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  • Writer's pictureTrey Harper


I have always liked the color black. A glossy black just seems to set an edge that, to me, feels so intentional; polished; maintained. Scripture does not condemn the color black, but it is curious to look at things associated with the darkened dye.

There are two animals that are pointed at as being black by design (not animals that normally have varying coloration). Both are considered unclean animals. One is the vulture and the other, the raven. In the Song of Solomon, the color of the raven is used to illustrate the color of hair, allowing the reader to clearly imagine the wavy locks. The vulture is listed among birds that are considered unclean, thus, not to be eaten. Both these birds share a diet; they are scavengers. Both are willing to consume the dead. And so, black is associated with the unclean.

Blackness is also used to describe tumultuous skies. Just think; puffy white clouds- what kind of day is it? About five times in scripture black clouds are spoken of with regards to bad weather. I happen to like bad weather, but standard iconography dictates that while rain brings crops, the sunshiny day is good. And, while lightning can strike on a pretty day, black skies more commonly associated with torrential downpours, hail, wind, etc… Lastly, there is a connotation of obscurity with black clouds or smoke. Jesus says that He is “the truth”, and the lack of clarity caused by cloudiness stands in stark contrast.

In Genesis 30, Jacob is completing his obligation to Laban and will soon leave his father’s dwelling after completing fourteen years of service in exchange for marrying his daughters. Jacob is going to receive all the black (and spotted) sheep of Laban’s flocks. This increases the motif of white sheep being desirable. Truly, when God requires sacrifices from the Israelites, He will demand that they offer lambs “without blemish” (Exodus 12.5). The blood of the purely white lamb will act as a barrier to hide the blemish of sin for God’s people. Jesus Himself is considered our perfect sacrifice because He is without “blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1.19). But Jesus does not hide our sins, His blood washes them clean; thus, presenting us blemish-free. Like Jacob, Jesus is collecting the imperfect to be His flock.


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