The Color Yellow

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Meaning of Colors in the Bible
Black    -    Blue    -    Brown    -    Crimson
Gray    -    Green    -    Purple    -    Red
Scarlet    -    Vermilion    -    White
What is the meaning of the color yellow in God's word? How is it related to the fulfillment of prophecy?

Yellow, one of the primary colors found in rainbows, is commonly used throughout the world. Traffic lights and signs use it to symbolize caution when traveling. In most cultures, it also represents sunshine, happiness, and warmth. In religions such as Hinduism and ancient Egyptian, yellow is often associated with their deities.

Although not often found in national flags, yellow is prominently used both in the flag of Vatican City (the world's smallest state) and the Holy See (which, although not a country, is the jurisdiction ruled by the pope).

What few people know is that not only is this color the most visible light of the spectrum, its high reflectance allows it to act as a secondary light source. It is the first wavelength of light processed by the human eye (which belies its use in certain signage and on some emergency rescue vehicles). Our peripheral vision (the ability to see side or fringe areas when we look straight ahead) is 2 1/2 times higher for it than for red.

Portrait of a Lady in Yellow
Portrait of a Lady in Yellow
Alessio Baldovinetti, c. 1465 A.D.

In the 1890s, pencil makers in the United States began coloring their writing implements yellow due to its association with Chinese royalty (China had the best graphite at the time). Today, American pencils retain this tradition.

This pigment also holds the distinction of being the only one that mixes badly with black (producing a rather sick looking pigment).

Appearances of the Color Yellow

The English word "yellow" appears only four times in the King James Bible translation. It is derived three times from the Hebrew word tsahob (Strong's Concordance #H6669) and once from the word yeraqraq (Strong's #H3422).

Yeraqraq is used once to describe how glorious ancient Israel was when it entered the Promised Land. The color was also utilized to diagnose whether a person had leprosy and needed to be quarantined or not.

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).

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).

A Prophetic Color

Revelation 9 discusses the first two of three woes that will come upon mankind during the end time Great Tribulation. The first woe (verses 1 to 11) entails humanity tormented for five months (verse 5).

The second woe (Revelation 9:13 - 21) is the unleashing of a huge army that will ultimately kill a third of all humans. This army wears breastplates or armor that look like fire (red or scarlet), jacinth (blue), and brimstone (verse 17).

And so I saw the horses in the vision, and those sitting on them, who had fiery breastplates, even like jacinth and brimstone. And the heads of the horses were like heads of lions, and fire and smoke and brimstone shoot out of their mouths. (Revelation 9:17, HBFV).

The meaning of the Greek word translated "brimstone" (Strong's #G2306) in Revelation 9:17 above is "sulfur" or "sulfurous." Brimstone is a stone that can be set on fire and which gives off a yellow color due to its sulfur content.

Brimstone is also used in other parts of Scripture, most notably as one of the two substances (the other being fire) that rained down from heaven to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot's wife saw, before turning into a pillar of salt, witnessed a downpour of these two destructive forces on the cities and the surrounding region.

Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven (Genesis 19:24, KJV).

More Info on Biblical Meaning of Yellow

Recent research reveals that black type against a background colored yellow is the best combination for printed material. Tests also show this print combination is the best concerning readability and in the ability of our minds to retain information (memory).

Frankincense is one of several gifts brought by the Parthian Magi when they came to worship Jesus Christ sometime after his birth. Frankincense, which is yellowish in color, is a dry, rather odorous resin that although grown in Palestine was also imported from Arabia (Jeremiah 6:20, Isaiah 60:6).

The Bible says the New Jerusalem created by God will have twelve foundations, with each one shining a different kind of light based on a particular precious stone (Revelation 21:19). The seventh foundation (seven is the number of perfection) has Chrysolite within it. The Greek word translated "chrysolite" is a gem that looks like gold or yellow.

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