One of the coolest things about being in the Christian ministry is going on missions and traveling around the world. Last month, we organized a trip to Asia to spread the gospel. Our journey was not complete without us visiting some national parks.
This trip made me appreciate God’s creation even more since I got to see some unique animals, including the elephant. I remember one of my colleagues asking me, “What do elephants symbolize in the Bible?”
Though the Bible does not directly mention elephants or state what they symbolize, most scholars speculate that they symbolize royalty and abundance. This is because, during biblical times, only kings possessed Elephants’ ivory tusks, as implied in 2nd Chronicles 9:21. Bible scholars also suggest that elephants in the Bible symbolize power since some kings’ palaces were made of elephants’ ivory (Psalms 45:8).
In this article, I invite you to join me as we delve into the meaning and symbolism of elephants. Keep reading to discover what elephants symbolize in the Bible and much more!
What is the biblical meaning of an elephant?
The Bible does not clearly state what an elephant means. However, most scholars imply that the biblical meaning of an elephant is power. Psalm 45:8 suggests that the king’s palaces were made of ivory from an elephant.
This verse, therefore, implies that an elephant is a sign of power since not everyone during biblical times could afford this commodity.
Other people also speculate an elephant represents royalty and abundance since their products, like ivory, were mostly associated with Kings in the Bible.
For instance, in 2nd Chronicles 9:21, elephant ivory is associated with King Solomon: “The king had a fleet of trading ships manned by Hiram’s servants. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons.”
Where do elephants appear in the Bible?
Though elephants are not directly mentioned in the Bible, their ivory tusks appear in Revelation 18:12. This bible verse describes the fall of political and economic superpowers in the end times.
This list of items, including elephant’s ivory, are the most prized commodities that only the rich people in Babylon could afford. The verse, therefore, suggests that an elephant’s ivory is valuable.
Elephant’s ivory tusk also appears in 1st Kings 10:22. The verse reads, “For the king had merchant ships at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the merchant ships came bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys.”
This verse suggests that kings also used elephant ivory. It implies that King Solomon’s throne was made of ivory tusk.
2 Chronicles 9:21 also mentions the elephant’s ivory. It suggests that ivory was part of King Solomon’s wealth. This verse implies that King Solomon imported ivory into his kingdom regularly.
6 biblical symbolic meanings of elephants
Though the Bible does not clearly state the symbolic meanings of elephants, Christians imply that this animal symbolizes the following.
Though an elephant is quite powerful, it embodies moderation when undisturbed. An elephant always exercises self-control and does not take advantage of situations.
That is why people believe that one of the biblical symbolic meanings of this animal is temperance.
The Bible suggests that as Christians, we should practice the virtue of self-control in different verses.
2nd Peter 1:5-8 notes, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is also one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that we can learn from the character of an elephant. As Christians, we need self-control to withstand attacks from internal forces and the outside world.
Power and strength
Many biblical scholars also imply that elephants symbolize power and strength since they are strong and protect other elephants from predators such as lions and bears. They speculate that this animal can encourage you to protect your loved one.
Maintaining a Christian lifestyle also requires strength of mind, and the Bible encourages us to be strong and courageous in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Though elephants are strong, they are also believed to be patient and calm. Unlike other animals like snakes, elephants are believed to be slow to anger. As Christians, we can borrow this character from elephants.
The Bible suggests that just like an elephant, the Lord is slow to anger (Psalm 103:8), and he expects us as Christians to exercise patience. This is implied in Psalm 40:1 which says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”
Bible scholars also suggest that elephants symbolize wisdom. Elephants are implied to have large brains and vast memory. Even when they age, they can remember things like threatening situations and their food sources.
People suggest that elephants still retain their ability to smell numerous objects over time.
As Christians, we can learn this attribute from elephants. The Bible also reminds us to acquire wisdom and understanding in Proverbs 4:5, “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.”
If, for instance, you face a difficult situation, you should approach it rationally. Being wise also means learning from our mistakes and moving on.
Vastness of God
Christians also imply that elephants symbolize the vastness of God. They believe that just like elephants, God is vast. His vastness is not only depicted in his power or size but also his love for us.
This is emphasized in Psalm 36:5, which describes the attributes of God, such as his unfailing love and faithfulness, and suggests that they are vast. Christians, therefore, argue that an elephant could be a reminder of the amazing nature of God.
Christians suggest that elephants are easy to forgive no matter how much damage you cause them. Just like an elephant shows grace, so does God.
Ephesians 2:8 speculates that it is through the grace of God that we are saved: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Therefore, as Christians, we can learn from the example of an elephant or God himself to show grace to others, especially when we feel wronged, and forgive easily.
What is the spiritual meaning of elephants?
In the spiritual world, elephants are considered to be sacred animals. Spiritual people suggest that these animals have the following meanings.
Connection and Stability
Elephants are also known to form tight connections with members of their families. Therefore, spiritual people suggest that they represent a connection with a family.
They argue that an elephant could remind one to stay connected with their loved ones.
Some also imply that elephants could also mean stability due to their connection with the land. This attribute of elephants reminds us to remain stable in life even when we face pressure.
Some spiritual leaders also associate elephants with good luck. For instance, Asians suggest that elephants bring good luck to a community. That is why they use these animals to win battles.
Feng Shui experts speculate that elephants signify abundance and good fortune. On the other hand, Hindus associate this animal with Lord Ganesha, who is speculated to be the God of prosperity and good luck.
Growth and transformation
Some spiritual people suggest that elephants could represent powerful changes or new beginnings. They speculate that it is not unusual for a human to go through powerful change and start seeing elephants in different places.
