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What does diadem mean in the Bible?

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A diadem is a headpiece symbolizing royalty or authority and is usually worn by a king or queen. A synonym for diadem is crown, and that is the word found in most modern Bible translations. The word diadem is first used in the Bible in Exodus 29:6 as part of God’s instructions for Aaron’s clothing. Moses’ brother Aaron was chosen by God as the first high priest (Exodus 28:1). God commanded specific garments for the priests to wear while serving in His temple. Among those garments for the high priest was a turban topped with a “holy diadem” or crown (Leviticus 8:9). This diadem symbolized Aaron’s unique position as spokesman for the Most High. Israel was to obey the words of Aaron and Moses as though obeying God Himself.

Other places in Scripture use the word diadem to represent a king, without saying as such. For example, Revelation 13:1 says, “I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads” (ESV). The use of the word diadem to refer to a king is an example of a figure of speech called metonymy. The vision of the beast from the sea represents a federation of ten kings of nations in league with the Antichrist in the end times (Revelation 17:12). The book of Revelation uses many such figurative images.

Isaiah 62:3 uses diadem in a little different way. The Lord says to Israel, “You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” There is coming a day, in the kingdom of the Messiah, when Jerusalem will be restored and Zion will be glorified. God will display His redeemed people as a king would display a splendid crown. Isaiah 28:5 flips that picture around and says that the Lord will be the diadem of His people. The basic message is the same: God will give glory and honor to the people He saves. A diadem figured into Mordecai’s grand honor in Persia as he was allowed to ride the king’s own horse, and the horse was fitted with a diadem of some type (see Esther 6:8).

The lyrics of the hymn “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” by Edward Perronet use the word diadem in a way that helps us grasp its full meaning. The first verse says,

All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all!

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This page last updated: September 15, 2023