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COLOR:

It is noteworthy that Biblical Hebrew contains no term to express that property of light known as color. When a Hebrew writer wishes to compare an object with another in respect to color, he employs the word ("eye") or ("appearance"). The former term is thus used in speaking of the appearance of the plague (Lev. xiii. 55), of bdellium (Num. xi. 7), of wine (Prov. xxiii. 31), of amber (Ezek. i. 4, 27; viii. 2), of burnished or polished brass (ib. i. 7; Dan. x. 6), of beryl (Ezek. i.16, x. 9), and of crystal (ib. i. 22). The latter term is used of brass (ib. xl. 3).

In rabbinical literature are found the Aramaic "ḳazuta" (appearance, Ḥul. 47b), "guf" (body, Men. 44a), "ḳeren" (ray, Niddah ii. 6), "or" (light, Num. R. ii. 7; compare Luria, note 10 ad loc.), "ẓeba'" (dye, paint, ib. = the Aramaic "ẓib'a") (Shab. 75a), the Persian loan-word "gawwan" ('Er. 53b = Aramaic "gawna"; compare Targ. Yer. to Lev. xv. 19: "color of saffron"), and , the Greek χρῶμα (compare Krauss, "Lehnwörter," ii., s.v.; see, however, Jastrow, "Dict." s.v.).

Intensity of Color.

Intensity of color is expressed by the terms "'amoḳ" (deep, Tosef., Niddah, iii. 11), "'az" (strong, Neg. i. 1), "'ad me'od" (to a high degree, Num. R. ii. 7), or syntactically by such expressions as "adamdam she-ba'adummim" (deep red, Neg. xi. 4), "yeraḳraḳ sheba-yeroḳim" (deep green, ib.). Faintness or paleness of color is expressed by "kehah" (dim, faint, Lev. xiii. 39; Neg. ii. 2) or by "deheh" (Neg. i. 2). The same idea is expressed by reduplication, as "adamdam" (reddish), "yeraḳraḳ" (greenish, Lev. xiii. 49), and "sheḥarḥar"(blackish, swarthy, Cant. i. 6). Dark colors are expressed by "mashḥir" (Niddah 19a) or "maḳdir" (Yer. Niddah ii. 50b); bright, vivid, is "meẓaḥẓeaḥ" (ib.); dingy, dirty, is "ka'ur" (ugly, B. Ḳ. ix. 4), "meko'ar," "meko'ar," the same (Baraita Niddah; Horowitz, "Uralte Tosephtas," V. ii., § 1); and clear (of liquids), "ẓalul" = Aramaic "ẓil" (Num. R. ii. 7; Ḥul. 55b).

Scarcity of Color-Names.

There are but few real color-terms found in Biblical or traditional literature. Only white, and two of the elementary colors, red and green, are distinguished by name; while for blue and yellow distinct terms are entirely wanting. The other elementary colors are expressed by words denoting degrees of lightness and darkness; while non-elementary colors are indicated by the names of the objects from which they are derived. Moreover, one and the same word is used to denote not only several shades of one color, but even what are now known as different colors; the context, or the object to which the color was applied, affording the clue as to the particular color intended.

The scarcity of color-names found in the Bible and other ancient literatures has been differently accounted for by various scholars. All that can with certainty be said of the ancients in this respect is that their color vocabulary was undeveloped.

To the psychological reasons for such an undeveloped state among all nations of antiquity (compare Wundt, "Völkerpsychologie: Die Sprache," ii. 513, 514) was added, in the case of the Israelites, the religious prohibition of idolatry at a period of history when painting, like other arts, was largely, if not altogether, in the service of idolatry. Needlework in colors, as well as dyed stuffs, was indeed known in Israel in very early times (compare Dyeing; Embroidery), but the coloring was in all probability of a simple kind.

