Eyes in the Bible

Hebrew: עַיִן (feminine form) —transliteration: ayin —meaning: an eye / masculine form: ע or ׳ע —see: ain

also known as: ayin, ain, en

The word eye is used in various ways in Scripture.

  1. “Your eyes will be opened”

    The ancient serpent Satan lied to Eve,

    For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. —Genesis 3:5-6 NKJV

  2. “Open blind eyes” (spiritual blindness/darkness)

    The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
    The Lord raises those who are bowed down;
    The Lord loves the righteous. —Psalm 146:8 NKJV

    To open blind eyes,
    To bring out prisoners from the prison,
    Those who sit in darkness from the prison house. —Isaiah 42:7 NKJV

  3. To reveal

    Hagar finds water in the desert…

    Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. —Genesis 21:19 NKJV

    Balaam sees an angel that his donkey would not pass…

    Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. —Numbers 22:31 NKJV

    The prophet Elisha’s servant…

    And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. —2 Kings 6:17 NKJV

  4. Spring or fountain—frequently referred to as an eye in the original language (ain, ayin, en)



  5. The face

    Exodus 10:5, 15; Numbers 22:5, 11), in Numbers 14:14


The word eye is used figuratively in various expressions.

Eye make-up

This is a custom which still prevails among Middle Eastern women.

Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window. —2 Kings 9:30 NKJV

…Though you enlarge your eyes with paint,
In vain you will make yourself fair… —Jeremiah 4:30 NKJV

…you washed yourself for them, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments… —Ezekiel 23:40 NKJV

Punishment involving eyes

Men were sometimes cruelly punished by having their eyes gouged out.

King Zedekiah attempting to escape was captured and taken to Riblah. There, after seeing his own children put to death, his own eyes were put out, and, being loaded with chains, he was carried captive to Babylon (2 Kings 25:7).

And Nahash the Ammonite answered them,

“On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.” —1 Samuel 11:2 NKJV

Samson was captured by Israel’s enemies, after his supernatural strength was taken.

Then the Philistines took him [Samson] and put out his eyes… [literally “bored out”] —Judges 16:21 NKJV

Then Samson called to the Lord, saying,

“O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” —Judges 16:28 NKJV

More information

Cherubim full of eyes

Some cherubim in Ezekiel’s vision of God departing from the temple are described as being “full of eyes all around.”

…And their whole body, their backs, their hands, their wings, and the wheels were full of eyes all around… —Ezekiel 10:1-20 LSB excerpt

Article Version: December 16, 2021