Holman Bible Dictionary 
Old Testament Oth , the usual Hebrew term for sign, appears in a nontheological sense for a military signal in the fourth Lachish letter and Joshua 2:12 , and for a military standard in Numbers 2:2 and Psalm 74:4 . The other 75 instances of sign carry a theological sense. Three settings predominate: the created order ( Genesis 1:14; Genesis 9:12-17; Isaiah 37:30; Isaiah 55:13 ); human history ( Exodus 7:3; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 6:22 ); and religious ritual ( Genesis 17:11; Exodus 12:13; Exodus 13:9 ,Exodus 13:9, 13:16; Exodus 31:13 ). With signs, the nature of the object or event, whether commonplace, odd, or miraculous, is not the prime focus. Emphasis falls rather on the function of the sign. Old Testament signs may be classed according to seven somewhat overlapping functions: 1. to impart knowledge; 2. to protect; 3. to motivate faith; 4. to recall significant events; 5. to witness to the covenant; 6. to confirm; and 7. to illustrate by means of prophetic action.
1. Signs which impart knowledge typically characterize God as Lord of history and champion of oppressed Israel. The goal of the Exodus signs is the knowledge that “I am the LORD (in the midst of the earth)” ( Exodus 7:5; Exodus 8:22; Exodus 10:2 ) and that “the LORD is God; there is no other besides him” ( Deuteronomy 4:34-35 NRSV). The punishment to befall Pharaoh Hophra was to serve as a sign promoting the knowledge that God's word of judgment would surely stand up against the Judean refugees in Egypt ( Jeremiah 44:29 ). The knowledge imparted by these signs encouraged acknowledgment of Yahweh as the only God, obedience to God's covenant, and trust in God's word. 2. The mark of Cain ( Genesis 4:15 ) and the blood upon the doorposts at Passover ( Exodus 12:13 ) protected those under the sign. 3. In addition to revealing God, a second goal of the Exodus signs was to motivate faith and worship. Israel's unbelief in spite of signs is often condemned ( Numbers 14:11 ,Numbers 14:11, 14:22; Deuteronomy 1:29-33 ). The signs fulfill their goal when they inspire obedience ( Deuteronomy 11:3 ,Deuteronomy 11:3, 11:8 ), worship ( Deuteronomy 26:8 ,Deuteronomy 26:8, 26:10 ), and loyalty to the Lord ( Joshua 24:16-17 ). The signs of pagan prophets similarly serve as a challenge to trust in Yahweh ( Deuteronomy 13:1-4 ). The reality of wonder-working false prophets underscores the truth that signs themselves are ambivalent; the function of the sign, either to evoke or challenge faith in Yahweh, is the deciding factor. 4. Signs serve as reminders of significant events. The eating of unleavened bread at Passover ( Exodus 13:9 ) and the redemption of the first-born ( Exodus 13:16 ) are reminders of God's liberation of Israel. The stones at Gilgal ( Joshua 4:6-7 ) bore similar witness to God's continuing saving presence as Israel embarked on the Conquest. The covering of the altar served as a reminder of the danger of usurping the role of God's priests ( Numbers 17:10 ). 5 . Other signs serve as reminders of a covenant or established relationship. The rainbow witnesses God's covenant with Noah, insuring an orderly creation not threatened by flood ( Genesis 9:12-17 ). Circumcision served as areminder of God's covenant with Abraham ( Genesis 17:11 ). The Sabbath, likewise, served as a reminder of God's covenant with Moses ( Exodus 31:13 ,Exodus 31:13, 31:17; Ezekiel 20:12 ). 6 . Still other signs serve as confirmation. Such signs often authenticated God's special call (of Moses, Exodus 3:12; Exodus 4:8; of Gideon, Judges 6:17; of Saul, 1 Samuel 10:2-9 ). Elsewhere a sign confirms God's word of judgment ( 1 Samuel 2:34; Jeremiah 44:29-30 ) or promise of healing ( 2 Kings 20:8 ). 7 . Other signs take the form of prophetic acts. The names of Isaiah (“Yahweh is salvation”) and his sons Shear-jashub (“A remnant shall return”) and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (“The spoil speeds, the prey hastens”) illustrate Israel's fate ( Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 8:3 ). Isaiah's walking naked and barefoot for three years illustrated the coming humiliation of Egypt and Ethiopia ( Isaiah 20:3 ). Ezekiel, likewise, illustrated the coming siege of Jerusalem using a brick, earth, and a plate ( Ezekiel 4:1-3 ).
