In this article, we will explore bees in the Bible! We will look at the symbolism and Biblical meaning. So, grab your Bible, and let’s dig in…
The Bible is full of deep and complex symbolism and mysteries, but there are some instances when the allegories used in the Scriptures are easier to understand than others. And bees fall into this category. Bees have always been a fascinating subject to me since my name, Melissa, means honey bee. More on that later, but there are many interpretations of what bees may represent in a Biblical sense, but the truth is that the only way to know what the Bible says about bees is to read and understand the scriptures that mention bees. This helps us build a foundation, and from there, we can see a common thread.
There are not many places in the Bible that mention bees, but there are a few, and these mentions have mostly similar meanings. Let’s explore the verses in the Bible that talk about bees to find out what the Scriptures say rather than extrapolating meaning based on interpretations.
Dreaming about bees? Check out…The Biblical Meaning of Bees In Dreams (Plus Wasps and Hornets)
Bees In The Bible: The Biblical Meaning of Bees
Searching for meaning in the bees of the Bible can be challenging, as there are many writings and teachings based on bees, and there are many interpretations trying to explain how bees are significant to Christians. Still, the reality is that the meanings and symbolism of bees used in the Bible are very simple. And I want to want to make clear this is a study on insect bees, not honey. I think many times we try to merge the two, but when we look at scripture, you can see they are distinctly different.
Bees are only mentioned four times in the Bible, all of which are in the Old Testament, where they are often used to describe the function or behavior of things or people.
These insects are only mentioned in the following Scriptures
- Deuteronomy 1:44
- Psalm 118:12
- Isaiah 7:18
- Judges 14:8
To better understand what it means when bees are mentioned in these verses and the context surrounding them, let’s explore each verse individually and unpack what the Bible says about bees.
‘Then the Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do and beat you down in Seir as far as Hormah.’ Deuteronomy 1:44 ESV
This verse compares bees to the army of the Amorites. The Hebrew root word used for bees in this context, according to Strong’s Concordance, is the same word used to describe the action of moving in an orderly motion.
Bees in this context are used to depict the orderly motion in which the Amorite army functioned and the ferocity with which the army attacked. The army here is likened to a swarm of chasing bees that defeated the Israelites.
Surrounding the Scriptures, the armies of the enemies of the Israelites attacked them, and the Lord was not with them, so the armies swarmed and chased them as bees do until the Israelites returned to the Lord.
‘They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the Lord, I cut them off!’ Psalm 118:12 ESV
This is a Psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord and calls for all of the people of God to praise Him for His steadfast love. This passage describes the goodness of the Lord and how God delivered the Israelites from their enemies.
In the context of this Scripture, bees here are again likened to a swarming enemy army. The writer of the Psalm describes attacking enemies from all nations that surrounded the people of God like bees, but the power of God gave them the ability to defeat them.
As opposed to the previous Scripture in Deuteronomy 1:44, the Lord was with the Israelites, and His power enabled them to defeat the armies that swarmed against them!
The same root word is used in both scriptures, and bees are used in the same context to describe an intense, well-organized, swarming enemy army. Can you start to see the symbolic meaning of bees?
‘On that day, the Lord will whistle for the fly that is at the end of the streams of Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.’ Isaiah 7:18 ESV
This verse is another example of bees in the Bible used as an allegory for an enemy army.
In this context, bees are used along with flies to describe the number of soldiers in invading armies that the Lord will bring into the land of Israel from Egypt and Assyria.
The Scripture goes on to say that the armies will settle in every place and cover the land and that the Lord will use them to rid his land of what is not His will.
This is again the same root word used, and the picture of flies and bees implies that the invading armies are great in number, organized, swarming, and relentless.
‘After some days, he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey.‘ Judges 14:8 ESV
This is the only Scripture in the Bible that mentions bees outside of the context of an army.
This emphasis in this verse is not on the bees themselves but rather on the fact that there were bees and honey within the dead body of the lion that Samson slayed.
Samson touched the lion and removed the honey with his hands, and ate it. By so doing, Samson broke his vow of the Nazarites. This vow prohibits any person living as a Nazarite from touching any dead thing.
Dead animals, particularly dead predatory animals such as lions, were considered unclean to the Israelites in the Old Testament. Samson not only ate the hone from the corpse of the lion himself, but he also gave some of it to his father and mother as well.
Deborah: God’s Bee
I hope you enjoy this section, as it’s more of my personal revelation. When I got saved and learned how names carried a lot of spiritual meaning, I went on a journey to learn about my name, Melissa. I wasn’t too thrilled to find out that my name had origins in Greek mythology. But I felt led to keep digging deeper, and this is when I discovered that the name Deborah also means bee! As you can see below, the first one is for the name Deborah, and the second is the Hebrew word for bee. They are exactly the same word!
The prophetess Deborah was a Judge in Israel who received the word of the Lord that they would have victory over the Canaanites. So, she sent for Barak, a commander in Israel’s army. But he would not fight the Canninties without Deborah going with him. They faced 900 iron chariots, it would be a miracle for them to face such a strong enemy. But with God, all things are possible.
Much like the verses we explored earlier about bees being in relation to armies, war, and attack. Deborah was like a queen bee who helped lead Israel’s army to victory. Bringing forth 40 years of peace in the land of Israel! So, here we see a different type of bee being sent out to do the Lord’s work!
Bees in the Bible are found in Deuteronomy 1:44, Psalm 118:12, Isaiah 7:18, and Judges 14:8. In Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah; bees symbolize armies, war, and attack. In Judges, bees are mentioned in the story of when Samson ate honey from a dead lion, breaking his Nazarite vow. If you would like to check out these verses and verses on wasps, please visit the following: 8 Interesting Bible Verses about Bees, Wasps, and Hornets
Bees are only used in these scriptures in the Bible and nowhere else. No other symbolism is used, no other stories are told, and there is no other meaning to find within bees in the Bible. It’s a pretty simple, clear symbol. But we will look more into this when we look at the Biblical meaning of bee dreams.
I hope you have enjoyed this study! And don’t forget to check out other articles on Biblical symbolism!
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…