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Holman Bible Dictionary


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A special headdress worn by royalty and other persons of high merit and honor.

The crown probably evolved from the cloth headband or turban worn by a tribal leader; the headband eventually became a metal diadem, with or without ornamentation. Some years ago archaeologists discovered in a Jericho tomb a copper headband or crown dating from about 2000 B.C.

Both the king and the high priest of Israel wore crowns, but we have been told more about the latter than the former (Exodus 28:36-37 ; Exodus 29:6 , Leviticus 8:9 ). David's golden crown was a prize of battle (2 Samuel 12:30 ). As a symbol of his authority, the crown was worn when the king was on his throne and when leading his forces in combat (2 Samuel 1:10 ). The word “crown” was also used figuratively referring to the old man's gray head (Proverbs 16:31 ), a man's virtuous wife (Proverbs 12:4 ), and God's blessings on mankind (Psalm 8:5 ). Occasionally the word referred to a festive wreath of leaves or flowers (Song of Song of Solomon 3:11 ).

While most references to “crown” in the Old Testament point to the actual headdress, in the New Testament it usually has a figurative significance. Paul envisioned “a crown of righteousness” for himself and others (2 Timothy 4:8 ), and James anticipated “the crown of life” (James 1:12 ). While the winning runner of that day received a garland of myrtle leaves, Paul looked forward to a crown that would not decay (1 Corinthians 9:25 ). Not even the victorious athlete would receive his reward unless he obeyed the rules (2 Timothy 2:5 ). Conversely, the word evokes revulsion when we read of Roman soldiers weaving briers into a crown of Jesus' head (Matthew 27:29 ).

In the Book of Revelation crowns are both realistic and figurative. The twenty-four elders seated around God's throne were wearing “crowns of gold” (Matthew 4:4 ), and as they worshiped, they “cast their crowns before the throne” (Matthew 4:10 ). Later, a seven-headed dragon appeared wearing a crown on each head (Matthew 12:3 ), but opposing all the evil forces was the “Son of man” wearing “a golden crown” (Matthew 14:14 ). In each case the crown symbolized power, either good or evil.

William J. Fallis

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Crown'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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