Whenever we see an animal at the aquarium or zoo, we never stop to think about how much of an influence it has had on human culture and history. Every day, we walk past buildings that showcase some of the world’s most beautiful creatures in their architecture, and we never stop to question why.
Animals have been a source of inspiration for the human race for centuries, with different species denoting a different symbolic meaning. And if there is one animal on earth that evidences this, it has to be the turtle.
Known for their calm natures and wisdom, turtles have existed on our planet for almost 230 million years, and in that time they have become the subject of literature, art, music and even religion. Although it may sound like a strange notion, turtles appear on the pages of the bible almost as much as lions and snakes.
But what do turtles represent in the Christian faith? And how has their existence influenced the most dominant religion in the world? All these questions are answered down below, where we have compiled everything you need to know about turtles and their biblical meanings.
What Do Turtles Symbolize In The Bible?
Like many animals that feature in the stories of the bible, the turtle does not represent one single thing. Instead, the aquatic creature comes to embody a selection of different meanings, which are then used to demonstrate positive Christian teachings.
Because there is no one answer to what turtles symbolize in the bible, we have compiled together the various definitions and meanings that this beautiful animal has come to represent.
Turtles and Immortality
If you went outside and asked a random person how long a turtle lives for, then they would probably answer with a few hundred years. This is because many people mistakenly believe that turtles are capable of living for centuries, which is not actually true.
This seems to be yet another case of mistaken identity, with many people confusing turtles with certain species of tortoise.
Although we understand that turtles and tortoises are very similar in appearance, with their hard shells and pointed faces, that is where the similarities end.
Turtles and tortoises are very different animals, who both come from very different environments and have very different lifespans. Whereas some species of tortoise have been known to live for almost two centuries, most species of turtle will only live for 30-50 years.
However, it seems that this differentiation was not established when the bible was first written. And now turtles are heavily associated with long life and even the Christian concept of immortality.
So this means that the turtle is viewed as a symbol of vitality and longevity, which are attributes that are considered heroic by the Christian faith.
Turtles and Virtue
The bible is a sacred text that is used by the Christian religion to teach people about the importance of living a virtuous and sinless life, with two of the most important virtues being patience and wisdom.
Because the human race often associates the turtle with a slow pace and calculated movements, the reptile has found itself becoming a symbol of these two virtues.
There are many passages in the bible, particularly in the Book of Proverbs, that refer to the consequences of living your life in a fast and uncontrollable manner, and how this demonstrates a lack of wisdom among young and inexperienced people.
These pages of the scripture are used to emphasize the importance of patience and wisdom, and how they can be used to live the life that God intended for you.
Even in our fast-paced and technological world, modern Christian factions teach the significance of living your life in a calm and measured way.
For God rewards those people who choose to walk at the same pace as him, instead of those who live their lives in a constant and unfocused blur. Because of this, the turtle is seen as a virtuous animal, one that teaches the human race to slowly follow in God’s example.
Turtles & Fertility
One of the most important teachings in the Bible concerns the significance of fertility and productivity among the human species. Because of this, turtles are widely considered to be a symbol of fertility, with some species being known to lay up to 110 eggs every mating season.
Turtles are also aquatic creatures, which means that they are heavily associated with the water, which only helps to further their connotations of productivity and fertility.
In both biblical and other human belief systems, waster is considered a primary symbol of fertility, with the natural element being viewed as the lifeblood of the planet, which nourishes both animals and plants.
During the middle ages, patriarchal Christian teachings also associated water with femininity, due to the liquid’s cold and fluid nature. This in turn, also helped to associate the element with fertility, as a woman’s primary role during this time was to have children.
The image of baby turtles hatching from their eggs and scurrying into the ocean also demonstrates the connection between water and earth – two elements that are widely associated with fertility and femininity.
Turtles & Spirituality
If there is one feature commonly associated with the turtle, then it is to be the animal’s iconic shell, which is known to bear various patterns and markings.
In some Island cultures, tribal folklore teaches that these markings are pathways to the spirit world, the abyss where our souls go upon death.
Further connections have since been made between the turtle’s shell and the afterlife, with many religions and cultures comparing the patterns to the constellations of the night sky.
Because of this, the turtle has been viewed as an animal that straddles two worlds, a living connection between the earth and the heavens above.
Interestingly, humans once believed that these creatures were the creators of the world and that our planet was being carried on the back of a giant turtle swimming through space.
Again this helps to demonstrate the turtle’s association with spirituality and how the reptile has been viewed as a deity in its own right.