New Testament The New Testament employs sign in the full range of Old Testament functions. 1. Signs function simply to identify. Judas' kiss clearly designated Jesus as the One the mob was seeking ( Matthew 26:48 ). The sign of Jesus' coming and the end of the age which the disciples requested is, likewise, an identifying mark ( Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:4; Luke 21:7 ); it is not a matter of evoking faith in Christ's coming but of identifying that event when it occurs. The difficult “sign of the Son of Man” is probably an identifying sign as well ( Matthew 24:30 ). The above uses approximate the nontheological use of sign by the Old Testament. Other uses of sign are distinctly theological. 2. John's signs generally impart knowledge about Jesus and His relation to the Father. Jesus' first sign, the changing of water into wine at Cana, points to Jesus as the source of the abundant, joyful life which characterizes the anticipated Messianic Age ( John 2:1-11 ). The three-fold repetition of the phrase “your son lives” in the healing of the official's son ( John 4:46-54 ) points to Jesus as the life-giver. The healing of the sick man at the Sheep Gate Pool ( John 5:2-9 ) points to Jesus as the One through whom God is still working ( John 5:17 ). Though the just-fed crowd saw Jesus' feeding of the five thousand ( John 6:2-13 ) as a sign that Jesus was a prophet ( John 6:14 ), the sign points to Jesus as the life-giving bread which alone can satisfy ( John 6:35 ). The sign of the healing of the man born blind ( John 9:1-7 ) illustrates the ambiguity of signs: some took the sign to mean that Jesus was not from God; others, that God was with Him ( John 9:16 ). John's conclusion ( John 9:35-41 ) points to Jesus as both giver of spiritual insight and judge of spiritual blindness. Finally, the raising of Lazarus ( John 11:1 ) points to Jesus as the resurrection and the life ( John 11:25 ). 3 . Though the term sign is not used, the seal of God upon the foreheads of the redeemed ( Revelation 9:4 ) is a sign of protection. 4. Some signs serve to motivate faith. The signs in the Fourth Gospel were recounted so “tha you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the God, and that believing you may have life in His name” ( John 20:31 ). John previously noted signs leading to faith ( John 2:11; John 4:53; John 9:38 ). The sign of the healing of a lame man led to the praise of God in Acts 4:16 ,Acts 4:16, 4:21 . Philip's signs, likewise, evoked the Samaritans' faith ( Acts 8:6 ). 5 . Other signs serve to recall God's past saving acts. The paired expression “signs and wonders” ( Acts 2:19 ,Acts 2:19, 2:22; Acts 4:30; Acts 7:36-37; Acts 14:3 ) recalls the foundational saving events of the Exodus. The “signs and wonders” which Jesus and the apostles performed designate the inauguration of God's new saving event. 6. Paul spoke of circumcision as a witness to the covenant ( Romans 4:11 ). 7 . Signs often serve as confirmation or authentication. The humble circumstances of the Christ-child in the manger confirmed the angel's announcement of a Savior to outcast shepherds ( Luke 2:12 ). Jesus offered the difficult “sign of Jonah” as His authentication ( Matthew 12:39-43; Luke 11:29-32 ). God was at work in Jesus' preaching of repentance as God had worked in Jonah. The New Testament often rebukes the demand for a sign to confirm God's work ( Matthew 16:1; John 2:18; John 4:48; 1 Corinthians 1:22 ). A sign may evoke faith in a receptive heart, but no sign will convince the hard-hearted. 8. Though the term sign is not used, Agabus' action in binding Paul with his belt ( Acts 21:11 ) parallels the acts of the Old Testament prophets.
Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types 
The word is used as a type to represent or express some great truth. Here are some of the signs mentioned in Scripture:
Exodus 4:8 (a) Moses, taking the serpent by the tail, represents the power of GOD over Satan and the power of the servant of GOD over the evil powers of earth. Moses' hand in his bosom became leprous. Upon removing it from his bosom it became well. This indicates that man is first wicked within and then through the command and work of GOD he becomes right within.
Exodus 8:23 (a) The plague of flies demonstrated the power of GOD over nature and the purpose of GOD to punish His enemies.
Exodus 13:9 (a) Evidently this refers to the Word of the Lord which was to be bound both upon the hand and the head as a constant reminder of the fulfillment of GOD's Word in delivering Israel from the bondage of Egypt. (See also Deuteronomy 6:8).
