Light (properly אוֹר, or φῶς, from its shining) is represented in the Scriptures as the immediate result and offspring of a divine command (Ge 1:3), where doubtless we are to understand a reappearance of the celestial luminaries, still partially obscured by the haze that settled as a pall over the grave of nature at some tremendous cataclysm which well-nigh reduced the globe to its pristine chaos, rather than their actual formation, although they are subsequently introduced (Ge 1:14 sq.). In consequence of the intense brilliancy and beneficial influence of light in an Eastern climate, it easily and naturally became, with Orientals, a representative of the highest human good. From this idea the transition was an easy one, in corrupt and superstitious minds, to deift the great sources of light. SEE SUN; SEE MOON. When "Eastern nations beheld the sun shining in his strength, or the moon walking in her brightness, their hearts were secretly enticed, and their mouth kissed their hand in token of adoration (Job 31:26-27). SEE ADORATION. This 'iniquity' the Hebrews not only avoided, but when they considered the heavens they recognized the work of God's fingers, and learned a lesson of humility as well as of reverence (Ps 8:3 sq.). On the contrary, the entire residue of the East, with scarcely any exception, worshipped the sun and the light, primarily, perhaps, as symbols of divine power and goodness, but, in a more degenerate state. as themselves divine; whence, in conjunction with darkness, the negation of light, arose the doctrine of dualism, two principles, the one of light, the good power, the other of darkness, the evil power, a corruption which rose and spread the more easily because the whole of human life, being a checkered scene, seems divided as between two conflicting agencies, the bright and the dark, the joyous and the sorrowful, what is called prosperous and what is called adverse." But in the Scriptures the purer symbolism is everywhere maintained (see Wemyss, Symbol. Dict. s.v.). "All the more joyous emotions of the mind, all the pleasing sensations of the frame, all the happy hours of domestic intercourse, were habitually described among the Hebrews under imagery derived from light (1Ki 11:36; Isa 58:8; Es 8:16; Ps 97:11). The transition was natural from earthly to heavenly, from corporeal to spiritual things, and so light came to typify true religion and the felicity which it imparts. But as light not only came from God, but also makes man's way clear before him, so it was employed to signify moral truth, and preeminently that divine system of truth which is set forth in the Bible, from its earliest gleamings onward to the perfect day of the great sun of righteousness. The application of the term to religious topics had the greater propriety because the light in the world, being accompanied by heat, purifies, quickens, enriches, which efforts it is the peculiar province of true religion to produce in the human soul (Isa 8:20; Mt 4:16; Ps 119:105; 2Pe 1:19; Eph 5:8; 2Ti 1:10; 1Pe 2:9)." Besides its physical sense (Mt 17:2; Ac 9:3; Ac 12:7; 2Co 4:6), the term light is used by metonymy for a fire giving light (Mr 14:54; Lu 22:56), for a torch, candle, or lamp (Ac 16:29); for the material light of heaven, as the sun, moon, or stars (Ps 136:7; Jas 1:17). In figurative language it signifies a manifest or open state of things (Mt 10:27; Lu 12:3), and in a higher sense the eternal source of truth, purity, and joy (1Jo 1:5). God is said to dwell in light inaccessible (1Ti 6:16), which seems to contain a reference to the glory and splendor that shone in the holy of holies, where Jehovah appeared in the luminous cloud above the mercy seat, and which none but the high-priest, and he only once a year, was permitted to approach (Le 16:2; Eze 1:22,26,28). This light was typical of the glory of the celestial world. SEE SHEKINAH. Light itself is employed to signify the edicts, laws, rules, or directions that proceed from ruling powers for the good of their subjects. Thus of the great king of all the earth the Psalmist says, "Thy word is a light unto my path" (Ps 119:105), and "Thy judgments are as the light" (Ho 6:5). Agreeably to the notion of lights being the symbols of good government, light also signifies protection, deliverance, and joy. Light also frequently signifies instruction both by doctrine and example (Mt 5:16; Joh 5:35), or persons considered as giving such light (Mt 5:14; Ro 2:19). It is applied in the highest sense to Christ, the true light, the sun of righteousness, who is that in the spiritual which the material light is in the natural world, the great author not only of illumination and knowledge, but of spiritual life, health, and joy to the souls of men (Isa 60:1). "Among the personifications on this point which Scripture presents we may specify,
(1.) God. The apostle James (1:17) declares that 'every good and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,' obviously referring to the faithfulness of God and the constancy of his goodness, which shine on undimmed and unshadowed. So Paul (1Ti 6:16), 'God who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.' Here the idea intended by the imagery is the incomprehensibleness of the self-existent and eternal God.
(2.) Light is also applied to Christ: 'The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light' (Mt 4:16; Lu 2:32; Joh 1:4 sq.). 'He was the true light;' 'I am the light of the world' (Joh 8:12 ; 12:35, 36).
(3.) It is further used of angels, as in 2Co 11:14: 'Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.'
(4.) Light is moreover employed of men: John the Baptist 'was a burning and a shining light' (Joh 5:35); 'Ye are the light of the world' (Mt 5:14; see also Ac 13:47; Eph 5:8)." SEE LIGHTS.