In all recorded human civilizations, including some of the oldest ones, gold was the standard of wealth, and only individuals of a certain social status owned or would own gold. In my theology classes and years studying the bible, however, I am learning that despite its great value, gold wasn’t encouraged in the bible. Gold is deemed a symbol of vanity, and believers are encouraged to pay attention to things like faith in God and to do good deeds to please the Lord. Considering how many times gold is mentioned in the bible, I sought to find the actual meaning of gold. So, what does gold symbolize in the bible?
The use of gold in the bible, specifically in the temple and the Tabernacle, is believed to signify the value believers place on God. The psalmist praised God for His beauty, which was equated to the gold statue. However, depending on the context in which gold is used, it also describes earthly riches, depicts grandeur, purity, incorruptibility, gift of worship, and in other cases, a test of humankind’s faith. There are also instances where the bible uses gold to demonstrate value, superiority, and the wisdom of God’s words. It was also deemed a symbol of Jesus’ reign on the earth because gold was one of the gifts of the Magi.
There’s a lot more to unpack about the meaning of gold in the Bible, so in the rest of this post, I’ll provide insights into the symbolism of gold throughout the Bible.
The Significance of Gold in the Bible
Valuable Property belonging to God
It’s suggested in Song of Solomon 5:11 and 5:14-15 that gold was used in the temple and the Tabernacle because the gold signified the great value that the believers placed in God. So, while it was also considered a symbol of grandeur, it was used by believers, including the Psalmist, to praise God’s extraordinary beauty, which was equated to that of the statue of God – Psalms 20:4.
Besides its use in places of worship, gold was also an important material used to make other objects holy. This is implied in Leviticus 8, where it’s suggested that the anointing oil used on Aaron was a blend of olive and balsam oil pressed from crushed gold bowls. Gold was also used to decorate fabrics. So, given the value accorded to gold, it is believed that gold represented the most valuable item that belonged to God, a symbol of God’s greatness and power.
A measure of wealth or a person’s worth
For thousands of years, gold was used as the benchmark for determining what a person was worth. This is suggested in 1 Kings 10, where it’s believed that Solomon was, at the time, the wealthiest man on the planet because he had collected at least 25 tons of gold worth each year. It’s further implied in 1 Kings 10:21 that Solomon was very wealthy in all the households, and all the household items in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were made of pure gold. Gold was all over his throne and also on the platforms.
A reminder of the importance of wisdom
While Solomon was the wealthiest man in the ancient world, as accounted for in the Bible, he didn’t think that gold was the most important thing in the world, as he implied in his writings in the books of Proverbs. In Proverbs 3:13-15, King Solomon wrote about wisdom being the most important thing to the believers who gained understanding (of God’s word) and that the wisdom from God was much more profitable than the yields from the returns of gold or silver. Proverbs 16:16 is an observation that wisdom is better than gold or silver.
The importance carried by wisdom over gold is further reiterated in Job 28:15-19 where Godly wisdom is also believed to be much more valuable than gold.
What is the Meaning of Gold in the Bible?
In the bible, gold was regarded as the most effective way of treasuring wealth. It’s suggested that gold was important for women, and they’d save their coins until they had enough to buy gold bracelets. Afterward, they’d either wear the gold bracelet or keep it away safely for use when in need – Genesis 24:22, 53. It’s also implied that the most important aspect of the gold was its weight which determined its value rather than the beauty of the jewels – Exodus 3:22, 11:2, and 12:35.
Gold for decoration in places of worship
Gold was also regarded as an important item used in creating and decorating different objects used in places of worship, like the Tabernacle and Noah’s Ark, as suggested in Exodus 25. It’s believed that gold was incorporated as an overlay for wood and other metals and for shaping dishes, bottles, candlesticks, hooks, and snuffers, among others. 2 Chronicles 1, 1 Kings 6, and 1 Chronicles 28 all suggest that gold was used extensively in temples and other buildings/ places of worship.
Gold was also considered the most lavish of luxuries that Solomon and other rich kings displayed. Solomon had gold vessels to drink from, golden chariot trimmings, and his ivory throne was overlaid with gold.
Figuratively, gold was believed to be a symbol of the earthly riches held in high regard by individuals at the time. This came about because gold was one of the most valuable metals.
4 biblical symbolic meanings of gold in the bible
Symbol of worship
The Bible suggests that gold was an important symbol of worship thanks to its use during the construction and decoration of the temple and the Tabernacle. The ark was also overlaid with gold and utensils made of gold. 1 Kings 6:20-35 and Exodus 25:11-39. It’s believed that because of the use of gold in the temple and other holy places, gold was also deemed symbolic of royalty, which is why the palaces occupied by the kings contained gold. They believed that having gold meant that they worshipped old, and it’s implied in 2 Timothy 2:20 that gold was used to symbolize a noble purpose.
Image of value
In Psalms 19:10, gold is further depicted as a unit for measuring value, with the words and teachings of God being much more desirable than the finest things in life, like gold. Proverbs 3:14 and Job 28:12-15 also portray gold as an image representing something valuable while portraying God as the symbol of the most valuable thing in the Bible.
The purification process that gold goes through is believed to be a lot like the sanctification process that believers go through as God refines them. The refining process is implied in Job 23:10 and Jeremiah 9:7. This is further implied in the New Testament in 1 Peter 1:7, where Peter suggests that believers are meant to suffer as part of their faith-testing process that determines how genuine the person’s faith in Christ is. The test is believed to give God glory, praise, and honor. The gold refining process is believed to be the image of sanctification meant to help Christians understand the purpose of one’s suffering. The testing process through the fire leads to purity.
