derived from the Greek kupros (the island of Cyprus), called
"Cyprian brass," occurs only in the Authorized Version in Ezra
8:27. Elsewhere the Hebrew word (nehosheth) is improperly
rendered "brass," and sometimes "steel" (2 Sam. 22:35; Jer.
15:12). The "bow of steel" (Job 20:24; Ps. 18:34) should have
been "bow of copper" (or "brass," as in the R.V.). The vessels
of "fine copper" of Ezra 8:27 were probably similar to those of
"bright brass" mentioned in 1 Kings 7:45; Dan. 10:6.
Tubal-cain was the first artificer in brass and iron (Gen.
4:22). Hiram was noted as a worker in brass (1 Kings 7:14).
Copper abounded in Israel (Deut. 8:9; Isa. 60:17; 1 Chr.
22:3, 14). All sorts of vessels in the tabernacle and the temple
were made of it (Lev. 6:28; Num. 16:39; 2 Chr. 4:16; Ezra 8:27);
also weapons of war (1 Sam. 17:5, 6, 38; 2 Sam. 21:16). Iron is
mentioned only four times (Gen. 4:22; Lev. 26:19; Num. 31:22;
35:16) in the first four books of Moses, while copper (rendered
"brass") is mentioned forty times. (See BRASS T0000641.)
We find mention of Alexander (q.v.), a "coppersmith" of
Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:14).
the son of Lamech and Zillah, "an instructor of every artificer
in brass and iron" (Gen. 4:22; R.V., "the forger of every
cutting instrument of brass and iron").
The "bow of steel" in (A.V.) 2 Sam. 22:35; Job 20:24; Ps. 18:34
is in the Revised Version "bow of brass" (Heb.
kesheth-nehushah). In Jer. 15:12 the same word is used, and is
also rendered in the Revised Version "brass." But more correctly
it is copper (q.v.), as brass in the ordinary sense of the word
(an alloy of copper and zinc) was not known to the ancients.
Of various forms, from the mere sandal (q.v.) to the complete
covering of the foot. The word so rendered (A.V.) in Deut.
33:25, "min'al", "a bar," is derived from a root meaning "to
bolt" or "shut fast," and hence a fastness or fortress. The
verse has accordingly been rendered "iron and brass shall be thy
fortress," or, as in the Revised Version, "thy bars [marg.,
"shoes"] shall be iron and brass."
(Ezek. 1:4, 27; 8:2. Heb., hashmal, rendered by the LXX.
elektron, and by the Vulgate electrum), a metal compounded of
silver and gold. Some translate the word by "polished brass,"
others "fine brass," as in Rev. 1:15; 2:18. It was probably the
mixture now called electrum. The word has no connection,
however, with what is now called amber, which is a gummy
substance, reckoned as belonging to the mineral kingdom though
of vegetable origin, a fossil resin.
a network of brass for the bottom of the great altar of
sacrifice (Ex. 27:4; 35:16; 38:4, 5, 30).
which is an alloy of copper and zinc, was not known till the
thirteenth century. What is designated by this word in Scripture
is properly copper (Deut. 8:9). It was used for fetters (Judg.
16:21; 2 Kings 25:7), for pieces of armour (1 Sam. 17:5, 6), for
musical instruments (1 Chr. 15:19; 1 Cor. 13:1), and for money
It is a symbol of insensibility and obstinacy in sin (Isa.
48:4; Jer. 6:28; Ezek. 22:18), and of strength (Ps. 107:16;
The Macedonian empire is described as a kingdom of brass (Dan.
2:39). The "mountains of brass" Zechariah (6:1) speaks of have
been supposed to represent the immutable decrees of God.
The serpent of brass was made by Moses at the command of God
(Num. 21:4-9), and elevated on a pole, so that it might be seen
by all the people when wounded by the bite of the serpents that
were sent to them as a punishment for their murmurings against
God and against Moses. It was afterwards carried by the Jews
into Canaan, and preserved by them till the time of Hezekiah,
who caused it to be at length destroyed because it began to be
viewed by the people with superstitious reverence (2 Kings
18:4). (See NEHUSHTAN T0002700.)
The brazen serpent is alluded to by our Lord in John 3:14, 15.
(See SERPENT T0003287.)
confidence, a city belonging to Hadadezer, king of Zobah, which
yielded much spoil of brass to David (2 Sam. 8:8). In 1 Chr.
18:8 it is called Tibhath.
one of the cities of Hadarezer, king of Syria. David procured
brass (i.e., bronze or copper) from it for the temple (1 Chr.
18:8). It is called Berothai in 2 Sam. 8:8; probably the same as
Berothah in Ezek. 47:16.
the name of one of the gates of the temple (Acts 3:2). It is
supposed to have been the door which led from the court of the
Gentiles to the court of the women. It was of massive structure,
and covered with plates of Corinthian brass.
