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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Gold

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(Gr. χρυσός or χρυσίον , the last being prob. a diminutive of the former and more general term, and therefore expressing gold in a small piece or quantity, especially as wrought, e.g. a golden ornament, 1 Peter 3:3; Revelation 17:4; [18:16;] or gold coin, Acts 3:6; Acts 20:33; 1 Peter 1:18; but also used of the metal generally Hebrews 9:4; 1 Peter 1:7; Revelation 3:18; Revelation 21:18; Revelation 21:21), the most valuable of metals, from its color, lustre, weight, ductility, and other useful properties (Pliny, H.N. 33:19). As it is only procured in small quantities, its value is less liable to change than that of other metals, and this, with its other qualities, has in all ages rendered it peculiarly available for coin. There are six Hebrew words used to denote it, and four of them occur in Job 28:15-17. These are:

1. זָהָב , zahab', the common name, connected with צֶהִב tsahab' (to be yellow), as Germ. geld, from gelb, yellow. Various epithets are applied to it, as "fine" (2 Chronicles 3:5), "refined" (1 Chronicles 28:18), "pure" (Exodus 25:11). In opposition to these, "beaten gold" (שָׁחוּט ז 8) is probably mixed gold; Sept. ἐλατός ; used of Solomon's shields (1 Kings 10:16). In Job 37:22 it is rendered in the A.V. "fair weather;" Sept. νέφη χρυσαυγοῦντα (comp. Zechariah 4:12). The corresponding Chald. word is דְּהִב, dehab' (Daniel 2:32; Daniel 3:1; Daniel 3:5; Daniel 3:7).

2. סְגוֹר, segor' (Job 28:15), elsewhere as an epithet, סָגוּר, sagur' (Sept. κειμέλιον , either from its compactness, or as being inclosed or treasured, i.e. fine gold (1 Kings 6:20; 1 Kings 7:49, etc.). Many names of precious substances in Hebrew come from roots signifying concealment, as מִטְמוֹן (Genesis 43:23, A.V. "treasure").

3. פָּז, paz', pure or native gold (Job 28:17; Psalm 19:10; 20:3; 110:127; Proverbs 8:19; Song of Solomon 5:11; Song of Solomon 5:15; Isaiah 13:12; Lamentations 4:2; invariably "fine" once "pure"] gold), probably from פָּזִז, paza', to separate. Rosenmü ller (Alterthumsk. 4:49) makes it come from a Syriac root meaning solid or massy; but טָהוֹר (2 Chronicles 9:17) corresponds to מוּפָז (1 Kings 10:18). The Sept. render it by λίθος τιμιος, χρύσίον ἄπυρον (Isaiah 13:12; Theodot. ἄπεφθον ; comp. Thuc. 2:13; Pliny, 33:19, obrussa). In Psalms 119:127, the Sept. render it τοπάζιον (A.V. "fine gold"); but Schleusner happily conjectures τό πάζιον, the Hebrew word being adopted to avoid the repetition of χρυσὀς (Thes. s.v. τόπαζ ; Hesych. s.v. πάζιον).

4. בְּצָר, betsar' (Job 36:19, fig. of riches), or בֶּצֶד, be'tser, gold earth, or a mass of raw ore (Job 22:24; Sept. ἄπυρον; A.V. "gold as dust").

The poetical names for gold are:

5. כֶּתֶם, ke'them (also implying something concealed or separated, Job 28:16; Job 28:19; Job 31:24; Psalms 45:9; Proverbs 25:12; Song of Solomon 5:11; Lamentations 4:1; Daniel 10:5; Sept. χρυσίον ; and in Isaiah 13:12 λιθος πολυτέλης ).

6. חָרוּוֹ, charuts'="dug out" (Proverbs 8:10; Proverbs 8:18), a general name (Proverbs 3:14; Proverbs 16:16; Zechariah 9:3) which has become special (Psalms 68:13, where it cannot mean gems, as some suppose, Bochart, Hieroz. 2:9). Michaelis connects the word with the Greek χρυσός.

