Often occurs in Scripture associated with purple and blue. The words so translated occur in the following forms;
1. שָׁנַי, shani', and שָׁנַים, shanim', alone, Ge 38:28-30; Jos 2:18-21; 2Sa 1:24; Pr 31:21; Song 4:3; Jer 4:30; Sept. κόκκινον, Vulg. coccinutm; Isa 1:18, φοινικοῦν, coccinum,.
2. תּוֹלִעִת שָׁנַי, tolaath shani', Ex 25:4; Ex 26:1,31,36; Ex 27:16; Ex 28:5-6,8,15; Ex 35:6,23,25; Ex 38:18,23; Ex 39:3; Nu 4:8, κόκκινον, and κόκκινον with διπλοῦν, κεκλωσμένον, κλώτον, διανενησμένον, Vulg. bis tinctus, coccus bis tinctus, and vermiculus.
3. שׁנַי תוֹלִעִת, sheni' tolaath, Le 14:4,6,49,51-52; Nu 19:6; Sept. κοκκίνον, with κεκλωσμένον , and κλωστόν; vermiculus, coccus, and with bis tinctus.
4. תּוֹלִע, told, alone, Isa 1:18, κόκκινον, vermiculus; La 4:5, Vulg. croceis; Na 2:3, coccineis. In the New Test., Mt 27:28; Heb 9:19; Re 17:3-4; Re 18:12,16; κόκκινος, coccineus. The first of these words, shani', is by some derived from shanah', שָנָה, "to repeat," and is thus interpreted to mean "double dyed," but which, Gesenius observes, is applicable only to the Tyrian purple (see Braunius, De Vest. 1, 15, § 214, p. 237; Bochart, Hieroz. 1, 3, p. 525-527). Gesenius prefers an Arabic root meaning to shine, because scarlet garments were admired for their brightness: but Jerome asserts that the word means coccinum (Epist. ad Fabiolam). It is certain that tola denotes a worm, grub, or insect, and the Sept. and Vulg. plainly understood by it the coccus, from which the ancients procured a blood red crimson dye, the Coccus ilicis of Linnaeus, class 4, Tetragyma, the kermez of the Arabians, whence used to be derived the French word cramoisi, and our crimson; but Kilian gives carmensinum, because made from a worm, which, in the Phoenician tongue, is called carmen. Hesychius defines coccus as that from which the Phoenician dye is obtained. It was the female of this remarkable insect that was employed; and though supplanted by the cochineal (Coccus cacti), it is still used for the purpose in India and Persia. It attains the size and form of a pea, is of a violet black color, covered with a whitish powder, adhering to plants, chiefly various species of oak, and so closely resembling grains that its insect nature was not generally known for many centuries. According to Beckman, the epithet vermiculatus was applied to it during the Middle Ages, when this fact became generally understood, and that hence is derived the word vermilion. Hence the Hebrew words mean both the coccus itself, and the deep red or bright rich crimson which was derived from it (as in Song 4:3, "thy lips are like a thread of scarlet"); and so the word "scarlet" signified in the time of our translators, rather than the color now called by that name, and which was unknown in the time of James I. This insect is widely distributed over many of the southeastern countries of the ancient world. It occurs abundantly in Spain (Kirby and Spence, Introduction to Entomology , 1, 319, 320). It is found on the Quercus coccifera, or kermes oak, in Palestine (Kitto, Physical History, p. 219). Pliny speaks of the coccus as a red color much esteemed, which he distinguishes from purple (Hist. Nat. 9, 65), and describes as a gay, red, lively bright, approaching the color of fire (ibid. and 21:22). All the ancients concur in saying that this dye was made from a sort of little grains which were gathered from the holm oak (Theophrast. Hist. Plant. 3, 16; Pliny, 16, 12; Dioscorides, 4, 48; Pausan. 10, 36). They not only call them grains, but speak of them as the vegetable productions of the oak itself (Plutarch, Thesaur. p. 7); and Pliny (Hist. Nat. 16, 12) calls them cusculia, from the Greek κοσκύλλειν, which signifies "to cut little excrescences," because they cut or scrape off these small grains of the oak. Yet he was not entirely ignorant of their insect character, for he speaks of it becoming a worm (24, 4). It seems, however, that the color thus obtained was not durable (22, 3). It was known at a very early period in Canaan (Ge 38:28); it was one of the colors of the high priest's ephod (Ex 28:6), and of its girdle (ver. 8), of the breastplate (ver. 15), and of cloths for sacred uses (Nu 4:8); it was used in cleansing the leper (Le 14:4), to indicate, as Abarbanel thinks, that a healthy complexion was restored to him. It was the dress of females in the time of Saul (2Sa 1:24); of opulent persons in later times (La 4:5); of the Babylonian and Median soldiers, who also wore red shields (Na 2:4; comp. "Scuta lectissimis coloribus distinguunt," Tacitus, De Mor. Germ. c. 6, and Philostratus, Epist. de Lacedoemoniis). Three mistranslations of the word occur in our version, "She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet" (Pr 31:21). Since there is no connection between the color and a defense from the cold, it would be better rendered, as in the margin, "double garments." (Comp. Sept. ἐνδεδυμένοι; Vulg. vestiti duplicibus.) The next verse of the Sept. begins Δισσὰς χλαίνας ἐποίησε τῷ ἀνδρὶ αὐτῆς, She hath made double garments for her husband. In Isa 1:18 and Jer 4:30 the word should be rendered "scarlet," and not "crimson." The final reference to scarlet is in regard to pagan Rome, which, like all cities, is represented as a female; and since everybody wore scarlet in Rome, and especially during war, she is described as being arrayed in that color. In Ex 39:3, it is said, "They did beat gold into their plates, and cut into wires, to work in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen," which is explained to mean that these five kinds — blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, and gold — were twisted into one thread; thus a thread of gold with six threads of blue, and so with the rest, after which they twisted all these threads into one (Braunius, 1, 17, 26). It seems plain, from Ex 35:25, that the blue and purple and scarlet were spun by hand from wool already dyed of these colors. The white ground was invariably designated by the term "fine linen." The cloth was thus in stripes or checks of different materials. Wilkinson remarks that the color was in like manner imparted by the Egyptians to the thread, etc. — that is, cloth was not dyed after being woven (Manners and Customs, 3, 125). It will have been perceived that great difficulty attends the attempt to determine the precise distinctions of colors known to the ancients by the various preceding names. The only possible method whereby they could have conveyed them to our minds would have been by comparing them to the colors of natural objects, whose appearance was immutable and whose identity was beyond question. Such an attempt has been made by bishop Wilkins in his Real Character. We may illustrate the utility of these requisites by the color blue, which is defined to mean "the color produced or exposed to the view by the blowing away, or clearing away, or dispersing of the clouds" (Encyclop. Metropol.) But, as is well known, the shades of ethereal blue vary in different countries, and even in different altitudes of the same country; hence the word blue, if illustrated by this standard, would convey a different idea to the inhabitants of different regions. It is most likely that all our ideas of sensible impressions are liable to errors of association. It is, however, satisfactory to know that, like all other dubious matters, these are of minor importance. We add a further reference to Goguet, Origin of Laws, Arts, and Sciences, 2, 95, etc. (Edinb. 1764) SEE COLOR.
The natural history of the κόκκος may be thus summed up. It is a genus of insects belonging to the order Homoptera, of which the males have a single pair of wings and an obsolete mouth; while the females have no wings, but a perfect mouth (rostrum) formed for piercing plants and sucking their juices. They live on trees and plants of various kinds. Upwards of thirty species are included in the catalogue of British insects; but of these many have probably been introduced on exotic plants. There are numerous species, many of which are known to yield rich dyes, and several have been employed in the arts. Up to the time of the discovery of America none could compete with the species which infests the evergreen oaks (Coccus ilicis); but that has been thrown into the shade by the superior productiveness, if not the superior color, of a Mexican species (C. cacti), whence we obtain cochineal. The insect called kermes by the Arabs is abundant wherever the tree on which it lives is common. All over the south of Europe and throughout Western Asia this occurs in extensive forests. The hills of the south of Judah about Hebron, the sides of Carmel and of Tabor, the slopes of Gilead and Bashan, besides many other localities in Palestine, are sheeted with forests and groves of the evergreen oaks, from which a copious harvest of coccus may be annually gathered. It is no wonder, then, that the dye was so early familiar to the people of Canaan. It is in that stage of the insect when the larva is about fully grown that it contains the coloring matter in greatest abundance. The little scales are picked from the tree and simply dried, when they yield their dye by infusion in water. To make this permanent, what is called a mordant is added — a substance which, having no coloring faculty in itself, acts chemically as a bond of union between the dye and the textile material, and often modifies the tint. The ancients used an impure alum for this purpose. Pliny tells us that thus was obtained from the κόκκος a color of the most brilliant character (Hist. Nat. 9, 65; 21, 22). The hue now produced by the Kermes coccus with alum is a rich blood red; but if the same mordant be used as with cochineal — solution of tin — it yields a scarlet fully as brilliant as that rich American dye, and perhaps more permanent (Bancroft, Perm. Col. 1, 404). The far greater proportion of coloring matter to the bulk in the latter will always, however, prevent the kermes from regaining its commercial importance. SEE CRIMSON.