Alexander the Great
the king of Macedonia, the great conqueror; probably represented
in Daniel by the "belly of brass" (Dan. 2:32), and the leopard
and the he-goat (7:6; 11:3,4). He succeeded his father Philip,
and died at the age of thirty-two from the effects of
intemperance, B.C. 323. His empire was divided among his four
(Heb. tzeltzelim, from a root meaning to "tinkle"), musical
instruments, consisting of two convex pieces of brass one held
in each hand, which were clashed together to produce a loud
clanging sound; castanets; "loud cymbals." "Highsounding
cymbals" consisted of two larger plates, one held also in each
hand (2 Sam. 6:5; Ps. 150:5; 1 Chr. 13:8; 15:16, 19, 28; 1 Cor.
used to denote the means by which a door is bolted (Neh. 3:3); a
rock in the sea (Jonah 2:6); the shore of the sea (Job 38:10);
strong fortifications and powerful impediments, etc. (Isa. 45:2;
Amos 1:5); defences of a city (1 Kings 4:13). A bar for a door
was of iron (Isa. 45:2), brass (Ps. 107:16), or wood (Nah.
for eating from (2 Kings 21:13). Judas dipped his hand with a
"sop" or piece of bread in the same dish with our Lord, thereby
indicating friendly intimacy (Matt. 26:23). The "lordly dish" in
Judg. 5:25 was probably the shallow drinking cup, usually of
brass. In Judg. 6:38 the same Hebrew word is rendered "bowl."
The dishes of the tabernacle were made of pure gold (Ex.
of copper; a brazen thing a name of contempt given to the
serpent Moses had made in the wilderness (Num. 21:8), and which
Hezekiah destroyed because the children of Israel began to
regard it as an idol and "burn incense to it." The lapse of
nearly one thousand years had invested the "brazen serpent" with
a mysterious sanctity; and in order to deliver the people from
their infatuation, and impress them with the idea of its
worthlessness, Hezekiah called it, in contempt, "Nehushtan," a
brazen thing, a mere piece of brass (2 Kings 18:4).
Hadad is help; called also Hadarezer, Adod is his help, the king
of Zobah. Hanun, the king of the Ammonites, hired among others
the army of Hadadezer to assist him in his war against David.
Joab, who was sent against this confederate host, found them in
double battle array, the Ammonities toward their capital of
Rabbah, and the Syrian mercenaries near Medeba. In the battle
which was fought the Syrians were scattered, and the Ammonites
in alarm fled into their capital. After this Hadadezer went
north "to recover his border" (2 Sam. 8:3, A.V.); but rather, as
the Revised Version renders, "to recover his dominion", i.e., to
recruit his forces. Then followed another battle with the Syrian
army thus recruited, which resulted in its being totally routed
at Helam (2 Sam. 10:17). Shobach, the leader of the Syrian army,
died on the field of battle. The Syrians of Damascus, who had
come to help Hadadezer, were also routed, and Damascus was made
tributary to David. All the spoils taken in this war, "shields
of gold" and "very much brass," from which afterwards the
"brasen sea, and the pillars, and the vessels of brass" for the
temple were made (1 Chr. 18:8), were brought to Jerusalem and
dedicated to Jehovah. Thus the power of the Ammonites and the
Syrians was finally broken, and David's empire extended to the
Euphrates (2 Sam. 10:15-19; 1 Chr. 19:15-19).
(1.) A portable shield (2 Sam. 22:31; 1 Chr. 5:18).
(2.) A shield surrounding the person; the targe or round form;
used once figuratively (Ps. 91:4).
(3.) A large shield protecting the whole body (Ps. 35:2; Ezek.
(4.) A lance or spear; improperly rendered "buckler" in the
Authorized Version (1 Chr. 12:8), but correctly in the Revised
The leather of shields required oiling (2 Sam. 1:21; Isa.
21:5), so as to prevent its being injured by moisture. Copper (=
"brass") shields were also in use (1 Sam. 17:6; 1 Kings 14:27).
Those spoken of in 1 Kings 10:16, etc.; 14:26, were probably of
The shields David had taken from his enemies were suspended in
the temple as mementoes (2 Kings 11:10). (See ARMOUR T0000315,
or Bason. (1.) A trough or laver (Heb. aggan') for washing (Ex.
24:6); rendered also "goblet" (Cant. 7:2) and "cups" (Isa.
(2.) A covered dish or urn (Heb. k'for) among the vessels of
the temple (1 Chr. 28:17; Ezra 1:10; 8:27).
(3.) A vase (Heb. mizrak) from which to sprinkle anything. A
metallic vessel; sometimes rendered "bowl" (Amos 6:6; Zech.
9:15). The vessels of the tabernacle were of brass (Ex. 27:3),
while those of the temple were of gold (2 Chr. 4:8).
(4.) A utensil (Heb. saph) for holding the blood of the
victims (Ex. 12:22); also a basin for domestic purposes (2 Sam.
The various vessels spoken of by the names "basin, bowl,
charger, cup, and dish," cannot now be accurately distinguished.
The basin in which our Lord washed the disciples' feet (John
13:5) must have been larger and deeper than the hand-basin.
Sea, The molten
the great laver made by Solomon for the use of the priests in
the temple, described in 1 Kings 7:23-26; 2 Chr. 4:2-5. It stood
in the south-eastern corner of the inner court. It was 5 cubits
high, 10 in diameter from brim to brim, and 30 in circumference.
