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What is Gall in the Bible? Scripture References and Meaning

What is Gall?

According to Merriam-Webster, the most common modern definition of gall is "brazen boldness often with brash self-confidence." An example of gall in a sentence: I can't believe she said that! What gall!

Historically, gall has also meant "an abnormal outgrowth of plant tissue usually due to insect or mite parasites or fungi and sometimes forming an important source of tannin." The photo above gives an example of this abnormal plant growth.

In the Bible, Gall has multiple meanings and uses throughout the Old and New Testaments:

Gall in the Bible

Did you know that "gall" is referenced 14 times in the KJV Bible? The biblical term gall typically refers to a bitter-tasting substance made of a plant such as a wormwood or myrrh.

The most well-known Bible mention of gall is likely from Jesus on the Cross, when "They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink." (Matthew 27:34). This was a fulfillment of the prophecy from Psalm 69:21 "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."

The Apostle Mark specifies that the bitterness in the wine was due to the presence of myrrh. "Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it." (Mark 15:23)

Wine mixed with bitter herbs or myrrh formed a brew that numbed the sense of pain. The mixture of sour wine and gall was often given to those suffering to reduce their pain in death.

Bible Verses about Gall

Deuteronomy 29:18 KJV

Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;

Deuteronomy 32:32 KJV

For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:

Job 16:13 KJV

His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.

Job 20:14 KJV

Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.

Job 20:25 KJV

It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him.

Jeremiah 8:14 KJV

Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:15 KJV

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.

Jeremiah 23:15 KJV

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.

Lamentations 3:5 KJV

He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail.

Lamentations 3:19 KJV

Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.

Amos 6:12 KJV

Shall horses run upon the rock? Will one plow there with oxen? For ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock:

Acts 8:23 KJV

For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity

Here, Apostle Paul uses gall figuratively to indicate a severe moral defect in Simon that had produced bitterness in his heart. This sorcerer had seen the power of the Holy Spirit and saw it as a tool for financial gain. In response to Simon’s request for the Holy Spirit, Peter told him to repent before God’s judgment came upon him and concluded with these words: “I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (ESV).

Photo credit: Getty/aga7ta

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These verses serve as a source of renewal for the mind and restoration for the heart by reinforcing the notion that, while human weakness is inevitable, God's strength is always available to uplift, guide, and empower us.

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