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Matthew 27:45 (NKJV)

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.

Every event during the crucifixion was symbolic, sometimes even prophetic. So that's what my question is about.

1) Is there any prophetic or symbolic reason why there was darkness during his crucifixion? That is in terms of

a) The duration of the darkness

b) The specific time in which the darkness began and ended which are the 6th and 9th hour ( both are hours of prayer in Jewish tradition).

  • When Christ was born, a star appeared in the sky. When he died, the Sun disappeared from the sky. – Lucian Feb 19 '18 at 18:58
  • Some people have tried to tie this to a total eclipse, but I've never heard of a total eclipse lasting three hours. – Perry Webb Feb 19 '18 at 21:46
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    @PerryWebb The darkening of the sun over the earth and the duration for which it lasted are all deliberate acts of God. It was a sign and the clues to unravelling it are embedded in the scriptures. I need insights on this. – user20490 Feb 20 '18 at 2:33
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    I believe it has something to do with the "day of the Lord" which is always spoken by the prophets as a day of darkness, wrath and judgement. Maybe it has to do with Christ bearing our sin and the wrath of God upon himself, and the darkness was symbolic of that. – diego b Feb 20 '18 at 18:35
  • Jesus said that "I am the light of the world" as quoted in John 8:12. When Jesus died, he demonstrated that this light went out. At Pentecost, tongues of fire might also represent the light brought by the Holy Spirit through each believer there. Incidentally, an eclipse of the sun can only occur at a new moon, never a full moon. Passover is celebrated at a full moon. – Dieter Feb 21 '18 at 6:02
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Also Mark 15:33 and Luke 23:44-45.

In his commentary on Luke's passage (Sermon CLIII), Cyril of Alexandria (378-444) saw allusions to Amos and to Psalm 69 here:

Amos 5:18 (NKJV)

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light.

Psalm 69:23 (NKJV)

Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see; And make their loins shake continually.

Jerome (347-420) cites Amos and Jeremiah in his Commentary on Matthew (IV.XXVII.45):

Amos 8:9 (NKJV)

“And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord God, “That I will make the sun go down at noon, And I will darken the earth in broad daylight

Jeremiah 15:9 LXX (Brenton)

She that bore seven is spent; her soul has fainted under trouble; her sun is gone down while it is yet noon; she is ashamed and disgraced: I will give the remnant of them to the sword before their enemies.

Ephrem the Syrian (306-373), in his Commentary on the Diatessaron of Tatian (XXI.5), saw a parallel to God's victory over the Egyptians (Exodus 13):

God was victorious over the Egyptians, and he lit up the way for the Hebrews with the pillar of fire in the month of Nisan. The sun became dark over them because they had returned evil for goodness. Just as God split the sea, the Spirit split the curtain in half, since they rejected and unjustly crucified the King of glory on the Skull. The curtain of the temple was torn in two for this reason.


  • A pretty strong list of references. A good answer. – user20490 Feb 19 '18 at 12:42
  • Just as the Red Sea and the Jordan River were parted to show the miraculous way that God provided for his people to escape the world and to enter into his promised land, the Temple curtain was also split miraculously to provide his people continual and direct access to God in the Holy of Holies without a barrier negotiated by a high priest. Jesus is now our sacrifice and our high priest. – Dieter Feb 21 '18 at 5:54
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Another answer has competently dealt with the prophetic aspect asked for in the question. I want to look at the symbolic aspect, asked for in the question, regarding the darkness during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.


There were ten occurrences which are significant (Matthew 27 and Luke 23) :

  1. There was darkness over all the earth (ge) for three hours
  2. The sun was darkened
  3. The veil of the temple was rent
  4. Jesus cried with a loud voice
  5. Jesus commended his spirit to the Father
  6. Jesus expired (expneuma)
  7. There was an earthquake
  8. Rocks were rent
  9. Sleeping saints arose out of the grave
  10. A Roman centurion testified "Truly this was the Son of God"

I would say there are five symbolic aspects regarding the darkness. The symbolism is made clear by reference to the ten events above.

A - The Rift Within Deity

One of the cries from the cross was 'My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me ?' which indicates the separation which occurred when Jesus Christ, through the eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14) offered himself up as the Sin-Bearer. The darkness over the earth symbolises this terrible separation of him from his Father.

B - The Death of Christ

Mankind, in Adam, having done all that was done - in the ancient world, in Israel, among the gentiles - added this wickedness above all, that humanity on earth rejected the Son of God. I believe the darkening of the sun symbolises the reaction of heaven to such an atrocious rejection from earth. Although men did not deliver the actual death-blow (for he yielded up his life, himself, John 10:18) yet they, having crucified him, are not exempt from the crime of homicide.

C - The End of Israel

That the veil of the temple was rent indicates the end of all the representation on earth of things in heaven. But Israel had rejected the very one sent to realise all the representation. It was a dark day indeed for Israel, now that Israel had rejected that which they had been supposed to revere in figure.

D - The Invisibility of What Occurred in the Darkness

In the Gospel is the righteousness of God revealed, Romans 1:17, says Paul. He makes it clear that by one righteousness is there justification and that this righteousness (dikaiomatos, Romans 5:18) is a demonstrated righteousness. The demonstration was in darkness. Human eye could not see it. What was done at Golgotha is revealed in the Gospel.

E - The Portent of the End of the World

Coupled with the earthquake (an instability in the earth) and the rending of rocks (an instability in matter itself) the darkness is symbolic of the end of all things. The sun shall be darkened prophesied Jesus, Matthew 24:29, at the end of time. What occurred in his departure from the world (for after his burial the world saw him no more) is a portent of what shall accompany his return, in judgment.

  • Wow Nigel. This was a great effort. +1 – user20490 Feb 22 '18 at 23:56
  • @user20490 Glad to be of service. – Nigel J Feb 23 '18 at 1:10

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