It was placed on the backs of twelve oxen, standing with their
faces outward. It was capable of containing two or three
thousand baths of water (compare 2 Chr. 4:5), which was originally
supplied by the Gibeonites, but was afterwards brought by a
conduit from the pools of Bethlehem. It was made of "brass"
(copper), which Solomon had taken from the captured cities of
Hadarezer, the king of Zobah (1 Chr. 18:8). Ahaz afterwards
removed this laver from the oxen, and placed it on a stone
pavement (2 Kings 16:17). It was destroyed by the Chaldeans
(LXX. "deadly," Vulg. "burning"), Num. 21:6, probably the naja
haje of Egypt; some swift-springing, deadly snake (Isa. 14:29).
After setting out from their encampment at Ezion-gaber, the
Israelites entered on a wide sandy desert, which stretches from
the mountains of Edom as far as the Persian Gulf. While
traversing this region, the people began to murmur and utter
loud complaints against Moses. As a punishment, the Lord sent
serpents among them, and much people of Israel died. Moses
interceded on their behalf, and by divine direction he made a
"brazen serpent," and raised it on a pole in the midst of the
camp, and all the wounded Israelites who looked on it were at
once healed. (Compare John 3:14, 15.) (See ASP T0000348.) This
"brazen serpent" was preserved by the Israelites till the days
of Hezekiah, when it was destroyed (2 Kings 18:4). (See BRASS
one of the two portions into which the tabernacle was divided
(Ex. 26:31; 37:17-25; Heb. 9:2). It was 20 cubits long and 10 in
height and breadth. It was illuminated by the golden
candlestick, as it had no opening to admit the light. It
contained the table of showbread (Ex. 25:23-29) and the golden
altar of incense (30:1-11). It was divided from the holy of
holies by a veil of the most costly materials and the brightest
The arrangement of the temple (q.v.) was the same in this
respect. In it the walls of hewn stone were wainscotted with
cedar and overlaid with gold, and adorned with beautiful
carvings. It was entered from the porch by folding doors
overlaid with gold and richly embossed. Outside the holy place
stood the great tank or "sea" of molten brass, supported by
twelve oxen, three turned each way, capable of containing two
thousand baths of water. Besides this there were ten lavers and
the brazen altar of burnt sacrifice.
weight, the common standard both of weight and value among the
Hebrews. It is estimated at 220 English grains, or a little more
than half an ounce avoirdupois. The "shekel of the sanctuary"
(Ex. 30:13; Num. 3:47) was equal to twenty gerahs (Ezek. 45:12).
There were shekels of gold (1 Chr. 21:25), of silver (1 Sam.
9:8), of brass (17:5), and of iron (7). When it became a coined
piece of money, the shekel of gold was equivalent to about 2
pound of our money. Six gold shekels, according to the later
Jewish system, were equal in value to fifty silver ones.
The temple contribution, with which the public sacrifices were
bought (Ex. 30:13; 2 Chr. 24:6), consisted of one common shekel,
or a sanctuary half-shekel, equal to two Attic drachmas. The
coin, a stater (q.v.), which Peter found in the fish's mouth
paid this contribution for both him and Christ (Matt. 17:24,
27). A zuza, or quarter of a shekel, was given by Saul to Samuel
(1 Sam. 9:8).
(Heb. kiyor), a "basin" for boiling in, a "pan" for cooking (1
Sam. 2:14), a "fire-pan" or hearth (Zech. 12:6), the sacred
wash-bowl of the tabernacle and temple (Ex. 30:18, 28; 31:9;
35:16; 38:8; 39:39; 40:7, 11, 30, etc.), a basin for the water
used by the priests in their ablutions.
That which was originally used in the tabernacle was of brass
(rather copper; Heb. nihsheth), made from the metal mirrors the
women brought out of Egypt (Ex. 38:8). It contained water
wherewith the priests washed their hands and feet when they
entered the tabernacle (40:32). It stood in the court between
the altar and the door of the tabernacle (30:19, 21).
In the temple there were ten lavers used for the sacrifices,
and the molten sea for the ablutions of the priests (2 Chr.
4:6). The position and uses of these are described 1 Kings
7:23-39; 2 Chr. 4:6. The "molten sea" was made of copper, taken
from Tibhath and Chun, cities of Hadarezer, king of Zobah (1
Chr. 18:8; 1 Kings 7:23-26).
No lavers are mentioned in the second temple.
(Heb. mizbe'ah, from a word meaning "to slay"), any structure of
earth (Ex. 20:24) or unwrought stone (20:25) on which sacrifices
were offered. Altars were generally erected in conspicuous
places (Gen. 22:9; Ezek. 6:3; 2 Kings 23:12; 16:4; 23:8; Acts
14:13). The word is used in Heb. 13:10 for the sacrifice offered
upon it--the sacrifice Christ offered.
Paul found among the many altars erected in Athens one bearing
the inscription, "To the unknown God" (Acts 17:23), or rather
"to an [i.e., some] unknown God." The reason for this
inscription cannot now be accurately determined. It afforded the
apostle the occasion of proclaiming the gospel to the "men of
The first altar we read of is that erected by Noah (Gen.
8:20). Altars were erected by Abraham (Gen. 12:7; 13:4; 22:9),
by Isaac (Gen. 26:25), by Jacob (33:20; 35:1, 3), and by Moses
(Ex. 17:15, "Jehovah-nissi").