In the determination of the various color-terms, notwithstanding the aid which the context and etymology offer, it is at times impossible to arrive at very definite conclusions. In the following lists the Biblical data are given under a; the data from traditional literature, inclusive of the Targumim, under b.

Degrees of Lightness.
  • (a) "Zak" (literally, "clear," "pure") is applied in the Bible to the whiteness of the complexion (Lam. iv. 7); "ẓahob" (glistening like gold), to the golden tint of hair (Lev. xiii. 30, 32, 36); the hof'al participle "muẓhab," to brass (Ezra viii. 27); "ẓaḥ" (glowing, glistening), to the glow of a healthy complexion (Cant. v. 10); similarly, with the additional idea of whiteness, in Lam. iv. 7; to the clearness of a dry, hot atmosphere (Isa. xviii. 4); and to a dry, hot wind (Jer. iv. 11); "ẓaḥor" (light reddish; A. V. "white"), to the color of the ass (Judges v. 10).
  • (b) "Bahaḳ" (be glistening white) is used in the later Hebrew to denote the color of the human skin in a diseased condition (Bek. 45b; compare Lev. xiii. 39); "hibhiḳ" (to glisten), is used of jewels (Gen. R. xxxi. 11); idem (be bright), of the countenance (Pesiḳ. R. xiv. [ed. Friedmann, p. 62b]); "hizhib" (become golden-hued), of a dove's plumage (Ḥul. 22b); "hiẓhib" (to become glistening), of the metallic color of the dove's plumage (Ḥul. ib.), an earlier stage of coloration of plumage than the preceding hizhib; "ẓihub," of the getting of such color (ib.); "hiẓhil" (become bright), of the countenance (Gen. R. xcvii. 1); "hiẓhir" (make bright), of the skin (Lev. R. v. 3).

Aramaic: "barir" (pure) = "zak" (Targ. to Lam. iv. 7); "ẓehal" = Hebr. "hiẓhil" (Pesiḳ. R. l.c.); "ẓehir" (bright) and "ẓihara" (brightness), used of the surface of peeled grain, and of a clear, translucent liquid (Beẓah 14b; Ḳid. 48b); "faẓiaḥ" (clear) = Hebr. "ẓaḥ" (Targ. to Isa. xviii. 4), and (speckled) = Hebr. "bared" (Targ. to Zech. vi. 3).

