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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

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The absence of light is used in both physical and figurative senses in both the Old and New Testaments. The darkness which covered the deep before God's creation of light symbolizes chaos in opposition to God's orderly creation (Genesis 1:2-3 ). Elsewhere darkness, as well as light, is recognized as the creation of God (Isaiah 45:7 ). Darkness is a place for evil doers to hide (Job 34:22 ); however, darkness does not hide one from God (Psalm 139:11-12; Daniel 2:22 ).

Darkness was thought of as a curse. Thus the Old Testament speaks of death as a land of darkness (Job 10:21-22; Job 17:13; Psalm 88:6 ). Darkness is frequently associated with supernatural events involving the judgment of God, such as the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 10:21 ), the coming of the Lord (Isaiah 13:9-10; Joel 2:31; Matthew 24:29 ), and Christ's crucifixion (Matthew 27:45 ). The day of God's judgment is often described as a day of darkness (Joel 2:2; Amos 5:18-20 ). Elsewhere darkness forms part of God's punishment on the disobedient (Deuteronomy 28:29; 1 Samuel 2:9; Job 5:14; Job 15:30; Job 20:26; Psalm 107:10; Isaiah 47:5; Jeremiah 13:16; Ezekiel 32:8 ).

In the New Testament, the place of punishment for humans and sinful angels is designated “the outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30; compare 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6 ,Jude 1:6,1:13 ). Darkness often has an ethical sense. Scripture speaks of ways of darkness (Proverbs 2:13; Proverbs 4:19 ), walking in darkness (John 8:12; 1 John 1:6; compare 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:8 ), and works of darkness (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:11 ). In this ethical sense God has no darkness in Himself (1 John 1:5 ). Powers hostile to God can be termed darkness. People thus face a choice of whether to yield allegiance to God or to darkness (Luke 22:53; John 1:5; John 3:19; Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:5 ). Darkness also symbolizes ignorance, especially of God and of God's ways (Isaiah 8:22; Isaiah 9:2; John 12:46; Acts 26:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; 1 John 2:9 ). God's deliverance (either from ignorance or hostile powers) is described as lighting the darkness (Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 42:7-16; Micah 7:8; 1 Peter 2:9 ). See Light.

Chris Church

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Darkness'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hbd/​d/darkness.html. 1991.
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