The Bible is nearly the oldest book in existence. I thought looking into the references to gold in the Bible would be of interest.
Thе various mentionings of the yellow metal in this ancient Book reflect the role gold played in the modern territories of Mediterranean and Middle East before the birth of Christ and shortly after. I have some familiarity with the Bible so let’s put that to use here.
A foreword before proceeding. Gold has been valued and admired by humans since the very first time it was deemed valuable. It is kind of behind the scenes today but it is still surrounded by undivided attention. Ironically, I would say it is even more treasured today than, for example, a hundred or thousand years ago. Think about it – today gold ownership is considered, and in most cases is, the attribute of those who are well off, whereas in the past, technically everyone owned at least a bit of it since it was often used as a medium of exchange (money).
Also, if you are a stranger to the Bible. The Bible is a collection of ancient spiritual and religious writings. Some are somewhat poetic, others are prose. None of them are fiction – all portray the real feelings, thoughts and events. Some of the texts date back to 2000 BC and further. Besides focusing on God and spirituality, Bible is a good record of overall human history in the above-mentioned regions. And consequently, the history of attitude towards gold.
Throughout the whole Bible, the word “gold” is mentioned over four hundred times!
First of all, even if you never opened the Bible, you may still know (from children’s Christmas books maybe) that gold was one of the gifts given to baby Jesus by the wise men. Along with frankincense and myrrh. Gold is so noble and worthy that it was given to the Son of God!
And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
I will divide other references to gold into four major categories. First, comparing it to most significant things in life. Second, one of the materials in Heaven. Third, attribute of the wealthy. Fourth, warnings against putting heart into it. I think the use of language in the Bible is beautiful so I am putting more than just a few quotes for each category.
Comparing it to most significant things
On many occasions, especially in Psalms and Gospels, gold is compared to the most important and meaningful things in life – faith and fear of God, good deeds, wisdom, love – to emphasize their superior value.
- So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire…
- The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold…
- My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold…
- Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.
- How much better to get wisdom than gold!
Because gold doesn’t corrode, it is also used to show the strength of faith and loyalty to God.
- But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
- And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.
The building material in Heaven
Gold is also one of the materials in the Kingdom of God. Heaven, if you will. My favorite one. A peek into unknown. Unknown to simple mortals, that is.
- And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
- The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass.
You can find more on how the Eternal Kingdom looks like in Revelation. It is usually placed last in the Bible. I think Revelation can be a captivating read even to those who are far from spirituality (look at the picture above).
Attribute of the wealthy
Of course, gold is mentioned many times as the attribute of the kings and the rich.
- Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures…
- The floor of the house he overlaid with gold in the inner and outer rooms.
- All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None were of silver; silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon.
Warnings against putting heart into it
Expectantly, the Bible also warns against attaching to wealth and putting heart into it. And because wealth was measured in gold at that time (it’s still is!), there are a few times when gold is mentioned in this context.
- Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts.
- Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.
No matter how you perceive the contents of the Bible, at the end of the day it is a historic document. Pretty extensive and accurate one. The events described in the Book are confirmed by numerous sources, including secular. Hence, the Bible is just another proof of gold’s unsurpassed value, long history and noble nature. But don’t fuss around the metal too much – a rule of moderation always works and you won’t upset any Higher Beings or yourself. You know what happens when you overdo things, right?
By the way, Merry Christmas to those who celebrated it on the 25th! And I wish you all a fascinating and luck-filled 2017!
John C. Yannopoulos. 1991. The Extractive Metallurgy of Gold