Sex drive and fertility
Experts speculate that elephants do not have strong eyesight and mostly depend on their strong sense of smell. They further argue that this is crucial since smell is linked to sexual desire.
This is what makes some spiritual people believe that an elephant is a sex symbol that represents fertility and sex drive.
Spiritual connection with the earth
People suggest that an elephant is strongly connected to the earth. Due to this, it could mean that you need to feel more grounded. Being grounded could make you feel more at peace with the world and prevent you from worrying about changes around you.
What do elephants mean in different cultures?
According to Celtic writings, elephants were used in battle throughout history since this animal is considered a symbol of war. The Europeans believe that elephants represent triumph and power.
Elephants were also considered the jewels of colonial animal collections in Europe. Additionally, Europeans imply that the elephant symbolizes lethargy and dullness.
An elephant is also significant to Asians since they imply that it represents endurance, removal from obstacles, health, memory, power, knowledge, and prosperity. That is why most temples in India are dedicated to the Elephant Lord.
The Asians suggest that the Elephant Lord is Shiva’s offspring. In Asia, many people give out Elephant statues as housewarming presents and also display them in their cars.
The Japanese speculate that an elephant is also a symbol of prudence and strength. They suggest that elephant sculptures protect wooden houses from getting burned and help deliver rain since they also associate this animal with water.
Native American meaning
Since elephants were not present in North America, the tribes used to hunt mammoths similar to elephants. Native Americans are known for creating traditional medicine from mammoths since they believed they had healing powers.
Research suggests that mammoths became extinct fast because Native Americans used their tusks and bones to treat reproductive and sexual issues.
According to them, a mammoth represented sexual energy, and it was also a symbol of strength, good luck, and wisdom. They also used the tusks of mammoths to make jewelry.
In Hebrew, Elephant is implied to be of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. The Hebrews recognize at least two species of elephants, Loxodonta Africana, the African elephant, and Elephas Maximus, the Asian elephant.
The Hebrews suggest that if you see an elephant in your dream, wonders will likely manifest in your life. They also believe that if you dream of an elephant wearing a saddle, it is a positive thing since saddles are believed to represent abundance.
Most African societies believe that an elephant represents wealth and status. In most African cultures, this animal is held in high self-esteem since people speculate that it symbolizes royalty. Some African societies also suggest that an elephant represents strength.
People in African countries also respect and admire elephants since they imply that they are reincarnated leaders of their ancestors. For instance, western Africans relate this animal to some rules in the 19th century, like Giele and Guezo.
They also believe that an elephant symbolizes triumph, war, ancient wisdom, and sovereignty.
What do elephants mean in a dream?
People speculate that the dreams of elephants carry certain spiritual meanings. Though the interpretations of dreams regarding elephants sometimes vary among cultures, here are common meanings of elephants in a dream.
You are loyal
According to some people, if you see an elephant in a dream, it implies that you are a loyal person who remains true to your word. You probably have a lot of respect for your family, just like an elephant is loyal to theirs.
People believe that the dream means that your loyal personality is what makes you get honest friends.
You are an introvert
Others interpret this dream to mean that one is an introvert. They speculate that dreaming with the animal means that you rarely share different aspects of your life with others.
This personality could easily make you feel isolated. Therefore, if you have such a dream, they suggest that you should try to be more social.
It’s a sign of new responsibilities
According to some dream interpreters, dreaming about an elephant suggests that you have matured either emotionally or physically. If you are a teenager and have this dream, people imply that it means you have entered adulthood.
People speculate that it means you are ready to take up new responsibilities and challenge yourself.
Desire to be in control
Some individuals also speculate that if you dream of an elephant being held in a zoo, it represents your desire to be in control. They argue that this dream means that you have been letting others take control of your life, causing you frustration.
The dream could therefore mean that you are ready to break free from this and take control of your life.
Elephants as spirit animals
Since elephants are believed to be sacred, certain people suggest that having this spirit animal could mean being blessed with spirit guides. They argue that it could signify family orientation, connection, and kinship.
Since the traits of an elephant are wisdom, loyalty, strength, and patience, people imply that if an elephant spirit animal shows up, it could mean that you have these traits in you.
They also believe that it means you value commitment, nurture compassion, and are sensitive. People also believe you should call upon an elephant spirit animal if you want to unearth some hidden memories or are looking to heal from trauma.
They argue that this animal is capable of displaying different emotions. The elephant spirit animal is therefore believed to be asking you to connect with your emotions and follow your instincts.
An elephant spirit animal is also believed to encourage you to find your path. Some people also associate elephants with laziness.
They believe that when you feel lazy and call the elephant spirit animal, it could give you the strength to work more towards achieving your goals.
Is encountering an elephant a good or bad omen?
Some cultures suggest that encountering an elephant is a bad omen, while others speculate that it could be a good omen.
For instance, many people believe that if you encounter a wailing elephant or one that is unsteady, it could symbolize a bad omen. It could mean death or bad luck is coming.
According to Native Indians, encountering a dead elephant symbolizes that the chief is about to die. Others also believed that encountering an elephant passing blood in urine or feces meant a king could die.
Encountering an elephant with a cracked or broken tusk is believed to mean a bad omen. Some people also imply that if you encounter an elephant and it begins running for no reason, it could mean a bad omen.
On the other hand, some cultures associate an elephant with good luck and therefore speculate that it is a good omen.
However, Deuteronomy 18:10-12 suggests that as Christians, we should not put our faith in omens.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.