Degrees of Darkness.
  • (a) The usual term in the Bible to express the idea of darkness is "shaḥor" (black). It is used of the dark hair in a leprous scall (Lev. xiii. 31, 37), of a sunburnt skin (Job xxx. 30; Cant. i. 5) and of dark horses (Zech. vi. 2). The diminutive form "sheḥarḥor" is applied to swarthy complexion (Cant. i. 6). When it is desired to express a particular shade of dark, another substantive is added for a closer definition, as "oven-black" (Lam. v. 10), and "raven-black," of hair (Cant. v. 11). "Ḥum" (literally, "hot," then "dark," "brown") is used of the wool of sheep (Gen. xxx. 32 and passim). "Ḳadar," meaning primarily "to overpower," then "to be sad, gloomy, dirty, or dark" (compare the explanation of "shaḥuf," below), is applied to the turbid state of water (Job vi. 16), to a sad countenance (Jer. viii. 21), to mourning garments, to the gates of a mourning city (Jer. xiv. 2), and to the sky (ib. iv. 28). The hif'il of the same verb is used in a causative sense; e.g., "make dark" the heavens (Ezek. xxxii. 7, 8), "cause sadness" (ib. xxxi. 15). The hitpa'el of this verb means "to become dark" with clouds of the sky (I Kings xviii. 45). The noun "ḳadrut" signifies "blackness" (Isa. l. 3); and the adverb "ḳedorannit," "wrapped in mourning" (Mal. iii. 14)."Ḥashak" (to be dark), a word generally employed to signify the darkness of approaching night (Isa. v. 30; Job xviii. 6), is also used of the eyes becoming dim (Lam. v. 17) or blind (Ps. lxix. 24), and of a black complexion (Lam. iv. 8). Hence the terms "ḥoshek" (darkness), "ḥaklili" (Gen. xlix. 12), and "ḥaklilut." (Prov. xxiii. 29) refer to the darkly lustrous or inflamed appearance of the eyes. The second, as used in Gen. xlix. 12, refers to the sparkling luster of dark-red wine, comparing the beauty of Judah's eyes therewith; the third (Prov. xxiii. 29) is descriptive of the inflamed eyes due to protracted night sessions over the wine-cup at the wine-shops (see Jastrow, "Proc. Soc. of Biblical Exegesis," xi. 128). "Kimrir" (Job iii. 5), originally "casting down," "oppression," seems to mean "blackness" (compare "shaḥuf," below).
  • (b) In the later Hebrew "shaḥor" is frequently more nearly defined as "ink-black" (Niddah ii. 7), or "black as the sediment of ink" (ib.), like black wax, pitch, grapes, olives (ib.), "mouse-gray" (Pes. 10b), or as black as a negro (Suk. iii. 6). In Num. R. ii. 7, the term "shaḥor" is applied to "bareḳet," probably taken here as sardonyx, and described as consisting of one-third white, one-third black, andone-third red; to "sappir," black like stibium (i.e., metallic grayish-blue [?]; to "leshem" and to "shebo," probably gray amethyst, said to be mixed black and white. The "shoham"—here the deep sea-green beryl—is said to be "shaḥor'ad meod" (very dark). Hence, "shaḥrurit" = the Aramaic "shaḥrurita" (blackness, darkness, Ta'anit 23b; B. Ḳ. 20b; B. M. 117b) and the by-form "sheḥarḥrut" (Cant. R. i. 6). "Sḥeḥamtit" (brownish), of the color of grain (B. B. v. 6), is sometimes contracted to "shamtit" (Yer. Ma'as. Sh. iv. 54d).Aramaic: "sheḥum," "sheḥim," literally "warm," "hot," = the Hebrew "ḥum" (brown, Targ. O. to