We’ve set out in this series to explore some of the literary devices in the Bible. Specifically, we’re looking at: (1) common figures of speech; (2) common semantic, rhetorical and poetic devices; and (3) common structuring techniques.

The first category, common figures of speech, can be subdivided into: (a) figures of speech involving comparison; and (b) figures of speech involving substitution. We begin today with the first figure of speech involving comparison—the simile.


Pronunciation: \ ˈsi-mə-lē \

A simile captures resemblance. It is an explicit comparison (i.e., using “like” or “as”) between two things of unlike nature that nevertheless have something in common. It is important to identify both the point of likeness and the mood or feeling evoked by the comparison.

General Examples

•  His temper was like a volcano.

•  When we’re out on the dance floor, we’re as happy as pigs in mud.

•  “It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog.” (The Beatles)

•  “Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.” (Simon & Garfunkel)

•  “The water made a sound like kittens lapping.” (M. K. Rawlings)

•  “In the eastern sky there was a yellow patch like a rug laid for the feet of the coming sun.” (Stephen Crane)

•  “Elderly American ladies leaning on their canes listed toward me like towers of Pisa.” (Vladimir Nabokov)

•  “Snow lay here and there in patches in the hollow of the banks, like a lady’s gloves forgotten.” (R. D. Blackmore)

Biblical Examples

•  “…his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau.” (Gen 25:25b)

•  “Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow.” (Exod 4:6b)

•  “At midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark.” (Deut 28:29)

•  “He is like a tree planted by streams of water.” (Ps 1:3a)

•  “My heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast.” (Ps 22:14b)

•  “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Ps 42:1)

•  “His heart is hard as a stone, hard as the lower millstone.” (Job 41:24)

•  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isa 1:18b)

•  “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.” (Rev 1:14)

Additional Resources

The definition at Merriam-Webster.com for simile.

An audio pronunciation guide for the word simile.




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