Do colors have a specific symbolic meaning in the Torah? (For ex. is it brought down anywhere that blue is holy?)

  • In Kabala there might be a little discussion about this. For example red is Dinim (judgments). Aug 14, 2013 at 13:56
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    K.R., welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for the interesting question! I hope you'll look around the site and find other material that catches your eye, perhaps including our 35 other questions about color. Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features.
    – Isaac Moses
    Aug 14, 2013 at 14:45
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    A good place to investigate might be drashes on the kohen gadol's garb. Aug 14, 2013 at 15:13
  • The discussion on this question might interest you: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/15347/3 Please see the book linked in a comment on the question that claims there are no "color terms" in Tana"ch.
    – WAF
    Aug 14, 2013 at 16:37

3 Answers 3


According to the Jewish Encyclopedia:

(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 between 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.


"Speak to the Children of Israel and bid them that they make fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of each corner a thread of blue (tekhelet). And it shall be for you as a fringe, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of G-d, and do them..." (Numbers 15:38-39)

Suppose Blue (tekhelet) is therefore considered holy

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    Why does that mean that the color is holy? Aug 14, 2013 at 13:56
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    Welcome to J.SE! Thanks for your answer and hope to see you around. Aug 14, 2013 at 14:17
  • I think its the white not the blue which is 'holier' or symbolises the holiness. Look at the last rashi in shlach that blue symbolises death or killing of the first borns.
    – user2800
    Aug 14, 2013 at 20:05
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    Well they put a red ribbon and it turned white to prove they were forgiven. So red symbolises sin and white 'cleanliness'.
    – user2800
    Aug 14, 2013 at 20:06
  • Not in dreams.. Jun 1, 2015 at 4:48

Blue is the color of faith and intelligence/wisdom. Red is the color of sin, and white the color of purity

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    Adding sources to this would increase its value to the community dramatically. We don't know you that we should trust your assertions.
    – Double AA
    Jun 1, 2015 at 3:43
  • Not in dreams.. Jun 1, 2015 at 4:48

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