In the tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple, two altars
(1.) The altar of burnt offering (Ex. 30:28), called also the
"brasen altar" (Ex. 39:39) and "the table of the Lord" (Mal.
This altar, as erected in the tabernacle, is described in Ex.
27:1-8. It was a hollow square, 5 cubits in length and in
breadth, and 3 cubits in height. It was made of shittim wood,
and was overlaid with plates of brass. Its corners were
ornamented with "horns" (Ex. 29:12; Lev. 4:18).
In Ex. 27:3 the various utensils appertaining to the altar are
enumerated. They were made of brass. (Compare 1 Sam. 2:13, 14;
Lev. 16:12; Num. 16:6, 7.)
In Solomon's temple the altar was of larger dimensions (2 Chr.
4:1. Compare 1 Kings 8:22, 64; 9:25), and was made wholly of
brass, covering a structure of stone or earth. This altar was
renewed by Asa (2 Chr. 15:8). It was removed by Ahaz (2 Kings
16:14), and "cleansed" by Hezekiah, in the latter part of whose
reign it was rebuilt. It was finally broken up and carried away
by the Babylonians (Jer. 52:17).
After the return from captivity it was re-erected (Ezra 3:3,
6) on the same place where it had formerly stood. (Compare 1 Macc.
4:47.) When Antiochus Epiphanes pillaged Jerusalem the altar of
burnt offering was taken away.
Again the altar was erected by Herod, and remained in its
place till the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (70 A.D.).
The fire on the altar was not permitted to go out (Lev. 6:9).
In the Mosque of Omar, immediately underneath the great dome,
which occupies the site of the old temple, there is a rough
projection of the natural rock, of about 60 feet in its extreme
length, and 50 in its greatest breadth, and in its highest part
about 4 feet above the general pavement. This rock seems to have
been left intact when Solomon's temple was built. It was in all
probability the site of the altar of burnt offering. Underneath
this rock is a cave, which may probably have been the granary of
Araunah's threshing-floor (1 Chr. 21:22).
(2.) The altar of incense (Ex. 30:1-10), called also "the
golden altar" (39:38; Num. 4:11), stood in the holy place
"before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony." On this
altar sweet spices were continually burned with fire taken from
the brazen altar. The morning and the evening services were
commenced by the high priest offering incense on this altar. The
burning of the incense was a type of prayer (Ps. 141:2; Rev.
5:8; 8:3, 4).
This altar was a small movable table, made of acacia wood
overlaid with gold (Ex. 37:25, 26). It was 1 cubit in length and
breadth, and 2 cubits in height.
In Solomon's temple the altar was similar in size, but was
made of cedar-wood (1 Kings 6:20; 7:48) overlaid with gold. In
Ezek. 41:22 it is called "the altar of wood." (Compare Ex.
In the temple built after the Exile the altar was restored.
Antiochus Epiphanes took it away, but it was afterwards restored
by Judas Maccabaeus (1 Macc. 1:23; 4:49). Among the trophies
carried away by Titus on the destruction of Jerusalem the altar
of incense is not found, nor is any mention made of it in Heb.
9. It was at this altar Zacharias ministered when an angel
appeared to him (Luke 1:11). It is the only altar which appears
in the heavenly temple (Isa. 6:6; Rev. 8:3,4).
(1.) Of cities, as of Jerusalem (Jer. 37:13; Neh. 1:3; 2:3;
3:3), of Sodom (Gen. 19:1), of Gaza (Judg. 16:3).
(2.) Of royal palaces (Neh. 2:8).
(3.) Of the temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:34, 35; 2 Kings
18:16); of the holy place (1 Kings 6:31, 32; Ezek. 41:23, 24);
of the outer courts of the temple, the beautiful gate (Acts
(4.) Tombs (Matt. 27:60).
(5.) Prisons (Acts 12:10; 16:27).
(6.) Caverns (1 Kings 19:13).
(7.) Camps (Ex. 32:26, 27; Heb. 13:12).
The materials of which gates were made were,
(1.) Iron and brass (Ps. 107:16; Isa. 45:2; Acts 12:10).
(2.) Stones and pearls (Isa. 54:12; Rev. 21:21).
(3.) Wood (Judg. 16:3) probably.
At the gates of cities courts of justice were frequently held,
and hence "judges of the gate" are spoken of (Deut. 16:18; 17:8;
21:19; 25:6, 7, etc.). At the gates prophets also frequently
delivered their messages (Prov. 1:21; 8:3; Isa. 29:21; Jer.
17:19, 20; 26:10). Criminals were punished without the gates (1
Kings 21:13; Acts 7:59). By the "gates of righteousness" we are
probably to understand those of the temple (Ps. 118:19). "The
gates of hell" (R.V., "gates of Hades") Matt. 16:18, are
generally interpreted as meaning the power of Satan, but
probably they may mean the power of death, denoting that the
Church of Christ shall never die.
mouth of brass, or from old Egypt, the negro. (1.) Son of
Eleazar, the high priest (Ex. 6:25). While yet a youth he
distinguished himself at Shittim by his zeal against the
immorality into which the Moabites had tempted the people (Num.
