The Little Black Boy - Imagery, symbolism and themes
Imagery and symbolism
Blake was concerned to express what he believed was his true understanding of Christianity. He was writing for a public that, for the most part, was Christian and shared Blake's familiarity with the Bible. Thus, he used Christian images that he knew his readers would recognise, but in ways which questioned how the image was commonly understood. Here, he uses several images and refers to related biblical ideas.
Tree – suggests the Tree of knowledge of good and evil in Paradise, the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were told by God not to eat the fruit of this tree. However, Eve was tempted by the devil in the guise of a serpent, so she ate some and then gave it to Adam. (See Genesis 3) As a result, they fell from innocence, became aware of their nakedness and developed shame about it. They were cast out of Eden.
Blake locates this ‘tree' as being within the human mind in his Songs of Experience. Since the boy learns his lesson about love and endurance under the tree, it suggests its link with fallen versions of reality. The lesson the boy is given may be reassuring but it is a lesson fallen human beings have developed to keep people in control. When it is accepted by the naively innocent, it is therefore perpetuated.
East – the direction of the rising sun, and in Christianity associated with the resurrection of Christ and so with eternal life.
Black body/sunburnt face – This reference would remind Blake's readers of the Old Testament poem the Song of Songs, where the bride, whose face is black and sunburnt, is considered beautiful. (Song of Songs 1:6). The Song of Songs (sometimes called The Song of Solomon) is an unashamedly erotic poem. It is seen by the Church as an image of the spiritual love-relationship:
- Between Christ and the soul
- Between Christ and the Church
- Between God and the Virgin Mary.
In medieval literature, it is used as an image for sexual encounter / sexual relationship. This image underlines the essential equality of the black boy as one who is loved by God. Since the Song of Songs is a poem which is interpreted in ways far removed from its original purpose, referencing it stresses Blake's idea that what humans tell themselves can differ from the reality.
Lambs – The lamb image implies innocence, meekness and the figure of Christ. Jesus is portrayed as meek like a lamb before his accusers in 1 Peter 1:19. He is called ‘the Lamb of God' who takes away the sins of the world in John 1:29 and is identified as a sacrificial lamb in 1 Corinthians 5:7. The context and connotations are very different from the use here. This lamb is not a soft, woolly animal but a sacrificial victim. He is associated with human violence and treachery, with the consequences of evil. In the light of this, we can see that there are other dimensions to being ‘like lambs' of which the boy is unaware, even though his actions make him a sacrificial figure.
Golden tent – The image of a golden tent perhaps conjures up for Blake's readers the golden tent of a monarch celebrating victory after a chivalric tournament. In the Old Testament, God's presence was said to inhabit a tent or tabernacle Exodus 40:34-35
[child] - Underlying the poem, though the term is not used, is the fact that the speaker is a child. All Blake's associations with the image of the child are therefore in the background of the poem and affect our understanding of it.
At one level, the child is an image of innocence and gentleness. In the Gospels, Jesus says that the kingdom of God belongs to those who become like little children in their innocence and humility. However, the Gospel accounts of Jesus' birth and childhood include experience of human violence and so emphasise the vulnerability of the child:
- He is acclaimed by the prophet Simeon as one who will bring about the fall and rise of many (Luke 2:34-35)
- Then his parents become refugees to escape King Herod's attempts to kill Jesus by ordering the slaughter of all boys under two (see Matthew 2:16–18).
Like the lamb, the child is gentle and innocent but, because of this, also vulnerable and subject to human cruelty. The boy in this poem is in just this situation.
Investigating imagery and symbolism
- What do you think the allusion to the Song of Songs adds to the poem?
The vulnerability of innocence
Lacking awareness, innocence makes itself vulnerable to injustice and exploitation. For Blake, innocence was insufficient if it was also ignorant of the realities of the ‘fallen' world. Such ignorance made innocent people prey to the devouring forces within the ‘fallen' world.
The distortion of Christian belief about the future life
Blake attacks the approach of some forms of contemporary Christianity. This taught people to accept present suffering and injustice because of the promise of bliss and the absence of all suffering in the next world. Although this was a consistent teaching of the New Testament, Blake condemned it as the perspective of the ‘fallen' person.
- What new ideas about innocence do you gain from this poem?
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's. 2Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; 3your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. 4Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers. Others We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you. 5I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. 6Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! 7Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions? 8If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your young goats beside the shepherds' tents. 9I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh's chariots. 10Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels. 11We will make for you ornaments of gold, studded with silver. 12While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance. 13My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh that lies between my breasts. 14My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi. 15Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. 16Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful. Our couch is green; 17the beams of our house are cedar; our rafters are pine.
1The song of songs, which is Solomon's. 2Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. 3Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. 4Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee. 5I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. 6Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept. 7Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? 8If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents. 9I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots. 10Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. 11We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver. 12While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. 13A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. 14My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi. 15Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes. 16Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green. 17The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 13Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. 17And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24for All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 10Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. 13Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.) 16For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. 19And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you? 20He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21And they asked him, What then? Are you Elijah? He said, I am not. Are you the Prophet? And he answered, No. 22So they said to him, Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself? 23He said, I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah said. 24(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25They asked him, Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet? 26John answered them, I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. 28These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me. 31I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel. 32And John bore witness: I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. 34And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. 35The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, Behold, the Lamb of God! 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, What are you seeking? And they said to him, Rabbi (which means Teacher), where are you staying? 39He said to them, Come and you will see. So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, We have found the Messiah (which means Christ). 42He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas (which means Peter). 43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, Follow me. 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46Nathanael said to him, Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see. 47Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit! 48Nathanael said to him, How do you know me? Jesus answered him, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. 49Nathanael answered him, Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel! 50Jesus answered him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these. 51And he said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. 19And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 35Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 37And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. 40One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. 43The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
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- King James Version
1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. 2And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 6Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - 10not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler - not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.
