An overview of gold in the Bible

Metals in the Bible

The Bible mentions metals and gem stones in many places.  Mentions of metals include gold silver, iron, and copper, lead, tin.  Mining and metallurgy are also mentioned in the Bible.  There are references to bronze, an alloy of copper and tin.  There are also references to brass, an alloy of copper and zinc.  The Bible also mentions building stone and quarrying.  The Bible mentions earthquakes.  The Bible is a book of history and it records much information about, the narrative of human kind including the use of metals and stone.

The Special Place of Gold in the Bible

Gold has a special place among metals listed in the Bible and there are more references to it than any other metal or alloy.  The Old and New Testaments include approximately 400 references to gold.  These references begin in Genesis 2 (in the garden) and end in Revelation 21 (in the city). Gold was the measure of wealth for the kings of Israel and Solomon made gold plentiful.  However, gold is not the most precious thing mentioned in the Bible.  God’s word is more desirable than gold; wisdom is more desirable than gold, our faith through times of trial are more precious than gold, and our redemption is more valuable than gold.  The heavenly city is constructed of gold and the streets are paved with gold.

Here are some possible reasons why gold is special:

  • Weight – the specific gravity of gold is 19.3 times that of water.  The root of the word “glory” is weight.
  • Purity – Most gold is found mostly as a “native element” not combined with other elements.  By contrast most metals are found as “ore”, a combination of the metal with sulfides, carbonates or oxides.
  • Beauty – gold is beautiful.
  • Rarity – gold is rare and highly valuable.
  • Stability – gold resists corrosion and decay.

Some first references to gold:

  • Gold as to nature and location:   “…the whole land of Havilah where there is gold.  (12) And the gold of the land is good…”  (Genesis 2:11 & 12) These are the first references to gold in the Bible.)
  • Gold as to a measure of wealth: “… rich in in cattle, in silver, and in gold…” (Genesis 13:2)
  • Gold as articles of jewelry: “… bracelets … of ten (shekels) weight of gold” (Genesis 24:22)
  • Gold as money (weight): “… bracelets … of ten (shekels) weight of gold” (Genesis 24:22)
  • Gold used to signify authority: “… put a gold chain about his neck” (Genesis 41:42)
  • Gold is misused for idolatry: “…neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.” (Exodus 20:23)
  • Gold is used as an offering: “And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass.” (Exodus 25:3)
  • Gold is used for the tabernacle and its furnishings: “And thou shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it …..” (Exodus 25:11)
  • Gold is used in making priestly garments: “And thou shall make an ephod of gold …..” (Exodus 28:6)

Some warnings concerning gold:

 Do not desire gold or silver from the idols of conquered peoples – silver and gold together: “… shall not desire the silver or gold…” (Deuteronomy 7:25)

  • Do not forget the LORD when wealth is multiplied: “…. And thy gold is multiplied.” (Deuteronomy 8:13)
  • Instructions to Kings (v 14): “…neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.”  (Deuteronomy 17:17)

Some figurative uses of gold in the Bible:

 Contrast: “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion. “ (Proverbs 11:22)

  • Comparison: “The refining pot for silver and the furnace for gold; but the LORD trieth the hearts.” (Prov. 17:6); “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1); “As a fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold, so is a man to his praise” (Proverbs 27:21)
  • Wise words: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold and pitchers of silver. As an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprove upon the obedient ear.” (Proverbs 25:11&12)
  • Our works: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood hay, stubble.” (I Corinthians 3:11&12)

Things that are more valuable than gold:

  • God’s word, the Bible: “More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold…” (Psalm 19:10)
  • God’s law: “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” (Psalm 119:72)
  • Instruction and Knowledge: “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.” (Proverbs 8:10)
  • Godly fruit: “My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold and my revenue than choice silver.” (Proverbs 8:19)
  • Wisdom: “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! … (Proverbs 16:16)
  • Trials of our faith: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:7)
  • Our redemption: “For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…. But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (I Peter 1:18)

Applications:

The Bible is a book that describes metal, mining, metallurgy.

The Bible records humankind’s many uses for gold in jewelry, money, authority, and wealth.

Gold is associated with wealth, power, and furnishing for the presence of God.

Appreciate that fact that there are things more valuable than gold including:

  • God’s word, the Bible
  • Wisdom
  • Our faith in time of trials
  • Our redemption