Gold was known from the very earliest times (Genesis 2:11). Pliny attributes the discovery of it (at Mount Pangaeus), and the art of working it to Cadmus (H.V. 7:57); and his statement is adopted by Clemens Alexandrinus (Stromat. 1:363, ed. Pott.). It was at first chiefly used for ornaments, etc. (Genesis 24:22); and although Abraham is said to have been "very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold" (Genesis 13:2), yet no mention of it, as used in purchases, is made till after his return from Egypt. Coined money was not known to the ancients (e.g. Homer, Il. 7:473) till a comparatively late period; and on the Egyptian tombs gold is represented as being weighed in rings for commercial purposes (comp. Genesis 43:21). No coins are found in the ruins of Egypt or Assyria (Layard's Nin. 2:418). "Even so late as the time of David gold was not used as a standard of value, but was considered merely as a very precious article of commerce, and was weighed like other articles" (Jahn, Bibl. Arch. § 115; comp. 1 Chronicles 21:25).

Gold was extremely abundant in ancient times (1 Chronicles 22:14; Nahum 2:9; Daniel 3:1); but this did not depreciate its value, because of the enormous quantities consumed by the wealthy in furniture, etc. (1 Kings 6:22; x, passim; Song of Solomon 3:9-10; Esther 1:6; Jeremiah 10:9; comp. Homer, Od. 19:55; Herod. 9:82). Probably, too, the art of gilding was known extensively, being applied even to the battlements of a city (Herod. 1:98; and other authorities quoted by Layard, 2:264). Many tons of gold were spent in the building of the Temple alone, though the expression plenteous as stones (2 Chronicles 1:15) may be considered as hyperbolical. It is, however, confirmed by the history of the other Asiatic nations, and more especially of the Persians, that the period referred to really abounded in gold, which was imported in vast masses from Africa and the Indies (Heeren, Ideen, 1:1, 37 sq.). The queen of Sheba brought with her (from Arabia Felix) among other presents, 120 talents of gold (2 Chronicles 9:9).

The chief countries mentioned as producing gold are Arabia, Sheba, and Ophir (1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:1; Job 28:16; in Job 22:24 the word Ophir is used for gold). Gold is not found in Arabia now (Niebuhr's Travels, page 141), but it used to be (Artemidor. ap. Strabo, 16:3, 18, where he speaks of an Arabian river ψῆγμα χρυσοῦ καταφέρων). Diodorus also says that it was found there native (ἄπυρον) in good-sized nuggets (βωλάρια). Some suppose that Ophir was an Arabian port to which gold was brought (compare 2 Chronicles 2:7; 2 Chronicles 9:10). Other gold- bearing countries were Uphaz (Jeremiah 10:9; Daniel 10:5), Parvaim (2 Chronicles 3:6), and (at least primevally) Havilah (Genesis 2:11). No traveler in Palestine makes any mention of gold except Dr. Edward D. Clarke. At the lake of Tiberias, he observes, "Native gold was found here formerly. We noticed an appearance of this kind, but, on account of its trivial nature, neglected to pay proper attention to it, notwithstanding the hints given by more than one writer upon the subject." However, for every practical purpose, it may be said that Palestine has no gold. It is always spoken of by the Jewish writers as a foreign product. As gold was very common, relatively, in Egypt at a very early date, much of that in the hands of the early Hebrews was probably obtained thence (Exodus 12:33; Exodus 32:2; Exodus 32:4; Exodus 38:24).

Metallurgic processes are mentioned in Psalms 66:10; Proverbs 17:3; Proverbs 27:21; and in Isaiah 46:6 the trade of goldsmith (compare Judges 17:4, צֹרֵ ) is alluded to in connection with the overlaying of idols with gold-leaf (Rosenmü ller's Minerals of Scripture, pages 46-51). (See GOLDSMITH).

Gold, in the Scriptures, is the symbol of great value, duration, incorruptibility, and strength (Isaiah 13:12; Lamentations 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:20; Proverbs 18:11; Job 36:19). In Daniel 2:38, the Babylonian empire is a "head of gold," so called on account of its great riches; and Babylon was called by Isaiah, as in our version, "the golden city" (Isaiah 14:4), but more properly "the exactress of gold." In Ecclesiastes 12:6, some explain the expression "or the golden bowl be broken" of the human head or skull, which resembles a bowl in form. In Revelation 4:4, "the elders," and Revelation 9:7, "the locusts, had on their heads crowns of gold." In the costume of the East, a linen turban with a gold ornament was reckoned a crown of gold, and is so called in the language of Scripture (Leviticus 8:9). Gold denotes spiritually the redeeming merits of Christ (Revelation 3:18 : "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayst be rich"), though others interpret it of being rich in good works before God. In 1 Corinthians 3:12, it seems to denote sincere believers, built, into the Christian Church, who will stand the fiery trial. (See METAL).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Gold'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/g/gold.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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