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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

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Light is represented in the Scriptures as the immediate result and offspring of a divine command (). The earth was void and dark, when God said, 'Let light be, and light was.' This is represented as having preceded the placing of lights in the firmament of heaven, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also' (, sq.). Whatever opinion may be entertained as to the facility with which these two separate acts may be reconciled, it cannot be questioned that the origin of light, as of every other part of the universe, is thus referred to the exertion of the divine will: as little can it be denied that the narrative in the original is so simple, yet at the same time so majestic and impressive, both in thought and diction, as to fill the heart with a lofty and pleasurable sentiment of awe and wonder.

The divine origin of light made the subject one of special interest to the Biblical nations—the rather because light in the East has a clearness, a brilliancy, is accompanied by an intensity of heat, and is followed in its influence by a largeness of good, of which the inhabitants of less genial climes can have no conception. Light easily and naturally became, in consequence, with Orientals, a representative of the highest human good. All the more joyous emotions of the mind, all the pleasing sensations of the frame, all the happy hours of domestic intercourse, were described under imagery derived from light (;;; ). The transition was natural from earthly to heavenly, from corporeal to spiritual things; and so light came to typify true religion and the felicity which it imparts. But as light not only came from God, but also makes man's way clear before him, so it was employed to signify moral truth, and pre-eminently that divine system of truth which is set forth in the Bible, from its earliest gleaming onward to the perfect day of the Great Sun of Righteousness. The application of the term to religious topics had the greater propriety because the light in the world, being accompanied by heat, purifies, quickens, enriches; which efforts it is the peculiar province of true religion to produce in the human soul (;;;;;; ).

It is doubtless owing to the special providence under which the divine lessons of the Bible were delivered, that the views which the Hebrews took on this subject, while they were high and worthy, did not pass into superstition, and so cease to be truly religious. Other Eastern nations beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and their hearts were secretly enticed, and their mouth kissed their hand in token of adoration (). This 'iniquity' the Hebrews not only avoided, but when they considered the heavens they recognized the work of God's fingers, and learned a lesson of humility as well as of reverence (, sq.).

Among the personifications on this point which Scripture presents we may specify,

God. The Apostle James () declares that 'every good and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning;' obviously referring to the faithfulness of God, and the constancy of his goodness, which shine on undimmed and unshadowed. So Paul (); 'God who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.' Here the idea intended by the imagery is the incomprehensibleness of the self-existent and eternal God.

Light is also applied to Christ: 'The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light' (;; , sq.). 'He was the true light;' 'I am the light of the world' (; ).

It is further used of angels, as in : 'Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.'

Light is moreover employed of men: John the Baptist 'was a burning and a shining light' (); 'Ye are the light of the world' (; see also; ).





Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Light'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​kbe/​l/light.html.
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