The absence of natural light, Ge 1:2, and hence figuratively a state of misery and adversity, Job 18:6; Ps 107:10; Isa 8:22-9:1; also the absence of the sun and stars, and hence the fall of chief men and national convulsions, Isa 13:10; Ac 2:20. "Works of darkness," are the impure mysteries practiced in heathen worship, Eph 5:11. "Outer darkness" illustrates the gloom of those on whom the gates of heaven are closed, Mt 8:12. The darkness in Egypt, Ex 10:21-23, was miraculous; also that which covered all Judea with sympathetic gloom at the crucifixion of Christ, Lu 23:43. This could not have been caused by an eclipse of the sun; for at Passover the moon was full, and on the opposite side of the earth from the sun.
The plague (the ninth) of darkness in Egypt (Ex 10:21) is described as darkness "which may be felt." It covered "all the land of Egypt," so that "they saw not one another." It did not extend to the land of Goshen (ver. Ex 10:23).
When Jesus hung upon the cross (Mt 27:45; Lu 23:44), from the "sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour."
On Mount Sinai, Moses (Ex 20:21) "drew near unto the thick darkness where God was." This was the "thick cloud upon the mount" in which Jehovah was when he spake unto Moses there. The Lord dwelt in the cloud upon the mercy-seat (1Ki 8:12), the cloud of glory. When the psalmist (Ps 97:2) describes the inscrutable nature of God's workings among the sons of men, he says, "Clouds and darkness are round about him." God dwells in thick darkness.
Darkness (Isa 13:9-10; Mt 24:29) also is a symbol of the judgments that attend on the coming of the Lord. It is a symbol of misery and adversity (Job 18:6; Ps 107:10; Isa 8:22; Eze 30:18). The "day of darkness" in Joe 2:2, caused by clouds of locusts, is a symbol of the obscurity which overhangs all divine proceedings. "Works of darkness" are impure actions (Eph 5:11). "Outer darkness" refers to the darkness of the streets in the East, which are never lighted up by any public or private lamps after nightfall, in contrast with the blaze of cheerful light in the house. It is also a symbol of ignorance (Isa 9:2; 60:2; Mt 6:23) and of death (Job 10:21; 17:13).
The ninth Egyptian plague (Ex 10:21, etc.). Especially calculated to affect the Egyptians who worshipped Ra, the sun god. Its sudden and intense coming when Moses stretched out his hand marked it as supernatural. Its basis was natural, namely, the chamsin or sandstorm (see Septuagint), from the S.W. desert. It produces a darkness denser than the densest fog, so that no man rises from his place; men and beasts hide until it is over, for it penetrates even through well closed windows. This explains the peculiar phrase "darkness which may be felt." What still more marked its judicial character was (compare Isa 13:9-10; Joe 2:31; 3:15; Mt 24:29) "the children of Israel had light in their dwellings."
The date of Am 8:9 coincides with a total eclipse visible at Jerusalem shortly after noon, Feb. 9th, 784 B.C.; the date of Mic 3:6 with the eclipse June 5th, 716 B.C. (Dionys. Hal., 2:56); the date of Jer 15:9 with the eclipse of Sept. 30th, 610 B.C. (Herodotus, 1:74,103.) The darkness over all the land (Juaea) from the sixth to the ninth hour during Christ's crucifixion (Mt 27:45) cannot have been an eclipse, for it would not last three hours, seldom intensely more than six minutes. The eclipse, darkness and earthquake in Bithynia, noted by Phlegon of Tralles, was probably in the year before. This darkness at Christ's crucifixion was nature's sympathy with her suffering Lord; perhaps partly intended by the prophecy Am 8:9.
As the glory of the Lord shone around the scene of His birth (Lu 2:9), so a pall of darkness was fitly spread over His dying scene. By the paschal reckoning the moon must then have been at its full phase, when the sun could not be eclipsed. Darkness is the image of spiritual ignorance and unbelief (Isa 60:2; Joh 1:5; 3:19; 1Jo 2:8). "Outer darkness" expresses exclusion from the brightness of the heavenly banquet (Mt 8:12). "The works of darkness," i.e. sins (Eph 5:11). God dwells in thick darkness; i.e., we cannot penetrate the awe inspiring mysteries of His person and His dealings. But God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (1Jo 1:5; 1Ki 8:12; Ps 97:2).
Used in various significations in scripture.
1. State of the earth before God said, Let there be light. Ge 1:2.
2. Temporary absence of light in the night. Ge 1:5.
5. State of death as compared with natural life. Job 10:21-22.
8. It is the abode of wicked spirits and will characterise the place of punishment of the wicked. Mt 8:12; 2Pe 2:4; Jude 1:6,13. God is light, and Christ came into the world as the true light: everything shut out from God, or opposed to God and to the Lord Jesus, must partake of moral darkness.
is spoken of as encompassing the actual presence of God, as that out of which he speaks, --the envelope, as it were, of divine glory.
The plague of darkness in Egypt was miraculous. The darkness "over all the land,"
attending the crucifixion has been attributed to an eclipse, but was undoubtedly miraculous, as no eclipse of the sun could have taken place at that time, the moon being at the full at the time of the passover. Darkness is also, as in the expression "land of darkness," used for the state of the dead,
and frequently, figuratively, for ignorance and unbelief, as the privation of spiritual light.
Joh 1:5; 3:19
DARKNESS, the absence of light. "Darkness was upon the face of the deep," Ge 1:2; that is, the chaos was immersed in thick darkness, because light was withheld from it. The most terrible darkness was that brought on Egypt as a plague; it was so thick as to be, as it were, palpable; so horrible, that no one durst stir out of his place; and so lasting, that it endured three days and three nights, Ex 10:21-22; Wisdom 17:2, 3. The darkness at our Saviour's death began at the sixth hour, or noon, and ended at the third hour, or three o'clock in the afternoon. Thus it lasted almost the whole time he was on the cross; compare Mt 27:45, with Joh 19:14, and Mr 15:25. Origen, Maldonatus, Erasmus, Vatablus, and others, were of opinion that this darkness covered Judea only; which is sometimes called the whole earth; that is, the whole country. Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact, and others, thought it extended over a hemisphere. Origen says it was caused by a thick mist, which precluded the sight of the sun. That it was preternatural is certain, for, the moon being at full, a natural eclipse of the sun was impossible. Darkness is sometimes used metaphorically for death. "The land of darkness" is the grave, Job 10:22; Ps 107:10. It is also used to denote misfortunes and calamities: "A day of darkness" is a day of affliction, Esther 11:8. "Let that day be darkness; let darkness stain it,"