-(Margin A. V.)
The word translated "ivory" literally signifies the "tooth" of
any animal, and hence more especially denotes the substance of
the projecting tusks of elephants. The skilled work-men of
Hiram, king of Tyre, fashioned the great ivory throne of
Solomon, and overlaid it with pure gold. 1Ki 10:18; 2Ch 9:17
The ivory thus employed was supplied by the caravans of Dedan,
Isa 21:13; Eze 27:15 or was brought, with apes and peacocks,
by the navy of Tarshish. 1Ki 10:22 The "ivory house" of Ahab,
1Ki 22:39 was probably a palace, the walls of which were
panelled with ivory, like the palace of Menelaus described by
Homer. Odys. iv. 73. Beds inlaid or veneered with ivory were
in use among the Hebrews. Am 6:4
not found in Scripture except indirectly in the original Greek
word (elephantinos) translated "of ivory" in Rev.
18:12, and in
the Hebrew word (shenhabim, meaning "elephant's
"ivory" in 1 Kings 10:22 and 2 Chr. 9:21.
(Heb. pl. shenhabbim, the "tusks of elephants") was early
in decorations by the Egyptians, and a great trade
in it was
carried on by the Assyrians (Ezek. 27:6; Rev.
18:12). It was
used by the Phoenicians to ornament the box-wood
of their galleys, and Hiram's skilled workmen made
throne of ivory (1 Kings 10:18). It was brought by
of Dedan (Isa. 21:13), and from the East Indies by
the navy of
Tarshish (1 Kings 10:22). Many specimens of ancient
Assyrian ivory-work have been preserved. The word
derived from the Sanscrit _ibhas_, meaning
by the Hebrew article (ha); and hence it is argued
from which it and the other articles mentioned in 1
were brought, was in India.
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).
The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and
of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet,
and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all
manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron,
For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of
Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish,
bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and
the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall
have an end, saith the LORD.
el'-e-fant (Job 40:15 the King James Version margin, the
American Revised Version, margin "hippopotamus," the Revised
Version (British and American) "ivory"); 1 Ki 10:22 the King
James Version margin; 2 Ch 9:21 the King James Version; 1 Macc
3:34; 6:28 ff; 8:6): Possibly in Job it is the extinct
See BEHEMOTH; IVORY.
Elephant. - We learn from Assyrian inscriptions that before the Hebrews settled in Syria, there existed elephants in that country, and Tiglath-Pileser I tells us about his exploits in elephant hunting. We do not read, however, of elephants in the Bible until the Machabean times. True, III Kings speaks of ivory, or "elephants' teeth", as the Hebrew text puts it, yet not as indigenous, but as imported from Ophir. In the post-exilian times, especially in the books of the Machabees, elephants are frequently mentioned; they were an important element in the armies of the Seleucides. These animals were imported either from India or from Africa.