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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

di, di'-ing (me'oddam, hamuc, tebhul, cebha`):

Four different Hebrew words have been translated "dyed": the King James Version

(a) me'-oddam, found in Exodus 25:5; Exodus 26:14; Exodus 35:7; Exodus 36:19; Exodus 39:34;

(b) hamuts (the Revised Version, margin "crimsoned") (Isaiah 63:1);

(c) tebhul (Ezekiel 23:15). Tebhul is probably more correctly rendered "flowing turban" as in the Revised Version (British and American) of the above verses (Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Lexicon);

(d) gebha`, "dyed" is so translated in the American Standard Revised Version of Judges 5:30 (BDB); compare Arabic sabagh.

The above references and other color words mentioned elsewhere (see COLOR) indicate that the Israelites were acquainted with dyed stuffs, even if they themselves did not do the dyeing. An analysis of the various Biblical references shows but four colors which were produced on cloth by dyeing, namely, purple, blue (violet), crimson and scarlet. Of these, purple is the one best known because of the many historical references to it. It was the symbol of royalty and luxury. Because of its high price, due to the expensive method of obtaining it, only royalty and the rich could afford purple attire. One writer tells us that the dyestuff was worth its weight in silver. Probably it was because of its scarcity, and because it was one of the very limited number of dyes known, rather than for any remarkable beauty of color, that the purple was so much sought after. If Pliny's estimate is to be accredited, then "in the dye the smell of it was offensive and the color itself was harsh, of a greenish hue and strongly resembling that of the sea when in a tempestuous state."

1. Purple and Blue:

The purple and blue dyes were extracted from shellfish. The exact process used by the ancients is still a question in spite of the attempts of early writers to describe it. Tyre and Sidon were noted as the suppliers of these colors, hence, the name "Tyrian purple." The inhabitants of these cities were at first simply dealers in the purple (Ezekiel 27:7, 24), but they afterward became the manufacturers, as the heaps of the emptied shells of the Murex trunculus, which still exist in the vicinity of these cities, testify. The pigment was secreted by a gland in the lining of the stomach. The shell was punctured and the fish removed in order to secure the dye. The juice, at first whitish, changed on exposure to yellowish or greenish and finally to red, amethyst or purple, according to the treatment. A modified color was obtained by first dipping the textile in a cochineal bath and then in the purple, Tyrian purple was considered most valuable when it was "exactly the color of clotted blood and of a blackish hue" (Pliny). See also LYDIA; thYATIRA.

Besides the shellfish above mentioned, several other species are noted by different writers, namely, Murex branderis, Murex erinaceus, Murex buccinum (purpura haemastoma). This latter species is still used by the dwellers on the shores where it is found. Various species of the murex are found today at Haifa (Syria), about the Greek isles and on the North coast of Africa. The purple color has been produced from them by modern chemists, but it is of historical interest only, in the light of the discovery of modern artificial dyes with which it could not compete commercially.

Two words have been used in the Hebrew Bible to describe the colors from shellfish:

(a) 'argaman (Greek porphura). This has been translated "purple";

(b) tekheleth which was probably a shade of violet, but has been translated "blue" in both the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American).

2. Crimson and Scarlet:

As indicated elsewhere (See COLORS), three Hebrew words have been rendered crimson or scarlet:

(a) karmil (compare Arabic kirmiz and English "carmine"),

(b) tola', and

(c) shani. We know nothing further about the method of producing these colors than that they were both obtained from the kermes insect which feeds on a species of live oak growing in Southern Europe and Turkey in Asia. The modern dyer can obtain several shades from the cochineal insect by varying the mordants or assistants used with the dye. Pliny mentions the same fact as being known by the ancient Egyptians. Some of the Syrian dyers still use the kermes, commonly called dud ("worms"), although most of them hove resorted to the artificial European dyes which they indiscriminately call dud frangy ("foreign worms").

The "rams' skins dyed red" mentioned in Exodus are still made in Syria. After the ram's skin has been tanned in sumac, it is laid out on a table and a solution of the dye, made by boiling dud in water, is rubbed on. After the dye is dry, the skin is rubbed with oil and finally polished. No native product is more characteristic of the country than the slippers, Bedouin shoes, and other leather articles made from "rams' skins dyed red" (see TANNER).

3. Other Dyes Probably Known:

Other dyes probably known were:

(1) Madder.

In Judges 10:1, we read that "after Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola the son of Puah." These were probably names of clans. In the Hebrew they are also color words. Tola` is the scarlet dye and pu'ah, if, as is probable, it is the same as the Arabic fuwah, means "madder." This would add another dyestuff. Until the discovery of alizarin, which is artificial madder, the growing of fuwah was one of the industries of Cyprus and Syria. It was exported to Europe and was also used locally for producing "Turkey red" on cotton and for dyeing dull reds on wool for rug making (see thYATIRA). It was the custom near Damascus for a father to plant new madder field for each son that was born. The field began to yield in time to support the boy and later become his inheritance. Madder is mentioned in the Talmud and by early Latin writers. A Saracenic helmet and a shield of similar origin, in the possession of the writer, are lined with madder-dyed cotton.

