The ashes of a red heifer burned entire (Num. 19:5) when
sprinkled on the unclean made them ceremonially clean (Heb.
To cover the head with ashes was a token of self-abhorrence
and humiliation (2 Sam. 13:19; Esther 4:3; Jer. 6:26, etc.).
To feed on ashes (Isa. 44:20), means to seek that which will
prove to be vain and unsatisfactory, and hence it denotes the
unsatisfactory nature of idol-worship. (Comp. Hos. 12:1).
Water of separation
used along with the ashes of a red heifer for the ceremonial
cleansing of persons defiled by contact with a dead body (Num.
(Heb. borith mekabbeshim, i.e., "alkali of those treading
cloth"). Mention is made (Prov. 25:20; Jer. 2:22) of nitre and
also (Mal. 3:2) of soap (Heb. borith) used by the fuller in his
operations. Nitre is found in Syria, and vegetable alkali was
obtained from the ashes of certain plants. (See SOAP ¯T0003467.)
called also Achar, i.e., one who troubles (1 Chr. 2:7), in
commemoration of his crime, which brought upon him an awful
destruction (Josh. 7:1). On the occasion of the fall of Jericho,
he seized, contrary to the divine command, an ingot of gold, a
quantity of silver, and a costly Babylonish garment, which he
hid in his tent. Joshua was convinced that the defeat which the
Israelites afterwards sustained before Ai was a proof of the
divine displeasure on account of some crime, and he at once
adopted means by the use of the lot for discovering the
criminal. It was then found that Achan was guilty, and he was
stoned to death in the valley of Achor. He and all that belonged
to him were then consumed by fire, and a heap of stones was
raised over the ashes.
(Jer. 2:22; Mal. 3:2; Heb. borith), properly a vegetable alkali,
obtained from the ashes of certain plants, particularly the
salsola kali (saltwort), which abounds on the shores of the Dead
Sea and of the Mediterranean. It does not appear that the
Hebrews were acquainted with what is now called "soap," which is
a compound of alkaline carbonates with oleaginous matter. The
word "purely" in Isa. 1:25 (R.V., "throughly;" marg., "as with
lye") is lit. "as with _bor_." This word means "clearness," and
hence also that which makes clear, or pure, alkali. "The
ancients made use of alkali mingled with oil, instead of soap
(Job 9:30), and also in smelting metals, to make them melt and
flow more readily and purely" (Gesenius).
the lamp-stand, "candelabrum," which Moses was commanded to make
for the tabernacle, according to the pattern shown him. Its form
is described in Ex. 25:31-40; 37:17-24, and may be seen
represented on the Arch of Titus at Rome. It was among the
spoils taken by the Romans from the temple of Jerusalem (A.D.
70). It was made of fine gold, and with the utensils belonging
to it was a talent in weight.
The tabernacle was a tent without windows, and thus artificial
light was needed. This was supplied by the candlestick, which,
however, served also as a symbol of the church or people of God,
who are "the light of the world." The light which "symbolizes
the knowledge of God is not the sun or any natural light, but an
artificial light supplied with a specially prepared oil; for the
knowledge of God is in truth not natural nor common to all men,
but furnished over and above nature."
This candlestick was placed on the south side of the Holy
Place, opposite the table of shewbread (Ex. 27:21; 30:7, 8; Lev.
24:3; 1 Sam. 3:3). It was lighted every evening, and was
extinguished in the morning. In the morning the priests trimmed
the seven lamps, borne by the seven branches, with golden
snuffers, carrying away the ashes in golden dishes (Ex. 25:38),
and supplying the lamps at the same time with fresh oil. What
ultimately became of the candlestick is unknown.
In Solomon's temple there were ten separate candlesticks of
pure gold, five on the right and five on the left of the Holy
Place (1 Kings 7:49; 2 Chr. 4:7). Their structure is not
mentioned. They were carried away to Babylon (Jer. 52:19).
