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CHAINS:

A word employed in English versions of the Bible as an equivalent for the various Hebrew terms applied to devices consisting of a series of links and used (1) as means of restraint, or (2) for ornamental purposes on persons or on buildings. These Hebrew terms are as follows:

  • 1.: Occurring in Num. xxxi. 50; R. V., "ankle chains." In II Sam. i. 10 it is translated "bracelet"; and this is evidently its more exact meaning (see Driver and Klostermann on II Sam. i. 10, and compare below No. 11).
  • 2.: occurring in Dan. v. 7, 16, 29 (read ), and indicating a necklace worn as a mark of distinction. One was conferred upon Daniel for interpreting Belshazzar's dream. In the Targum it is employed for (Gen. xli. 42) Compare No. 12 below.
  • 3.: Occurs in Nahum iii. 10, and Ps. cxlix. 8, where it indicates fetters, probably of iron, for binding captives.
  • 4.: Translated "chain" in Ezek. xix. 4, 9, A. V., but more correctly rendered "hook" in R. V. Inserted in the nose, it served as a means of leading captives (compare II Kings xix. 28). It is also indicated as an ornament (Ex. xxxv. 22, A. V. "bracelets"; R. V., "brooches"). From its insertion in the nose of the captive, it seems probable that as an ornament the was a nose-ring (compare ).V03p659007.jpgAssyrian Captive in Chains.(After Botta, "Monuments de Ninive.")
  • 5.: Occurs in Song of Solomon i. 10 (R. V., "strings"). Ornamental chains for the neck, probably strings of coral, metal, or pearls, are meant.
  • 6.: This word occurs only in Ps. lxviii. 7 (6), and is translated as "chains" in A. V., but more correctly in R. V. as "prosperity" (compare dictionaries of Gesenius [-Buhl], Siegfried-Stade, and Baethgen, on Ps. lxviii. 7).
  • 7. and : Occurring in Lam. iii. 7, and often translated "fetters," as in Judges xvi. 21; II Kings xxv. 7. Chains for prisoners, made, as the name implies, of bronze. They consisted of two rings—one for each foot or arm—connected by a link.
  • 8.: Rendered "chains" in Isa. iii. 19, A. V., but better taken, in R. V., as "pendants"—obviously with reference to the drop-like form of the ornament. In Judges viii. 26, A. V., it is rendered "collars" [margin, "sweet jewels"]; in R. V., "pendants."
  • 9.: Employed in Ex. xxviii. 14, xxxix. 15 to designate the gold chains on the ephod and breastplate of the high priest.
  • 10.: An ornament for the neck mentioned in Song of Solomon iv. 9, etc. (compare , Ps. lxxiii. 6). The word is used in Judges viii. 26 to designate the chains worn by camels.
  • 11.: Rendered by R. V. in Isa. iii. 20 as "ankle chains"; A. V. has "ornaments of the legs." Compare (No. 1) above.
  • 12.: Occurs in Gen. xli. 42 and Ezek. xvi. 11, where it indicates a necklace evidently employed as a sign of distinction. Pharaoh adorned Joseph with a chain of this kind when investing him with office.
  • 13.: Applied (1) to chains of captivity (Ezek. vii. 23); (2) to the gold chains hung before the "oracle" () in the Temple (I Kings vi. 21); and (3) to silver chains hung upon a graven image (Isa. xl. 19).
  • 14.: Translated "bracelets" in Isa. iii. 19, both A. V. and R. V., but "chains" is the marginal rendering in the latter. The word seems to indicate arm-ornaments; compare the Arabic "siwar" (bracelet).
  • 15.: Chainwork used in ornamentation. It was employed in the Temple (II Chron. iii. 5, 16) and for the ephod and breastplate of the high priest (Ex. xxviii. 14, xxxix. 15). Compare (Ex. xxviii. 22), which is an abbreviated form of this word. See Fetters.
Bibliography:
  • Nowack, Lehrbuch der Hebräischen Archäologie, pp. 128et seq.; and the various Bible commentaries.
E. G. H.C. J. M.
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