Ivory in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

sheen, "tooth" or "tusk", namely, of the elephant. There is no Hebrew word in Scripture for the elephant, for the Israelites knew of the elephant first only by its ivory, which was imported from Africa and India. The African elephant exceeds the Indian in the size of the ear and of the tusks, the latter of which are often eight or ten feet long and weigh from 100 to 120 lbs. From the resemblance of its tusks to horns Ezekiel 27:15 has "horns of ivory." "Palaces of ivory" mean ornamented with ivory (Psalm 45:8). So Ahab's palace (1 Kings 22:39). Amos (Amos 3:15) foretells the destruction of the luxurious "houses of ivory" having their walls, doors, and ceilings inlaid with it; also "beds of ivory" (Amos 6:4), i.e. veneered with it. In 1 Kings 10:22 and 2 Chronicles 9:21 sheen habbim is the term "the teeth of elephants"; Sanskrit ibhas, Coptic eboy, Assyrian habba in the inscriptions. Gesenius would read sheen habenim, "ivory (and) ebony." On the Assyrian obelisk in the British Museum tribute bearers are seen carrying tusks; specimens of carvings in ivory were found in Nimrud, and tablets inlaid with blue and opaque glass. "All manner vessels of ivory" are in mystic Babylon (Revelation 18:12). Solomon made a great throne of ivory overlaid with gold (1 Kings 10:18-20); the ivory was brought in the navy of Tarshish, probably from the S. coasts of Arabia, which maintained from ancient times commercial intercourse with both India and Ethiopia. In Ezekiel 27:6 we read "the Ashurites have made thy (Tyre's) benches of ivory, brought out of the isles of Chittim"; rather, as the Hebrew orthography requires, "they have made thy (rowing) benches of ivory, inlaid in the daughter of cedars" or "the best boxwood" (bath ashurim), from Cyprus and Macedonia, from whence the best boxwood came (Pliny).

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