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Name and Reference.

Hebrew and

AMBER. . .

(Ezek. i. 4.)



Brass, j * • (Ex. xxxviii. 8; 2 Kin. xxv. 13.)



(lKin.ix.28.) (Job xxviii. 18.)


(Ps. lxviii. 13.)


(Job xxviii. 19.)

Iron and.

Steel. (Gen. iv. 22; Deu.viii.9.)

Lead. . . . , (Ex. xv. 10.)

Silver. . . . (Gen. xxiii. 15.)

1. Zahab. .

Xpvo-Cov. 2.Paz. /


3. Betser. uerpa 2w


4. Cherutz. Xpvcriov.

5. Segur.



6. Kethem. XpvorCov


Barzel. . .

Bedll. . . .

Keseph. . . apyvpiov.


(Num. xxxi. 22.)

'Ophereth. .


Amber is a compound of copper and gold. It is now much used in Asia Minor and Syria. Chashmal in Ezekiel refers to the same metal as xa^K°MPavov in Rev. i. 15. The LXX. translates it by tJAcktpoi' (electriim), an alloy of four parts gold and one of silver. It is improbable that electrum is the metal intended, since the language of Ezekiel demands a metal of fiery red colour. Gesenius and others, from the etymQlpgy, identify it with the "burnished brass" {kalal) of Ezek. i. 7. Others consider it to be an accidentally discovered alloy with copper, resembling light brass or zinc. There is a white metal, greatly used for ornaments in the East, •which is called copper.

Copper was well known to the Israelites and Egyptians before the Exodus. The latter had, for a long time previous to that event, obtained it from Arabia. It wras a native product of Palestine (Deut. viii. 9), and largely exported from Cyprus, whence its name. The Egyptians and Israelites also were familiar with tin (which see), and so they could have made that alloy of the two called brass; but the Hebrew term is used indifferently for pure copper and its alloys. In most passages Nechosheth is now thought to be "bronze," of which many ancient specimens have been found in Assyria. Being very hard and easily fusible, it is probable that it was the material of the "brazen sea," the temple columns, sacrificial "forks," the brazen serpent, the " mirrors" of the Hebrew women, and the 250 censers of the followers of Korah.

There are six different words used for "gold" in the Old Testament, which shew its use, and high estimation: 1. Zahab is its earliest and most common name, referring to its colour. 2. Paz is the native metal, as found. 3. BZtser is gold dust, and fragments of ore. 4. Ghdrutz is either "dug out," or has reference to its "lustre." 5. SdQur ("treasured"), and 6. Kethem. ("concealed"), shew its high value. No indication of native gold has been found in Palestine, to which it was imported from Spain (Tartessus), Ophir (India), Sheba (Arabia), &c. Some modern Egyptologists maintain that gold was found in Egypt in ancient times, and believe they have found some old worked-out mines of it beyond Assouan. Gold seems to have been first coined by David (1 Chron. xxi. 25), though it was used as a medium of exchange in Abraham's time, like money, but was weighed, not counted (Gen. xxiii. 16).

In Europe, at least, the use of bronze preceded that of iron, because the ore of the latter was less likely to attract the attention of the miner, and, when found, it was more difficult to work than the former; but recent discoveries shew the very ancient existence of iron in Assyria, as also in Egypt under the Pharaohs. It was found in considerable quantities in Syria, in Canaanite times, and tools were made of it, especially goads, mattocks, files, and coulters, as also were spears and swords (1 Sam. xiii. 21, 22). It is doubtful whether the "chariots of iron" of Jabin, and "iron bed" of Og are to be taken literally; probably a reference to their great strength is intended. " Steel," in our version, is an erroneous rendering for " brass;" but steel is supposed to be meant by "northern iron" (Jer. xv. 12), the most famous makers in old times being the Chalybes, near the Black Sea; and Damascus steel has had a very long celebrity. In Nahum ii. 3, "torches," the translation of paldah (rendered as "steel," both in Arabic and Syriac), is conjectured to be an error for "scythes" on the wheels of war-chariots.

Lead was known to the Hebrews, and wras anciently used to purify silver, and in later times as a plummet or weight, and also for soldering metals. It was found in the Sinaitic rocks before Moses' time, and was one of the wares brought to the Tyrian market.

Abram was " rich in silver." It was largely imported into Egypt, and afterwards into Palestine, from Spain (Tarshish) and Arabia. The Israelites possessed much gold and silver in the wilderness; of the former "the calf" was made. Silver was used for all kinds of ornaments for the person and house, and was very abundant in Solomon's time; and in the time of the Maccabees it was coined into money; hence keseph is a silver coin.

Tin was early known to the Hebrews, being one of the imports of Egypt from Spain, through Phoenician merchants, who also got it (as Herodotus and Strabo tell us) from Britain. It was a great commodity in the fair at Tyre. It seems not to have ranked among precious metals, but to have been used as an alloy. In Zech. iv. 10 (marg.) mention is made of a tin levelling instrument, but generally it is treated as of little value.


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