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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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In the Gospels of Matthew () and Luke () we read that, while Jesus hung upon the cross, 'from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.' That this darkness could not have proceeded from an eclipse of the sun is placed beyond all doubt by the fact that, it being then the time of the Passover, the moon was at the full. This darkness may therefore be ascribed to an extraordinary and preternatural obscuration of the solar light, which might precede and accompany the earthquake which took place on the same occasion. For it has been noticed that often before an earthquake such a mist arises from sulfurous vapors as to occasion a darkness almost nocturnal. Such a darkness might extend over Judea, or that division of Palestine in which Jerusalem stood, to which the best authorities agree that here, as in some other places, it is necessary to limit the phrase rendered 'all the land.'

Darkness is often used symbolically in the Scriptures as opposed to light, which is the symbol of joy and safety, to express misery and adversity (; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ). Darkness of the sun, moon, and stars is used figuratively to denote a general darkness or deficiency in the government or body politic (; ; ). In , the expression 'works of darkness' is applied to the heathen mysteries, on account of the impure actions which the initiated performed in them. 'Outer darkness' in , and elsewhere refers to the darkness outside, in the streets or open country, as contrasted with the blaze of cheerful light in the house, especially when a convivial party is held in the night time. And it may be observed that the streets in the East are utterly dark after nightfall, there being no shops with lighted windows, nor even public or private lamps to impart to them the light and cheerfulness to which we are accustomed. This gives the more force to the contrast of the 'outer darkness' with the inner light.

Darkness is used to represent the state of the dead (; ). It is also employed as the proper and significant emblem of ignorance (; ; ; ; ).





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Darkness'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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