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The Land of Purple


Israel, the Land of Purple

There is no doubt, God is fond of the nation Israel.  They have remained a unique people for over 3,500 years.  God gave the land to Abraham when He said to him "And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants.  It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God (Gen. 17:8 NLT).

Akkadian was the ancient, eastern Semitic language of Assyria and Babylonia written in cuneiform script.  Cuneiform writing was composed of slim, wedge shaped triangular elements.  The Semitic language was a sub-family of Afroasiatic languages that included Akkadian, Arabic, Ehiopic, Hebrew and Phonecian.  In the Akkadian language, the word Canaan can be translated as "purple."

The land that became Israel may have gotten its name from the dye industry that flourished there at one time.  The most precious dye was the purple dye.  It is actually a red-purple color, known as "argaman" in Hebrew.  In fact, some say it is red.  Think of how red and purple mix on the rainbow.



This dye, along with the "royal blue" came from mollusks or whelks found of the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic coasts.  The Canaanites fished for the snails that produced this dye along the coasts of northern Israel and Lebanon.  The city of Tyre became a major center for the production of this color.  So much so that the dye today is known as "Tyrian purple." 

The dye industry was a major industry for over 3,000 years and the two colors mentioned above , argaman and royal blue (tekhelet), became associated with royalty.  One of the main reasons is that they were so expensive and difficult to produce.  According to the Jewish Jewels newletter (August 2010) "One gram of dye was made from the secretion of 10,000 sea snails.  The purple color was remarkably stable, resisting alkalis, soap, and most acids."

Argaman was the color used in the Tabernacle along with blues and reds.  When Mordecai was rewarded for saving the king's life in the book of Esther) he was publicly adorned in royal clothing of argaman (Est. 8:15).  The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 is known to dress in argaman (Prov. 31:22).

The color purple has often been associated with royalty.  Just as the land of Canaan was known as the land of purple.  Royalty definitely came from Israel. 


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