When reviewing various texts of scripture, one word that we find in the English is the word crown. However, there are several words in the Hebrew and the Greek that all fit the bill for the word crown in the English. Let’s take a look and see if we can discover what it is that is actually being discussed.
The first word to be used as a crown is the word zer (זֵר) (Strong’s 2213), which means a chaplet, that is, something spread around the top like a border molding.
Shemot (Exodus) 25:11
And you shall overlay it (the Ark of the Covenant) with pure gold, within and without shall you overlay it, and shall make upon it a crown (זֵר) of gold round about.
Obviously, a circular crown that fits on the head was not that which is being described here. Instead, it is a molding which surrounds the top, spread around the border. When this zer is discussed for purposes of being placed on the human head, it becomes a nezer (נֵזֶר) is interpreted as a crown, yet it must wrap around the head like a molding or chaplet, i.e., a wreath. The zer is a crowning molding, but the nezer (the seed with a zer), is a crowning molding on the head of a person.
The word nezer (נֵזֶר) (Strong’s 5145) means initially, something set apart, such as a Nazirite, and hence, unshorn locks. However, the implication of the word is a chaplet – that which is spread about like a border along the head of the appointed one.
Shemot (Exodus) 29:6
And you shall put the miter upon his head, and put the holy crown (nezer qodesh (נֵזֶר קֹדֶשׁ)) upon the miter.
When you consider this passage, you see that a miter is put upon Aharon’s head, and the nezer qodesh is placed upon the miter. So, what is the miter? The Hebrew word that is being interpreted as miter is the word mitsnepheth (מִצְנֶפֶת) (Strong's 4701), which means the official turban of a king or high priest. Our nezer, therefore, is something of a headband or partial headband or wreath wrapping around the turban.
Let’s consider another word that is interpreted as a crown, which is the word atarah (עֲטָרָה) (Strong's 5850), which is generally interpreted as crown. However, consider how this is described by Shemu’el.
Shemu’el Sheniy (2 Samuel) 12:30
And he took their king's crown (atarah) from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David's head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.
Now, a talent of gold is estimated as being an ounce of gold. Think about the size of an ounce of gold. Do you believe you can build a full, around-the-head crown with an ounce? Neither do I. Consider that this word atarah comes from the root atar (עָטַר) (Strong’s 5849), which means of course, to encircle or compass about. Once again, we see something of a chaplet or wreath.
There is another word in the Hebrew which is also interpreted as crown, and that is the word kether (כֶּתֶר), (Strong’s 3804), which appears only in the Cepher Ecster (book of Esther). This word kether is interpreted as a crown, yet is means generally, a circlet. Consider also, its root, which is kathar (כָּתַר) (Strong's 3803), which means to beset around, or to compass about.
In the Greek, we have but one word which is commonly interpreted as crown, which is the word stephanos (στεφανος) (Strong’s G4735), which comes from the root stepho, which means to twine or wreathe, and which means a chaplet, such as a badge of royalty, or a prize in the public games, or a symbol of honor generally. Once again, we see a laurel wreath.
As difficult as it may be, we can reach no conclusion other than to say that the crowns which are discussed in scripture appear to be, without exception, some form of laurel wreath, whether in gold, or set with precious stones.