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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Lead, a well-known metal, the first Scriptural notice of which occurs in the triumphal song in which Moses celebrates the overthrow of Pharaoh, whose host is there said to have 'sunk like lead' in the waters of the Red Sea ().

Before the use of quicksilver was known, lead was used for the purpose of purifying silver, and separating it from other mineral substances. To this Jeremiah alludes where he figuratively describes the corrupt condition of the people: 'In their fire the lead is consumed (in the crucible); the smelting is in vain, for the evil is not separated' ().

Job () expresses a wish that his words were engraven 'with an iron pen and lead.' These words are commonly supposed to refer to engraving on a leaden tablet; and it is undeniable that such tablets were anciently used as a writing material. But our authorized translators, by rendering 'an iron pen and lead in the rock forever,' seem to have entertained the same view with Rosenmüller, who supposes that molten lead was to be poured into letters sculptured on stone with an iron chisel, in order to raise the inscription.

Although the Hebrew weights were usually of stone, and are indeed called 'stones,' a leaden weight denominated anach, which is the Arabic word for lead, occurs in . In , a plummet for taking soundings at sea is mentioned, and this was of course of lead.

The ancient uses of lead in the East seem to have been very few; nor are they now numerous. One may travel far in Western Asia without discovering any trace of this metal in any of the numerous useful applications which it is made to serve in European countries.

We are not aware that any trace of lead has been yet found within the limits of Palestine. But ancient lead-mines, in some of which the ore has been exhausted by working, have been discovered by Mr. Burton in the mountains between the Red Sea and the Nile; and lead is also said to exist at a place called Sheff, near Mount Sinai.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Lead'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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