Gen. xxx. 32)."Shaḥuf" or "ṭaḥuf" (gray, dark), a term which is used of sheep's wool (Ḥul. xi. 2, 136b), goes back to "saḥaf" (cast down). The variation in the first consonant points to a differentiation of an original "thakhaf." (On the development of meaning from the idea of overpowering, casting down, oppressing, to that of darkness, compare "ḳadar," above, and Levias, "Babyl. Aram. Gram." p. 210, note 6). "Piḥem (to blacken, soil), denominative of "peḥam" (coal, is used of soot, the sun, and other things. The passive of this may be used in the pu'al and nitpa'el (compare Jastrow, "Dict." s.v.). The verb "shetak" is used to designate "rust-colored" or "bronze" (Ta'an. 8a).Aramaic: "ukkam," originally signifies "oppressed," then "black" (compare Levias, l.c.); "leḥush," literally "glowing," then "brown" (Targ. Yer. to Gen. xxx. 32, 33, 35); "ḥalid" (rust-colored [?]); compare Targ. Job xi. 17 Ms.; Jastrow, "Dict." s.v.). "Ḳewaḥ" or "ḳaḥaḥ" (deep black) is applied to horses (Targ. to Zech. i. 8).
Degrees of White.
  • (a) White is usually expressed in the Bible by the word "laban," which is used of the color of goats (Gen. xxx. 35, 37), of teeth (ib. xlix. 12), of manna (Ex. xvi. 31), of leprous hair (Lev. xiii.), of garments (Eccl. ix. 8), and of horses (Zech. i. 8; vi. 3, 6). Shades of white are: milk-white (Gen. xlix. 12), coriander-seed-white (Ex. xvi. 31), snow-white (Num. xii. 10; II Kings v. 27; Ps. lxviii. 15 [A. V. 14]; Isa. i. 18), and dull white (Lev. xiii. 39). Hence the noun "loben" (whiteness, Ecclus. [Sirach] xliii. 18). The moon, on account of its pale light, is called "lebanah."The Aramaic terms corresponding to "laban" are "ḥawar," used of the face becoming pale with shame (Isa. xxix. 22), and "ḥiwwar" (white), applied to a snow-white garment (Dan. vii. 9).
  • (b) The white color may be as white as snow, as the calcimining in the Temple, as wool, as the cuticle of the egg (Neg. i., referring to the color of leprous spots), as pearl (Yoma 75a), or as the wood below the bark (Ḥul. 47b). The color of the stone "yahalom," probably milky opal, is white (Num. R. ii. 7). "Libbun" (whitening) is used of wool (B. Ḳ. 93b). "Libben" means "to bleach cloth" (Yer. Ber. ix. 1, 13c), "to glaze tiles" (Beẓah iv. 7), "to heat to a white heat iron instruments" ('Ab. Zarah v. 12). "Hilbin" signifies "to grow white," used of hair (Neg. i. 6); "to whiten the wing of a raven" (Cant. R. v. 11); "to cause paleness of face through shame" (Ab. iii. 11). Hence, "labnunit" (whiteness, Neg. iv. 4), and the by-form "labnut" (Lev. R. xiv.). The verb "kasaf," in various forms, is used to indicate paleness of countenance caused by shame or fright (compare Jastrow, "Dict." s.v.). The word is perhaps connected with "kesef" (silver). Notice also "lawḳan," "labḳan" = the Greek λευκόν (albino, or white-spotted in the face, Ber. 58b). To express the idea of the hair becoming grayish-white through old age, the root "sib" is used (I Sam. xii. 2; Job xv. 10), whence the derivative "sebah," meaning "gray hair" (Gen. xlii. 38; xliv. 29, 31; Deut. xxxii. 25; Hos. vii. 9; Prov. xx. 29), or the "hoary hair" of old age (Isa. xlvi. 4).

