|Iron (2) |
(See CIVILIZATION.) Tubal-cain, 500 years after Adam according to Hebrew chronology, 1,000 according to Septuagint, was the first "instructor of every artificer in brass and iron." Previously flint, bone, and wood had been used for instruments and weapons. When nations by isolation from the centers of civilization retrograded, they fell back to a flint age, then ascended to bronze, so lastly to iron; as we trace in antiquarian relies in many European countries. The use of iron is of extreme antiquity. The Hindus have had for ages a process of smelting, simple and rude but effective. Canaan is described as "a land whose stones are iron" (Deuteronomy 8:9). Traces of ironworks are found on Lebanon. Argob contains abundant ironstone. Iron was among the spoils taken from Midian (Numbers 31:22), and was common in Egypt centuries before the Exodus.
Axes, harrows, saws, nails, weapons, bars, gates, rods, pillars were of iron (2 Kings 6:5-6; 2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Chronicles 22:3; 1 Samuel 17:7). In the tombs of Thebes butchers are represented sharpening their knives on a blue bar of metal. The blue blades and the red bronze in the tomb of Rameses III imply that iron and steel were very anciently known in Egypt. The Philistines allowed no iron smiths in the land of the Hebrew, just as Porsena forbade iron, except for agriculture (Pliny, 34,39), to the Romans when subject to him (1 Samuel 13:19-22). Merchants of Dan and Javan (perhaps rather Vedan, now Aden, a Greek settlement in Arabia) supplied Tyre with polished or "bright iron." "Dan and Javan" may mean all peoples, whether near, as the Israelite Dan, or far off; as the Greeks or "Javan" conveyed these products to Tyre's markets. frontDAN.)
In Jeremiah 15:12 "shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?" Rather "can common iron break the northern iron and copper combined into the hardest metal?" The northern Chalybes near the Euxine Pontus made this mixture like our steel. Jeremiah means, can the Jews, hardy though they be, break the still hardier Chaldees of the N.? The smith's work is described Isaiah 44:12. A "rod of iron" symbolizes the holy sternness with which the coming Judge and the saints with Him shall punish the wicked (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27).
Job 28:2 (margin) saith, "iron is taken out of the earth" or "dust," for the ore looks like mere "earth." Iron symbolizes the fourth kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar's vision (Daniel 2), namely, Rome. The metals of the image lessen in specific gravity as they go downward. Silver (Medo-Persia) is not so heavy as gold (Babylon), brass (Greece) not so heavy as silver, and iron not so heavy as brass; the weight being arranged in the reverse of stability. Like iron, Rome was strongest and hardiest in treading down the nations, but less kingly, the government depending on popular choice. As it "breaketh in pieces," so, in righteous retribution, itself will be "broken in pieces" at last by the kingdom of the Stone, Messiah the Rock (Daniel 2:40; Daniel 2:44; Revelation 13:10).