“And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it.” (Exodus 26:31, ESV)

This passage describes the curtain which separated the holy place from the holy of holies.  In vs. 36, the same type of curtain framed the entrance to the whole tabernacle (except without cherubim) and in vs. 1 we see the same curtain which surround the entire tabernacle set on a framework of acacia wood.

What I’m wondering is if there is significance to the colors in the veils.  Is there symbolism in the colors?  Through the Bible Day by Day Devotional Commentary says that the threads in the curtains have the following significance:

  • Blue His heavenly origin [or God’s word?].“The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.” (Numbers 15:37–39, ESV)
  • PurpleHis majesty.“And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”” (Mark 15:16–18, ESV)
  • Fine twined linenHis holiness.  ” Linen is also connected to the holiness of God, of God’s dwelling place, and of those associated with Him (Exod 26:1; 28:4–6; Lev 16:4; Ezek 10:1; Dan 12:7; Rev 15:6; 19:8, 14).” [Lexham Bible Dictionary]
  • Scarlet His sufferings [for our sins]. “This colour was early known ( Genesis 38:28 ). It was one of the colours of the ephod ( Exodus 28:6 ), the girdle (8), and the breastplate (15) of the high priest. It is also mentioned in various other connections ( Joshua 2:18 ; 2 Sam 1:24 ; Lamentations 4:5 ; Nahum 2:3 ). A scarlet robe was in mockery placed on our Lord ( Matthew 27:28 ; Luke 23:11 ). “Sins as scarlet” ( Isaiah 1:18 ), i.e., as scarlet robes “glaring and habitual.” Scarlet and crimson were the firmest of dyes, and thus not easily washed out.” [Easton Bible Dictionary]

I’m inclined to agree with this interpretation even though the text itself never says that the colors mean this.  One assumes that the specific colors were not chosen at random as if God had said, “Wouldn’t the tabernacle look really cool if we made it in these colors?”

In the Bible colors may or may not have significance.  It depends upon the context and the broader use of that color in other parts of Scripture.  We shouldn’t strain the text to force it to say something that it doesn’t say, but we also shouldn’t miss symbolism when we come across it.

Whatever the colors mean, we cannot escape the fact that Jesus came and revealed to us God in all of his holiness, majesty, heavenly origin, and suffering on our behalf.

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