(2) Indigo. Another dye has been discovered among the Egyptian mummy cloths, namely, indigo. Indigo blue was used in weaving to form the borders of the cloths. This pigment was probably imported from India.

(3) Yellows and Browns. Yellows and browns of doubtful origin have also been found in the Egyptian tombs. The Jews acquired from the Phoenicians the secret of dyeing, and later held the monopoly in this trade in some districts. A Jewish guild of purple dyers is mentioned on a tombstone in Hieropolis. In the 12th century A.D. Jews were still dyers and glass workers at Tyre. Akhissar, a Jewish stronghold in Asia Minor, was famous as a dyeing city. See also ATTIRE; DYED ATTIRE.


See "Crafts" especially in Wilkinson, Perrot and Chipiez, Jew Encyclopedia, and HDB.

James A. Patch

4209. porphura -- purple fish, purple dye, purple cloth
... purple fish, purple dye, purple cloth. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration:
porphura Phonetic Spelling: (por-foo'-rah) Short Definition: a purple ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/4209.htm - 7k

911. bapto -- to dip
... bapto. 912 . to dip. Part of Speech: Verb Transliteration: bapto Phonetic Spelling:
(bap'-to) Short Definition: I dip, dye Definition: (a) I dip, (b) I dye. ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/911.htm - 6k

3392. miaino -- to stain, defile
... 3392 -- properly, to (with paint or dye); (figuratively) to (defile) the soul, ie
like when sin taints by its polluting effects ("moral, spiritual stains"). ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/3392.htm - 7k

4210. porphurous -- purple
... Cognate: 4210 -- a purple (reddish-purple) cloth or dye. See 4209 (). (Jn
19:5) It was customary in ancient times for a to dress in . ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/4210.htm - 6k

Strong's Hebrew
6648. tseba -- dye, dyed stuff
... 6647, 6648. tseba. 6649 . dye, dyed stuff. Transliteration: tseba Phonetic
Spelling: (tseh'-bah) Short Definition: work. Word Origin ...
/hebrew/6648.htm - 5k

6320. puk -- antimony, stibium
... fair colors, glistering, painted. From an unused root meaning to paint; dye
(specifically, stibium for the eyes) -- fair colours, glistering, paint(-ed) (-ing). ...
/hebrew/6320.htm - 6k

8529. tala -- to clothe in scarlet
... scarlet. A denominative from towla'; to crimson, ie Dye that color -- X scarlet.
see HEBREW towla'. 8528, 8529. tala. 8530 . Strong's Numbers.
/hebrew/8529.htm - 6k


Wherfore Ionas was sore discontent and angre
... punishment. Now therfore take my life from me/ for I had leuer dye then
liue. And the lorde said vn to Ionas/ art thou so angrie? ...
/.../the prophete ionas with an introduccion/wherfore ionas was sore discontent.htm

But Now, Thou Mayst Ask Me and Say, "Thou Speakest So Much of Love ...
... We shall force ourselves to clothe us in love, as iron or coal does in the fire,
as the air does in the sun, as the wool does in the dye. ...
/.../the form of perfect living and other prose treatises/chapter x but now thou.htm

In which is Shewed what Infused and Passive Contemplation, Is, and ...
... and desires wholly to be denied its Appetites; when once it efficaciously embraces
internal and external Mortification, and is willing to dye heartily to its ...
/.../the spiritual guide which disentangles the soul/chap xiii in which is.htm

Pursues the Same Matter.
... no general rule can be made of it, nor any rate set to his Divine greatness: nay,
by means of this very Contemplation be comes to deny it to annihilate and dye ...
/.../the spiritual guide which disentangles the soul/chap xiv pursues the same 2.htm

Blessed be He who was Baptized that He Might Baptize You, that Ye ...
... A great marvel is this of the wool,"that it can take every dye,"as the mind takes
every discourse."By the name of its dye it is called;"as ye who were ...
/.../ephraim/hymns and homilies of ephraim the syrian/hymn vi blessed be he.htm

In which is Shewed and Discovered what is the False Humility, and ...
... have gotten a perfect habit of it; these never think of it, but judge humbly of
themselves; they do things with courage and patience; they live and dye in God ...
/.../the spiritual guide which disentangles the soul/chap x in which is.htm

