iron

iron

A metal whose hardness and malleability made it ideal for implements of war as well as of more peaceful pursuits. Biblical references to iron occur in all parts of the Hebrew Bible. Pentateuchal references include the attribution of ironworking to Tubal-cain (Gen 4:22), the traditional “father of metallurgy.” Moses uses iron in a simile, stressing its hard and unyielding property (Lev 26:19). Iron taken as booty in the defeat of Midian was required to be purified (Num 31:22). Og, king of Bashan, had an iron bedstead (Deut 3:11). Captivity in Egypt is likened to being in an iron furnace (Deut 4:20). The land of Palestine is described as a land whose “stones are iron” (Deut 8:9). Moses threatens the disobedient with an “iron yoke” (Deut 28:48). The historical books reflect the use of iron by Israel and its enemies. Canaanites had chariots of iron (Josh 17:16) and the Philistine Goliath’s spear is described as weighing six hundred shekels of iron (1Sam 17:7). In preparation for building, David gathered materials including “great stores of iron for nails for the doors of the gates and for clamps” (1Chr 22:3), but iron was prohibited in the Temple (1Kgs 6:7). Solomon had ironworkers (2Chr 2:7), and by the reign of Joash (800–785 BCE), Israel had craftsmen in iron (2Kgs 24:14; 2Chr 24:12). Prophetic references to iron include the most descriptive passages of the ironsmith’s craft (Isa 44:12; Isa 54:16) as well as the metaphoric use of iron as a symbol of strength and toughness (Isa 48:4; Jer 1:18); servitude (Jer 28:13-14; Deut 4:20); and judgment (Isa 1:25; Jer 6:29-30; Ezek 22:20-31). In Psalms, Proverbs, and Daniel, iron is referred to in historical allusion (Ps 105:18 tells that Joseph’s neck was put in an iron collar when he was sold as a slave), proverbially (Prov 27:17, “iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another”), and in apocalyptic dream and vision (Dan 2:35, where the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream had feet of iron and clay; and (Dan 2:40-45), where one of the successive kingdoms is of iron). NT references describe objects made of iron (e.g., an iron gate, Acts 12:10) and someone ruling “with an iron rod” (Rev 2:27; Rev 12:5; Rev 19:15).

Gen 4:22

22Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

Lev 26:19

19I will break your proud glory, and I will make your sky like iron and your earth like copper.

Num 31:22

22gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, and lead—

Deut 3:11

11(Now only King Og of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. In fact his bed, an iron bed, can still be seen in Rabbah of the Ammonites. By the common ... View more

Deut 4:20

20But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now.

Deut 8:9

9a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper.

Deut 28:48

48therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and lack of everything. He will put an iron yok ... View more

Josh 17:16

16The tribe of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us; yet all the Canaanites who live in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean ... View more

1Sam 17:7

7The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him.

1Chr 22:3

3David also provided great stores of iron for nails for the doors of the gates and for clamps, as well as bronze in quantities beyond weighing,

1Kgs 6:7

7The house was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron was heard in the temple while it was being built.

2Chr 2:7

7So now send me an artisan skilled to work in gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and in purple, crimson, and blue fabrics, trained also in engraving, to join the s ... View more

2Kgs 24:14

14He carried away all Jerusalem, all the officials, all the warriors, ten thousand captives, all the artisans and the smiths; no one remained, except the poores ... View more

2Chr 24:12

12The king and Jehoiada gave it to those who had charge of the work of the house of the Lord, and they hired masons and carpenters to restore the house of the L ... View more

Isa 44:12

12The ironsmith fashions it and works it over the coals, shaping it with hammers, and forging it with his strong arm; he becomes hungry and his strength fails, ... View more

Isa 54:16

16See it is I who have created the smith
who blows the fire of coals,
and produces a weapon fit for its purpose;
I have also created the ravager to destroy.

Isa 48:4

4Because I know that you are obstinate,
and your neck is an iron sinew
and your forehead brass,

Jer 1:18

18And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its princes, its ... View more

Jer 28:13-14

13Go, tell Hananiah, Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars only to forge iron bars in place of them!14For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Isra ... View more

Deut 4:20

20But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now.

Isa 1:25

25I will turn my hand against you;
I will smelt away your dross as with lye
and remove all your alloy.

Jer 6:29-30

29The bellows blow fiercely,
the lead is consumed by the fire;
in vain the refining goes on,
for the wicked are not removed.30They are called “rejected silver,” ... View more

Ezek 22:20-31

20As one gathers silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into a smelter, to blow the fire upon them in order to melt them; so I will gather you in my anger and in m ... View more

Ps 105:18

18His feet were hurt with fetters,
his neck was put in a collar of iron;

Prov 27:17

17Iron sharpens iron,
and one person sharpens the wits of another.

Dan 2:35

35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, were all broken in pieces and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the win ... View more

Dan 2:40-45

40And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron crushes and smashes everything, it shall crush and shatter all these.41As you saw the feet a ... View more

Acts 12:10

10After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they wen ... View more

Rev 2:27

27to rule them with an iron rod,
as when clay pots are shattered—

Rev 12:5

5And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his thron ... View more

Rev 19:15

15From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury o ... View more

 NEH Logo
Bible Odyssey has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.