sil'-ver (keceph; argurion, arguros): Silver was known in the earliest historic times. Specimens of early Egyptian and Babylonian silver work testify to the skill of the ancient silversmiths. In Palestine, silver objects have been found antedating the occupation of the land by the Hebrews. This metal was used for making all kinds of ornamental objects. In the mound of Gezer were found bowls, vases, ladles, hairpins, rings and bracelets of silver. The rings and settings for scarabs or seals were commonly of this metal. The first mention of silver in the Bible is in Ge 13:2, where it says that Abraham was rich in cattle, in silver and gold. At that time it was commonly used in exchange in the form of bars or other shapes. Coins of that metal were of a much later date (Ge 20:16; 23:15; 24:53; 37:28, etc.). Booty was collected in silver (Jos 6:19); tribute was paid in the same (1Ki 15:19). It was also used for jewelry (Ge 44:2). The Children of Israel systematically despoiled the Egyptians of their silver before the exodus (Ex 3:22; 11:2; 12:35, etc.). Ex 20:23 implies that idols were made of it. It was largely used in the fittings of the tabernacle (Ex 26:1-37 ff) and later of the temple (2Ch 2:1-18 ff).
It is likely that the ancient supply of silver came from the mountains of Asia Minor where it is still found in abundance associated with lead as argentiferous galena, and with copper sulfide. The Turkish government mines this silver on shares with the natives. The Sinaitic peninsula probably also furnished some silver. Later Phoenician ships brought quantities of it from Greece and Spain. The Arabian sources are doubtful (2Ch 9:14). Although silver does not tarnish readily in the air, it does corrode badly in the limestone soil of Palestine and Syria. This probably partly accounts for the small number of objects of this metal found. On the site of the ancient jewelers' shops of Tyre the writer found objects of gold, bronze, lead, iron, but none of silver.
Silver to be as stones in Jerusalem (1Ki 10:27) typified great abundance (compare Job 3:15; 22:25; 27:16; also Isa 60:17; Zec 9:3). The trying of men's hearts was compared to the refining of silver (Ps 66:10; Isa 48:10). Yahweh's words were as pure as silver refined seven times (Ps 12:6). The gaining of understanding is better than the gaining of silver (Pr 3:14; compare Pr 8:19; 10:20; 16:16; 22:1; 25:11). Silver become dross denoted deterioration (Isa 1:22; Jer 6:30). Breast and arms of silver was interpreted by Daniel to mean the inferior kingdom to follow Nebuchadnezzar's (Da 2:32,39).
In the New Testament, reference should be made especially to Ac 19:24; Jas 5:3; Re 18:12.
James A. Patch