In Aramaic the roots "ḥawar," "kesaf," and "sib" are used in the same senses as in Hebrew; add to which "ḳiṭman" (ash-gray, Targ. to Zech. vi. 3, 7).

Red.
  • (a) Red is expressed by "adom," a term probably connected with "dam" (blood). It is applied to blood (II Kings iii. 22), to blood-stained apparel (Isa. lxiii. 3), to a heifer (Num. xix. 2), to a horse (Zech. i. 8), and to brownish yellow lentils (Gen. xxv. 30). The adjective "admoni" describes a reddish-brown complexion (Gen. xxv. 25; I Sam. xvi. 12). Verbal forms are used of becoming as red as crimson (Isa. i. 18), of skins dyed red (Ex. xxv. 5), and of a blood-besmeared shield (Nahum ii. 4 [A. V. 3]). The diminutive form of the adjective "adamdam" expresses "reddish," applied to the color of the leprous spot (Lev. xiii. 19, 24) or a sore (ib. xiii. 42).Other terms occasionally occur which denote some shade of red, as "saroḳ" (reddish-brown, sorrel), applied to horses (Zech. i. 8); and "ḥamuz," some shade of red not more closely defined (Isa. lxiii. 3). "Amoz" (Zech. vi. 7), translated by the Targum "ash-gray," stands, in the opinion of modern scholars, for "hameẓ" (red; compare Gesenius-Buhl, "Hebräisches und Chaldäisches Handwörterbuch," s.v.). Some trace the root "ḥamar" (to be red) in Ps. lxxv. 9 and Job xvi. 16.
  • (b) Redness is applied in Talmudic literature to the scarlet lily (Cant. R. vii. 3), to collyrium (Lam. R. iv. 15), to wine (Num. R. ii. 7), to the ruby (ib.), and in the hif'il form is used also of "putting to the blush" (Num. R. iv. 20). Deep red is "adamdam she-ba'adummim" (Neg. xi. 4). Hence are formed the nouns "odem" (Niddah 32b), "admut" (Num. R. ii. 7, where , ed. Wilna, is to be corrected to and "admumit" (redness, Ḥul. 87b). Compare also "giḥor" (red of complexion, Ber. 58b; Bek. vii. 6, 45b).The usual term for red in Aramaic is "summaḳa" (reddish) or "simmuḳa" (compare Jastrow, "Dict." s.v.). Occasionally are found "giḥora," and "giḥya," "gihya" (Bek. 45b). The latter properly means "flame-colored."
Green, Blue, and Yellow.
  • (a) The term "yaraḳ," originally "pale," is used to describe those uncertain colors which waver between green, yellow, and blue. It is applied to the color of vegetation (Job xxxix. 8; II Kings xix. 26; Isa. xxxvii. 27), the fading color of decaying vegetation (Deut. xxviii. 22; Amos iv. 9; Hag. ii. 17), or of a panic-stricken countenance (Jer. xxx. 6). "Yeraḳraḳ" (greenish or yellowish) is used of the appearance of plague-spots (Lev. xiii. 49, xiv.37) and of gold (Ps. lxviii. 13). The term "ḥaraẓ," applied to gold, probably means "yellow."
  • (b) The same root is used in later Hebrew and Aramaic for green, yellow, and blue (compare Yoreh De'ah, 188, 1). Green is given as the color of leek (Ber. i. 2; Suk. iii. 6), and of myrtle (Meg. 13a). Yellow is the color of crocus (Niddah ii. 6; Ḥul. 47b), of cuscuta (Ḥul. l.c.), and of the yolk of an egg (ib.). The color of the "tarshish" (probably chrysolite or olivin) is like that of clear olive-oil (Num. R. ii. 7). Hence, "moriḳa" (crocus) and "yeraḳon" (jaundice). The verb "horiḳ" (Gen. R. xiii.; Ber. 44b) is used to denote "making pallid," "pale," especially the pale yellowish color of a frightened countenance (Soṭah iii. 4). The same idea is conveyed by the verb "kirkem," a denominative of the noun "karkom" (crocus). Compare, further, "moriḳa" (saffron-colored), from , a byform of (Levias, "Am. Jour. Semitic Lang." xvi. 250); "ḥardali" (mustard-colored), used of the color of wine (Shab. 63a), "ḳela'illan," an adaptation of κελαῖνου (sea-green, blue; compare Krauss, l.c.s.v.).
Variegated Surfaces:
  • (a) A party-colored appearance of one kind or another is denoted by the following terms: "barod" (grizzled, used of goats, Gen. xxxi. 10, 12; and piebald, of horses, Zech. vi. 3, 6); "ṭalu" (literally, "patched," hence "besprinkled," "flecked"), used of goats (Gen. xxx. 32 et seq.) and of dyed stuffs of many colors (Ezek. xvi. 16); "naḳod" (literally, "dotted," hence "speckled," having light spots on a dark skin), used of goats (Gen. xxx. 32; xxxi. 8, 10, 12); "'aḳod" (ring-streaked; literally, "tied"), referring to light stripes on a dark skin (Gen. xxx. 35, 39; xxxi. 8, 10, 12), the stripes resembling ropes.
