Silver in the Bible

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Silver is mentioned 320 times in the KJV Bible translation. Some of the outstanding properties of the element are that it has the greatest thermal and electrical conducting ability, along with the highest effectiveness in reflecting radiant energy, of any known metal (Wikipedia). It is also remarkably resistant to oxidation. Scientists today recognize that the element has antibacterial properties that help keep food and liquids fresher (The Biblical History of Silver Bullion).

The first mention of silver in the Bible is in Genesis, where it states how financially wealthy was Abram (later Abraham) after he left Egypt with his family (Genesis 13:1 - 2). This means this metal was used as a method of exchange (in the form of bars and other shapes) as early as the 1900s B.C. Silver was used, especially among common people, as a means to buy and sell goods far more frequently than gold.

Silver lends itself to a whole host of uses. Jewels made from it were among the many gifts Abrahams's steward gave to a young woman named Rebekah who was to be Isaac's wife (Genesis 24:53). The couches of rulers were made from it (Esther 1:6), as well as dishes, bowls, candlesticks, chains, cups, jewelry and musical instruments (Numbers 7:13, 1Chronicles 28:15, Isaiah 30:22, 40:19, etc.).

The children of Israel, before they were led out of Egypt's bondage by Moses, were commanded to take things containing silver from the Egyptians (Exodus 3:22, 11:2, etc.). This metal was used extensively in Israel's tabernacle in the wilderness (Exodus 26:19, 38:27, Numbers 7:13, etc.) as well as the permanent temple in Jerusalem (2Samuel 8:11, 1Kings 7:51, 1Kings 15:18, 1Chronicles 28:14 - 16, etc.). Idols, which were worshipped instead of the true God, were also created using silver (Exodus 20:23, Isaiah 30:22, Hosea 13:2).

Biblical weights and measures
Was Solomon the world's richest person?
Where can gold be found in Scripture?

A man named Haman, prime minister of Persia under King Xeres (Esther 3:1), was willing to pay the king 10,000 talents of this metal (roughly $153 million U.S.) to cover the expenses of exterminating all Jews in the land (see our study on the Book of Esther). An Ephesian craftsman named Demetrius caused Apostle Paul loads of problems. He made and sold silver shrines and idols dedicated to the pagan goddess Diana. Concerned that his lucrative business would suffer loss as people began to worship the true God, he stirred up fellow craftsmen and others in the city against the apostle and the gospel (Acts 19:23 - 41).


Gold and silver coins from time of Bar Kokhba revolt
Precious coins dating back to the Jewish
Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans (c. 132 A.D.)

Silver can symbolize a kingdom that is inferior to one that is greater (see Daniel 2). It can represent great wealth and abundance as was seen during the reign of Solomon (1Kings 10:27). God's refining of the hearts of people is likened to the refining of this metal (Psalm 66:10, Isaiah 48:10). The words of truth that come from the Eternal are said to be like silver refined seven times (Psalm 12:6).


Silver shekel made in Tyre
A shekel made in Tyre around 33 A.D.

This precious metal has and will play a significant role in fulfilling Biblical prophecy. King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about a great statue that had a head made of fine gold and a chest and arms of silver (Daniel 2:32 - 33). The sections of the statue represented prophetic world-ruling empires (verse 38). Judas was paid thirty pieces of this metal for betraying Christ (Matthew 26:14 - 16, 27:9), an amount that was prophesied more than 500 years prior to this event by the prophet Zechariah. In fact, Zechariah (Zechariah 11:12 - 13) also prophesied that the silver would be used to buy a potter's field (see Matthew 27:3 - 7).

Interestingly, only the gospel of Matthew records the specific amount of blood money paid to Judas by Jewish religious leaders. As an additional side note, it is likely that the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas were made in Tyre, which was the nearest city to Jerusalem that consistently made large quantities of coins from the metal.

Silver in the Bible makes one of its last appearance in the end time, just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Those who place a higher value on things made of this metal rather than on repentance are condemned by God (Revelation 9:20). Those who, when the devil rules the earth, grow wealthy buying and selling the precious metal and what can be made from it, will be made to "weep and mourn" when God destroys their ability to gain riches (Revelation 18:9 - 12).

Additional Study Materials
World Empires from Babylon to the End Time
Timeline of Man's Last Days
Timeline of the Old Testament

Silver in the Bible!
Bibliography

Biblical History of Silver Bullion
Holy Bible, a Faithful Version
NGC Ancients: Shekels and Half-Shekels of Tyre
Wikipedia


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