The substance here intended is a matter of great uncertainty. In Egypt bronze was, called chesmen, which may be connected with the Hebrew chashmal; the Greek elektron too has generally been accepted as an alloy of gold or silver or other metals, but this is far from certain. Professor Ridgeway (EB, I, cols. 134-36) has conclusively shown, however, that amber was well known in early times and that there is nothing archaeologically improbable in the reading of the King James Version.

Amber is a substance analogous to the vegetable resins, and is in all probability derived from extinct coniferous trees. The best or yellow variety was obtained by the ancients from the coasts of the Baltic where it is still found more plentifully than elsewhere. A red amber has been found in South Europe and in Phoenicia. From earliest times amber has been prized as an ornament; Homer apparently refers to it twice. Amber bracelets and necklaces are highly prized by the Orientals--especially Jewesses --today, and they are credited with medicinal properties.

See Electrum; Precious Stones.