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BRONZE SEA. In
BRONZE SEA, MOLTEN SEA (יָ֧ם הַנְּחֹ֛שֶׁת, הַיָּ֖ם מוּצָ֑ק). This was a round bronze basin which stood in the court of the Solomonic Temple between the altar and the porch. It measured about 15 ft. in diameter (at the brim), 7 1/2 ft. high and 45 ft in circumference (at the brim), with a capacity of about 300 barrels. It rested on the backs of twelve bronze oxen, which in groups of three faced the four directions of the compass. It was broken up and taken by the Babylonians when Jerusalem was captured in 587 b.c. (Molten sea in
SEA, MOLTEN (יָ֖ם מוּצָ֑ק, molten sea, יָ֧ם הַנְּחֹ֛שֶׁת, sea of bronze; KJV BRAZEN). A large receptacle for water, cast from molten bronze, which stood in the court of Solomon’s Temple. Solomon commissioned Hiram of Tyre, a skilled worker of bronze, to make the various castings for the Temple. The sea was made from metal which David had captured from Zobah (
The sea was positioned “on the southeast corner of the house” (
There has been no lack of modern explanations of the significance of the sea in terms of ancient mythology. The identification of the bulls with the twelve signs of zodiac is almost certainly anachronistic, but they have been favored also as symbols of fertility and hence linked with the Babylonian Apsu, the water of life and fertility. Such attempts to link Heb. concepts with Babylonian origins often ignore the distinctive meanings conveyed in the revealed religion of Israel. The fact that there was a similar sea in the temple at Babylon which was linked to the myth of Apsu says nothing about the significance of the sea in Solomon’s Temple, for Israel had no myth of Apsu, but on the contrary had a firm conviction of the historical basis of its faith.
The volume and shape of the sea are problematical because of the lack of specifications and because of uncertainty over the measurement of baths and cubits. The shape described seems most naturally to fit a hemisphere, except that
W. F. Albright, Archeology and the(1956); J. V. K. Wilson, “The Epic of Creation” in ed. D. W. Thomas, Documents From Times (1958); R. B. Y. Scott, “ of the Bible,” BA, XXII (1959).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
W. Shaw Caldecott