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Purple

PURPLE. In the ancient world the color purple was a mark of high rank and nobility. This was occasioned by the very high cost of the purple dye used for the clothing of nobles and royalty. A special purple dye was extracted from the murex shellfish found in the eastern Mediterranean. The ancient Canaanites already had learned the technique of making this dye, a deep crimson color with shades ranging from blue to red. The name Canaan prob. originally meant “land of the purple” and is found in Akkadian and Hurrian as Kinahhi (cf. the Hurrian word kinahhu, “purple”). Likewise, the name Phoenicia seems to reflect the purple dye industry of the land since it is related to the Gr. φοινίξ, “purple” (J. Finegan, Light from the Ancient Past [1959], 135f.). In the NT the rich man in the parable of Dives and Lazarus is described as “clothed in purple and fine linen” (Luke 16:19). When the soldiers mocked Jesus during His trial, they clothed Him in a purple robe and put a crown of thorns on