25:1-9), and thus "stayed the plague" that had broken out among
the people, and by which twenty-four thousand of them perished.
For his faithfulness on that occasion he received the divine
approbation (10-13). He afterwards commanded the army that went
out against the Midianites (31:6-8). When representatives of the
people were sent to expostulate with the two and a half tribes
who, just after crossing Jordan, built an altar and departed
without giving any explanation, Phinehas was their leader, and
addressed them in the words recorded in Josh. 22:16-20. Their
explanation follows. This great altar was intended to be all
ages only a witness that they still formed a part of Israel.
Phinehas was afterwards the chief adviser in the war with the
Benjamites. He is commemorated in Ps. 106:30, 31. (See ED
(2.) One of the sons of Eli, the high priest (1 Sam. 1:3;
2:12). He and his brother Hophni were guilty of great crimes,
for which destruction came on the house of Eli (31). He died in
battle with the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:4, 11); and his wife, on
hearing of his death, gave birth to a son, whom she called
"Ichabod," and then she died (19-22).
the vessel in which incense was presented on "the golden altar"
before the Lord in the temple (Ex. 30:1-9). The priest filled
the censer with live coal from the sacred fire on the altar of
burnt-offering, and having carried it into the sanctuary, there
threw upon the burning coals the sweet incense (Lev. 16:12, 13),
which sent up a cloud of smoke, filling the apartment with
fragrance. The censers in daily use were of brass (Num. 16:39),
and were designated by a different Hebrew name, "miktereth" (2
Chr. 26:19; Ezek. 8:11): while those used on the day of
Atonement were of gold, and were denoted by a word (mahtah)
meaning "something to take fire with;" LXX. pureion = a
fire-pan. Solomon prepared for the temple censers of pure gold
(1 Kings 7:50; 2 Chr. 4:22). The angel in the Apocalypse is
represented with a golden censer (Rev. 8:3, 5). Paul speaks of
the golden censer as belonging to the tabernacle (Heb. 9:4). The
Greek word thumiaterion, here rendered "censer," may more
appropriately denote, as in the margin of Revised Version, "the
altar of incense." Paul does not here say that the thumiaterion
was in the holiest, for it was in the holy place, but that the
holiest had it, i.e., that it belonged to the holiest (1 Kings
6:22). It was intimately connected with the high priest's
service in the holiest.
The manner in which the censer is to be used is described in
Num. 4:14; Lev. 16:12.
(1.) A house or dwelling-place (Job 5:24; 18:6, etc.).
(2.) A portable shrine (compare Acts 19:24) containing the image
of Moloch (Amos 5:26; marg. and R.V., "Siccuth").
(3.) The human body (2 Cor. 5:1, 4); a tent, as opposed to a
(4.) The sacred tent (Heb. mishkan, "the dwelling-place"); the
movable tent-temple which Moses erected for the service of God,
according to the "pattern" which God himself showed to him on
the mount (Ex. 25:9; Heb. 8:5). It is called "the tabernacle of
the congregation," rather "of meeting", i.e., where God promised
to meet with Israel (Ex. 29:42); the "tabernacle of the
testimony" (Ex. 38:21; Num. 1:50), which does not, however,
designate the whole structure, but only the enclosure which
contained the "ark of the testimony" (Ex. 25:16, 22; Num. 9:15);
the "tabernacle of witness" (Num. 17:8); the "house of the Lord"
(Deut. 23:18); the "temple of the Lord" (Josh. 6:24); a
"sanctuary" (Ex. 25:8).
A particular account of the materials which the people
provided for the erection and of the building itself is recorded
in Ex. 25-40. The execution of the plan mysteriously given to
Moses was intrusted to Bezaleel and Aholiab, who were specially
endowed with wisdom and artistic skill, probably gained in
Egypt, for this purpose (Ex. 35:30-35). The people provided
materials for the tabernacle so abundantly that Moses was under
the necessity of restraining them (36:6). These stores, from
which they so liberally contributed for this purpose, must have
consisted in a great part of the gifts which the Egyptians so
readily bestowed on them on the eve of the Exodus (12:35, 36).
The tabernacle was a rectangular enclosure, in length about 45
feet (i.e., reckoning a cubit at 18 inches) and in breadth and
height about 15. Its two sides and its western end were made of
boards of acacia wood, placed on end, resting in sockets of
brass, the eastern end being left open (Ex. 26:22). This
framework was covered with four coverings, the first of linen,
in which figures of the symbolic cherubim were wrought with
needlework in blue and purple and scarlet threads, and probably
also with threads of gold (Ex. 26:1-6; 36:8-13). Above this was
a second covering of twelve curtains of black goats'-hair cloth,
reaching down on the outside almost to the ground (Ex. 26:7-11).
The third covering was of rams' skins dyed red, and the fourth
was of badgers' skins (Heb. tahash, i.e., the dugong, a species
of seal), Ex. 25:5; 26:14; 35:7, 23; 36:19; 39:34.