Numbers 16:38 (a) The brazen censers (of the rebels). which were beaten into broad plates were to remind Israel and also us today that it is fatal to rebel against the Word and the plan of GOD.
Numbers 26:10 (a) The disaster sent upon Korah and his company was ever to remind Israel and us, too, of the punishment of GOD upon those who rebel against His order.
Judges 6:17 (a) GOD saw the genuine desire of Gideon to really know His will and therefore granted him the evidence he requested. It is not always so. Very few servants of GOD ever have asked for a sign to confirm the Word of God. Jesus said about this matter. "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." ( Mark 8:12). We should believe GOD's Word without signs.
Isaiah 7:14 (a) The coming of Christ was a sign to the world that no other remedy for sin would avail.
- it was a sign of man's helplessness and inability to save himself.
- it was a sign of the miraculous gift of a Saviour without human means or device.
- it was a sign of GOD's plan and pleasure in sending one who could and would be the Mediator between GOD and men.
- It was a sign of GOD's loving interest in the needs of men.
- in the first sign they had nothing to drink, and in the eighth one they had nothing to eat. Then JESUS came and their needs were satisfied.
- in the second sign the boy was ready to die, and in the seventh sign the man was dead. Then JESUS came and life, and life more abundant was present to defeat death.
- in the third sign the man could not walk and in the sixth one the man could not see.
- in the fourth sign and the fifth one reveal the presence of fear in the heart. In the fourth one they were afraid of dying of hunger, and in the fifth they were afraid of dying by drowning. Then JESUS came and the fear of death was removed. These eight signs are as follows:
Chapter2 (b) Water into wine. The Lord can take the ordinary things of life and make them unusually profitable for His glory. There can be no joy in the sweetest scenes of earth unless He is present.
Chapter4:54 (b) The young man was at the point of death but was not yet dead. The Lord JESUS is able to sustain and to support the life which He gives. He only can keep us from the second death.
Chapter5:9 (b) This indicates that those who are unable to walk with GOD and have no power to change their condition need the Saviour to touch them and enable them to walk with GOD and to live for His glory.
Chapter6:11 (b) We learn the lesson from this sign that the hunger of the heart and the desires of the soul can only be satisfied and gratified by the presence and power of the Lord JESUS.
Chapter6:21 (b) This sign teaches us that the storms of life and fears of the soul may be quickly and surely calmed by the presence and the word of the sovereign Lord.
Chapter9:7 (b) This reveals that only the Lord JESUS can open blind eyes to see their need and to see the sufficiency of the Saviour. It is interesting to note that the lame man was by the pool and the blind man went to the pool. The pool may represent the Word of GOD or the Spirit of GOD or both. We should note also that both of these "signs" were given on the sabbath to teach us that when we are able to walk with GOD and are able to see the things of GOD as we should, then we have rest in our souls.
Chapter11:44 (b) This is a blessed sign to teach us that only Jesus Christ can give life to a dead sinner and only the Word of CHRIST can break open the grave and cause a resurrection. As the young man in joh4was about to die and needed to be kept alive, so in this case the man was already dead and needed to be restored to life. Only Christ Jesus can do either or both of these blessed miracles in our lives today.
Chapter21:6 (c) This is to teach us that we cannot be successful in life in the true sense of the word unless the Lord directs our way. We learn also that in the ministry of preaching we shall not gather in a harvest for Him except as He directs both as to the manner and the place. In the first sign, they were lacking wine to drink. Only He could provide. In this, the last sign, they were lacking food to eat and only He could provide. So in these eight signs in John we are told that Christ Jesus is GOD's answer to every need of the human heart.
Romans 4:11 (a) The circumcision of the Old Testament was a constant testimony to Israel; first, that they belonged to GOD; and second, that they were not to live according to the lusts and desires of the flesh, but according to the will of GOD. (See also Genesis 17:11).
1 Corinthians 14:22 (a) The gift of tongues was a gift in which the servants of GOD were enabled to instantly speak in a different language from the one they knew. The Spirit of GOD gave them immediately the power to preach the Gospel in foreign tongues which had never been learned. This has never been repeated since the apostles' day. Those who today claim to have that "gift" must always learn the language of the country to which they go as missionaries. The message was always an intelligent message, and understandable to those to whom it was addressed. The gift was not given for Christians, but for the heathen. If today those from this country could go to China or Russia and immediately speak freely and fluently in the language of those countries, though they had never learned those languages, that would be a sign to the natives of that country that GOD was working.
