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Brass in the Bible

This metal is an alloy of copper and zinc. Brass has been known to man since prehistoric times, long before zinc itself was discovered. It was produced smelting copper ore that contained zinc or by melting copper together with calamite, a zinc ore. During this process, the zinc is extracted from the calamite and instantly mixes with the copper. Pure zinc, on the other hand, is too reactive to be produced by ancient metalworking techniques.

It was used for fetters (Judges 16:21; 2 Kings 25:7), for pieces of armor (1 Samuel 17:5-6), for musical instruments (1 Chronicles 15:19; 1 Corinthians 13:1), and for money (Matthew 10:9).

It is a symbol of insensibility and obstinacy in sin (Isaiah 48:4; Jeremiah 6:28; Ezek. 22:18), and of strength (Psalm 107:16; Micah 4:13).

The Macedonian empire is described as a kingdom of brass (Dan. 2:39). The “mountains of brass” Zechariah (6:1) speaks of have been supposed to represent the immutable decrees of God.

The serpent of brass was made by Moses at the command of God (Numbers 21:4-9), and elevated on a pole, so that it might be seen by all the people when wounded by the bite of the serpents that were sent to them as a punishment for their murmurings against God and against Moses. It was afterwards carried by the Jews into Canaan, and preserved by them till the time of Hezekiah, who caused it to be at length destroyed because it began to be viewed by the people with superstitious reverence (2 Kings 18:4). (See NEHUSHTAN.)

The brazen serpent is alluded to by our Lord in John 3:14-15. (See SERPENT.)


Article Version: July 25, 2019