The Phoenix is a brightly arrayed mythical bird that held powerful symbolism in the Bible and the ancient world. It is known for its color, beauty, and long life, which extends up to thousands of years. Also called a “firebird,” the Phoenix was narrated to burn itself to ashes and then resurrect again to a new and healthy life.
The word “Phoenix” is derived from ancient Greek, which means “dark red,” because of its bright and colorful plumage. The bird is mentioned in some old versions of the Scriptures and written in texts in several ancient religions, beliefs, and cultures.
Is The Phoenix Mentioned In The Bible?
Then I thought, “I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days like the Phoenix.”— Job 29:18 (NRSVUE)
The word “Phoenix” is not mentioned in the Bible, specifically in most of the modern or contemporary versions. Some Bible translations mention the word “sand” to denote or serve as an analogy for long life. These are the King James Version, the Luther Bible, and other contemporary versions.
The Hebrew word translation for Phoenix is “chol or chowl.” Moreover, the word “khole” is used in the Jewish Publication Society Bible to refer to the bird species.
While the word “Phoenix,” mentioned in the above verse, does not specifically appear in the Abrahamic Bible, the Asenath is said to represent the qualities of the Phoenix. She was an aristocratic Egyptian woman but a minor figure in the Book of Genesis. Asenath was the wife of Joseph and the mother of Ephraim and Manasseh.
Some Christian writers during the early times wrote a parallel and analogy between the Christian doctrine of resurrection and life after death and the Phoenix. A priest and bishop of the first century named Clement of Rome wrote a letter to the Corinthian church that referred to the mythological Phoenix as a sign of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In general, except for a few irregular translations or renditions of a verse in Job, the Bible does not talk about or mention the word “Phoenix.” It shows up in a Jewish interpretation or translation of the Old Testament.
Specifically, it is mentioned in the Book of Job in the NRSVUE Bible version. The Septuagint (a Greek version of the Old Testament) and the Vulgate (a Latin version of Scripture compiled by Jerome) also allude to the existence of a Phoenix.
What Is The Phoenix Bird In The Bible?
The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ
In the Bible, the Phoenix symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like the Lord, who rose again from the dead, the fabled avian creature also resurrects from its ashes. In Greek mythology, the Phoenix is a creature with colorful origins. In reference to Greek fables, every 500 years, the Phoenix was believed to be consumed before resurrecting from its ashes.
The legends narrate that the bird sets fire to itself when it becomes weak and old. Three days later, the bird undergoes resurrection and rebirth. An ancient story also tells that a queen was asked by her king to make a bird that is immortal and would eternally live in paradise with him. The Phoenix is a metaphor and a general symbol of resurrection and immortality across many denominations of faith and religion.
The Second Arrival Of Jesus Christ
God alludes to the Phoenix as a creature that symbolizes his arriving Messiah. In early Christianity, a 5th-century Christian theologian named St. Peter Chrysologus wrote about a bird that would rise from its ashes every 500 years and exalt God by singing praises to Him. Moreover, the story was influenced by other beliefs and cultures, including those of Greece and Rome.
Symbol Of Hope
Because of the Phoenix’s fabled death and resurrection, the bird symbolizes hope in life and the prospects of better things than can happen. Because it represents rebirth and inspiration, the Phoenix is often portrayed as a mark of optimism in stories, books, and movies.
What Does The Phoenix Symbolize?
- In ancient Egypt, the Phoenix symbolized the sun and was considered an expression of the divine or the existence of a deity.
- In the Greco-Roman realm, the Phoenix symbolizes the cycle of history, where time was divided into eras or periods. As a sign of religious, political, and social renewal, a new Phoenix was supposed to be reborn from its own remains every 540 years.
- A Jewish traditional belief states that the Phoenix represents eternal life. The bird resisted the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
- The Egyptians associated the Phoenix with immortal life to illustrate Biblical truth about eternity.
- Several early Christian writers drew and made an analogy between the Phoenix and the Christian teaching of resurrection and life after death.
- According to the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, the Phoenix was alluded to as a dwelling place in heaven. Here, the sun shines with eternal brightness and is the place where the soul rises.
- The Phoenix represents the delivery of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
- Some people believe that the Phoenix symbolizes Christ’s miraculous conception in Mary.
- The Phoenix’s death and rebirth imply the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as viewed by early Christians and other believers on Earth.
- Ancient Egyptians and adherents of classical antiquity associated the bird with the worship of the sun.
- In Islamic mythology, the Phoenix is identified with a huge mysterious bird called the “anqā” (Persian: sīmorgh), which was created by God with perfection but later transformed into a plague and was killed.
In the Bible, ancient mythologies, and secular fields, the Phoenix is a symbol of hope and inspiration. It primarily represents the death and resurrection of our Messiah, Jesus Christ.
When we see a Phoenix’s image or picture, we are immediately mesmerized by its color and beauty. Despite the difficulties and pain that we are experiencing in our mundane lives, the Phoenix reminds us that better things will happen tomorrow or in the future.
But the Bible concretely tells us that real hope and joy happen when we submit ourselves to the supreme authority and sovereignty of God. He is the source of life, joy, and meaning in our existence.