Gold of Havilah is mentioned as early as Genesis 2:11. The first worker of instruments of copper ("brass") and iron was Tubal-cain (Genesis 4:22). Abram was rich in silver and gold (Genesis 13:2). Instruments before Tubalcain (born according to Hebrew chronology 500 years after Adam and contemporary with Enoch from Seth; 1,000 according to Septuagint chronology) were apparently of flint, bone, and hard wood, such as uncivilized nations now use. Races that have degenerated into barbarism fall back upon flint; then advance to bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, harder than either: and then brass; and lastly iron. The oldest European races used only flint weapons, which are found in the gravel; but this is no proof they were unknown to Adam's early descendants. Isolation would soon reduce the distant emigrants to savagery. Silver was used for commerce, as "money" (Genesis 23:16; Genesis 17:12; Genesis 20:16), gold for ornament.
Gold, silver, brass, iron, tin, and lead were among the spoils taken front Midian (Numbers 31:22). In Job 20:24 for "steel" translated brass. Also Psalm 18:34, "a bow of steel" should be brass, which, or bronze, was used to strengthen arms, as for instance the Egyptians' bows. But God so taught David to war relying on Him that, no weapon could prevail against him; so Isaiah 54:17. In Jeremiah 15:12, "shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?" the metal meant is copper mixed with iron by the Chalybes near the Pontus far N. of Israel; i.e., can the Jews, however iron-like, break the hardier steel-like northern Chaldees (Jeremiah 1:14). Common iron, as then prepared, was inferior to the Chalybian iron and brass combined. Thus explaining, we solve Henderson's difficulty that KJV makes iron not so hard as brass, and we need not transl, as he does "can one break iron, even northern iron, and brass?"
In Nahum 2:3, "the chariots will be with flaming torches," translated rather "with fire flashing scythes," literally, "with the fire (glitter) of scythes" or steel weapons fixed at right angles to the axles, and turned down, or parallel, inserted into the felly of the wheel. (On Ezra 1:4 "amber," Revelation 1:15 "fine brass". (See AMBER.) The first payment of gold is in 1 Chronicles 21:25. (See ARAUNAH.) Gold was imported from Ophir, Sheba, Parvaim, and Uphaz (1 Kings 9:27-28; 1 Kings 10:2; 1 Kings 10:10; 2 Chronicles 3:6; Jeremiah 10:9). The hills of Israel yielded copper (Deuteronomy 8:9). Job 28 hints at the fact that gold is more superficial, iron lodes yield more the deeper you go: "there is a vein (a mine from whence it goes forth, Hebrew) for the silver, and a place for gold (which men) refine (it is found in the sands of rivers, and its particles have a superficial range in mines); iron is taken out of the dust (or earth, ore looking like it), and copper is molten out of the stone."
Copper is easier found and wrought than iron, so was in earlier use. Copper alloyed with tin formed brindle, of which Napier (Metal. of Bible) thinks the domestic vessels, the arms, etc., in Scripture were made, as it tarnishes less, takes a finer polish, and admits of a keen, hard edge (2 Samuel 21:16). Israel derived their skill in metallurgy from the Egyptians. Tin (bdiyl) was doubtless imported through the Phoenicians from Cornwall to Tarshish, and thence to Israel (Ezekiel 27:12; Ezekiel 22:18-20; Isaiah 1:25); the Assyrian bronze bowls, having one part tin to ten copper, now in the British Museum, consist of metal probably exported 3,000 years ago from the British isles. (See BOWLS.)
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