Ancient Brass or Bronze
Deut 8:7-9 "For the LORD thy God bringeth thee
into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of
fountains and depths that spring out of valleys
and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and
vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land
of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou
shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt
not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones
are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig
"and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass."
Brass or Bronze
In the Bible bronze is the Hebrew word "nechoshet" and the
Greek word "chalchos." During Bible times bronze was an
alloy of copper and tin and was used to an enormous extent.
Bronze is derived from the Italian "bronzo", and was
introduced into the English language during the 18th century
to distinguish it from brass, copper, and other metals.
At the present time the term brass is applied to an alloy of
copper and zinc or of copper, zinc and tin. The word
translated "brass" in the King James Version would be more
correctly translated bronze, since the alloy used was copper
and tin (Ex 27:4). In some Scriptures copper is meant (Deut
In ancient Israel there was no such metal known as brass.
The one Hebrew word for copper and bronze was rendered brass
by the King James translators because at that time the word
bronze had not yet been introduced into the English
language. Brass is an alloy of copper and tin. It is a word
of old English origin and cannot be found in any other
language. It appears in the English Bible, referring to
either pure copper or to an alloy of copper and tin.
Ancient Palestine was not in the habit of producing metals,
but rather obtained them from the surrounding lands. They
obtained copper from the Edomites who were located in the
South, and they obtained tin from the Phoenicians, who got
it from Tarshish, apparently Spain. Bronze, being an
artificial alloy, was known in Egypt in at least 1600 BC. It
was probably known in Europe still earlier (2000 BC).
Bronze was probably of European origin and was carried to
Egypt. At a later period the Egyptians made the alloy
themselves, bringing their copper from Sinai, Cyprus or
northern Syria, and their tin from the Balkan regions or
from Spain or the British Isles.
There has been a great interest recently among scholars as
to the source of the tin which was used so frequently in the
manufacturing of the ancient bronzes, mainly because tin
occurs in only a few localities. The bronze articles that
were manufactured in the Punic (Phoenician) cities and
colonies were exported all over the world in exchange for
the products of every region, to enhance the wealth of Tyre
and Carthage. There have been numerous discoveries of
ancient copper works throughout the ancient world. The zinc
mines at Laurium, in Greece, were extensively worked in
In Deut. 8:9 Moses describing the Promised Land said:
"it is a Land whom stones
are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass."
Also Job tells a parable
"surely there is a vein
for the silver, and a place for gold with a fine it, iron is
taken out of the earth and brass is molten out of the stone" (Job
The Bible also records in
Ezra 8:27 that when Ezra journeyed from Babylon to Jerusalem
to repair the city he brought with him:
"two vessels of fine
copper, precious as gold."
When the Children of Israel came into the promised land,
they found the Canaanites already skilled in the making and
use of bronze instruments. The ancient Israelites used
copper in many different ways, Among the most common were:
weapons, knives, nails, lamps, hand mirrors, locks, works of
art, and sacred vessels and later stamped coins. There was a
vast amount of copper used in the construction of Solomon's
The Tabernacle of
When the children of Israel were asked to give in the
building of the Tabernacle (the temporary tent that Yahweh
would dwell in) they gave from what they had received from
the spoils given them by the Egyptians, and they had given
so much that they were commanded to stop giving. Out of the
abundance of what they gave was Bronze. A total of 6,700
lbs. of bronze was given. The main use for bronze was in the
tabernacle furniture within the outer court, in the places
where exceptional strength and heat resistance was
important. Bronze has a melting point of 1,985 degrees.
Since the altar was a place where intense heat was present
it was overlaid with bronze.
Ex 27:1-2 You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five
cubits long and five cubits wide--the altar shall be
square--and its height shall be three cubits. You shall make
its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one
piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze. NKJV
"Bronze," naturally, is used in Scripture as the symbol of
what is firm, stubborn, strong and enduring, thus we see
"gates of bronze" (Ps 107:16), "hoofs of bronze" (Mic 4:13),
etc. Is is mentioned in reference to people and cities.
But Bronze also represents
judgement. In showing His anger over a certain city the Lord
would say that the "heavens
have turned bronze." When
Moses raised the bronze serpent it spoke of the power of the
serpent being judged through the raising of the Son of God:
Num 21:9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a
pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
Bronze typifies the divine character of Christ who took upon
Himself the fire of God's wrath, holiness and justice by
becoming a sin offering.
2 Cor 5:21 "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for
us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Matt 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a
loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is,
"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Today in metallurgy, bronze is an alloy of copper, tin,
zinc, phosphorus, and sometimes small amounts of other
elements. Bronzes are harder than brasses. Most are produced
by melting the copper and adding the desired amounts of tin,
zinc, and other substances.
In modern metallurgy brass is an alloy having copper
(55%-90%) and zinc (10%-45%) as its essential components.
The properties of brass vary with the proportion of copper
and zinc and with the addition of small amounts of other
elements, such as aluminum, lead, tin, or nickel.
Bibliography on Ancient Customs
The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised
by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008
Return to Ancient Customs
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