Whether the Adornment of Women is Devoid of Mortal Sin?
... they deface God's work and fabric, the clay that He has fashioned, with the aid
of yellow pigments, black powders or rouge, or by applying any dye that alters ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/whether the adornment of women.htm

section iv.
... and therefore am not angry at the errour of our first Parents, or unwilling to bear
a part of this common fate, and like the best of them to dye, that is, to ...
//christianbookshelf.org/browne/religio medici/section iv.htm

section ii.
... ears like a Fable. For the World, I count it not an Inn, but an Hospital;
and a place not to live, but to dye in. The world that ...
//christianbookshelf.org/browne/religio medici/section ii 2.htm

Letter D
... Located 1834 * Duvaul, William "Received 1835, Located 1839 * Duzan, William "Received
1795, Located 1798 * Dwight, Mosely "Received 1831 * Dye, George W ...
/.../christianbookshelf.org/bangs/an alphabetical list of m e preachers/letter d.htm

Easton's Bible Dictionary
The art of dyeing is one of great antiquity, although no special mention is made of it in the Old Testament. The Hebrews probably learned it from the Egyptians (see Exodus 26:1; 28:5-8), who brought it to great perfection. In New Testament times Thyatira was famed for its dyers (Acts 16:14). (see COLOUR.)
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (v. t.) To stain; to color; to give a new and permanent color to, as by the application of dyestuffs.

2. (n.) Color produced by dyeing.

3. (n.) Material used for dyeing; a dyestuff.

4. (n.) Same as Die, a lot.

Dye (1 Occurrence)
... 4. (n.) Same as Die, a lot. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. DYE; DYEING. ... The shell
was punctured and the fish removed in order to secure the dye. ...
/d/dye.htm - 15k

... Noah Webster's Dictionary 1. (p. pr. & vb. n.) of Dye. 2. (n.) The process ... cotton,
etc. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. DYE; DYEING. di, di ...
/d/dyeing.htm - 14k

Colors (12 Occurrences)
... all, but the form, as suggested in the American Revised Version, margin, "a long
garment with sleeves." In Judges 5:30 the word for "dip" or "dye" appears in ...
/c/colors.htm - 36k

Colour (22 Occurrences)
... Minor. The colouring matter in each separate shell-fish amounted to only
a single drop, and hence the great value of this dye. Robes ...
/c/colour.htm - 21k

Color (18 Occurrences)
... 9. (vt) To change or alter the hue or tint of, by dyeing, staining, painting,
etc.; to dye; to tinge; to paint; to stain. 10. ... (see DYE). ...
/c/color.htm - 39k

Purple (54 Occurrences)
... (a.) Blood-red; bloody. 12. (vt) To make purple; to dye of purple or deep red color;
as, hands purpled with blood. Int. ... See COLORS; DYE, DYEING. Alfred Ely Day. ...
/p/purple.htm - 28k

Scarlet (54 Occurrences)
... This dye was obtained by the Egyptians from the shell-fish Carthamus tinctorius;
and by the Hebrews from the Coccus ilicis, an insect which infests oak trees ...
/s/scarlet.htm - 26k

Worm (22 Occurrences)
... (tola`ath shani (Exodus 25:4, etc.)): Cermes vermilio, a scale insect from which
a red dye is obtained. ... The dye is made from the dried bodies of the females. ...
/w/worm.htm - 21k

Dyed (10 Occurrences)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary (imp. & pp) of Dye. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
ATTIRE; DYED ATTIRE. a-tir': "Can a virgin forget ...
/d/dyed.htm - 10k

Saffron (1 Occurrence)
... in Palestine; there are 8 wild varieties in all of which, as in the cultivated species,
the orange-colored styles and stigmas yield the yellow dye, saffron. ...
/s/saffron.htm - 8k

Bible Concordance
Dye (1 Occurrence)

Revelation 18:12 lading of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and pearl, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet dye, and all thyine wood, and every article in ivory, and every article in most precious wood, and in brass, and in iron, and in marble,



Related Terms


Colors (12 Occurrences)

Colour (22 Occurrences)

Color (18 Occurrences)

Purple (54 Occurrences)

Scarlet (54 Occurrences)

Worm (22 Occurrences)

Dyed (10 Occurrences)

Saffron (1 Occurrence)



Stain (6 Occurrences)


Tyre (59 Occurrences)

Yellow (6 Occurrences)

Vermilion (2 Occurrences)

Lading (7 Occurrences)

Grain (413 Occurrences)

Glistering (3 Occurrences)

Thyatira (4 Occurrences)

Dwindles (1 Occurrence)

Defilement (12 Occurrences)

Defile (63 Occurrences)

Blue (51 Occurrences)

Black (52 Occurrences)

Crimson (10 Occurrences)

Camphire (2 Occurrences)

Article (17 Occurrences)

Sidon (35 Occurrences)

Crafts (2 Occurrences)

Oak (22 Occurrences)


Phoenicia (6 Occurrences)


Skins (27 Occurrences)

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