Gold (Gr. χρυσός or χρυσίον, the last being prob. a diminutive of the former and more general term, and therefore expressing gold in a small piece or quantity, especially as wrought, e.g. a golden ornament, 1Pe 3:3; Re 17:4; [18:16;] or gold coin, Ac 3:6; Ac 20:33; 1Pe 1:18; but also used of the metal generally Heb 9:4; 1Pe 1:7; Re 3:18; Re 21:18,21), the most valuable of metals, from its color, lustre, weight, ductility, and other useful properties (Pliny, H.N. 33:19). As it is only procured in small quantities, its value is less liable to change than that of other metals, and this, with its other qualities, has in all ages rendered it peculiarly available for coin. There are six Hebrew words used to denote it, and four of them occur in Job 28:15-17. These are:
1. זָהָב, zahab', the common name, connected with צֶהִב tsahab' (to be yellow), as Germ. geld, from gelb, yellow. Various epithets are applied to it, as "fine" (2Ch 3:5), "refined" (1Ch 28:18), "pure" (Ex 25:11). In opposition to these, "beaten gold" (ז8 שָׁחוּט) is probably mixed gold; Sept. ἐλατός; used of Solomon's shields (1Ki 10:16). In Job 37:22 it is rendered in the A.V. "fair weather;" Sept. νέφη χρυσαυγοῦντα (comp. Zec 4:12). The corresponding Chald. word is דּהִב, dehab' (Da 2:32; Da 3:1,5,7).
2. סגוֹר, segor' (Job 28:15), elsewhere as an epithet, סָגוּר, sagur' (Sept. κειμέλιον, either from its compactness, or as being inclosed or treasured, i.e. fine gold (1Ki 6:20; 1Ki 7:49, etc.). Many names of precious substances in Hebrew come from roots signifying concealment, as מִטמוֹן (Ge 43:23, A.V. "treasure").
3. פָּז, paz', pure or native gold (Job 28:17; Ps 19:10; Ps 20:3; Ps 110:7; Pr 8:19; Song 5:11,15; Isa 13:12; La 4:2; invariably "fine" once "pure"] gold), probably from פָּזִז, paza', to separate. Rosenmüller (Alterthumsk. 4:49) makes it come from a Syriac root meaning solid or massy; but טָהוֹר (2Ch 9:17) corresponds to מוּפָז (1Ki 10:18). The Sept. render it by λίθος τιμιος, χρύσίον ἄπυρον (Isa 13:12; Theodot. ἄπεφθον ; comp. Thuc. 2:13; Pliny, 33:19, obrussa). In Ps 119:127, the Sept. render it τοπάζιον (A.V. "fine gold"); but Schleusner happily conjectures τό πάζιον, the Hebrew word being adopted to avoid the repetition of χρυσὀς (Thes. s.v. τόπαζ ; Hesych. s.v. πάζιον).
4. בּצָר, betsar' (Job 36:19, fig. of riches), or בֶּצֶד, be'tser, gold earth, or a mass of raw ore (Job 22:24; Sept. ἄπυρον; A.V. "gold as dust").
The poetical names for gold are:
5. כֶּתֶם, ke'them (also implying something concealed or separated, Job 28:16,19; Job 31:24; Ps 45:9; Pr 25:12; Song 5:11; La 4:1; Da 10:5; Sept. χρυσίον; and in Isa 13:12 λιθος πολυτέλης).
6. חָרוּוֹ, charuts'="dug out" (Pr 8:10,18), a general name (Pr 3:14; Pr 16:16; Zec 9:3) which has become special (Ps 68:13, where it cannot mean gems, as some suppose, Bochart, Hieroz. 2:9). Michaelis connects the word with the Greek χρυσός.
Gold was known from the very earliest times (Ge 2:11). Pliny attributes the discovery of it (at Mount Pangaeus), and the art of working it to Cadmus (H.V. 7:57); and his statement is adopted by Clemens Alexandrinus (Stromat. 1:363, ed. Pott.). It was at first chiefly used for ornaments, etc. (Ge 24:22); and although Abraham is said to have been "very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold" (Ge 13:2), yet no mention of it, as used in purchases, is made till after his return from Egypt. Coined money was not known to the ancients (e.g. Homer, Il. 7:473) till a comparatively late period; and on the Egyptian tombs gold is represented as being weighed in rings for commercial purposes (comp. Ge 43:21). No coins are found in the ruins of Egypt or Assyria (Layard's Nin. 2:418). "Even so late as the time of David gold was not used as a standard of value, but was considered merely as a very precious article of commerce, and was weighed like other articles" (Jahn, Bibl. Arch. § 115; comp. 1Ch 21:25).