In the temple erected after the Exile there was again but one
candlestick, and like the first, with seven branches. It was
this which was afterwards carried away by Titus to Rome, where
it was deposited in the Temple of Peace. When Genseric plundered
Rome, he is said to have carried it to Carthage (A.D. 455). It
was recaptured by Belisarius (A.D. 533), and carried to
Constantinople and thence to Jerusalem, where it finally
impregnable, a royal Canaanitish city in the Shephelah, or
maritime plain of Israel (Josh. 10:3, 5; 12:11). It was taken
and destroyed by the Israelites (Josh. 10:31-33). It afterwards
became, under Rehoboam, one of the strongest fortresses of Judah
(2 Chr. 10:9). It was assaulted and probably taken by
Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14, 17; 19:8; Isa. 36:2). An account of
this siege is given on some slabs found in the chambers of the
palace of Koyunjik, and now in the British Museum. The
inscription has been deciphered as follows:, "Sennacherib, the
mighty king, king of the country of Assyria, sitting on the
throne of judgment before the city of Lachish: I gave permission
for its slaughter." (See NINEVEH ¯T0002735.)
Lachish has been identified with Tell-el-Hesy, where a
cuneiform tablet has been found, containing a letter supposed to
be from Amenophis at Amarna in reply to one of the Amarna
tablets sent by Zimrida from Lachish. This letter is from the
chief of Atim (=Etam, 1 Chr. 4:32) to the chief of Lachish, in
which the writer expresses great alarm at the approach of
marauders from the Hebron hills. "They have entered the land,"
he says, "to lay waste...strong is he who has come down. He lays
waste." This letter shows that "the communication by tablets in
cuneiform script was not only usual in writing to Egypt, but in
the internal correspondence of the country. The letter, though
not so important in some ways as the Moabite stone and the
Siloam text, is one of the most valuable discoveries ever made
in Israel" (Conder's Tell Amarna Tablets, p. 134).
Excavations at Lachish are still going on, and among other
discoveries is that of an iron blast-furnace, with slag and
ashes, which is supposed to have existed B.C. 1500. If the
theories of experts are correct, the use of the hot-air blast
instead of cold air (an improvement in iron manufacture patented
by Neilson in 1828) was known fifteen hundred years before
Christ. (See FURNACE ¯T0001398.)
Frequent references are found in Scripture to, (1.) Mourning for
the dead. Abraham mourned for Sarah (Gen. 23:2); Jacob for
Joseph (37:34, 35); the Egyptians for Jacob (50:3-10); Israel
for Aaron (Num. 20:29), for Moses (Deut. 34:8), and for Samuel
(1 Sam. 25:1); David for Abner (2 Sam. 3:31, 35); Mary and
Martha for Lazarus (John 11); devout men for Stephen (Acts 8:2),
(2.) For calamities, Job (1:20, 21; 2:8); Israel (Ex. 33:4);
the Ninevites (Jonah 3:5); Israel, when defeated by Benjamin
(Judg. 20:26), etc.
(3.) Penitential mourning, by the Israelites on the day of
atonement (Lev. 23:27; Acts 27:9); under Samuel's ministry (1
Sam. 7:6); predicted in Zechariah (Zech. 12:10, 11); in many of
the psalms (51, etc.).
Mourning was expressed, (1) by weeping (Gen. 35:8, marg.; Luke
7:38, etc.); (2) by loud lamentation (Ruth 1:9; 1 Sam. 6:19; 2
Sam. 3:31); (3) by the disfigurement of the person, as rending
the clothes (Gen. 37:29, 34; Matt. 26:65), wearing sackcloth
(Gen. 37:34; Ps. 35:13), sprinkling dust or ashes on the person
(2 Sam. 13:19; Jer. 6:26; Job 2:12), shaving the head and
plucking out the hair of the head or beard (Lev. 10:6; Job
1:20), neglect of the person or the removal of ornaments (Ex.
33:4; Deut. 21:12, 13; 2 Sam. 14:2; 19:24; Matt. 6:16, 17),
fasting (2 Sam. 1:12), covering the upper lip (Lev. 13:45; Micah
3:7), cutting the flesh (Jer. 16:6, 7), and sitting in silence
(Judg. 20:26; 2 Sam. 12:16; 13:31; Job 1:20).
In the later times we find a class of mourners who could be
hired to give by their loud lamentation the external tokens of
sorrow (2 Chr. 35:25; Jer. 9:17; Matt. 9:23).
The period of mourning for the dead varied. For Jacob it was
seventy days (Gen. 50:3); for Aaron (Num. 20:29) and Moses
(Deut. 34:8) thirty days; and for Saul only seven days (1 Sam.
31:13). In 2 Sam. 3:31-35, we have a description of the great
mourning for the death of Abner.