1It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
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- King James Version
1The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 3And you shall put in it the ark of the testimony, and you shall screen the ark with the veil. 4And you shall bring in the table and arrange it, and you shall bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. 5And you shall put the golden altar for incense before the ark of the testimony, and set up the screen for the door of the tabernacle. 6You shall set the altar of burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, 7and place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 8And you shall set up the court all around, and hang up the screen for the gate of the court. 9Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it may become holy. 10You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar may become most holy. 11You shall also anoint the basin and its stand, and consecrate it. 12Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water 13and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. 14You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, 15and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations. 16This Moses did; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so he did. 17In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. 18Moses erected the tabernacle. He laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars. 19And he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent over it, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 20He took the testimony and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark and set the mercy seat above on the ark. 21And he brought the ark into the tabernacle and set up the veil of the screen, and screened the ark of the testimony, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 22He put the table in the tent of meeting, on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the veil, 23and arranged the bread on it before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 24He put the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle, 25and set up the lamps before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 26He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil, 27and burned fragrant incense on it, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 28He put in place the screen for the door of the tabernacle. 29And he set the altar of burnt offering at the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the grain offering, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 30He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, 31with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. 32When they went into the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed, as the Lord commanded Moses. 33And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work. 34Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.
1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. 3And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail. 4And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof. 5And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle. 6And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. 7And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein. 8And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate. 9And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy. 10And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy. 11And thou shalt anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it. 12And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. 13And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. 14And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: 15And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations. 16Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he. 17And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. 18And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars. 19And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the LORD commanded Moses. 20And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark: 21And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses. 22And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail. 23And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses. 24And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward. 25And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses. 26And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail: 27And he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the LORD commanded Moses. 28And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle. 29And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the LORD commanded Moses. 30And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. 31And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: 32When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses. 33And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. 34Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: 37But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. 38For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! 15When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us. 16And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord) 24and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. 25Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation 31that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel. 33And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed. 36And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. 41Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress. 49And he said to them, Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house? 50And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. 52And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23(As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 24And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. 25And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 36And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. 41Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2saying, Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. 3When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5They told him, In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. 7Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him. 9After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. 13Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him. 14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, Out of Egypt I called my son. 16Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more. 19But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20saying, Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead. 21And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.
1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. 12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. 13And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. 16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. 19But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. 21And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
The beliefs, doctrines and practices of Christians.
Name originally given to disciples of Jesus by outsiders and gradually adopted by the Early Church.
The Christian Bible consists of the Old Testament scriptures inherited from Judaism, together with the New Testament, drawn from writings produced from c.40-125CE, which describe the life of Jesus and the establishment of the Christian church.
According to the Book of Genesis, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil grew in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat its fruit by God. When they disobeyed, they lost their innocence and close relationship with God.
A place of beauty and perfection, associated in the Bible and literature with both the Garden of Eden before the Fall, and heaven. Often used as a synonym for heaven.
The place described in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, in which God placed his first human creatures, Adam and Eve.
According to Genesis (the first book of the Old Testament), Adam is the first human being, made in the image / likeness of God, placed in the Garden of Eden and given dominion over the earth.
According to the book of Genesis in the Bible the first woman, said to have been created by God out of Adam's rib, to be his companion.
Also known as Satan or Lucifer, the Bible depicts him as the chief of the fallen angels and demons, the arch enemy of God who mounts a significant, but ultimately futile, challenge to God's authority.
A snake. In some religions and mythologies seen as the embodiment of deceit, cunning and evil, and associated with Satan.
The disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Bible is known as the Fall of Humankind. Christians believe that humans from then on have had a a predispostion to disobey God.
Literally, rising to life again. In the Bible it is specifically applied to Jesus Christ's coming to life after his crucifixion; and from thence, to the hope of all believers that after death, they will be raised to a new life in heaven.
Title (eventually used as name) given to Jesus, refering to an anointed person set apart for a special task such as a king.
A new quality of life, beginning in the present but continuing after death, which Jesus is said to offer to those who believe in him.
A 'testament' is a covenant or binding agreement and is a term used in the Bible of God's relationship with his people). The sacred writings of Judaism (the Hebrew Bible). These also form the first part of the Christian Bible.
1. Term for a worshipping community of Christians.
2. The building in which Christians traditionally meet for worship.
3. The worldwide community of Christian believers.
Mary, the mother of Jesus and wife of Joseph. It is traditionally understood that Mary was, and remained, a virgin during both the conception and birth of Jesus.
Symbolic description of Jesus Christ.
Relating to or comprising a sacrifice.
A 'testament' is a covenant or binding agreement and is a term used in the Bible of God's relationship with his people). The sacred writings of Judaism (the Hebrew Bible). These also form the first part of the Christian Bible.
A sacred tent, a portable and provisional sanctuary, where God met His people Israel.
From Gospel - Literally 'good news' - used of the message preached by Jesus recorded in the New Testament.
Title given to the four New Testament books which describe the life of Jesus Christ i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Kingdom of God (also called the Kingdom of Heaven). The central theme in the teaching of Jesus. Refers to God's rule and power at work among people who accept his authority in their lives.
Someone who conveys God's message to human beings or speaks about the future sometimes through words alone, sometimes through dramatic actions.
In the New Testament a man who worshipped God faithfully. He was told that he would not die before he saw the Messiah.
Herod the Great was born c.73BCE, and became the King of Judea in 42BCE. He was King when Jesus was born, and upon hearing of the birth of the new 'king of the Jews', ordered the slaughter of all male children under two years old in Bethlehem.
Also known as the Song of Solomon; an erotic celebration of human love; variously interpreted by Jews and Christians alike