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2. כִּבְשָׁן, H3901, kiln, for lime or pottery. A kiln was made of limestone, was dome-shaped, and had openings at the top and bottom for the escape of smoke and the supplying of fuel. When fuel was being burned, a thick, dark column of smoke issued forth. In the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah it is said that “the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace” (Gen 19:28). The ashes of a kiln would be fine as dust (Exod 9:8, 10). When God met the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, “the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln” (Exod 19:18).

3. כּוּר, H3929, smelting-pot or furnace for smelting metals. In the Bible the word is used only in the metaphorical sense of suffering permitted by God in punishment or discipline. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was like being taken from the midst of an iron furnace (Deut 4:20; 1 Kings 8:51; Jer 11:4). God told Israel that He had refined them in the furnace of affliction (Isa 48:10). Gold is refined in a furnace (Prov 17:3; 27:21).

4. עֲלִיל, H6612. The word is used only in Psalm 12:6 where it is said that the promises of God are absolutely trustworthy, like silver purified seven times in a furnace—real sterling.

5. עֲלִיל, H6612, burning mass. Found in Psalm 102:3, “For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace” (KJV “hearth”; ASV “firebrand”). The various trs. of the Eng. VSS seem to be rather arbitrary.

7. Κάμινος, furnace, oven. The LXX uses káminos to tr. ’attūn, kibshān, and kūr. In Matthew 13:42, 50 and Revelation 9:2 it is used as a synonym of “hell,” the destiny of those who are finally impenitent. In Revelation 1:15 it is said of the one who is “like a son of man” (Rev 1:13) that “his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace” (1:15). Refined bronze is a hard metal, symbolizing the crushing power of Christ when He deals with His enemies.

It will be seen that almost always the word “furnace” occurs in the Bible in a metaphorical sense of God’s punishment or of His tempering the character of man.

Furnaces were used for smelting iron from the ore; melting and refining gold, silver, brass, tin, and lead; firing pottery and other ceramic products; firing bricks; and making lime.

The metal industry flourished as early as 2000 b.c. Many mining and smelting camps along the edge of the Arabah have been found. The largest was at Mene’iyyeh, c. twenty-one m. N of the Gulf of Aqabah. There was another at Khirbet en-Nahas, fifty-two m. farther N.

The largest copper mine in the whole of the ancient Near E was found at Tell-el-Kheleifeh (Ezion-Geber), at the S end of the Wadi Arabah. It was built in the 10th cent. b.c., most likely by Solomon, who also built a fleet of merchant ships there for carrying on trade. The shelter was oriented so that the strong prevailing wind from the N would blow into the flues, making the use of bellows unnecessary. Charcoal was used for fuel. This smelter was in use up to the 5th cent. b.c.

A number of smelting furnaces have been discovered in Pal. itself, some used to smelt copper, others iron. Four were found at Tell Jemmeh, two at Ain Shems, and others at Ai and at Tell Qasile near Tell Aviv.


N. Glueck, The Other Side of the Jordan (1940), chs. 3, 4; N. Glueck, The River Jordan (1946), 145-147; R. J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology (1958), VI, 66ff.; C. Singer, etc. (Eds.), A History of Technology (1954), 391-397, 577; G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology (1962), 135-137.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

fur’-nas: The word is used in the Old Testament English Versions of the Bible to translate several Hebrew words:

Kibhshan, in Ge 19:28, where the smoke of the destruction of the cities of the plain is said to have ascended "as the smoke of a furnace"; in Ex 9:8, where Yahweh commands to take "handfuls of ashes of the furnace and .... sprinkle it toward heaven," etc.

Kur, in De 4:20, where Yahweh is represented, when speaking of taking the children of Israel out of Egypt, as taking them "out of the iron furnace."

`Alil in Ps 12:6, where "the words of Yahweh" are said to be "pure," "as silver tried in a furnace"; compare Pr 17:3, "furnace for gold."

`Attun, in Da 3:6, where mention is made of "a burning fiery furnace" into which Daniel and his companions were cast. There is good reason to believe that these words all stand for either a brick-kiln or a smelting furnace.

George B. Eager