i'-vo-ri ((1) shen, "tooth" (translated "ivory," 1Ki 10:18; 22:39; 2Ch 9:17; Ps 45:8; Song 5:14; 7:4; Eze 27:6,15; Am 3:15; 6:4); (2) shenhabbim; Septuagint odontes elephdntinoi, "elephants' teeth" (1Ki 10:22; 2Ch 9:21); (3) elephantinos, "of ivory" (Re 18:12)): Shen occurs often, meaning "tooth" of man or beast. In the passages cited it is translated in English Versions of the Bible "ivory" (of "crag," 1Sa 14:4-5; "cliff," Job 39:28 twice; "flesh-hook of three teeth," 1Sa 2:13). Shenhabbim is thought to be a contracted form of shen ha-'ibbim, i.e. ha, the article, and 'ibbim, plural of 'ibbah or 'ibba'; compare Egyptian ab, ebu, "elephant," and compare Latin ebur, "ivory" (see Liddell and Scott, under the word elephas). On the other hand, it may be a question whether -bim is not a singular form connected with the Arabic fil, "elephant." If the word for "elephant" is not contained in shenhabbim, it occurs nowhere in the Hebrew Bible.
Ivory was probably obtained, as now, mainly from the African elephant. It was rare and expensive. It is mentioned in connection with the magnificence of Solomon (1Ki 10:18,22), being brought by the ships of Tarshish (2Ch 9:17,21). An "ivory house" of Ahab is mentioned in 1Ki 22:39. It is mentioned among the luxuries of Israel in the denunciations of Amos (1Ki 3:15; 6:4). It occurs in the figurative language of Ps 45:8; Song 5:14; 7:4. It is used for ornamentation of the ships of the Tyrians (Eze 27:6), who obtain it with ebony through the men of Dedan (Eze 27:15). It is among the merchandise of Babylon (Re 18:12).
We do not learn of the use of elephants in war until a few centuries before the Christian era. In 1 Macc 8:6, there is a reference to the defeat of Antiochus the Great, "having an hundred and twenty elephants," by Scipio Africanus in 190 BC. 1 Macc 1:17 speaks of the invasion of Egypt by Antiochus Epiphanes with an army in which there were elephants. 1 Macc 6:28-47 has a detailed account of a battle between Antiochus Eupator and Judas Maccabeus at Bethsura (Beth-zur). There were 32 elephants. Upon the "beasts" theria) there were "strong towers of wood"; "There were also upon every one two and thirty strong men, that fought upon them, beside the Indian that ruled him."
In Job 40:15, the King James Version margin has for "behemoth," "the elephant, as some think."
Alfred Ely Day