What is Wormwood in the Bible?
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What is Wormwood in the Bible?


The Bible is a collection of sacred texts that has inspired millions of people throughout history. It is filled with wisdom, guidance, and prophetic messages that have been interpreted and analyzed for centuries. Among the many intriguing topics found in the Bible is the mention of “wormwood,” a term that has piqued the curiosity of scholars and readers alike. But what is wormwood in the Bible, and what is its significance?

In this blog post, we will explore the meaning of wormwood in the context of the Bible, delving into its appearances in the Old and New Testaments, and discuss its symbolism and implications for believers. By examining the various ways wormwood is used in Scripture, we hope to shed light on its importance and provide a deeper understanding of its relevance to our faith.

Wormwood, a bitter herb often associated with divine judgment, is mentioned several times in the Bible. Though its appearances are relatively few, its presence holds great significance, as it serves as a symbol of God’s wrath and the consequences of sin. As we take a closer look at the biblical mentions of wormwood, we will also explore the various interpretations of this term and consider its implications for our spiritual lives.

Wormwood in the bible

Wormwood in the Old Testament

Wormwood is first mentioned in the Old Testament, specifically in the book of Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy 29:18 (NKJV), Moses warns the Israelites against turning away from God and following other gods, which would result in dire consequences:

“…so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood.”

Here, wormwood is associated with bitterness, representing the spiritual poison and decay that results from forsaking God and pursuing false idols.

In the book of Proverbs, wormwood is mentioned again in relation to the dangers of adultery. Proverbs 5:3-4 (NKJV) states:

“For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, And her mouth is smoother than oil; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword.”

This passage uses wormwood as a metaphor for the bitter consequences that can arise from engaging in immoral behavior.

The prophet Jeremiah also speaks of wormwood in his lamentations over the destruction of Jerusalem. He describes the bitter suffering experienced by the people as a result of their disobedience to God. Lamentations 3:15,19 (NKJV) says:

“He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drink wormwood… Remember my affliction and roaming, The wormwood and the gall.”

Wormwood in the New Testament

In the New Testament, wormwood is mentioned in the book of Revelation, which describes the prophetic visions of John the Apostle. Wormwood is introduced as a symbol of God’s judgment during the end times. Revelation 8:10-11 (NKJV) recounts the falling of a great star called Wormwood:

“Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.”

This passage speaks of a catastrophic event during the end times, where a great star called Wormwood contaminates the waters, causing widespread death and suffering. It serves as a reminder of the consequences of sin and the importance of remaining faithful to God.

Interpretations and Symbolism of Wormwood

The term “wormwood” has been subject to various interpretations and symbolisms throughout history. Some scholars believe that wormwood is a literal plant, while others view it as a metaphor for bitterness, judgment, and divine punishment.

The plant commonly known as wormwood, scientifically named Artemisia absinthium, is a bitter herb used in traditional medicines and as a flavoring agent in absinthe, a highly alcoholic beverage. The literal interpretation of wormwood in the Bible suggests that the herb’s bitterness symbolizes the bitterness of sin and its consequences.

In a broader sense, wormwood serves as a symbol of divine judgment and retribution. Its appearances in the Bible often coincide with moments of God’s wrath, as seen in the destruction of Jerusalem and the end times prophecies. The association between wormwood and divine judgment emphasizes the importance of obedience to God and the consequences of disobedience.

Some theologians and Bible scholars have also connected wormwood with specific historical events or figures. For example, some have speculated that the star called Wormwood in Revelation may symbolize a specific leader or nation responsible for widespread suffering during the end times. However, these interpretations remain speculative, and the overarching message of wormwood remains focused on the consequences of sin and the need for faithfulness to God.

Lessons from Wormwood for Christians

The biblical mentions of wormwood offer valuable lessons for Christians seeking to grow in their faith and deepen their understanding of God’s Word. The symbolism of wormwood serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of obedience to God and the potential consequences of straying from His path.

By reflecting on the instances of wormwood in the Bible, Christians are encouraged to examine their own lives and consider the areas where they may be harboring bitterness or engaging in sinful behavior. Wormwood’s presence in Scripture serves as a call to repentance, urging believers to turn away from sin and seek God’s forgiveness and grace.

Furthermore, the mention of Wormwood in the book of Revelation underscores the need for Christians to remain vigilant and steadfast in their faith, particularly in the face of adversity and the challenges of the end times. As believers, we are called to be prepared and to stand firm in our faith, trusting in God’s ultimate plan and the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ.


In conclusion, wormwood is a fascinating and important topic within the Bible. Though its mentions are limited, its symbolism carries great significance, reminding us of the consequences of sin and the need for faithfulness to God.

The bitter herb known as wormwood serves as a poignant metaphor for the spiritual decay and suffering that result from disobedience to God. From the Old Testament warnings of Moses and Jeremiah to the New Testament prophecies of John the Apostle, wormwood remains a powerful symbol of divine judgment and the importance of obedience to our Creator.

As Christians, reflecting on the biblical accounts of wormwood can inspire us to examine our own lives, repent of sin, and seek God’s grace and forgiveness. By understanding the lessons of wormwood, we can grow in our faith and stand firm in the hope and salvation offered through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.