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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words


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A. Noun.

Keseph (כֶּסֶף, Strong's #3701), “silver; money; price; property.” This word has cognates in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Aramaic. It occurs about 402 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

This word represents the “metal ore silver”: “Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer” (Prov. 25:4; cf. Job 28:1).

Keseph may signify the “metal silver,” or what has been refined from silver ore: “And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold …” (Gen. 24:53). As a precious metal “silver” was not as valuable as gold—probably because it is not so rare: “And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon” (1 Kings 10:21).

“Silver” was often a form of wealth. This is the meaning of keseph in Gen. 13:2 (the first biblical occurrence): “And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” Silver pieces (not coins) were used as money: “Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack …” (Gen. 42:25). Frequently the word absolutely (by itself) and in the singular form means “pieces of silver”: “Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver …” (Gen. 20:16). In Lev. 25:50 the word is used in the general sense of “money, value, price”: “And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years.…”

Since it was a form of wealth, “silver” often was one of the spoils of war: “The kings came, they fought; … they got no spoils of silver” (Judg. 5:19, RSV).

This word may be used in the sense of “valuable property”: “Notwithstanding, if he [the slave who has been beaten] continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money” (Exod. 21:21).

Keseph sometimes represents the color “silver”: “Though ye have lain among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold” (Ps. 68:13).

B. Verb.

Kasaph means “to long for.” Some scholars derive keseph from this verb which occurs 5 times in the biblical text. Kasaph means “to long for” in the sense of “to be pale by reason of longing”: “And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father’s house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?” (Gen. 31:30).

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Silver'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. 1940.

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