Heb. bedil ( Numbers 31:22 ; Ezekiel 22:18 Ezekiel 22:20 ), a metal well known in ancient times. It is the general opinion that the Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon obtained their supplies of tin from the British Isles. In Ezekiel 27:12 it is said to have been brought from Tarshish, which was probably a commercial emporium supplied with commodities from other places. In Isaiah 1:25 the word so rendered is generally understood of lead, the alloy with which the silver had become mixed (ver. 22). The fire of the Babylonish Captivity would be the means of purging out the idolatrous alloy that had corrupted the people.
Among the various metals found in the spoils of the Midianites, tin is enumerated. ( Numbers 31:22 ) It was known to the Hebrew metal-workers as an alloy of other metals. ( Isaiah 1:25 ; Ezekiel 22:18 Ezekiel 22:20 ) The markets of Tyre were supplied with it by the ships of Tarshish. ( Ezekiel 27:12 ) It was used for plummets, ( Zechariah 4:10 ) and was so plentiful as to furnish the writer of Ecclesiasticus, Ecclus. 47:18, with a figure by which to express the wealth of Solomon. Tin is not found in Palestine. Whence, then. did the ancient Hebrews obtain their supply "Only three countries are known to contain any considerable quantity of it: Spain and Portugal, Cornwall and the adjacent parts of Devonshire, and the islands of Junk, Ceylon and Banca, in the Straits of Malacca." (Kenrick, "Phoenicia," p. 212.) There call be little doubt that the mines of Britain were the chief source of supply to the ancient world, [See TARSHISH] ("Tin ore has lately been found in Midian." --Schaff.)
Tin is mentioned with brass, iron and lead in Numbers 31:22; Ezekiel 22:18,20. Ezekiel mentions tin along with silver, iron and lead as being imported into Tyre from Tarshish (see METALS ). The tin must have been brought in the form of ore and smelted in Syria. The writer has some slag dug from a deposit near Beirut which yielded nearly pure tin. It was probably the site of an ancient smelter's shop.
Alfred Ely Day
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