From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Smith's Bible Dictionary [1]

Metals. The Hebrews, in common with other ancient nations, were acquainted with nearly all the metals known to modern metallurgy, whether as the products of their own soil, or the results of intercourse with foreigners.

Gold and Silver - One of the earliest geographical definitions is that which describes the country of Havilah as the land which abounded in Gold , and the gold of which was good.  Genesis 2:11-12. "Abram was very rich in cattle, in Silver , and in gold;"  Genesis 13:2; silver, as will be shown hereafter, being the medium of commerce, while gold existed in the shape of ornaments, during the patriarchal ages.

Tin and Lead - Tin is first mentioned  Numbers 31:22, and Lead is used to heighten the imagery of Moses' triumphal song.  Exodus 15:10.

Steel - Whether the ancient Hebrews were acquainted with Steel , properly so called, is uncertain; the words so rendered in the Authorized Version,  2 Samuel 22:35;  Job 20:24;  Psalms 18:34;  Jeremiah 15:12, are in all others passages translated Brass , and would be more correctly, Copper . The "northern Iron " of  Jeremiah 15:12 is believed more nearly to correspond to what we call steel, See Steel .

Bronze - It is supposed that the Hebrews used the mixture of copper and tin, known as Bronze . The Hebrews obtained their principal supply from the south of Arabia, and the commerce of the Persian Gulf.  Joshua 7:21.

The Great Abundance Of Gold In Early Times is indicated by its entering into the composition of all articles of ornament and almost all of domestic use. Among the spoils of the Midianites taken by the Israelites, in their bloodless victory, when Balaam was slain, were earrings and jewels to the amount of 16,750 shekels of gold,  Numbers 31:48-54, equal in value to more than $150,000. Seventeen hundred shekels of gold, (worth more than $150,000), in nose jewels, (Authorized Version, "ear-rings") , alone , were taken by Gideon's army, from the slaughtered Midianites.  Judges 8:26.

But the amount of treasure accumulated by David, from spoils taken in war, is so enormous that we are tempted to conclude the numbers exaggerated.

Though Gold Was Thus Common, Silver Appears To Have Been The Ordinary Medium Of Commerce. The first commercial transaction of which we possess the details was the purchase of Ephron's field by Abraham for 400 shekels of Silver .  Genesis 23:16.

The Accumulation Of Wealth In The Reign Of Solomon Was So Great That Silver Was But Little Esteemed.  1 Kings 10:21;  1 Kings 10:27.

Copper - Brass , or more properly, Copper , was a native product of Palestine.  Deuteronomy 8:9;  Job 28:2. It was plentiful in the days of Solomon, and the quantity employed in the Temple could not be estimated, it was so great.  1 Kings 7:47.

Zinc - No allusion is found to Zinc , but Tin was well known.

Arms and Armor - Arms,  2 Samuel 21:16;  Job 20:24;  Psalms 18:34 and armor,  1 Samuel 17:5,6,38) were made of Copper , which was capable of being so wrought as to admit of a keen and hard edge.

Iron - Iron , like copper, was found in the hills of Palestine. Iron-mines are still worked by the inhabitants of Kefr Hunch , in the sought of the valley of Zaharani .

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

Gold of Havilah is mentioned as early as  Genesis 2:11. The first worker of instruments of copper ("brass") and iron was Tubal-cain ( Genesis 4:22). Abram was rich in silver and gold ( Genesis 13:2). Instruments before Tubalcain (born according to Hebrew chronology 500 years after Adam and contemporary with Enoch from Seth; 1,000 according to Septuagint chronology) were apparently of flint, bone, and hard wood, such as uncivilized nations now use. Races that have degenerated into barbarism fall back upon flint; then advance to bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, harder than either: and then brass; and lastly iron. The oldest European races used only flint weapons, which are found in the gravel; but this is no proof they were unknown to Adam's early descendants. Isolation would soon reduce the distant emigrants to savagery. Silver was used for commerce, as "money" ( Genesis 23:16;  Genesis 17:12;  Genesis 20:16), gold for ornament.

Gold, silver, brass, iron, tin, and lead were among the spoils taken front Midian ( Numbers 31:22). In  Job 20:24 for "steel" translated brass. Also  Psalms 18:34, "a bow of steel" should be brass, which, or bronze, was used to strengthen arms, as for instance the Egyptians' bows. But God so taught David to war relying on Him that, no weapon could prevail against him; so  Isaiah 54:17. In  Jeremiah 15:12, "shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?" the metal meant is copper mixed with iron by the Chalybes near the Pontus far N. of Palestine; i.e., can the Jews, however iron-like, break the hardier steel-like northern Chaldees ( Jeremiah 1:14). Common iron, as then prepared, was inferior to the Chalybian iron and brass combined. Thus explaining, we solve Henderson's difficulty that KJV makes iron not so hard as brass, and we need not transl, as he does "can one break iron, even northern iron, and brass?"