  • (b) From "namer" (leopard) the verb "nimmer" is derived, having the meaning of giving a checkered or striped appearance to something, and is used of the appearance of a field in which the fruits have been gathered in some places and left standing in others (Peah iii. 2), or of a checkered web (B. Ḳ. 119b), or of writing, in which a number of words are stricken out (Giṭ. 54b). "Patuk" (mixed) is applied to the color of plague-spots, and is described as looking like wine mixed with snow, or wine mixed with water, or milk before being mixed (Neg. i. 2).In Aramaic the following terms are used: "nemor" (speckled; compare "nimmer," above); "regol" (ring-streaked; literally, "having some spots on the feet"); "reḳoa'" (literally, "patched"), the same as the Biblical "ṭalu" (compare above); "ḳeruaḥ" (literally, "bald"; having light-colored spots on a dark skin); and "ḥuṭrana" (striped like a staff), used of swine (Shab. 110b).
Pigments: Scarlet.
  • (a) Of pigments known and used in Biblical times, four are mentioned. Three were derived from animals and one from a metal. Scarlet or crimson was obtained from an insect (coccus), which gave its name to a species of oak (Ilex coccifera). By infusing the insect in boiling water a beautiful red dye was produced, superior in effect and durability to cochineal. To designate this color the word "tola'" (worm) is used (Isa. i. 18; Lam. iv. 5). More often, however, the form "tola'at" is found preceded or followed by "shani," a word supposed to mean "to glitter." In this form it is mentioned as a costly possession (Ex. xxxv. 23), and as being, therefore, suitable for an offering (Ex. xxv. 4, xxxv. 6; Lev. xiv.; Num. xix. 6), for the Tabernacle hangings (Ex. xxvi. 36, xxvii. 16, xxxvi. 37, xxxviii. 18), for the ephod (Ex. xxviii. 56, xxxix. 28), etc. A thread of this color was commonly used in early times as a sign to aid recognition (Gen. xxxviii. 28, 30; Josh. ii. 21). In these passages, as well as in II Sam. i. 24 and Cant. iv. 3, "shani" alone is used. The plural "shanim" (scarlet stuffs) occurs in Prov. xxxi. 21 and Isa. i. 18. In later times the Persian loan-word "karmil" came into use (II Chron. ii. 6, 13; iii. 14). The verbal form "metulla'im" (clothed in scarlet) occurs in Nahum ii. 4. A similar shade of color was derived from "shashar" (minium, red oxid of lead), used for painting ceilings (Jer. xxii. 14) and images (Ezek. xxiii. 14).
  • (b) The Targumim and Mishnah use for scarlet the expression "zehorit," on the etymology of which compare Jensen, in Brockelmann, "Lexicon Syriacum," 93b. The Aramaic has also the adjective "tol'ana," or "tolana" ('Ab. Zarah 28b). In later times crimson was also obtained from "puah" (madder; see Rieger, "Versuch einer Technologie und Terminologie der Handwerke in der Mischnah," i. 23, note 38). From seaweeds were obtained a cosmetic rouge, "piḳas" (fucus; Rieger, ib.), and the mineral pigment "siḳra" (according to Löw, "Graphische Requisiten," etc., i. 165, vermilion; according to Rieger, l.c. p. 24, note 43, minium). A kind of scarlet was "sasgona," or "sasgewana," etymology unknown (Targ. to Cant. vii. 2).
Purples.
  • (a) The purple dyes were obtained from the "ḥallazon," a species of shell-fish called Murex brandaris and Murex trunculis, on which see Rieger (l.c. p. 21). It yielded purple-red (Hebrew "argaman" = Aramaic "argewan") and purple-blue or violet (Hebrew "tekelet" = Aramaic "tikla"). Both colors figure largely in the decoration of the Tabernacle and the priestly robes. In Jer. x. 9 both are mentioned as contributing to the splendor of heathen worship. In Judges viii. 26 the Midianitish chiefs are said to have worn robes of purple-red. Ezekiel (xxiii. 6) relates how the robes of purple-blue worn by the Assyrians impressed the women of Israel; and he knows also of purple-red and purple-blue from Elishah (ib. xxvii. 