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HAMMER. The OT uses two chief words here: patt̂ish, a tool for smoothing metals and for breaking rocks (Isa.41.7; Jer.23.29); and maqqeveth, a mallet to drive tent-pins into the ground (Judg.4.21; 1Kgs.6.7), for building, and for making idols (Isa.44.12; Jer.10.4). The word is also used figuratively for any crushing power, such as as Babylon (Jer.50.23) or God’s word (Jer.23.29).

HAMMER. Ancient Near Eastern craftsmen had available for use a wide variety of specialized hammers suited for different purposes. Hammer marks on building stones and other evidences indicate that the type of hammers available in the ancient world corresponded roughly to the types still used in the Near E today.

The פַּטִּישׁ, H7079, is once used for the large sledge hammer used to crack boulders (Jer 23:29). It describes Babylon’s earth-shaking role as the “hammer of the whole earth” (Jer 50:23). It too describes a blacksmith’s hammer, perhaps of a larger sort (Isa 41:7).


W. Carslaw, “Hammer,” HDB (1900); W. Corswant, “Hammer,” A Dictionary of Life in Bible Times (1960).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

See Tools.

James A. Patch