Internally it was divided by a veil into two chambers, the
exterior of which was called the holy place, also "the
sanctuary" (Heb. 9:2) and the "first tabernacle" (6); and the
interior, the holy of holies, "the holy place," "the Holiest,"
the "second tabernacle" (Ex. 28:29; Heb. 9:3, 7). The veil
separating these two chambers was a double curtain of the finest
workmanship, which was never passed except by the high priest
once a year, on the great Day of Atonement. The holy place was
separated from the outer court which enclosed the tabernacle by
a curtain, which hung over the six pillars which stood at the
east end of the tabernacle, and by which it was entered.
The order as well as the typical character of the services of
the tabernacle are recorded in Heb. 9; 10:19-22.
The holy of holies, a cube of 10 cubits, contained the "ark of
the testimony", i.e., the oblong chest containing the two tables
of stone, the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded.
The holy place was the western and larger chamber of the
tabernacle. Here were placed the table for the shewbread, the
golden candlestick, and the golden altar of incense.
Round about the tabernacle was a court, enclosed by curtains
hung upon sixty pillars (Ex. 27:9-18). This court was 150 feet
long and 75 feet broad. Within it were placed the altar of burnt
offering, which measured 7 1/2 feet in length and breadth and 4
1/2 feet high, with horns at the four corners, and the laver of
brass (Ex. 30:18), which stood between the altar and the
The whole tabernacle was completed in seven months. On the
first day of the first month of the second year after the
Exodus, it was formally set up, and the cloud of the divine
presence descended on it (Ex. 39:22-43; 40:1-38). It cost 29
talents 730 shekels of gold, 100 talents 1,775 shekels of
silver, 70 talents 2,400 shekels of brass (Ex. 38:24-31).
The tabernacle was so constructed that it could easily be
taken down and conveyed from place to place during the
wanderings in the wilderness. The first encampment of the
Israelites after crossing the Jordan was at Gilgal, and there
the tabernacle remained for seven years (Josh. 4:19). It was
afterwards removed to Shiloh (Josh. 18:1), where it remained
during the time of the Judges, till the days of Eli, when the
ark, having been carried out into the camp when the Israelites
were at war with the Philistines, was taken by the enemy (1 Sam.
4), and was never afterwards restored to its place in the
tabernacle. The old tabernacle erected by Moses in the
wilderness was transferred to Nob (1 Sam. 21:1), and after the
destruction of that city by Saul (22:9; 1 Chr. 16:39, 40), to
Gibeon. It is mentioned for the last time in 1 Chr. 21:29. A new
tabernacle was erected by David at Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:17; 1
Chr. 16:1), and the ark was brought from Perez-uzzah and
deposited in it (2 Sam. 6:8-17; 2 Chr. 1:4).
The word thus rendered ('ohel) in Ex. 33:7 denotes simply a
tent, probably Moses' own tent, for the tabernacle was not yet
This word has a comprehensive meaning in Scripture. In the Old
Testament it is the rendering of the Hebrew word "sepher", which
properly means a "writing," and then a "volume" (Ex. 17:14;
Deut. 28:58; 29:20; Job 19:23) or "roll of a book" (Jer. 36:2,
Books were originally written on skins, on linen or cotton
cloth, and on Egyptian papyrus, whence our word "paper." The
leaves of the book were generally written in columns, designated
by a Hebrew word properly meaning "doors" and "valves" (Jer.
36:23, R.V., marg. "columns").
Among the Hebrews books were generally rolled up like our
maps, or if very long they were rolled from both ends, forming
two rolls (Luke 4:17-20). Thus they were arranged when the
writing was on flexible materials; but if the writing was on
tablets of wood or brass or lead, then the several tablets were
bound together by rings through which a rod was passed.
A sealed book is one whose contents are secret (Isa. 29:11;
Rev. 5:1-3). To "eat" a book (Jer. 15:16; Ezek. 2:8-10; 3:1-3;
Rev. 10:9) is to study its contents carefully.
The book of judgment (Dan. 7:10) refers to the method of human
courts of justice as illustrating the proceedings which will
take place at the day of God's final judgment.
The book of the wars of the Lord (Num. 21:14), the book of
Jasher (Josh. 10:13), and the book of the chronicles of the
kings of Judah and Israel (2 Chr. 25:26), were probably ancient
documents known to the Hebrews, but not forming a part of the
The book of life (Ps. 69:28) suggests the idea that as the
redeemed form a community or citizenship (Phil. 3:20; 4:3), a
catalogue of the citizens' names is preserved (Luke 10:20; Rev.
20:15). Their names are registered in heaven (Luke 10:20; Rev.
The book of the covenant (Ex. 24:7), containing Ex.
20:22-23:33, is the first book actually mentioned as a part of
the written word. It contains a series of laws, civil, social,
and religious, given to Moses at Sinai immediately after the
delivery of the decalogue. These were written in this "book."
