594. The Use of Metal

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The working of metal into various articles of ornament or of use is all art as old as the days of Tubal-Cain. See Genesis 4:2222And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. (Genesis 4:22). The different metals referred to in this text are frequently spoken of in the Bible. There is no question as to their identity, except in the case of nechash, which is the Chaldee form of nechosheth, and in the text is rendered “brass.” The factitious metal known by this name, and which is compounded of copper and zinc, is said to be of a later date than the early historic times of the Bible. It certainly cannot he intended by the word nechosheth in such passages as Deuteronomy 8:99A 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 brass. (Deuteronomy 8:9) and Job 28:22Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone. (Job 28:2). Copper is probably the metal there referred to as being dug out of the earth. The same word is rendered “steel” in 2 Samuel 22:3535He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. (2 Samuel 22:35); Job 20:2424He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through. (Job 20:24); Psalm 18:3434He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. (Psalm 18:34) and Jeremiah 15:1212Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel? (Jeremiah 15:12). Inasmuch as copper is better worked when alloyed, and as tin was known at a very early day (see Num. 31:2222Only the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead, (Numbers 31:22)) it is supposed that a combination of these two metals—that is, bronze—was used in the manufacture of different articles. Tools, utensils, and ornaments of bronze are found among the Egyptian and Assyrian remains. The vessels of the Tabernacle, which are represented in our version as made of “brass” (nechosheth) were probably either copper or bronze. See Exodus 38:2-6, 82And he made the horns thereof on the four corners of it; the horns thereof were of the same: and he overlaid it with brass. 3And he made all the vessels of the altar, the pots, and the shovels, and the basons, and the fleshhooks, and the firepans: all the vessels thereof made he of brass. 4And he made for the altar a brazen grate of network under the compass thereof beneath unto the midst of it. 5And he cast four rings for the four ends of the grate of brass, to be places for the staves. 6And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with brass. (Exodus 38:2‑6)
8And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Exodus 38:8)