Revelation 15:1 (a) In almost every case the Lord forewarned the earth of impending judgment. He did so in this case. When John saw those seven angels with the seven plagues he knew there was trouble ahead for the inhabitants of the earth. This is written in the Scripture so that all men everywhere will today take heed to this sign and repent and turn to GOD.
Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words 
"a sign, mark, indication, token," is used (a) of that which distinguished a person or thing from others, e.g., Matthew 26:48; Luke 2:12; Romans 4:11; 2—Corinthians 12:12 (1st part); 2—Thessalonians 3:17 , "token," i.e., his autograph attesting the authenticity of his letters; (b) of a "sign" as a warning or admonition, e.g., Matthew 12:39 , "the sign of (i.e., consisting of) the prophet Jonas;" Matthew 16:4; Luke 2:34; 11:29,30; (c) of miraculous acts (1) as tokens of Divine authority and power, e.g., Matthew 12:38,39 (1st part); John 2:11 , RV, "signs;" John 3:2 (ditto); 4:54, "(the second) sign," RV; John 10:41 (ditto); 20:30; in 1—Corinthians 1:22 , "the Jews ask for signs," RV, indicates that the Apostles were met with the same demand from Jews as Christ had been: "signs were vouchsafed in plenty, signs of God's power and love, but these were not the signs which they sought ... They wanted signs of an outward Messianic Kingdom, of temporal triumph, of material greatness for the chosen people. ... With such cravings the Gospel of a 'crucified Messiah' was to them a stumblingblock indeed" (Lightfoot); 1—Corinthians 14:22; (2) by demons, Revelation 16:14; (3) by false teachers or prophets, indications of assumed authority, e.g., Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; (4) by Satan through his special agents, 2—Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:13,14; 19:20; (d) of tokens portending future events, e.g., Matthew 24:3 , where "the sign of the Son of Man" signifies, subjectively, that the Son of Man is Himself the "sign" of what He is about to do; Mark 13:4; Luke 21:7,11,25; Acts 2:19; Revelation 12:1 , RV; 12:3, RV; 15:1.
an adjective meaning "marked at the side" (para, "beside," sema, "mark"), is used in Acts 28:11 as a noun denoting the figurehead of a vessel.
Webster's Dictionary 
(1): ( n.) Any character, as a flat, sharp, dot, etc.
(2): ( n.) Any symbol or emblem which prefigures, typifles, or represents, an idea; a type; hence, sometimes, a picture.
(3): ( n.) A word or a character regarded as the outward manifestation of thought; as, words are the sign of ideas.
(4): ( n.) A motion, an action, or a gesture by which a thought is expressed, or a command or a wish made known.
(5): ( n.) That which, being external, stands for, or signifies, something internal or spiritual; - a term used in the Church of England in speaking of an ordinance considered with reference to that which it represents.
(6): ( n.) To represent by a sign; to make known in a typical or emblematic manner, in distinction from speech; to signify.
(7): ( n.) An objective evidence of disease; that is, one appreciable by some one other than the patient.
(8): ( n.) To make a sign upon; to mark with a sign.
(9): ( n.) A character indicating the relation of quantities, or an operation performed upon them; as, the sign + (plus); the sign - (minus); the sign of division ?, and the like.
(10): ( n.) To assign or convey formally; - used with away.
(11): ( n.) To mark; to make distinguishable.
(12): ( v. i.) To be a sign or omen.
(13): ( v. i.) To make a sign or signal; to communicate directions or intelligence by signs.
(14): ( v. i.) To write one's name, esp. as a token of assent, responsibility, or obligation.
(15): ( n.) A lettered board, or other conspicuous notice, placed upon or before a building, room, shop, or office to advertise the business there transacted, or the name of the person or firm carrying it on; a publicly displayed token or notice.
(16): ( n.) A remarkable event, considered by the ancients as indicating the will of some deity; a prodigy; an omen.
(17): ( n.) To affix a signature to; to ratify by hand or seal; to subscribe in one's own handwriting.
(18): ( n.) The twelfth part of the ecliptic or zodiac.
(19): ( n.) An event considered by the Jews as indicating the divine will, or as manifesting an interposition of the divine power for some special end; a miracle; a wonder.
(20): ( n.) Something serving to indicate the existence, or preserve the memory, of a thing; a token; a memorial; a monument.
(21): ( n.) That by which anything is made known or represented; that which furnishes evidence; a mark; a token; an indication; a proof.
(22): ( n.) Hence, one of the gestures of pantomime, or of a language of a signs such as those used by the North American Indians, or those used by the deaf and dumb.
(23): ( n.) A military emblem carried on a banner or a standard.
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
SIGN . Any outward fact which serves as a pledge of a Divine word or a proof of a Divine deed is a sign , whether it be natural or supernatural in its character. The rainbow served as the sign of the Noahic, as the rite of circumcision of the Abrahamic, covenant ( Genesis 9:12; Genesis 17:11 ‘token,’ Romans 4:11 ). That God was with, and worked for, the Israelites was shown in the plagues of Egypt ( Exodus 10:2 ). Gideon asks for and receives a sign that it is Jehovah who speaks with him ( Judges 6:17 ), and Saul also receives signs to confirm the words of Samuel ( 1 Samuel 10:7 ). The prophetic word is thus proved from God ( Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 38:7 , Jeremiah 44:29 , Ezekiel 14:8 ). The sign need not be supernatural ( 1 Samuel 2:34 , Isaiah 8:18; Isaiah 20:3 ); but the Jews in the time of Christ desired miracles as proofs of Divine power ( Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1 , John 4:48 , 1 Corinthians 1:22 ), a request which Jesus refused and condemned. The message of the Baptist, though not confirmed by any sign, was seen to be true ( John 10:41 ). It is Jonah’s preaching that is probably referred to when Jesus speaks of him as a sign to his generation ( Matthew 12:39 ). The ‘babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger,’ is the simple and humble sign to the shepherds of the birth of a Saviour, Christ the Lord ( Luke 2:12 ); and He is welcomed by Simeon as ‘a sign which is spoken against’ ( Luke 2:34 ). The Fourth Gospel frequently describes the miracles of Jesus as signs ( Luke 3:2 , Luke 4:44 ), and attributes to them an evidential value which is not prominent in Jesus’ own intention. This confirmation of the gospel was found in the Apostolic Church ( Mark 16:20 , Acts 4:16; Acts 6:3; Acts 8:6; Acts 8:13; Acts 15:12 , 2 Corinthians 12:12 ). The last things will be ushered in by extraordinary signs ( Matthew 24:30 , Luke 21:25 , 2 Thessalonians 2:9 the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, Revelation 12:1; Revelation 13:13 etc.). The faith that depends on signs, if not altogether condemned ( John 6:26 ), is by Jesus deprecated ( John 4:48 , cf. 1 Corinthians 1:22 ). Cf. also p. 568 b .
Alfred E. Garvie.
King James Dictionary 
SIGN, n. L. signum Gr. deicnumt.
1. A token something by which another thing is shown or represented any visible thing, any motion, appearance or event which indicates the existence or approach of something else. Thus we speak of signs of fair weather or of a storm, and of external marks which are signs of a good constitution. 2. A motion, action, nod or gesture indicating a wish or command. They made signs to his father, how he would have him called. Luke 1 . 3. A wonder a miracle a prodigy a remarkable transaction, event or phenomenon. Through mighty signs and wonders. Romans 15 . Luke 11 . 4. Some visible transaction, event or appearance intended as proof or evidence of something else hence proof evidence by sight. Show me a sign that thou talkest with me. Judges 6 . 5. Something hung or set near a house or over a door, to give notice of the tenant's occupation, or what is made or sold within as a trader's sign a tailor s sign the sign of the eagle. 6. A memorial or monument something to preserve the memory of a thing. What time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men, and they became a sign. Num. 16. 7. Visible mark or representation as an outward sign of and inward and spiritual grace. 8. A mark of distinction. 9. Typical representation. The holy symbols or signs are not barely significative. 10. In astronomy, the twelfth part of the ecliptic. The signs are reckoned from the point of intersection of the ecliptic and equator at the vernal equinox, and are named respectively, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorns, Aquarius, Pisces. These names are borrowed from the constellations of the zodiac of the same denomination, which were respectively comprehended within the foregoing equal divisions of the ecliptic of the same name, but are considerably in advance of them. Thus the constellation Aries, is now in that part of the ecliptic called Taurus. 11. In algebra, a character indicating the relation of quantities, or an operation performed by them as the sign + plus prefixed to a quantity, indicates that the quantity is to be added the sign - minus, denotes that the quantity to which it is prefixed is to subtracted. The former is prefixed to quantities called affirmative or positive the latter to quantities called negative. 12. The subscription of one's name signature as a sign manual. 13. Among physicians, an appearance or symptom in the human body, which indicate its condition as to health or disease. 14. In music, any character, as a flat, sharp, dot, &c.
