copper and coppersmiths in the Bible

Hebrew: נְחשֶׁת —transliteration: nechosheth

Greek: χαλκός —transliteration: chalkos

Copper crystals. Photo by James St. John. License: CC BY-SA 2.0. File ID: 17332744041
Natural raw copper crystals
Photo by James St. John. License: CC BY-SA 2.0.

The word “copper” is derived from the Greek kupros (the island of Cyprus), called “Cyprian brass.”

The word “copper” appears 5 times in the New American Standard Bible and 8 times in the New King James Bible:

In the King James Bible, the word copper occurs ony twice:

Note: Both bronze and brass are copper alloys. Brass is a combination of cooper and zinc. Bronze is copper with zinc and/or tin and sometimes with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids. There are numerous references to bronze in the Bible, such as the account of Moses holding up a bronze snake on a pole Numbers 21.

Elsewhere, the Hebrew word nehosheth is sometimes improperly translated “brass in the King James Version,” and sometimes “steel” (2 Samuel 22:35 KJV —compare 2 Sam. 22:35 NASB / Jeremiah 15:12 KJV —compare Jer. 15:12 NASB). The vessels of “fine copper” of Ezra 8:27 KJV are similar to those of “bright” or “polished” brass mentioned in 1 Kings 7:45 KJV and Daniel 10:6 KJV.

The “bow of steel” mentioned in Job 20:24 KJV and Psalm 18:34 KJV should be “bow of bronze,” as in the New King James Version: Job 20:24 NKJV; Psalm 18:34 NKJV).

Tubal-cain was the first artificer in brass and iron (Genesis 4:22). Hiram was noted as a worker in brass (1 Kings 7:14). Copper abounded in Israel (Deuteronomy 8:9; Isaiah 60:17; 1 Chronicles 22:3, 14). All sorts of vessels in the tabernacle and the temple were made of it (Leviticus 6:28; Numbers 16:39; 2 Chronicles 4:16; Ezra 8:27); also weapons of war (1 Samuel 17:5-6, 38; 2 Samuel 21:16).

Iron is mentioned only 4 times (Genesis 4:22; Leviticus 26:19; Numbers 31:22; 35:16) in the first 4 books of Moses, while copper (rendered “brass”) is mentioned 40 times. (See BRASS.)


In 2 Timothy 4:14 a coppersmith named Alexander is mentioned who spread certain heresies regarding the resurrection of Christ.

More information

Article Version: March 26, 2021