A headgear, simple or ornate, worn by persons of distinction, such as kings, queens, other rulers, priests, and individuals to be specially honored or rewarded. After the Flood, crowns came to be used as symbols of authority, dignity, power, honor, and reward.
The early form of the crown was evidently that of the diadem (Heb., neʹzer), a simple band that was probably first used to hold back the long hair of the wearer. However, it was adopted as a royal headdress even among peoples wearing short hair. Such fillets are represented in sculptures of Egypt, Nineveh, and Persepolis. Distinctions were drawn as to honored ones in later times by the use of diadems of various colors and types of weaving or design. Some of these bands were about 5 cm (2 in.) wide and were made of linen, silk, and even silver and gold. Sometimes the diadem was worn over a cap. There were also radiated diadems (having points all around the band running out from it like rays), and there were those set with precious stones.
The Hebrew word neʹzer, in addition to meaning “diadem” (2Ch 23:11), can pertain to a thing singled out, separated, or dedicated, as in the case of the chief priest who had upon him “the sign of dedication, the anointing oil of his God.” (Le 21:10-12; compare De 33:16, ftn.) In view of this basic meaning, the New World Translation appropriately renders neʹzer at times as “sign of dedication,” with reference to the plate of gold worn by Israel’s high priest upon his turban. On this gold plate were inscribed the words “Holiness belongs to Jehovah.”—Ex 29:6; 39:30, ftn; Le 8:9.
Diadems as symbols of royalty were worn by Hebrew kings, such as Saul. (2Sa 1:10) However, the main Hebrew word denoting a crown in the usual sense and generally rendered “crown” is ʽata·rahʹ, from ʽa·tarʹ, meaning “surround.” (Compare Ps 5:12.) It does not necessarily signify a diadem. The crown (ʽata·rahʹ) David took as a prize of war from the Ammonites at Rabbah originally was kept on the head of the idol Malcam. This crown’s form is not revealed, but it was “a talent of gold in weight [c. 34 kg; 92 lb t], and in it there were precious stones.” “It came to be on David’s head,” he possibly placing this heavy crown on his head only briefly, perhaps to signify his triumph over the false deity.—1Ch 20:2; see MOLECH.
Some crowns were made of refined gold (Ps 21:3); others additionally were studded with precious stones. (2Sa 12:30) At times, several bands, or diadems, were combined, and this seems to have been the usual nature of “a grand crown.” (Job 31:36) The expression “grand crown” at Zechariah 6:14 is, literally, “crowns” in Hebrew, but it is accompanied by a verb in the singular number. Hence, it appears to be in the plural number of excellence or grandeur.
Concerning unfaithful Zedekiah, the last of Judah’s kings, Jehovah decreed: “Remove the turban, and lift off the crown.” This may relate to a kingly turban, over which a golden crown was worn. (Compare Ps 21:3; Isa 62:3.) Both of these symbols of active royal power were removed, and God’s decree indicated that active rulership on “Jehovah’s throne” (1Ch 29:23) would be held in abeyance until the coming of God’s Messianic King.—Eze 21:25-27; Ge 49:10.
A “royal headdress” of the Persian Empire is mentioned at Esther 1:11; 2:17; 6:6-10. The Hebrew word for “headdress” in this account (keʹther) comes from ka·tharʹ (surround). (Compare Jg 20:43.) The Bible does not describe the Persian “royal headdress,” though the Persian monarch himself ordinarily wore one consisting of a stiff cap, perhaps of cloth or of felt, that had a blue-and-white band around it, the band actually being a diadem.
When Upper and Lower Egypt were united under one monarch, the Egyptian royal headdress became a combination crown. The crown of Lower Egypt (a flat red cap with a high point in the back and a projection with a curled end jutting out diagonally toward the front) was superimposed upon that of Upper Egypt (a round, high, white cap tapering to a knob). Usually the uraeus (the Egyptians’ sacred asp) appears at the front of the crown. The royal headdress of the Assyrian king, which has been described as a high miter, was often adorned with such figures as flowers and was arranged in bands of silk or linen. It was a sort of conical cap somewhat similar to a modern fez, though higher. Greek and Roman crowns were simpler; sometimes they were radiated diadems or they were in the form of wreaths.
Jehovah spoke of men putting bracelets upon the hands of Oholah and Oholibah and “beautiful crowns” on their heads. (Eze 23:36, 42) In recent centuries, Arab women of distinction and wealth have worn (around dome-shaped caps) crowns that were jeweled gold circlets. A similar type of headdress may have been worn by certain women of antiquity.
The Greek word steʹpha·nos is rendered “crown.” Roman soldiers, in mockery of Christ’s royal status and probably also to add to his agony, braided a crown of thorns and placed it on Jesus’ head. (Mt 27:29; Mr 15:17; Joh 19:2) There have been various suggestions as to the plant used. However, the Gospel writers do not name the plant.
Crowns of a wreath or a garland of flowers were used in connection with athletic events. (2Ti 2:5) Winners in Grecian games were given crowns or wreaths that were usually made of the leaves of trees. For instance, in the Pythian Games the victors received a crown made of laurel; winners in the Olympian Games got crowns of wild olive leaves; and victors in the Isthmian Games (held near Corinth) were given crowns made of pine or dried celery.
The English word “crown” is also applied, among other things, to the top of the head. It is used in that sense in the Scriptures as well.—Ge 49:26; De 28:35; Ps 68:21.
Figurative Use. A capable wife is considered to be “a crown to her owner,” because her good conduct brings honor to her husband, raising him in the estimation of others. (Pr 12:4) The symbolic woman Zion was to become “a crown of beauty” in Jehovah’s hand, possibly denoting that she was the product of his workmanship being held up in the hand, as it were, so that others could view her with admiration.—Isa 62:1-3.
Paul’s ministry and that of his traveling companions resulted in the forming of a Christian congregation in Thessalonica, which Paul rejoiced in as a “crown of exultation,” it being one of the uppermost causes of joy to him.—1Th 2:19, 20; compare Php 4:1.
Gray-headedness is like a glorious “crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness,” a life spent in fear of Jehovah being beautiful from his viewpoint and meriting respect by all humans as a good example. (Pr 16:31; see Le 19:32.) Wisdom, like a crown, exalts and wins respect for its possessor. (Pr 4:7-9) Jesus Christ, who had been made “a little lower than angels,” was “crowned with glory and honor [as a heavenly spirit creature exalted far above the angels] for having suffered death.” (Heb 2:5-9; Php 2:5-11) In heaven, Jesus’ anointed followers receive as a reward for faithfulness “the unfadable crown of glory,” an “incorruptible one.” (1Pe 5:4; 1Co 9:24-27; 2Ti 4:7, 8; Re 2:10) But unfaithfulness that results in one’s loss of Kingdom interests on earth also means his loss of the heavenly crown. Hence, the glorified Jesus Christ admonished: “Keep on holding fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”—Re 3:11.
In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word di·aʹde·ma is rendered “diadem” by modern translations. It is always used as a symbol of kingly dignity, whether real or merely claimed. The “great fiery-colored dragon” (Satan the Devil) has a diadem upon each of its seven heads. (Re 12:3, 9) A diadem adorns each of the ten horns of the symbolic seven-headed “wild beast” that ascends out of “the sea.” (Re 13:1) The one called Faithful and True, namely, Jesus Christ, has upon his head “many diadems,” his being from Jehovah, the rightful Source of authority and power. (Re 19:11-13; 12:5, 10) Also at Revelation 6:2 and 14:14, Jesus Christ is pictured as wearing a crown (steʹpha·nos).