SIGN, 5 t. sine.
1. To mark with characters or one's name. To sign a paper, note, deed, &c. is to write one's name at the foot, or underneath the declaration, promise, covenant, grant, &c., by which the person makes it his own act, To sign one's name, is to write or subscribe it on the paper Signing does not now include sealing 2. To signify to represent typically. Not in use. 3. To mark.
SIGN, 5 1 To be a sign or omen.
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
The word σημεῖον (‘sign’) is used (1) of the autographic part of a letter, the mark of authenticity- 2 Thessalonians 3:17 (English Version‘token’); (2) as meaning a ‘symbol’- Romans 4:11 (the ‘sign of circumcision,’ i.e. circumcision as a sign of the covenant); (3) as an ‘indication’- Matthew 26:48 (Judas’ kiss), Luke 2:12 (to the Shepherds) Luke 2:34 (the child Jesus set for a sign); (4) hence for some wonderful indication- Matthew 24:3; Matthew 24:30, Mark 13:4 (of Christ’s Coming), Matthew 16:1; Matthew 16:4, Mark 8:11, Mark 16:17; Mark 16:20, Luke 11:15; Luke 11:29 (to show Christ’s power), Matthew 16:3 (signs of the times) Matthew 16:4 (sign of Jonah), 1 Corinthians 14:22 (tongues and prophesying as a sign of the power of Christianity); and therefore for a ‘miracle’ or wonderful deed which has instruction as its object. The ‘signs in heaven’ of Revelation 12:1; Revelation 12:3; Revelation 12:15 : are a connecting link between these two shades of meaning. The usual sense of σημεῖον in the NT is a ‘miracle,’ especially in the plural (see articleMiracle).
In the English Versionthe word ‘sign’ is used in two places where σημεῖον does not occur. In Luke 1:62 ‘they made signs’ renders ἐνένευον, a verb used in Proverbs 6:3; Proverbs 10:10 (Septuagint) of winking with the eye. In Acts 28:11 ‘a ship whose sign was the Dioscuri’ renders πλοίῳ παρασήμῳ Διοσκούροις, where παρασήμῳ is either an adjective (= ‘marked’) or else, less probably, a substantive with Διοσκούροις in apposition (but in that case it means a ship’s flag in classical Greek; see Liddell and Scott, s.v.). A. J. Maclean.
Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words 
'Ôth ( אוֹת , Strong'S #226), “sign; mark.” Cognates of this word appear in Aramaic and Arabic. It occurs 78 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods of the language.
This word represents something by which a person or group is characteristically marked. This is its emphasis in Gen. 4:15: “And the Lord set a mark [NASB, “sign”] upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” In Exod. 8:23 God promises to “put a division between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be” (cf. Exod. 12:13). Num. 2:2 uses 'ôth to represent a military banner, while Job 21:29 uses the word of the identifying banners of nomadic tribes. Rahab asked her Israelite guests for a trustworthy “mark” (NASB, “pledge of truth”), which they stipulated to be the scarlet cord by which she lowered them out of her window and outside Jericho’s walls (Josh. 2:12, 18).
The word means “sign” as a reminder of one’s duty. This usage first appears in Gen. 9:12: “This [the rainbow] is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature …” (cf. vv. 4-15).
A reminding token is represented by 'ôth : “And it [the observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread] shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth …” (Exod. 13:9).
A “sign” eventually showing the truth of a statement is indicated by 'ôth : “Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain (Exod. 3:12).
In passages such as Exod. 4:8 'Ôth represents a miraculous “sign”: “And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.” “Signs” are attestations of the validity of a prophetic message, but they are not the highest or final test of a prophet; he must speak in conformity to past revelation (cf. Deut. 13:1-5).
Several passages use 'ôth of omens and/or indications of future events: “But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the Lord hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us (1 Sam. 14:10).
An 'ôth can be a “warning sign”: “The censers of these sinners against their own souls, let them make them broad plates for a covering of the altar: for they offered them before the Lord therefore they are hallowed: and they shall be a sign unto the children of Israel” (Num. 16:38).
The first occurrence of 'ôth is in Gen. 1:14. Here it refers to the stars, indicators of the time of day and seasons.