In  Nahum 2:3, "the chariots will be with flaming torches," translated rather "with fire flashing scythes," literally, "with the fire (glitter) of scythes" or steel weapons fixed at right angles to the axles, and turned down, or parallel, inserted into the felly of the wheel. (On  Ezra 1:4 "amber,"  Revelation 1:15 "fine brass". (See Amber .) The first payment of gold is in  1 Chronicles 21:25. (See Araunah .) Gold was imported from Ophir, Sheba, Parvaim, and Uphaz ( 1 Kings 9:27-28;  1 Kings 10:2;  1 Kings 10:10;  2 Chronicles 3:6;  Jeremiah 10:9). The hills of Palestine yielded copper ( Deuteronomy 8:9). Job 28 hints at the fact that gold is more superficial, iron lodes yield more the deeper you go: "there is a vein (A Mine From Whence It Goes Forth, Hebrew) for the silver, and a place for gold (Which Men) refine (It Is Found In The Sands Of Rivers, And Its Particles Have A Superficial Range In Mines) ; iron is taken out of the dust (Or Earth, Ore Looking Like It) , and copper is molten out of the stone."

Copper is easier found and wrought than iron, so was in earlier use. Copper alloyed with tin formed brindle, of which Napier (Metal. of Bible) thinks the domestic vessels, the arms, etc., in Scripture were made, as it tarnishes less, takes a finer polish, and admits of a keen, hard edge ( 2 Samuel 21:16). Israel derived their skill in metallurgy from the Egyptians. Tin ( Bdiyl ) was doubtless imported through the Phoenicians from Cornwall to Tarshish, and thence to Palestine ( Ezekiel 27:12;  Ezekiel 22:18-20;  Isaiah 1:25); the Assyrian bronze bowls, having one part tin to ten copper, now in the British Museum, consist of metal probably exported 3,000 years ago from the British isles. (See Bowls .)

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [3]

The principal metals are in this work considered separately under their several names; and a few general observations alone are necessary in this place.

The mountains of Palestine contained metals, nor were the Hebrews ignorant of the fact but they do not appear to have understood the art of mining. They therefore obtained from others the superior as well as the inferior metals, and worked them up. They received also metal utensils ready made, or metal in plates , from neighboring and distant countries of Asia and Europe. The metals named in the Old Testament are iron (steel, ); copper, or copper ore; silver; gold; lead; and tin. The trade in these metals was chiefly in the hands of the Phoenicians , who obtained them from their colonies, principally those in Spain . Some also came from Arabia , and some apparently from the countries of the Caucasus . A composition of several metals is expressed by the Hebrew word chasmil. In general the ancients had a variety of metallic compositions, and that which the word chasmildescribes appears to have been very valuable. Whether it was the same as that precious compound known among the ancients as Corinthian brass is uncertain, but it is likely that in later times the Jews possessed splendid vessels of the costly compound known by that name. Indeed this is distinctly affirmed by Josephus (Vita, 13).

The vast quantity of silver and gold used in the temple in the time of Solomon, and which was otherwise possessed by the Jews during the flourishing time of the nation, is very remarkable under whatever interpretation we regard such texts as; , etc. In like manner, we find among other ancient Asiatic nations, and also among the Romans, extraordinary wealth in gold and silver vessels and ornaments of jewelry. As all the accounts, received from sources so various, cannot be founded on exaggeration, we may rest assured that the precious metals were in those ancient times obtained abundantly from mines—gold from Africa, India, and perhaps even then from Northern Asia; and silver principally from Spain.

The following are the metallic manufactures named in the Old Testament:—Of iron, axes ; saws stone-cutters' tools saucepans bolts, chains, knives, etc. but especially weapons of war . Bedsteads were even sometimes made of iron 'chariots of iron,' i.e. war-chariots, are noticed elsewhere [CHARIOTS]. Of copper we find vessels of all kinds ; and also weapons of war, principally helmets, cuirasses, shields, spears (;; ); also chains and even mirrors [COPPER]. Gold and silver furnished articles of ornament, also vessels, such as cups, goblets, etc. The holy vessels of the temple were mostly of gold . Idolaters had idols and other sacred objects of silver . Lead is mentioned as being used for weights, and for plumb-lines in measuring . Some of the tools of workers in metal are also mentioned: anvil hammer pincers; and bellows crucible melting-furnace .