place of fragrance, a fenced city in the midst of a vast grove
of palm trees, in the plain of Jordan, over against the place
where that river was crossed by the Israelites (Josh. 3:16). Its
site was near the 'Ain es-Sultan, Elisha's Fountain (2 Kings
2:19-22), about 5 miles west of Jordan. It was the most
important city in the Jordan valley (Num. 22:1; 34:15), and the
strongest fortress in all the land of Canaan. It was the key to
This city was taken in a very remarkable manner by the
Israelites (Josh. 6). God gave it into their hands. The city was
"accursed" (Heb. herem, "devoted" to Jehovah), and accordingly
(Josh. 6:17; compare Lev. 27:28, 29; Deut. 13:16) all the
inhabitants and all the spoil of the city were to be destroyed,
"only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of
iron" were reserved and "put into the treasury of the house of
Jehovah" (Josh. 6:24; compare Num. 31:22, 23, 50-54). Only Rahab
"and her father's household, and all that she had," were
preserved from destruction, according to the promise of the
spies (Josh. 2:14). In one of the Amarna tablets Adoni-zedec
(q.v.) writes to the king of Egypt informing him that the 'Abiri
(Hebrews) had prevailed, and had taken the fortress of Jericho,
and were plundering "all the king's lands." It would seem that
the Egyptian troops had before this been withdrawn from
This city was given to the tribe of Benjamin (Josh. 18:21),
and it was inhabited in the time of the Judges (Judg. 3:13; 2
Sam. 10:5). It is not again mentioned till the time of David (2
Sam. 10:5). "Children of Jericho" were among the captives who
returned under Zerubbabel Ezra 2:34; Neh. 7:36). Hiel (q.v.) the
Bethelite attempted to make it once more a fortified city (1
Kings 16:34). Between the beginning and the end of his
undertaking all his children were cut off.
In New Testament times Jericho stood some distance to the
south-east of the ancient one, and near the opening of the
valley of Achor. It was a rich and flourishing town, having a
considerable trade, and celebrated for the palm trees which
adorned the plain around. It was visited by our Lord on his last
journey to Jerusalem. Here he gave sight to two blind men (Matt.
20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52), and brought salvation to the house of
Zacchaeus the publican (Luke 19:2-10).
The poor hamlet of er-Riha, the representative of modern
Jericho, is situated some two miles farther to the east. It is
in a ruinous condition, having been destroyed by the Turks in
1840. "The soil of the plain," about the middle of which the
ancient city stood, "is unsurpassed in fertility; there is
abundance of water for irrigation, and many of the old aqueducts
are almost perfect; yet nearly the whole plain is waste and
desolate...The climate of Jericho is exceedingly hot and
unhealthy. This is accounted for by the depression of the plain,
which is about 1,200 feet below the level of the sea."
There were three different Jerichos, on three different sites,
the Jericho of Joshua, the Jericho of Herod, and the Jericho of
the Crusades. Er-Riha, the modern Jericho, dates from the time
of the Crusades. Dr. Bliss has found in a hollow scooped out for
some purpose or other near the foot of the biggest mound above
the Sultan's Spring specimens of Amorite or pre-Israelitish
pottery precisely identical with what he had discovered on the
site of ancient Lachish. He also traced in this place for a
short distance a mud brick wall in situ, which he supposes to be
the very wall that fell before the trumpets of Joshua. The wall
is not far from the foot of the great precipice of Quarantania
and its numerous caverns, and the spies of Joshua could easily
have fled from the city and been speedily hidden in these
originally denoted only the sea-coast of the land of Canaan
inhabited by the Philistines (Ex. 15:14; Isa. 14:29, 31; Joel
3:4), and in this sense exclusively the Hebrew name Pelesheth
(rendered "Philistia" in Ps. 60:8; 83:7; 87:4; 108:9) occurs in
the Old Testament.
Not till a late period in Jewish history was this name used to
denote "the land of the Hebrews" in general (Gen. 40:15). It is
also called "the holy land" (Zech. 2:12), the "land of Jehovah"
(Hos. 9:3; Ps. 85:1), the "land of promise" (Heb. 11:9), because
promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:7; 24:7), the "land of Canaan"
(Gen. 12:5), the "land of Israel" (1 Sam. 13:19), and the "land
of Judah" (Isa. 19:17).
The territory promised as an inheritance to the seed of
Abraham (Gen. 15:18-21; Num. 34:1-12) was bounded on the east by
the river Euphrates, on the west by the Mediterranean, on the
north by the "entrance of Hamath," and on the south by the
"river of Egypt." This extent of territory, about 60,000 square
miles, was at length conquered by David, and was ruled over also
by his son Solomon (2 Sam. 8; 1 Chr. 18; 1 Kings 4:1, 21). This
vast empire was the Promised Land; but Israel was only a part
of it, terminating in the north at the southern extremity of the
Lebanon range, and in the south in the wilderness of Paran, thus
extending in all to about 144 miles in length. Its average
breadth was about 60 miles from the Mediterranean on the west to
beyond the Jordan. It has fittingly been designated "the least
of all lands." Western Israel, on the south of Gaza, is only
about 40 miles in breadth from the Mediterranean to the Dead
Sea, narrowing gradually toward the north, where it is only 20
miles from the sea-coast to the Jordan.
Israel, "set in the midst" (Ezek. 5:5) of all other lands,
is the most remarkable country on the face of the earth. No
single country of such an extent has so great a variety of
climate, and hence also of plant and animal life. Moses
describes it as "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of
fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a
land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and
pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein
thou shalt not 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" (Deut. 8:7-9).
"In the time of Christ the country looked, in all probability,
much as now. The whole land consists of rounded limestone hills,
fretted into countless stony valleys, offering but rarely level
tracts, of which Esdraelon alone, below Nazareth, is large
enough to be seen on the map. The original woods had for ages
disappeared, though the slopes were dotted, as now, with figs,
olives, and other fruit-trees where there was any soil.