7). In Ecclus. (Sirach) xlv. 10 both dyes are mentioned as occupying a prominent place in the raiment of Moses; and ribbons of purple-blue are said to form part of the adornment of wisdom (ib. vi. 30). On the defeat of Gorgias, dyed stuffs of both colors were among the spoil taken by Judas Maccabeus (I Macc. iv. 23). Purple robes of office were common. Judas was struck by the fact that the Romans, notwithstanding their power and riches, were not clothed in purple (ib. viii. 14). When, however, Alexander appointed Jonathan high priest he sent him a purple-red robe (ib. x. 20); so likewise did Antiochus when he confirmed him in the office (ib. xi. 58). On the other hand, when the treachery of Andronicus was discovered he was at once deprived of the purple robe (II Macc. iv. 38).
  • (b) In Talmudic times purple-red was obtained also from "lakka" (lac-dye; compare Rieger, l.c.i. 22). The Greek loan-word "porpira" (πορφύρα, "purple stuff") is very common in traditional literature (compare Krauss, l.c. ii., s.v.).Other pigments known in Mishnaic times were "isaṭis" = ἰσάτις ("woad," Isatis tinctoria), "koẓah" (madder or safflower); "ḳelife eguzim" (the fresh shells of the walnut); "ḳelife rimmonim" (pomegranate peel); "rikpah," a kind of onion-plant; and "ḥeret" (vitriol). With the latter a black color was obtained (Rieger, l.c. i. 23, 24).
Symbolism of Colors:
  • (a) It has been generally assumed that at times colors are used in the Bible symbolically, either in the ritual, as in the construction of the Tabernacle and in the priestly raiments; or apocalyptically, as in the visions of Zechariah and of Daniel; or, as a literary device, in poetical diction. Philo ("De Vita Mosis," iii. 6) and Josephus ("Ant." iii. 7, § 7) attempted to explain the ritual symbolism of colors, but without convincing force (see, also, Baehr, "Symbolik des Mosaischen Kultus," Heidelberg, 1874). The apocalyptic symbolism is admitted more generally; yet it fails when tested in detail. Literary symbolism, however, based on a psychological connection between the various color-sensations and moods of feeling, is found among most nations. Yet the relations be tween a given color and the symbolized objects or moods are not fixed; and they leave room for difference of explanation.Black or dark color points to mourning or affliction (II Sam. xix. 24; Zech. vi. 6, 8); such was probably also the color of sackcloth used in mourning. On the other hand, white suggests purity (Isa. i. 18; Ps. li. 9) and joy (Mishnah Mid. v. 4). Scarlet or red is symbolical of bloodshed, of sin in general (Isa. i. 15, 18; lxiii. 1), and, in the opinion of some commentators, of vigorous life (Lev. xiv.; Num. xix.). Purple-red denotes royalty and royal splendor (Judges viii. 26; Esth. viii. 15; Dan. v. 7). Purple-blue, used for fringes in the garment of every Israelite (Num. xv. 38), is thought, on the one hand, to symbolize the high dignity of every member of the people of the covenant (compare Ex. xix. 6); and, on the other, to suggest the God of heaven (Gen. xxiv. 7; Ps. xi. 4), because of the same color as the sky.
  • (b) Color-symbolism plays a great part in the Cabala, where to each Sefirah are attributed one or more colors; and one who wishes to energize the influence of a certain Sefirah has to contemplate, or clothe himself in, the particular color attributed to that Sefirah. White signifies peace, mercy, and pity; black, latency of qualities; red, bloodshed, cruelty, and justice; azure, attributed to the Sefirah of wisdom, is said to denote the first step from black (latency) to the development of color—that is, active energy in general; saffron-color or yolk-yellow is considered a combination of red and white; green is said to be a combination of red, white, and azure; purple-red, a compound of all colors; golden yellow symbolizes cheering, justice, etc.
Bibliography:
  • A. M. Canney, Colors, in Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl. and the literature there quoted;
  • Schwab, Répertoire, ii., s.v. Couleurs;
  • Cordovero, Pardes Rimmonim, x.;
  • Grant Allen, The Colour Sense.
  • On the theory of color in the Middle Ages, compare D. Kaufmann, Die Sinne, pp. 115-117.
E. G. H. C. L.
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