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Silk, Silkworm

SILK, SILKWORM, appears as the tr. in KJV and ASV for several terms. It is doubtful that the woven thread of the Chinese silkworm (Bombyx mori) was known in the Near E in OT times. Heb. מֶ֫שִׁי, H5429, (Ezek 16:10, 13) was prob. a costly type of cotton or linen from Egypt. Heb. שֵׁשׁ֙, H9254, only in Proverbs 31:22, refers to an alabaster—(CaCO3) like substance as in Esther 1:6.

The Gr. term appears only in Revelation 18:12. It is derived from a Hel. term for China, Σηρες, σηρικός. However, the Greeks were uncertain as to its origin (Pausanius VI, 26. 6ff.). But by the 1st cent. b.c. Chinese silk was known in Asia Minor.