There are also allusions to various operations connected with the preparation of metals. 1. The smelting of metal was not only for the purpose of rendering it fluid, but in order to separate and purify the richer metal when mixed with baser minerals, as silver from lead, etc. (; comp. Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxvii. 47; ). For the actual or chemical separation other materials were mixed in the smelting such as alkaline salts and lead (; comp. Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxiii. 31). 2. The casting of images (;; ); which are always of gold, silver, or copper. The casting of iron is not mentioned, and was perhaps unknown to the ancients. 3. The hammering of metal, and making it into broad sheets (;; ). 4. Soldering and welding parts of metal together . 5. Smoothing and polishing metals . 6. Overlaying with plates of gold and silver and copper (;;; comp. ). The execution of these different metallurgic operations appears to have formed three distinct branches of handicraft before the Exile; for we read of the blacksmith, by the name of the 'worker in iron' the brass-founder and the gold and silver smith .

The invention of the metallurgic arts is in Scripture ascribed to Tubal-cain . In later times the manufacture of useful utensils and implements in metals seems to have been carried on to a considerable extent among the Israelites, if we may judge from the frequent allusions to them by the poets and prophets. But it does not appear that, in the finer and more elaborate branches of this great art, they made much, if any progress, during the flourishing times of their commonwealth; and it will be remembered that Solomon was obliged to obtain assistance from the Phoenicians in executing the metal work of the temple .

The Hebrew workers in iron, and especially such as made arms, were frequently carried away by the different conquerors of the Israelites ; which is one circumstance among others to show the high estimation in which this branch of handicraft was anciently held.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [4]

met´alz (Latin metallum , "metal," "mine"; Greek μέταλλον , métallon , "mine"): The metals known by the ancients were copper, gold, iron, lead, silver and tin. Of these copper, gold and silver were probably first used, because, occurring in a metallic state, they could be separated easily from earthy materials by mechanical processes. Evidence is abundant of the use of these three metals by the people of remotest antiquity. Lead and tin were later separated from their ores. Tin was probably used in making bronze before it was known as a separate metal, because the native oxide, cassiterite, was smelted together with the copper ore to get bronze. Because of the difficulties in getting it separated from its compounds, iron was the last in the list to be employed. In regard to the sources of these metals in Bible times we have few Biblical references to guide us. Some writers point to   Deuteronomy 8:9 , "a land whose stones are iron," etc., as referring to Palestine. Palestine can be disregarded, however, as a sourc e of metals, for it possesses no mineral deposits of any importance. If it was expected that Israel would possess Lebanon also, then the description would be more true. There is some iron ore which was in ancient times worked, although present-day engineers have declared it not to be extensive enough to pay for working. There is a little copper ore (chalcopyrite, malachite, azurite). In the Anti-Lebanon and Northern Syria, especially in the country East of Aleppo now opened up by the Bagdad Railroad and its branches, there are abundant deposits of copper. This must have been the land of Nuhasse referred to in the Tell el-Amarna Letters. If  Zechariah 6:1 is really a reference to copper, which is doubtful, then the last-mentioned source was probably the one referred to. No doubt Cyprus (Alasia in Tell el-Amarna Letters (?)) furnished the ancients with much copper, as did also the Sinaitic peninsula.

Tarshish is mentioned ( Ezekiel 27:12 ) as a source of silver, iron, tin, and lead. This name may belong to Southern Spain. If so it corresponds to the general belief that the Phoenicians brought a considerable proportion of the metals used in Palestine from that country. Havilah ( Genesis 2:11 ), Ophir ( 1 Kings 10:11 ), Sheba ( Psalm 72:15 ) are mentioned as sources of gold. These names probably refer to districts of Arabia. Whether Arabia produced all the gold or simply passed it on from more remote sources is a question. See Gold .

From the monuments in Egypt we learn that that country was a producer of gold and silver. In fact, the ancient mines and the ruins of the miners' huts are still to be seen in the desert regions of upper Egypt. In the Sinaitic peninsula are deposits of copper, lead, gold, and silver. The most remarkable of the ancient Egyptian mines are situated here ( J . Sarabit el Khadı̂m , U . Sidreh , W . Magharah ). The early Egyptian kings (Sneferu, Amenemhat II, and others) not only mined the metals, but cut on the walls of the mines inscriptions describing their methods of mining. Here, as in upper Egypt, are remains of the buildings where miners lived or carried out their metallurgical operations. It is hardly to be conceived that the large deposits of lead (galena) in Asia Minor were unworked by the ancients. No nearer deports of tin than those in Southeastern Europe have yet been found. (For further information on metals see separate articles.)