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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Nail

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[for fastening] is the rendering of two Heb. words in the A.V.

1. יָתֵד , yathid (from piercing), which usually denotes a (wooden) peg, pin, or nail (of any material), as driven into a wall (Ezekiel 15:3; Isaiah 22:25); and more especially a tent-pin driven into the earth by a mallet to fasten the tent (Exodus 27:19; Exodus 35:18; Exodus 38:31; Isaiah 33:20; Isaiah 54:2). It was one of these pins which Jael used in fastening to the ground the temples of Sisera (Judges 4:21-22). Hence to drive a pin or to fasten a nail presents among the Hebrews an image of a fixed dwelling, a firm and stable abode (Isaiah 22:23). This image is still frequent among the Arabs (see Marac. page 597; Beidav. Apud Salium, page 518). (See TENT).

In the passages in Exodus these tabernaclepins are said to have been of copper (see Lightfoot. Spicil. in Exodus § 42; Joseph. Ant. 5:5, 4); in Judges the material is not mentioned; we should most naturallv think of some metal, yet the Sept. uses πάσσαλον, which suggests that it was a wooden pin. A pin or nail is also, by a further application of the metaphor, applied to a prince, on whom the care and welfare of the state depends (Zecheriah 10:4), where the term פַּנָּה, corner-stone, is applied to the same person denoted by the word "nail." So also Ezra 9:8. All these allusions refer to large nails, or pins, or cramps, used in applications requiring great strength. See Thdmson, Land and Book, 3:149.

2. מִסְמֵר, masmer' (a point, only in the plur.; also מִסְמְרוֹת, Jeremiah 10:4; מַסְמְרַים, 1 Chronicles 22:3; מִסְמְרַים, Isaiah 41:7), is applied to ordinary and ornamental nails. There is in Ecclesiastes 12:11 a very significant proverbial application, "The words of the wise are as nails fastened," etc.; that is, "they sink deep into the heart of man." In this passage the figure is generally understood to refer to nails driven into a wall, but which Ginsburg understands of the tent-pins above mentioned, whose use for holding fast is contrasted with the use of goads for driving cattle forward, the entire verse in his opinion having reference to pastoral life. The golden nails of the Temple are denoted by this word. We are told that David prepared iron for the nails to be used in the Temple; and as the holy of holies was plated with gold, the nails also for fastening the plates were probably of gold. Their weight is said to have been fifty shekels, equal to twenty-five ounces, a weight obviously so much too small, unless mere gilding be supposed, for the total weight required, that the Sept. and Vulg. render it as expressing that of each nail, which is equally excessive. To remedly this difficulty, Thenius suggests reading five hundred for fifty shekels (1 Chronicles 22:3; 2 Chronicles 3:9; Bertheau, On Chronicles, in Kuazgef. Handb.).

"Nail," Vulg. palus, is the rendering of πάσσαλος in Sirach 27:2. In the N.T. we have ἣλος and προσηλόω in speaking of the nails of the Cross (John 20:25; Colossians 2:14). (See CROSS).


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

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