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
This word is used in the sense of token and pledge; as, when the Lord gave to Noah the rainbow, as a sign of his covenant, Genesis 9:12-13; and when he appointed to Abraham the use of circumcision, as the seal of the covenant he had made with him and his posterity, Genesis 17:11 . Sign is also put for a miracle: "Thou shalt do these signs and wonders in the midst of Egypt," Exodus 4:7-9 , &c. A sign or token is often put for the proof or evidence of a thing: For example, "This shall be a token or sign unto thee, that I have sent thee," Exodus 3:12 .
"Shew me a sign, that thou talkest with me," Judges 6:17 , that is a proof. "What shall be the sign," or evidence, "that the Lord will heal me? " 2 Kings 20:8 . This acceptation agrees with the first above mentioned; as also what is said in Genesis 4:15 , "And the Lord set a mark or sign upon Cain;" he gave him a pledge that his life should not be taken away. The signs of heaven, and the signs of the magicians, are the phenomena of the heavens, and the impostures of magicians, which they made use of for the purposes of deception: "The Lord frustrateth the tokens or signs of the liars, and maketh diviners mad," Isaiah 44:25 . "Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Heathen are dismayed at them," Jeremiah 10:2 . To be a sign was farther to be a type, or prediction, of what should happen. Thus the Prophet Isaiah 8:18 , "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me, are for signs and for wonders in Israel." See also Ezekiel 4:3 .
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary 
I should not have paused at this word had it not been with a view to have noticed the five signs of the Jews, which they regarded as so highly important in the first temple, and which they confessed the second temple was destitute of.
Second, The ark of the covenant from whence the Jews observed JEHOVAH gave answers by revelation.
Third, The fire upon the altar, which was always burning.
Fourth, The Shechinah, or manifestation of glory, to intimate the divine presence.
Fifth, The spirit of prophesy.
Now as these five symbols or signs of the Lord's favour to his church and people were in the first temple, but not in the second, what a blessed prophecy and promise was that of the Lord by Haggai, that the glory of the latter house should be greater than the former! ( Haggai 2:9) A circumstance only to be explained by the actual presence of the Lord himself in the temple, which those five signs typified and represented. And what a blessed accomplishment of both prophecy and promise was it, when the Lord Jesus himself came suddenly to his temple in substance of our flesh! ( Malachi 3:2) In him all the signs and symbols, shadows, types, and figures, had their whole meaning realized. Oh, the felicity to behold in him "all the fulness of the Godhead bodily!" ( Colossians 2:9)
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
A token, pledge, or proof, Genesis 9:12,13 17:11 Exodus 3:12 Isaiah 8:18 . Also a supernatural portent, Luke 21:11; and a miracle, regarded as a token of the divine agency, Exodus 4:7-9 Mark 8:11 . The "signs of heaven" were the movements and aspects of the heavenly bodies, from which heathen astrologers pretended to obtain revelations, Isaiah 44:25 Jeremiah 10:2 . See Ship .
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology 
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
sı̄n ( אות , 'ōth "a sign" "mark" מופת , mōphēth , "wonder"' σημεῖον , sēmeı́on , "a sign," "signal," "mark"): A mark by which persons or things are distinguished and made known. In Scripture used generally of an address to the senses to attest the existence of supersensible and therefore divine power. Thus the plagues of Egypt were "signs" of divine displeasure against the Egyptians ( Exodus 4:8 ff; Joshua 24:17 , and often); and the miracles of Jesus were "signs" to attest His unique relationship with God ( Matthew 12:38; John 2:18; Acts 2:22 ). Naturally, therefore, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, "signs" are assimilated to the miraculous, and prevailingly associated with immediate divine interference. The popular belief in this manner of communication between the visible and the invisible worlds has always been, and is now, widespread. So-called "natural" explanations, however ingenious or cogent, fail with the great majority of people to explain anything. Wesley and Spurgeon were as firm believers in the validity of such methods of intercourse between man and God as were Moses and Gideon, Peter and John.
The faith that walks by signs is not by any means to be lightly esteemed. It has been allied with the highest nobility of character and with the most signal achievement. Moses accepted the leadership of his people in response to a succession of signs: e.g. the burning bush, the rod which became a serpent, the leprous hand, etc. ( Exodus 3,4 ); so, too, did Gideon, who was not above making proof of God in the sign of the fleece of wool ( Judges 6:36-40 ). In the training of the Twelve, Jesus did not disdain the use of signs ( Luke 5:1-11 , and often); and the visions by which Peter and Paul were led to the evangelization of the Gentiles were interpreted by them as signs of the divine purpose (Acts 10 and 16).
