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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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The Hebrew word Ḧ ashmal , rendered "amber" by the A. V., occurs only in Ezekiel (three times). Its meaning has puzzled commentators from Talmudic times to the present day. Ḥ ag. 13b gives the meaning as if it were a composite word, "beasts that utter fire." The Septuagint does not throw any light upon the subject, as its rendering, "elektron," is an ambiguous word, and may mean Amber or an alloy of silver and gold. Friedrich Delitzsch (in his notes to Baer and Delitzsch, text of Ezekiel 12 ) identifies "Ḧ ashmal" with the Assyrian "eshmaru," which was a shining metallic alloy. The Assyrian home of this compound would explain why the word is peculiar to Ezekiel. If "Amber" is the correct rendering of Ezekiel 1:4,27 , 8:2 , it refers to a bituminous substance found in various parts of the world in two different varieties in the Baltic district it is of a yellow color, while in the south of Europe it is red. Neither variety, however, fits the requirements of the passages in Ezekiel, where something metallic and shining is intended.

Specimens of Amber in the Mineralogical Museum of the Jardin des Plantes, Paris exhibiting Flies, Spiders, and Beetles embedded.
G. B. L.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Amber'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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