Gold is also believed to be a symbol of heaven, as implied in the scripture in Revelation 21:18; 21. Here, it’s suggested that the streets of heaven are lined with pure gold and that this place could be the eternal home for all who spend their lives representing Christ and the kingdom of God. In different descriptions regarding gold and its use all over heaven and the temple of God, it’s believed that the gold was used to honor God as the authentic, worthy king by all who’d been brought through the fire having persevered to the end. Besides heaven, gold was also considered a symbol of perseverance for all who made it to heaven, where they’d enjoy eternal life with the King of Kings.
What does gold mean in different cultures?
While gold is mentioned severally in the Old Testament compared to any other metal, its symbolism and importance go beyond the bible since many cultures of the world, both ancient and modern, held gold in high regard. Gold or dhahab in Arabic was significantly popular in Syria, Egypt, and Palestine, where it was used for several things besides jewelry and other ornaments.
Gold’s use is believed to have started in 2000 BCE in Egypt, where the first underground gold mines are from. The practice was then spread to Spain, Africa, and Portugal, and the rest of the world.
In different cultures, gold was used for religious purposes and artwork, while other cultures used gold primarily as a monetary resource.
In Egypt, gold was held in high regard, and it was believed to be a symbol of the gods’ bodies. As a result, the Egyptians used gold during funeral rituals, which is why the pharaohs’ tombs contained numerous gold decorations lavishly laid out. Gold was also incorporated in the sarcophagi, which were used to encase the mummies.
In Greece, gold was the main form of currency, and it’s believed that the use of gold for currency first started centuries ago in ancient Greece. The monetary traditions associated with gold coins were refined later in Rome. In addition to using gold as currency, it was also used as a form of artistic expression. However, the most notable sign of gold in ancient Greece has to be that ancient Greece buried their dead with gold jewelry because they considered gold the essence that would allow their spirits to live on after death. The ancient Greek gods are depicted to be wearing armor made of gold, with gold hair, and riding on gold chariots, and the gold was associated with wisdom and divinity.
In ancient Roman culture, gold was a status symbol incorporated into the pots, jewelry, and other decorative items owned by the wealthy. Under the rule of Julius Caesar, all Roman financial systems were primarily based on the use of gold as the standard currency – since then, gold was minted for financial use in the image of the reigning emperor.
In Asian cultures, gold was the main material used in jewelry and temple decorations from 1100 BC. It was used in ornaments, furniture, accessories, and draperies throughout the Forbidden City and later in temples throughout Japan. As a result of how highly valued gold was and its use in places of worship, the first statue of the Golden Buddha was made from 1600 to 1750 and was the primary statue that the people worshipped.
In African cultures, gold was also an essential part of the decorations used in churches and courts where the cultural leaders would sit. Numerous golden artifacts were used for ceremonies. Gold was also used predominantly in African cultures as a unit of trade, and it was exported from several African countries.
In several of the ancient American cultures, like the Aztecs, gold wasn’t used for its market value but for its cultural significance. In these cultures, gold was associated with the solar deities, so it was predominantly used for decorative and religious reasons. Evidence of these lies in the huge temples built by the Aztecs, all adorned with gold coins and statues. The Incas built temples adorned in gold, also dedicated to the sun, with gold decorations and objects used in sacred rituals.
On the other hand, the Mayans used gold for trading purposes and when conducting funeral rites.
And in the ancient European cultures during the Renaissance and Middle Ages, gold was the primary material used to decorate places of worship and religious objects. It was also the image of the government, and in the 1st century BCE, it was used as medicine to treat the wounds of people believed to have been afflicted by witchcraft. Its use in dental work started in the 7thC BCE.
The Buddhists consider gold a symbol of separation from the ordinary concerns and cares of life.
In many of these cultures, gold was deemed a symbol of purity, perfection, divinity, wisdom, knowledge, and learning.
Spiritual meaning of the color gold
Gold represents a metal and a color with spiritual meaning attached to it. Its believe that because of the brightness of gold, the color of gold represents divinity, wealth, success, perfection, and a higher power. It’s also associated with abundance. The warmth of the color of gold is also regarded as a symbol of enlightenment and inner peace.
Triumph and Victory
Gold is spiritually associated with triumph and victory, mainly because the color of gold is warm and welcoming.
Gold color and spirituality
Spiritually, gold as a color symbolizes success, positivity, and triumph. It was also believed to be a measure of spiritual strength and was worn by royalty to demonstrate their might or strength.
Gold color and crown chakra
The gold color is associated with the third eye or the crown chakra. It is believed that someone with a strong crown chakra boasts a high level of spiritual strength, and gold helps to activate this chakra. A brilliant gold chakra is healthy and pure, and someone with an activated chakra (associated with gold) is believed to be more intuitive and with the power to manifest the exact kind of life they desire.
What Does Gold Mean Spiritually in Dreams?
Since gold is a metal deemed incorruptible, seeing gold in dreams is believed to reflect the qualities of gold in you. It’s believed that seeing gold in your dreams means that you are patient and persistent. It could also be a reflection of your spirituality.
Other positive connotations associated with such dreams include enlightenment or becoming your higher self. It could also be a symbol of the internal resources you aren’t using or the hidden talents you are failing to use.
On the other hand, a dream involving gold may symbolize physical or financial objects that may also symbolize greed or temptations.
What does the color gold represent?
Gold represents success, wealth, prestige, confidence, knowledge, optimism, and generosity.
These meanings associated with the color of gold come from the fact that gold symbolizes the power of the sun and is linked to masculine energy. So, this color is believed to have the power to bring enlightenment and illumination to all things surrounding it.
It’s also a flashy color that symbolizes riches, extravagance, and luxury.
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.