Gold - Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words

Usage Number: 1
Strong's Number: H2091
Original Word: zahab

Usage Notes: "gold." This word has cognates in Arabic and Aramaic. It occurs about 385 times in biblical Hebrew and in every period. Zahab can refer to "gold ore," or "gold in its raw state." This is its meaning in its first biblical appearance: "The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold" (Gen. 2:11). The word can also be used of "gold" which has already been refined: "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). "Gold" could be beaten (1 Kings 10:16) and purified (Exod. 25:11). One can also speak of the best "gold" (2 Chron. 3:5). Zahab can be conceived of as an "object of wealth": "And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold" (Gen. 13:2). As such, the emphasis is on "gold" as a valuable or precious commodity. Consequently, the word is used in comparisons: "The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold" (Job 28:17). "Gold" was often one of the spoils of war: "But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord" (Josh. 6:19).

"Gold" was bought and sold as an object of merchandise: "The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, they were thy merchants: they [paid for your wares] with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold" (Ezek. 27:22). Zahab was used as a costly gift: "And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I [could not do anything]…" (Num. 22:18).

This metal was used as a material to make jewelry and other valuable items: "And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold…" (Gen. 24:22). Solomon's temple was adorned with "gold" (1 Kings 6:20-28). Gold was used as money, being exchanged in various weights and values (according to its weight): "And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield…" (1 Kings 10:17; cf. 2 Sam. 12:30). "Gold" even existed in the form of "coins" (Ezra 2:69). Zahab is used for the color "gold": What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves" (Zech. 4:12).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words