Marble is the rendering in the Auth.Vers. of two forms of the same Heb. word, and is thought by some to be signified by others differently rendered. שֵׁשׁ(shesh, Es 1:6, Sept. πάρινος; Song 5:15, Sept. μαρμάρινος), or שִׁיַשׁ (sha'yish, 1Ch 29:2, Sept. πάριος), so called from its whiteness, undoubtedly refer to a pure kind of marble, μάρμαρος (Re 18:12). Primary limestone, or marble, is a simple rock, consisting of carbonate of lime. In its pure state, it is granular, crystalline, and of a color varying from pure white to gray and yellowish. It is sometimes found in irregular masses, or beds, or large nodules, with little or no appearance of stratification; more generally, however, it is regularly stratified, and these strata alternate with other rocks, and are of all varieties of thickness. The texture varies from a highly crystalline, of a larger or finer grain, to a compact and even earthy. Other substances are sometimes combined with the simple rock, which modify its appearance and texture, such as mica, quartz, hornblende. It is never found in veins, except in the form of regular crystals, and, in this respect, it exactly resembles quartz. There is considerable difficulty in drawing the line of distinction between the primary and secondary limestones, where the latter do not happen to contain organic remains. In the primary limestone, strictly speaking, no organic remains have yet been discovered. With one or two exceptions, and as a general rule, it may be said, they, like the primary schists, are almost destitute of organic bodies. Like the strata which it accompanies, beds of limestone are often bent and contorted, evidently from disturbance below. The colors vary from a pure white, which constitutes the statuary marble, to various shades of gray, brown, black, and green. These tints are derived from a carbonaceoas matter or oxide of iron, or an admixture of other minerals.
Several other terms occur in Es 1:6, as the names of stones in the pavement of the magnificent hall in which Ahasuerus feasted the princes of his empire. That rendered "white" marble, is דִּר, dar, which some take to signify Parian marble, others white marble; but nothing certain is known about it. In Arabic, the word dar signifies a large pearl. Now pearls were certainly employed by the ancients in decorating the walls of apartments in royal palaces, but that pearls were also used in the pavements of even regal dining-rooms is improbable in itself, and unsupported by any known example. The Septuagint refers the Hebrew word to a stone resembling pearls (πίννινος λίθος), by which, as J. D. Michaelis conjectures, it intends to denote the Alabastrites of Pliny (Hist. Nat. 36:7, 8), which is a kind of alabaster with the gloss of mother-of-pearl. SEE ALABASTER. — The בָּהִט (bahat'; Sept. σμαραγδίτης, "red" marble) of the same passage was, Gesenius thinks, the verdeantique, or half-porphyry of Egypt. The סֹחֶרֶת. (soche'reth; Sept. Πάρινος λίθος, "black" marble) is likewise there mentioned with the other kinds of marble for forming a pavement. Gesenius says, perhaps tortoiseshell. Others, from the rendering of the Syriac, think it refers to black marble. It was probably some spotted variety of marble. SEE MINERALOGY. The pavement in the palace of Ahasuerus was no doubt of mosaic work, the floors of the apartments being laid with painted tiles or slabs of marble, in the same way as Dr. Russell describes the houses of the wealthy in modern times. In these a portion of the pavement of the courts is of mosaic, and it is usually that part which lies between the fountain and the arched alcove on the south side that is thus beautified. SEE HOUSE.
"The marble pillars and tesserae of various colors of the palace at Susa came doubtless from Persia itself, where marble of various colors is found, especially in the province of Hamadan, Susiana (Marco Polo, Travels, p. 78, ed. Bohn; Chardin, Voy. 3:280, 308, 358, and 8:253; P. della Valle, Viagg i, 2:250). The so-called marble of Solomon's architectural works, which Josephus calls λίθος λευκός, may thus have been limestone — (a) from near Jerusalem; (b) from Lebanon (Jura limestone), identical with the material of the Sun Temple at Baalbek; or (c) white marble from Arabia or elsewhere (Josephus, Ant. 8:3, 2; Diod. Sic. 2:52; Pliny, H. N. 36:12; Jamieson, Mineralogy, p. 41; Raiumer, Pal. p. 28; Volney, Trav. 2:241; Kitto, Plays. Geogr. of Pal. p. 73, 88; Robinson, 2:493; 3:508; Stanley, S. and P. p. 307, 424; Wellsted. Trav. 1:426; 2:143). That this stone was not marble seems probable from the remark of Josephus, that whereas Solomon constructed his buildings of 'white stone,' he caused the roads which led to Jerusalem to be made of 'black stone,' probably the black basalt of the Hauran; and also from his account of the porticoes of Herod's temple, which he says were μονόλιθοι λευκοτήτης μαρμάρου (Josephus, Ant. 1. c., and War, v. 5, 1, 6; Kitto, ut sup. p. 74, 75, 80, 89). But whether the 'costly stone' employed in Solomon's buildings was marble or not, it seems clear, from the expressions both of Scripture and Josephus, that some, at least, of the 'great stones,' whose weight can scarcely have been less than forty tons, must have come from Lebanon (1Ki 5:14-18; 1Ki 7:10; Josephus, Ant. 8:2, 9). There can be no doubt that Herod, both in the Temple and elsewhere, employed Parian or other marble. Remains of marble columns still exist in abundance at Jerusalem (Josephus, Ant. 15:9, 4, 6, and 11,3, 5; Williams, Holy City, 2:330; Sandys, p. 190; Robinson, 1:301, 305)." SEE STONE.