ISBE: REFINER; REFINING
The process of refining metals is referred to by way of illustrations in Isa. 1:25; Jer. 6:29; Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:2, 3.
REFINER [smith]The refiner?s art was essential to the working of the precious metals. It consisted in the separation of the dress from the pure ore, which was effected by reducing the metal to a fluid state by the application of heat, and by the aid of solvents, such as alkali, (Isaiah 1:25) or lead, Jere 6:29 Which, amalgamating with the dress, permitted the extraction of the unadulterated metal. The instruments required by the refiner were a crucible of furnace and a bellows or blow-pipe. The workman sat at his work, (Malachi 3:3) he was thus better enabled to watch the process, and let the metal run off at the proper moment.
REFINER; REFINING [isbe]REFINER; REFINING - re-fin'-er, re-fin'-ing: Two Hebrew words have been translated "refine": (1) tsaraph, literally, to "fuse" (Zec 13:9; Isa 48:10; Mal 3:2,3, etc.). The same word is rendered also "tried" (Ps 66:10); "melt" (Jer 6:29 the King James Version); "purge" (Isa 1:25). (2) zaqaq, literally, to "strain" or "sift." In the case of silver and gold the term probably referred to some washing process in connection with refining, as in Mal 3:3 both tsaraph and zaqaq are used (1 Ch 28:18; 29:4; Job 28:1). The same word in Isa 25:6 referred to the straining of wine. Greek puroo, in the passive, literally, "to be ignited," is translated "refined," in Rev 1:15; 3:18.
The ancient process of refining gold has already been described under METALLURGY (which see). Most of the Bible references are to the refining of silver (Prov 25:4; Zec 13:9; Isa 48:10). The silver used by the ancients was probably obtained by smelting lead sulfide ore, rich in silver (argentiferous galena). After the ore had been reduced to a metallic condition, the lead was separated from the silver by blowing hot air over the surface of the melted metal. The lead was thus changed to lead oxide which, in a powdered condition, was driven away by the air blast. The resulting lead oxide, called in the Bible silver dross, was used for glazing pottery (Prov 26:23), a use to which it is still put by Syrian potters. The description of refining in Ezek 22:18-22 may indicate that a flux (compare "as with lye," Isa 1:25 the American Revised Version margin) was sometimes added to the melted metal to dissolve the oxides of copper, lead, tin and iron as they formed, thus leaving the silver pure. Crude processes similar to those described above are used in the Taurus Mountains today.
In the various Bible references the refining of precious metals is used figuratively to illustrate the kind of trial God's children are called upon to go through. If they are of the right metal the dross will finally be blown away, leaving pure, clear, shining silver. If of base metal they will be like the dross described in Jer 6:29,30. The refiner may blow fiercely, but in vain, for nothing but lead dross appears.
James A. Patch
Refining [nave]REFINING, the process of eliminating by fire the dross of metals. Isa. 1:25.
Of gold, 1 Chr. 28:18.
Of silver, 1 Chr. 29:4.
Of wine, Isa. 25:6.
Of the corrective judgments of God, Isa. 1:25; 48:10; Jer. 9:7; Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:2, 3.
Of the purity of the word of God, Psa. 18:30; 119:140.