Permanent streams were even then unknown, the passing rush of
winter torrents being all that was seen among the hills. The
autumn and spring rains, caught in deep cisterns hewn out like
huge underground jars in the soft limestone, with artificial
mud-banked ponds still found near all villages, furnished water.
Hills now bare, or at best rough with stunted growth, were then
terraced, so as to grow vines, olives, and grain. To-day almost
desolate, the country then teemed with population. Wine-presses
cut in the rocks, endless terraces, and the ruins of old
vineyard towers are now found amidst solitudes overgrown for
ages with thorns and thistles, or with wild shrubs and poor
gnarled scrub" (Geikie's Life of Christ).
From an early period the land was inhabited by the descendants
of Canaan, who retained possession of the whole land "from Sidon
to Gaza" till the time of the conquest by Joshua, when it was
occupied by the twelve tribes. Two tribes and a half had their
allotments given them by Moses on the east of the Jordan (Deut.
3:12-20; compare Num. 1:17-46; Josh. 4:12-13). The remaining
tribes had their portion on the west of Jordan.
From the conquest till the time of Saul, about four hundred
years, the people were governed by judges. For a period of one
hundred and twenty years the kingdom retained its unity while it
was ruled by Saul and David and Solomon. On the death of
Solomon, his son Rehoboam ascended the throne; but his conduct
was such that ten of the tribes revolted, and formed an
independent monarchy, called the kingdom of Israel, or the
northern kingdom, the capital of which was first Shechem and
afterwards Samaria. This kingdom was destroyed. The Israelites
were carried captive by Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, B.C. 722,
after an independent existence of two hundred and fifty-three
years. The place of the captives carried away was supplied by
tribes brought from the east, and thus was formed the Samaritan
nation (2 Kings 17:24-29).
Nebuchadnezzar came up against the kingdom of the two tribes,
the kingdom of Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, one
hundred and thirty-four years after the overthrow of the kingdom
of Israel. He overthrew the city, plundered the temple, and
carried the people into captivity to Babylon (B.C. 587), where
they remained seventy years. At the close of the period of the
Captivity, they returned to their own land, under the edict of
Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4). They rebuilt the city and temple, and
restored the old Jewish commonwealth.
For a while after the Restoration the Jews were ruled by
Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and afterwards by the high
priests, assisted by the Sanhedrin. After the death of Alexander
the Great at Babylon (B.C. 323), his vast empire was divided
between his four generals. Egypt, Arabia, Israel, and
Coele-Syria fell to the lot of Ptolemy Lagus. Ptolemy took
possession of Israel in B.C. 320, and carried nearly one
hundred thousand of the inhabitants of Jerusalem into Egypt. He
made Alexandria the capital of his kingdom, and treated the Jews
with consideration, confirming them in the enjoyment of many
After suffering persecution at the hands of Ptolemy's
successors, the Jews threw off the Egyptian yoke, and became
subject to Antiochus the Great, the king of Syria. The cruelty
and opression of the successors of Antiochus at length led to
the revolt under the Maccabees (B.C. 163), when they threw off
the Syrian yoke.
In the year B.C. 68, Israel was reduced by Pompey the Great
to a Roman province. He laid the walls of the city in ruins, and
massacred some twelve thousand of the inhabitants. He left the
temple, however, unijured. About twenty-five years after this
the Jews revolted and cast off the Roman yoke. They were
however, subdued by Herod the Great (q.v.). The city and the
temple were destroyed, and many of the inhabitants were put to
death. About B.C. 20, Herod proceeded to rebuild the city and
restore the ruined temple, which in about nine years and a half
was so far completed that the sacred services could be resumed
in it (compare John 2:20). He was succeeded by his son Archelaus,
who was deprived of his power, however, by Augustus, A.D. 6,
when Israel became a Roman province, ruled by Roman governors
or procurators. Pontius Pilate was the fifth of these
procurators. He was appointed to his office A.D. 25.
Exclusive of Idumea, the kingdom of Herod the Great
comprehended the whole of the country originally divided among
the twelve tribes, which he divided into four provinces or
districts. This division was recognized so long as Israel was
under the Roman dominion. These four provinces were, (1) Judea,
the southern portion of the country; (2) Samaria, the middle
province, the northern boundary of which ran along the hills to
the south of the plain of Esdraelon; (3) Galilee, the northern
province; and (4) Peraea (a Greek name meaning the "opposite
country"), the country lying east of the Jordan and the Dead
Sea. This province was subdivided into these districts, (1)
Peraea proper, lying between the rivers Arnon and Jabbok; (2)
Galaaditis (Gilead); (3) Batanaea; (4) Gaulonitis (Jaulan); (5)
Ituraea or Auranitis, the ancient Bashan; (6) Trachonitis; (7)
Abilene; (8) Decapolis, i.e., the region of the ten cities. The
whole territory of Israel, including the portions alloted to
the trans-Jordan tribes, extended to about eleven thousand
square miles. Recent exploration has shown the territory on the
west of Jordan alone to be six thousand square miles in extent,
the size of the principality of Wales.