The Crimson Or Scarlet Worm

Posted by on Nov 20, 2011 in Kid's Think & Believe Too! | 35 comments

Psalm 22 (sometimes called the Psalm of the Cross) is a great chapter of the Bible that tells about the suffering and death of Christ 1,000 years before he actually gave his life upon the cross. Verse 1 says, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? …” In the gospels of Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34, Jesus cried out the same words while hanging on the cross. In verse 6 of Psalm 22, Jesus says something odd: “But I am a worm, and no man.” What did he mean by saying “I am a worm”?

Usually in the Bible, the Hebrew word for a worm is “rimmah”, which means a maggot – but the Hebrew word Jesus used here for worm, is TOLA’ATH, which means “Crimson worm” or “Scarlet worm”. Both scarlet and crimson are the colors of blood – deep red.

The Crimson worm [coccus ilicis] is a very special worm that looks more like a grub than a worm. When it is time for the female or mother Crimson worm to have babies (which she does only one time in her life), she finds the trunk of a tree, a wooden fencepost or a stick. She then attaches her body to that wood and makes a hard crimson shell.  She is so strongly and permanently stuck to the wood that the shell can never be removed without tearing her body completely apart and killing her.

The Crimson worm then lays her eggs under her body and the protective shell. When the baby worms (or larvae) hatch, they stay under the shell. Not only does the mother’s body give protection for her babies, but it also provides them with food – the babies feed on the LIVING body of the mother!

After just a few days, when the young worms grow to the point that they are able to take care of themselves, the mother dies. As the mother Crimson worm dies, she oozes a crimson or scarlet red dye which not only stains the wood she is attached to, but also her young children. They are colored scarlet red for the rest of their lives.

After three days, the dead mother Crimson worm’s body loses its crimson color and turns into a white wax which falls to the ground like snow. So what did Jesus mean by saying “I am a worm”? There are a lot of ideas what Jesus might have meant, but nobody really knows for sure. However, it is very interesting that, just like the Crimson worm, Jesus sacrificed or gave up his life on a tree so that his children might be washed with his crimson blood and their sins cleaned white as snow. He died for us, that we might live through him!

 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

By Lanny and Marilyn Johnson

Originally published in the November/December 2011 issue of Kids Think and Believe, Too! Check it out for activities and a maze.

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  1. Hello WOW I am very interested in learning about crimson worm…

    • THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS INFO!! It explains a lot in the scripture.

    • Hi Vickie! This is really awesome. It shows us how well thought out Father YAH’s plan is. I can’t wait to see the next clue he sends me too. Thank you Vickie for sharing this knowledge. YAH’s blessings be upon you. So be it! Hallelujah!

  2. What a beautiful picture of our selfless savior! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I’m so much glad to know that piece of information! Praise God for the truth!

  4. This exhibits the wisdom of the All Knowing God. That, in the beginning,when He was calling things to be, He knew that He would need evidence of the Cross that had not yet been seen. Long before He instituted the practice of the shed blood of the covenant, He had a shadow set in place. It was all in the design! Evolution could never design anything like that.

    • Wow. Your words are profound. God bless you!

  5. thank you for your beautiful post! Makes me think of the words of the Lord JESUS in John 6:57b. “So the one who feeds on Me will Live because of Me.”

    • Thank you for telling about that verse; I wrote it down in some notes related to this worm and Psalm 22.

  6. Check out Isaiah 41:14, it ties into Psalms 22:6. About the worm and Yeshua (Jesus).Shalom.

    • Thanks for the beautiful explanation of the Tola Worm and the link with Ps 22:6. I have been using Isaiah 41:14 to pray with little understanding, now it is clearer. Thank you.

  7. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS INFO!! It explains a lot in the scripture.

  8. I learned something today by reading this article. thank you. I’m so glad I found this message. I study a lot and always looking for information on the Bible words and their true mesning. This has been a blessing. Thanks again. God Bless ! Claudia

  9. Wow, another “coincidence”. At what point do you finally realize that God says what he means and means what he says?

    • Just after it has been read!!!

  10. Thanks for the information. I did a teaching on this years ago. But this is so much more informative!

  11. Thank you for an amazing portrait of our Lord Jesus!

  12. This worm is also called the Tolah worm.
    This creature is truly a testament to the fact that “the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1) It shows that God’s creation is sometimes a sort of living prophesy of His plan, something that reflects His thinking.

  13. The information you offered is awesome, the time spent and the research required is amazing. The established facts, always gives the subject matter credence, and the receiver’s confidence is assured.
    Thank you for your fore-thoughts and diligence.

  14. I first heard about the Crimson Worm in a sermon at church and decided to include it in the 180-day devotional I’m writing. What a wonderful description of the Lord’s love!

  15. Heavenly Father thank you for another deeper confirmation of your hand in all things as creator most gracious father. Thank you for sending your Son to Die on the cross so that we may be wiped clean and covered with the precious blood. This was further truth for the journey that in the native Hebrew tongue to show the depth of your love for in the last words spoken by our lord and savior link it to your grand design. Thank you Father for all that you are and all that you have done and revealed I hope to be found worthy in that time you call us all.

  16. Truly magnificent, our Omniscient God in three Persons; blessed Trinity.

  17. I am so fascinated and blessed by the story of the Crimsom worm that I plan to make it a must to share with some dear friends at church.What a great and extraordinary God we serve.

  18. Outstanding, that is so amazing, o
    our GOD truly knows all, praise the LORD.

  19. I was utterly blown away by this beautiful description of this worm. Do you have any more stories about G-D’s beautiful creation? Such this one? The Dove! Ravens, donkeys, etc

    • We have many, just take a look through our newsletter archives or try to search for animals you like in the search engine and see what we have. Thanks for visiting our site.

  20. Suggestion: Add a link so this can easily be shared on Facebook or text messages.

  21. Wow, this is an awesome picture of…we who are HIS, are worms covered, protected and fed by HIS blood on the tree with HIM waiting for the day to go out and do what Yeshua did so that we too will turn white in order to be HIS bride.
    Baruch Haba HaShem Adonai Eloheynu.
    Shalom and thank you Rosina

  22. Just as nothing in the life of Christ was wasted, nothing in the life of the scarlet worm is wasted. Jesus never wastes a hurt in our lives.

  23. thank you good verse compare to the cross and the salvation

  24. First heard of the Scarlet Worm from Engineering Professor and Creationalist Dr. Edward Blick in 1981. Thank you for publishing this article. Now I reference it whenever I use the illustration of the Scarlet Worm and our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.

  25. Explains mark their worm dieth not.

  26. It’s amazing how GOD uses nature which he created to honor his SON !

  27. isn’t there something else that this worm does…it crawls up the east facing the east so that in the morning when the sun rises in the east that’s when it lets go of all its eggs and they fall to the ground?


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