The sacramental use of the sign dates from the earliest period, and the character of the sign is as diverse as the occasion. The rainbow furnishes radiant suggestion of God's overarching love and assurance that the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy the earth ( Genesis 9:13; compare Genesis 4:15 ); the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a reminder of God's care in bringing His people out of bondage ( Exodus 13:3 ); the Sabbath is an oft-recurring proclamation of God's gracious thought for the well-being of man ( Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12 ); the brazen serpent, an early foreshadowing of the cross, perpetuates the imperishable promise of forgiveness and redemption ( Numbers 21:9 ); circumcision is made the seal of the special covenant under which Israel became a people set apart ( Genesis 17:11 ); baptism, the Christian equivalent of circumcision, becomes the sign and seal of the dedicated life and the mark of those avowedly seeking to share in the blessedness of the Kingdom of God ( Luke 3:12-14; Acts 2:41 , and often); bread and wine, a symbol of the spiritual manna by which soul and body are preserved unto everlasting life, is the hallowed memorial of the Lord's death until His coming again ( Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-28 ). Most common of all were the local altars and mounds consecrated in simple and sincere fashion to a belief in God's ruling and overruling providence ( Joshua 4:1-10 ).
Signs were offered in proof of the divine commission of prophet ( Isaiah 20:3 ) and apostle ( 2 Corinthians 12:12 ), and of the Messiah Himself ( John 20:30; Acts 2:22 ); and they were submitted in demonstration of the divine character of their message ( 2 Kings 20:9; Isaiah 38:1; Acts 3:1-16). By anticipation the child to be born of a young woman ( Isaiah 7:10-16; compare Luke 2:12 ) is to certify the prophet's pledge of a deliverer for a captive people. See Immanuel .
With increase of faith the necessity for signs will gradually decrease. Jesus hints at this ( John 4:48 ), as does also Paul ( 1 Corinthians 1:22 ). Nevertheless "signs," in the sense of displays of miraculous powers, are to accompany the faith of believers ( Mark 16:17 f), usher in and forthwith characterize the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, and mark the consummation of the ages ( Revelation 15:1 ). See also Miracle .
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
is the rendering in the A. V. of several Heb. and Gr. words, especially אות , 6th, Σημεῖον , which usually denote A miraculous or, at least, divine or extraordinary token of an event, generally in the future. (See Miracle). In Biblical language a sign is a token, or whatever serves to express or represent another thing. Thus the Lord gave to Noah the rainbow as a sign of his covenant ( Genesis 9:12-13), and for the same purpose he appointed circumcision to Abraham ( Genesis 17:11; see also Exodus 3:12; Judges 6:17). In Isaiah 7:18 the word is used for a prophetic similitude Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel" (see also Ezekiel 4:3).Signs and wonders, as they are usually connected, sometimes denote those proofs or demonstrations of power and authority which were furnished by miracles, and by other tokens of the divine presence ( John 4:48; Matthew 12:38; Acts 2:22); sometimes those unusual appearances which betoken the approach of great events ( Luke 21:11; Luke 21:25), and at other times tokens or pledges as evidences of fulfilment ( Luke 2:12; 1 Corinthians 1:22). This word is emphatically used in Scripture for a miraculous appearance, which would attest the divine authority of a prophet or teacher. The Jews asked our Lord for "a sign from heaven" ( Matthew 16:1),' meaning, thereby, the appearance of the Messiah coming in the clouds of heaven, which Daniel had foretold ( Daniel 7:13), and which ,"The traditions of the elders," as appears from the Talmud, had declared to be the only certain sign of the advent of the promised inheritor of David's throne and deliverer of the Jewish nation. So our Lord refers to "The sign of the Son of man" ( Matthew 24:30), as prefigured by the national overthrow of the Jews (see Zettner, De Astre. Judceis Quondam Ominoso [Alt. 1724], and the monographs cited by Hase, Leben Jesu, p. 187). (See Eschatology).
- Sign from Holman Bible Dictionary
- Sign from Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types
- Sign from Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words
- Sign from Webster's Dictionary
- Sign from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- Sign from King James Dictionary
- Sign from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- Sign from Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words
- Sign from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- Sign from Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
- Sign from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- Sign from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
- Sign from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- Sign from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature