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Holman Bible Dictionary

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Greek - bronze
Greek - burnished bronze
Hebrew - bronze
Hebrew - bronze
Hebrew - bronze
Hebrew - bronze, bronze chains, bronze fetters, fetters of bronze

See Minerals and Metals. An alloy of copper and tin. When the tin concentration is higher than 2%, it is assumed that the alloy is man-made rather than a natural occurrence. Samples of bronze varying from 2% to 16% have been uncovered in archaeological sites in Israel. It is unclear who first discovered that small amounts of tin added to copper results in an alloy which has a lower melting point and is harder than either of the two metals by themselves. Genesis attributes it to Tubal-cain (Genesis 4:22). Possible sources include Syria, northeastern Iran, and Armenia, all of which have adequate supplies of both copper and tin ores.

Outlining the use of bronze in Israel is complicated because the Hebrew word used to denote copper was also used for the new alloy when it appeared. The KJV translates the word most often as brass, but brass did not appear in Israel until introduced by the Romans shortly before the time of Christ. Certainly references to metals which were melted and poured into a mold concerned bronze, whereas beaten metals were copper, tin, or gold.

Introduction of bronze to Israel is demonstrated by a dramatic increase in the presence of bronze implements dating from 2000 BC. After this time, bronze was the preferred metal even well into the Iron Age. Typical finds include jewelry, spear heads (2 Samuel 21:16), daggers, axes, and depictions of gods. Armor was often made of bronze (1 Samuel 17:5-6; 1 Samuel 17:38; 1 Kings 14:27) and bows (2 Samuel 22:35).

Bronze was considered a precious metal and was a prized spoil of war (Joshua 6:19; 2 Samuel 8:8; Jeremiah 52:17 NAS). It was used in construction for hinges, pillars, and gates as well as for decoration in important buildings, such as the Tabernacle (Exodus 25-27; Exodus 30:18; Exodus 31:4; Exodus 35-39), palace, and the Temple (1 Kings 7:13-47 NAS). Most jewelry mentioned in the Bible—rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings—are said to be gold, but based on archaeological finds, we can safely assume that bronze was a much more common metal for these items as well.

Bronze was also used symbolically to denote strength (Job 40:18; Psalms 107:16).

Tim Turnham

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'BRONZE'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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