Gold was extremely abundant in ancient times (1Ch 22:14; Na 2:9; Da 3:1); but this did not depreciate its value, because of the enormous quantities consumed by the wealthy in furniture, etc. (1Ki 6:22; x, passim; Song 3:9-10; Es 1:6; Jer 10:9; comp. Homer, Od. 19:55; Herod. 9:82). Probably, too, the art of gilding was known extensively, being applied even to the battlements of a city (Herod. 1:98; and other authorities quoted by Layard, 2:264). Many tons of gold were spent in the building of the Temple alone, though the expression plenteous as stones (2Ch 1:15) may be considered as hyperbolical. It is, however, confirmed by the history of the other Asiatic nations, and more especially of the Persians, that the period referred to really abounded in gold, which was imported in vast masses from Africa and the Indies (Heeren, Ideen, 1:1, 37 sq.). The queen of Sheba brought with her (from Arabia Felix) among other presents, 120 talents of gold (2Ch 9:9).
The chief countries mentioned as producing gold are Arabia, Sheba, and Ophir (1Ki 9:28; 1Ki 10:1; Job 28:16; in Job 22:24 the word Ophir is used for gold). Gold is not found in Arabia now (Niebuhr's
Travels, page 141), but it used to be (Artemidor. ap. Strabo, 16:3, 18, where he speaks of an Arabian river ψῆγμα χρυσοῦ καταφέρων). Diodorus also says that it was found there native (ἄπυρον) in good-sized nuggets (βωλάρια). Some suppose that Ophir was an Arabian port to which gold was brought (compare 2Ch 2:7; 2Ch 9:10). Other gold- bearing countries were Uphaz (Jer 10:9; Da 10:5), Parvaim (2Ch 3:6), and (at least primevally) Havilah (Ge 2:11). No traveler in Palestine makes any mention of gold except Dr. Edward D. Clarke. At the lake of Tiberias, he observes, "Native gold was found here formerly. We noticed an appearance of this kind, but, on account of its trivial nature, neglected to pay proper attention to it, notwithstanding the hints given by more than one writer upon the subject." However, for every practical purpose, it may be said that Palestine has no gold. It is always spoken of by the Jewish writers as a foreign product. As gold was very common, relatively, in Egypt at a very early date, much of that in the hands of the early Hebrews was probably obtained thence (Ex 12:33; Ex 32:2,4; Ex 38:24).
Metallurgic processes are mentioned in Ps 66:10; Pr 17:3; Pr 27:21; and in Isa 46:6 the trade of goldsmith (compare Jg 17:4, צֹרֵŠ) is alluded to in connection with the overlaying of idols with gold-leaf (Rosenmüller's Minerals of Scripture, pages 46-51). SEE GOLDSMITH.
Gold, in the Scriptures, is the symbol of great value, duration, incorruptibility, and strength (Isa 13:12; La 4:2; 2Ti 2:20; Pr 18:11; Job 36:19). In Da 2:38, the Babylonian empire is a "head of gold," so called on account of its great riches; and Babylon was called by Isaiah, as in our version, "the golden city" (Isa 14:4), but more properly "the exactress of gold." In Ec 12:6, some explain the expression "or the golden bowl be broken" of the human head or skull, which resembles a bowl in form. In Re 4:4, "the elders," and Re 9:7, "the locusts, had on their heads crowns of gold." In the costume of the East, a linen turban with a gold ornament was reckoned a crown of gold, and is so called in the language of Scripture (Le 8:9). Gold denotes spiritually the redeeming merits of Christ (Re 3:18: "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayst be rich"), though others interpret it of being rich in good works before God. In 1Co 3:12, it seems to denote sincere believers, built, into the Christian Church, who will stand the fiery trial. SEE METAL.