used for a great variety of purposes, as may be judged from the frequent references to it in Scripture. It first appears in commerce in Gen. 13:2; 23:15, 16. It was largely employed for making vessels for the sanctuary in the wilderness (Ex. 26:19; 27:17; Num. 7:13, 19; 10:2). There is no record of its having been found in Syria or Palestine. It was brought in large quantities by foreign merchants from abroad, from Spain and India and other countries probably.
In very early times silver was used for ornaments, (Genesis 24:53
) and for vessels of various kinds. Images for idolatrous worship were made of silver or overlaid with it, (Exodus 20:23
; Hosea 13:2
); Habb 2:19 Bar. 6:39, and the manufacture of silver shrines for Diana was a trade in Ephesus. (Acts 19:24
) But its chief use was as a medium of exchange, and throughout the Old Testament we find "silver" used for money, like the French argent
. Silver was brought to Solomon from Arabia, (2Ã‚Â Chronicles 9:14
) and from Tarshish, (2Ã‚Â Chronicles 9:21
) which supplied the markets of Tyre. (Ezekiel 27:12
) From Tarshish it came int he form of plates, (Jeremiah 10:9
) like those on which the sacred books of the Singhalese are written to this day. Spain appears to have been the chief source whence silver was obtained by the ancients. Possibly the hills of Palestine may have afforded some supply of this metal. Silvers mixed with alloy is referred to in (Jeremiah 6:30
) and a finer kind, either purer in itself or more thoroughly purified, is mentioned in (Proverbs 8:19
- sil'-ver (keceph; argurion, arguros): Silver was known in the earliest historic times. Specimens of early Egyptian and Babylonian silver work testify to the skill of the ancient silversmiths. In Palestine, silver objects have been found antedating the occupation of the land by the Hebrews. This metal was used for making all kinds of ornamental objects. In the mound of Gezer were found bowls, vases, ladles, hairpins, rings and bracelets of silver. The rings and settings for scarabs or seals were commonly of this metal. The first mention of silver in the Bible is in Gen 13:2
, where it says that Abraham was rich in cattle, in silver and gold. At that time it was commonly used in exchange in the form of bars or other shapes. Coins of that metal were of a much later date (Gen 20:16
, etc.). Booty was collected in silver (Josh 6:19
); tribute was paid in the same (1 Ki 15:19
). It was also used for jewelry (Gen 44:2
). The Children of Israel systematically despoiled the Egyptians of their silver before the exodus (Ex 3:22
, etc.). Ex 20:23
implies that idols were made of it. It was largely used in the fittings of the tabernacle (Ex 26
ff) and later of the temple (2 Ch 2 ff).
It is likely that the ancient supply of silver came from the mountains of Asia Minor where it is still found in abundance associated with lead as argentiferous galena, and with copper sulfide. The Turkish government mines this silver on shares with the natives. The Sinaitic peninsula probably also furnished some silver. Later Phoenician ships brought quantities of it from Greece and Spain. The Arabian sources are doubtful (2 Ch 9:14). Although silver does not tarnish readily in the air, it does corrode badly in the limestone soil of Palestine and Syria. This probably partly accounts for the small number of objects of this metal found. On the site of the ancient jewelers' shops of Tyre the writer found objects of gold, bronze, lead, iron, but none of silver.
Silver to be as stones in Jerusalem (1 Ki 10:27) typified great abundance (compare Job 3:15; 22:25; 27:16; also Isa 60:17; Zec 9:3). The trying of men's hearts was compared to the refining of silver (Ps 66:10; Isa 48:10). Yahweh's words were as pure as silver refined seven times (Ps 12:6). The gaining of understanding is better than the gaining of silver (Prov 3:14; compare 8:19; 10:20; 16:16; 22:1; 25:11). Silver become dross denoted deterioration (Isa 1:22; Jer 6:30). Breast and arms of silver was interpreted by Daniel to mean the inferior kingdom to follow Nebuchadnezzar's (Dan 2:32,39).
In the New Testament, reference should be made especially to Acts 19:24; Jas 5:3; Rev 18:12.
James A. Patch