 16:9, Colossians 4:3

Dragon
Satan the devil
Ezekiel 29:3, Revelation 12:3, 9

Earthquake
Calamities
Matthew 24:7, Revelation 6:12

Eyes
The heart, mind, disposition of man
Psalm 119:18, Ephesians 1:18, Matthew 13:13, Proverbs 6:17

Face of God
Favor or Grace from God
Psalm 13:1, Daniel 9:17

Fire
Judgment
Numbers 11:1, 3, Isaiah 42:25

Forehead
Beliefs, Choices, Character of a Person
Revelation 7:3, 13:16

Furnace
Affliction
Isaiah 48:10, Jeremiah 11:4

Gold
Earthly riches and luxury, Purity, Incorruption, Something of great value
Job 3:15, 1Peter 1:7, Revelation 3:18, Acts 17:29, 1 Peter 1:7, 18, 3:3, Proverbs 3:14, 8:10, Jeremiah 4:30, 10:4

Head
One who rules or is ruler
Ephesians 1:22

Hedge
Protection directly from God
Job 1:10, Ezekiel 13:5

Heel
Only a partial victory
Genesis 3:15

Honey
Abundance, something acceptable and desired
Exodus 3:8, 17, Leviticus 20:24, Revelation 10:9 - 10

Horn
Gentile King
Daniel 7:24, Revelation 17:12

Horse
War, Strength of military
Zechariah 9:10, Jeremiah 51:21

Hunger and Thirst
Greatly desire
Matthew 5:6, Luke 1:53

Hyssop
Cleansing
Psalm 51:7

Incense
Prayer, especially from believers
Malachi 1:11, Revelation 5:8

Keys
Power and authority, the ability to unlock or lock something
Isaiah 22:22, Revelation 1:18, 20:1

Leaven
Sin, non-biblical teachings
Matthew 16:12, 1Corinthians 5:6 - 8

Light
Instruction that comes from God and the Bible, a product of salvation
Psalm 27:1, 119:30, Proverbs 6:23, Job 24:13

Milk
Abundance, prosperity
Ezekiel 25:4, Joel 3:18

Mountains
A kingdom, authority or rule
Psalm 30:7, Isaiah 2:2, Daniel 44, 45, Revelation 17:9 - 11

Nicolaitans
Ruling over the faith of others, top-down church government
Revelation 2:1, 6, 12, 15

Night
Adversity, affliction, ignorance, time of evil
Isaiah 21:12, John 9:4, Revelation 21:25

Oil
Prosperity
Deuteronomy 32:13, 33:24, 2Kings 18:32

Pillar
Foundational
Galatians 2:9, 1Timothy 3:15

Rain
Something refreshing, delightful
Psalm 68:9, Isaiah 5:6

Rock
God as a refuge and salvation
Psalm 18:2, 94:22, 95:1

Rod
Correction
Psalm 2:9, Job 9:34, etc.

Salt
Judgment, purification, loyalty, covenant, the role of Christian in the world
Genesis 19:6, Exodus 30:35, Numbers 18:19, Matthew 5:13

Sea
A great number of people
Jeremiah 51:42, Ezekiel 26:3, Matthew 13:47, Revelation 13:1

Seal / Sealed
Ownership, security
Daniel 6:17, Jeremiah 32,11 - 12, Ephesians 4:30, 2Timothy 2:19

Scroll
God or man's written word
Ezra 6:2, Jeremiah 36:2, Ezekiel 3:1 - 3

Serpent
The wicked, or Satan the devil in particular
Psalm 58:4, Revelation 12:9, 20:2, Genesis 3:1, 2Corinthians 11:3

Sheep
God's people, or those who follow Jesus
Matthew 15:24, Mark 14:27, Luke 15:4, John 10:11, etc.

Shepherds
Rulers either in civil affairs or those who guide Christians
Nahum 3:18, Ezekiel 34:2

Shield
Defense, protection
Psalm 84:9, Ephesians 6:16

Silver
Redemption, an inferior kingdom compared to another, words of God's truth
Exodus 38:27, Daniel 2, Psalm 12:6

Sleep
Death
Daniel 12:2, John 11:11, 1Corinthians 11:30, 15:51, 1Thessalonians 4:14

Star
A prince or ruler, can also represent a righteous angel
Numbers 24:17, Daniel 8:10, Matthew 2:2, 7, 9 - 10

Stars of Heaven
Angels
Job 38:7, Revelation 12:4

Sword
War, killing
Isaiah 34:5, Ezekiel 21:3

Tail
Subjection, degradation
Deuteronomy 28:13, 44, Isaiah 9:15

Teeth
Cruelty
Psalm 3:7, Proverbs 30:14

Thorns
Desolation, troubles
Proverbs 24:31, Hosea 2:6

Throne
Kingdom, seat of government
Psalm 122:5, Daniel 7:9

Topheth (Valley of Hinnom)
The Lake of Fire
2Kings 23:10, Matthew 18:9, 23:33, Mark 9:43, Revelation 19:20

Tree of Life
Living God's way of life
Genesis 2:9, Revelation 22:1 - 2

Trees
Those who are great
Daniel 4:20 - 22

Veil
The way into God's presence is not open
Matthew 27:51, Hebrews 9:3, 10:20

Vineyard
The house of Israel
Isaiah 5:1 - 7, Jeremiah 12:10

Watchman
Prophet, Preacher
Ezekiel 3:17, Isaiah 62:6

Waters
Afflictions, multitudes, ordinances
Psalm 69:1, Isaiah 8:7, 55:1

Wilderness
Afflicted state
John 1:23, Revelation 12:6

Wine
Spiritual blessings, Divine judgments
Isaiah 25:6, 55:1, Psalm 60:3

Winepress
Total destruction
Isaiah 63:3, Revelation 14:19

Wings
Protection, assistance
Exodus 19:4, Psalm 17:8

Woman
City of Jerusalem, Christians in general
Ezekiel 26:2, 3, Revelation 12:1

Yoke
Servitude, burden
Jeremiah 5:5, Lamentations 3:27, Matthew 11:29 - 30

Additional Study Materials
What does a rainbow symbolize?
Does the Rose of Sharon represent Jesus?
How many people died in the flood?
What is weirdest offering God received?
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