A vessel used to keep and control fire as a source of light. This vessel, known as the oil lamp, had two basic parts: a receptacle for the oil and a wick inserted into the oil, whose protruding end would burn. Olives provided the main source of oil in Palestine; various materials, including flax, served as wicks. An easily understandable and powerful symbol of the importance of light, the oil lamp is referred to frequently in the Bible in a wide range of contexts. In the OT it conveys, e.g., the illuminating power of God (2Sam 22:29; Job 29:3) and of God’s precepts (Ps 119:105); a father’s instructions to his dutiful son (Prov 6:23); and the lasting existence of the Davidic dynasty (1Kgs 11:36; 1Kgs 15:4). In the NT it is a symbol of the eye of the body (Matt 6:22); the vigilance of the faithful servant (Luke 12:35); and the function of the disciples in the world (Matt 5:14-16).

2Sam 22:29

29Indeed, you are my lamp, O Lord,
the Lord lightens my darkness.

Job 29:3

3when his lamp shone over my head,
and by his light I walked through darkness;

Ps 119:105

105Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

Prov 6:23

23For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,

1Kgs 11:36

36Yet to his son I will give one tribe, so that my servant David may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name.

1Kgs 15:4

4Nevertheless for David's sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem;

Matt 6:22

The Sound Eye
22“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light;

Luke 12:35

Watchful Slaves
35“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit;

Matt 5:14-16

14“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, an ... View more

 NEH Logo
Bible Odyssey has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.