corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


Resource Toolbox
Additional Links


(represented by several Hebrews and Gr. terms). Chains of different metals appear to have been used by the ancients for various purposes, similar to those of modern times.

1. As a Badge of Office. The gold chain (רָבַיד, rabid´) placed about Joseph's neck (Genesis 41:42), and that promised to Daniel (Daniel 5:7, named הִמְנַיךְ, hamnik´), are instances of the first use (comp. 1 Esdras 3:6). In Egypt it was one of the insignia of a judge, who wore a jeweled image of Thmei or Truth attached to it (Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt. 2:26); it was also worn by the prime minister. In Persia it was considered not only a mark of royal favor (Xenophon, Anab. 1:2, § 27), but a token of investiture (Daniel l. c.; Morier's Second Journey, p. 93). In Ezekiel 16:11, the chain is mentioned as the symbol of sovereignty. The breastplate of the high-priest was in like manner fastened to the ephod with golden chains (Exodus 39:16; Exodus 39:21). (See ATTIRE).

2. Chains for ornamental purposes (comp. Judith 10:4) were worn by men as well as women in many countries both of Europe (Smith's Dict. of Class. Ant. s.v. Torques) and Asia (Wilkinson, 3:375), and probably this was the case among the Hebrews (Proverbs 1:9). The necklace (עֲנָק, anak´) consisted of pearls, corals, etc., threaded on a string; the beads were called חֲרוּזַים, charuzim´, that is, perforated (Song of Solomon 1:10, "chains," where a' of gold" is interpolated). Besides the necklace, other chains were worn (Judith 10:4) hanging down as far as the waist, or even lower. Some were adorned with pieces of metal, shaped in the form of the moon, named שִׁהֲרֹנַים(saharonim´, Sept. μήνισκοι ; Vulg. lunulae ; A. V. round tires like the moon; Isaiah 3:18); a similar ornament, the hilâ l, still exists in Egypt (Lane's Modern Egyptians, App. A.). The Midianites adorned the necks of their camels with such (Judges 8:21; Judges 8:26); the Arabs still use a similar ornament (Wellsted, 1:301). To other chains were suspended various trinkets, as scent-bottles, הִנֶּפֶשׁ בָּתֵּי(bottey´ han-ne´ phesh, tablets or houses of the soul, Isaiah 3:20), and mirrors, גַּלְיוֹנַים(gilyonim´, Isaiah 3:23). Step-chains, צְעָדוֹת tseä doth´, tinkling ornaments), were attached to the ankle-rings, which shortened the step and produced a mincing gait (Isaiah 3:16; Isaiah 3:18). (See ANKLET); (See NECKLACE). The particular female ornaments thus rendered in Isaiah 3:19 (נְטַפוֹת, net'photh', Sept. κάθεμα, Vulg. torques), signify drops or pendants to earrings or other articles of jewelry. (See EARRING).

3. The means adopted for confining prisoners among the Jews were either manacles or fetters of copper or iron, similar to our handcuffs, נְחֻשְׁתִּיַם (nechushta´ yim, lit. two brasses, as though made in halves), fastened on the wrists and ankles, and attached to each other by a chain (Judges 16:21; 2 Samuel 3:34; 2 Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 39:7). It was a custom among the lRomans likewise to fasten a prisoner with a light chain to the soldier who was appointed to guard him. One end of it was attached to the right hand of the prisoner, and the other to the left hand of the soldier. This is the chain by which Paul was so often bound, and to which he repeatedly alludes (Acts 28:20; Ephesians 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:16). When the utmost security was desired, the prisoner was attached by two chains to two soldiers, as was the case with Peter (Acts 12:6; Walch, De vinculis Petri, Jen. 1758). (See Smith's Dict. of Class Antiq. s.v. Catena.) (See FETTER).

Idols, it appears, were fixed in their shrines with chains (Isaiah 40:19). Pride is emblematically termed a chain which keeps men under its power (Psalms 73:6; comp. 1 Esdras 1:40; Wisd. 17:37; Sirach 6:24; Sirach 6:29).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Chain'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, February 26th, 2020
Ash Wednesday
There are 46 days til Easter!
Search for…
Enter query in the box:
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

Prev Entry
Next Entry
Chainoaldus, Saint
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology