(properly לִפַּיד, lappid', a fame, Ge 15:17; Ex 20:18; Job 41:11; Na 2:5; Da 10:6; Isa 62:1; Eze 1:13; lamp-torch, Jg 7:16,20; Jg 15:4-5; Job 12:5; Zec 12:6; in some of which passages it is rendered "lightning," "brand," "torch," etc.: Gr. λαμπάς a torch — "light" or lantern, Ac 20:8; Re 4:5; "torch," Joh 18:3; Re 8:10, oil-lamap, Mt 25:1-8; also נֵיר, neyr, or נַיר, nil, a light, in various senses, especially for domestic purposes, the Gr. λύχνος) is a term of frequent occurrence in a literal sense in the Scriptures, such a utensil being often really meant where the A.V. gives the rendering" candle" (q.v.). The primary sense of light (Ge 15:17) also gives rise to frequent metaphorical usages, indicating life, welfare, guidance, as, e.g. 2Sa 21:17; Ps 119:105; Pr 6:23; Pr 13:9. SEE LIGHT. The following are the cases in which the use of lamps is referred to in the Bible. In their illustration we freely avail ourselves of the materials brought to light from the ancient remains.
1. That part of the golden candlestick belonging to the tabernacle which bore the light; also of each of the ten candlesticks placed by Solomon in the Temple before the Holy of Holies (Ex 25:37; 1Ki 7:49; 2Ch 4:20; 2Ch 13:11; Zec 4:2). The lamps were lighted every evening, and cleansed every morning (Ex 7:8; Reland, Ant. Hebr. 1:5:9, and 7:8). It is somewhat remarkable, that while the golden candlestick, or rather candelabrum, is so minutely described, not a word is said of the shape of the lamps (Ex 25:37). This was probably because the socket in which it was to be inserted necessarily gave it a somewhat cylindrical form adapted to the purpose; for it is hardly to be presumed that the insecure cup-form usually represented in engravings would have been adopted. This shape is aptly illustrated by an instance occurring on the Egyptian monuments. Wilkinson gives (Ancient Egyptians, 5:376) what he takes to be the representation of a lamp made of glass, with a hand holding separately an erect wick, as if the bearer were about to place it in the vase previous to its being lighted. The lines, he thinks, may represent the twisted nature of the cotton wick, as they do the watering of the glass vase.
Almost the only other fact we can gather in this connection is, that vegetable oils were burnt in them, and especially, if not exclusively, olive- oil. This, of the finest quality, was the oil used in the seven lamps of the tabernacle (Ex 27:20). Although the lamp-oils of the Hebrews were exclusively vegetable, it is probable that animal fat was used, as it is at present by the Western Asiatics, by being placed in a kind of lamp, and burnt by means of a wick inserted in it. SEE OIL. Cotton wicks are now used throughout Asia, but the Hebrews, like the Egyptians, probably employed the outer and coarser fibre of flax (Pliny, Hist. Nat. 19:1), and perhaps linen yarn, if the rabbins are correct in alleging that the linen dresses of the priests were unraveled when old, to furnish wicks for the sacred lamps.
As to the material, the burners were in this instance doubtless of gold, although metal is scarcely the best substance for a lamp. The golden candlestick may also suggest that lamps in ordinary use were placed on stands, and, where more than one was required, on stands with two or more branches. The modern Orientals, who are satisfied with very little light in their rooms, use stands of brass or wood, on which to raise the lamps to a sufficient height above the floor on which they sit. Such stands are shaped not unlike a tall candlestick, spreading out at the top. Sometimes the lamps are placed on brackets against the wall, made for the purpose, and often upon stools. Doubtless similar contrivances were employed by the Hebrews. The Romans are known to have employed them. SEE CANDLESTICK
2. A torch or flambeau, such as was carried by the soldiers of Gideon (Jg 7:16,20; comp. 15:4). From the fact that these were at first enclosed in pitchers, from which, at the endl of the march, thev were taken out and borne in the hand, we may with certainty infer that they were not ordinary lamps, open at top, from which the oil could easily be spilled. SEE TORCH.
3. It seems that the Hebrews, like the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as the modern Orientals, were accustomed to burn lamps overnight in their chambers; and this practice may appear to give point to the expression of "outer darkness," which repeatedly occurs in the New Testament.
(Mt 8:12; Mt 22:13); the force is greater, however, when the contrast implied in the. term "outer" is viewed with reference to the effect produced by sudden expulsion into the darkness of night from a chamber highly illuminated for an entertainment. This custom of burning lamps at night, with the effect produced by their going out or being extinguished, supplies various figures to the sacred writers (2Sa 21:17; Pr 13:9; Pr 20:20). On the other hand, the keeping up of a lamp's light is used as a symbol of enduring and unbroken succession (1Ki 11:36; 1Ki 15:4; Ps 132:17). (See Wemyss's Symsbol. Dict. s.v.)
The usual form of these domestic utensils may probably be inferred from the prevailing shape of antique specimens from neighboring nations that have come down to us. In the British Museum there are various forms of ancient Egyptian lamps, which were employed for lighting the interior of apartments, some of terracotta and others of bronze, with various ornaments in bas-relief.
4. It appears from Mt 25:1, that the Jews used lamps and torches in their marriage ceremonies, or rather when the bridegroom came to conduct home the bride by night. This is still the custom in those parts of the East where, on account of the heat of the day, the bridal procession takes place in the night-time. The connection of lamps and torches with marriage ceremonies often appears also in the classical poets (Homer, Iliad, 6:492 Eurip. Phoeniss. 346; Medea, 1027; Virgil, Eclog. 8:29), and, indeed, Hymen, the god of marriage, was figured as bearing a torch. The same connection, it may be observed, is still preserved in Western Asia, even where it is no longer usual to bring home the bride by night. During two, or three, or more nights preceding the wedding, the street or quarter in which the bridegroom lives is illuminated with chandeliers and lanterns, or with lanterns and small lamps suspended from cords drawn across from the bridegroom's and several other houses on each side to the houses opposite; and several small silk flags, each of two colors, generally red and green, are attached to other cords (Lane, Mod. AEygpt. 1:201; Mrs. Poole, Englishman in Egypt, 3:131). A modern lantern much used on these occasions, with lamps hung about it and suspended from it, is represented in the preceding cut. The lamps used separately on such occasions are represented in the following cut. Figs. 1, 3, and 5 show very distinctly the conical receptacle of wood which serves to protect the flame from the wind. Lamps of this kind are sometimes hung over doors. The shape in figure 3 is also that of a much-used indoor lamp, called kandíl (Lane, Modern Egyptians, chapter 5, page 151). It is a small vessel of glass, having a small tube at the bottom, in which is stuck a wick formed of cotton twisted round a piece of stra; some water is poured in first, and then the oil. Lamps very nearly of this shape appear on the Egyptian nomuments, and they seem, aslo, to be of glass (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, 3:101; 5:376). If the Egyptians had lamps of glass, there is no reason why the Jews also might not have had them, especially as thismaterial is more proper for lamps intended to be hung up, and therfore to cast their light down from above.
The Jews used lamps in other festivals besides those of marriage. The Roman satirist (Persius, Sat. 5:179) expressly describes them as making illuminations at their festivals by lamps hung up and arranged in an orderly manner; and the scriptural intimations, so far as they go, agree with this description. If this custom had not been so general in the ancient and modern East, it might have been supposed that the Jews adopted it from theEgyptians, who, according to Herdotus (2:62), had a "Feast of Lamps," which was celebrated at Sais, and, indeed, throughout the country at a certain season of the year. The description which the historian gives of the lamps employed on this occasion strictly applies to those in modern use already described, and the concurrence of both these sources of illustration strengthens the probably analogy of Jewish usage. .He speaks of them as "small vases filled with salt and olive-oil, in which the wick floated, and burnt during the whole night." It does not, indeed, appear of what materials these vases were made, but we may reasonable suppose them to have been of glass. The later Jews had even something like this feast among themselves. A "Feast of Lamps" was held every year on the twenty-fifth of the month Kisleu. SEE DEDICATION. It was founded by Judas Maccabaeus, in celebration of the restoration of the Temple worship (Josephus, Ant. 12:7, 7), and has ever since been observed by the lighting up of lamps or candles on that day in all the countries of their dispersion (Maimonides, Rosh. Hashanah, fol. 8). Other Orientals have at this day a similar feast, of which the ""east of Lanterns""among the Chinese is perhaps the best known (Davis, Chinese, page 138). SEE LANTERN.