mar'-b'-l (shayish, shesh, 'abhne shayish, "stones of marble" (1 Chronicles 29:2); ritspath bahat wa-shesh we-dhar we-cochareth, "a pavement of red, and white, and yellow, and black marble," or, according to the margin, "a pavement of porphyry, and white marble, and alabaster, and stone of blue color" (Esther 1:6); `ammudhe shesh, "pillars of marble" (Esther 1:6; Song of Solomon 5:15); compare shesh, the King James Version margin "silk" or the Revised Version (British and American) "fine linen" (Genesis 41:42; Exodus 25:4, etc.); shoshannim, "lilies" (Song of Solomon 2:16, etc.), apparently from a root signifying "white"; marmaros, "marble" (Revelation 18:12)):
Marble is properly crystalline limestone, usually pure white or veined with black, the former being in demand for statuary, while the latter is used in architecture, especially for floors and pillars. True marble is not found in Palestine, but is obtained from Greece or Italy. Much of the stone described as marble is non-crystalline limestone capable of being smoothed and polished. White or yellow stone of this character is abundant in Palestine. Non-crystalline rocks of other colors are also sometimes called marble. In the passage from Esther cited above (compare margin), it is a question whether the reference is to marble and other stones or to marble of different colors. In 1 Chronicles 29:2, "marble stones" are mentioned among the materials brought together by David for the building of the temple. In Esther 1:6, pillars and a pavement of marble are features of the palace of Ahasuerus. In Song of Solomon 5:15, the various parts of the body of the "beloved" are likened to gold, beryl, ivory, sapphire, and marble. In Revelation 18:12, marble occurs in the list of the merchandise of Babylon. All these references imply a costly stone, and therefore probably one imported from other countries, and make it likely that true crystalline marble is meant.
Alfred Ely Day
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