The "nail" with which Jael killed Sisera was rather a tent-pin, such as is driven into the ground in order to fasten the cords of the tent, Ex 27:19; Jg 4:21-22. Sometimes the Hebrew word is used for the wooden pins or iron spikes firmly inwrought into the walls of a building, Ezr 9:8; Eze 15:3. The word implies fixedness, Isa 22:23; and a firm support, Zec 10:4. Another Hebrew word describes the golden and ornamental nails of the temple, etc., 2Ch 3:9; Ec 12:11; Isa 41:7; Jer 10:4.
for fastening. (1.) Hebrew yathed, "piercing," a peg or nail of any material (Eze 15:3), more especially a tent-peg (Ex 27:19; 35:18; 38:20), with one of which Jael (q.v.) pierced the temples of Sisera (Jg 4:21-22). This word is also used metaphorically (Zec 10:4) for a prince or counsellor, just as "the battle-bow" represents a warrior.
(2.) Masmer, a "point," the usual word for a nail. The words of the wise are compared to "nails fastened by the masters of assemblies" (Ec 12:11, A.V.). The Revised Version reads, "as nails well fastened are the words of the masters," etc. Others (as Plumptre) read, "as nails fastened are the masters of assemblies" (comp. Isa 22:23; Ezr 9:8). David prepared nails for the temple (1Ch 22:3; 2Ch 3:9). The nails by which our Lord was fixed to the cross are mentioned (Joh 20:25; Col 2:14).
Nail of the finger (Heb tsipporen, "scraping"). To "pare the nails" is in De 21:12 (marg., "make," or "dress," or "suffer to grow") one of the signs of purification, separation from former heathenism (comp. Le 14:8; Nu 8:7). In Jer 17:1 this word is rendered "point."
1. De 21:12, "pare her (a captive woman's) nails," namely, in order that she might lay aside all belonging to her condition as an alien, to become a wife among the covenant people. Margin: "suffer to grow," the opposite sense, will refer to her seclusion a month in mourning with shaven head and unpared nails. The former seems preferable, answering to her "putting the raiment of her captivity from her."
2. Mismerim, masmerim, masmerot. Isa 41:7; "fastened (the idol) with nails" to keep it steady in its place! Jer 10:4; 1Ch 22:3; 2Ch 3:9, where the "fifty shekels of gold" were to gild the nails fastening the sheet gold on the wainscoting; Ec 12:11, "words of the wise are as nails fastened (by) the master of assemblies," rather "the masters" or "associates in the collection (of the canonical Scriptures), i.e. authors of the individual books, are as nails driven in." (Hengstenberg).
Scripture has a power penetrating as a nail the depths of the soul, worldly literature reaches only the surface. So Re 1:16; Heb 4:12; though the associated sacred writers are many, yet they "are given from One Shepherd," Jesus (Eph 4:11), the Inspirer of the word, from whom comes all their penetrating power (2Ti 3:16). A canon whereby to judge sermons: they are worth nothing unless, like Scripture, they resemble goads and nails. The hearers too, instead of being vexed, should feel thankful when by the word they are "pricked in their heart" (Ac 2:37; Eph 6:17; Ps 45:3).
3. The large pin (Jg 4:21-22; 5:26) by which the tent cords were fastened, giving shape and security to the tent. Jael drove it into Sisera's temples. The tabernacle curtains were fastened with brass pins (Ex 27:19). In Zec 10:4, "out of him (Judah) shall come forth the nail," namely, the large peg inside the Eastern tent, on which is hung most of its valuable furniture. Judah shall be under a native ruler, not a foreigner; the Maccabees primarily, Judah's deliverers from the oppressor Antiochus Epiphanes: antitypically Messiah of the tribe of Judah.
On Messiah hang all the glory and hope of His people. The "nail," as expressing firmness, stands for a secure abode (Ezr 9:8), "grace hath been showed from the Lord ... to give us a nail in His holy place" So Isa 22:23-25, "I will fasten him (Eliakim) as a nail in a sure place ... and they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue (high and low), all vessels of small quantity ... cups ... flagons (compare Song 4:4; 1Ki 10:16-17,21). The nail fastened in the sure place (Shebna) shall be ... cut down and fall, and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off," i.e. all Shebna's offspring and dependants and all his emoluments and honours shall fall with himself, as the ornaments hanging upon a peg fall when it falls.
Vessels of glory hanging on Christ vary in capacity; but each shall be filled as full of bliss as the respective capacity admits (Lu 19:17,19). The print of the nails in Jesus' hands and feet were Thomas' test of the reality of the resurrection (Joh 20:25). In Christ's person "nailed to the cross," the law (Ro 3:21; 7:2-6; Col 2:14) and the old serpent (Joh 3:14; 12:31-32) were nailed to it. A mode of canceling bonds in Asia was by striking a nail through the writing (Grotius).
1. Among the ancient Arabs it was the custom for a widow to allow her nails to grow during her term of mourning. To pare them was a formal indication that this period was at an end. From De 21:12 and 2Sa 19:24 (Septuagint) it may be inferred that such was also the custom among the Hebrews. The former passage, however, refers only to the case of a foreign captive whom a Hebrew might take to wife after a month's seclusion, during which the care of the person was neglected in token of mourning for the captive's condition. The latter passage in its better Gr. form (see Cent. Bible, in loc.) tells us that Mephibosheth showed his sympathy with David by, inter alia, omitting to trim his 'toe-nails and his finger-nails' during the latter's absence from Jerusalem.
2. The Heb. word most frequently rendered 'nail' is properly a tent-peg, or, as Jg 4:21 RV, tent-pin. This is also the better rendering in Zec 10:4, where it is synonymous with 'corner-stone,' both terms signifying the princes or leading men of the State as its supports. The figure of Isa 22:23,25, on the other hand, is derived from the custom of driving a nail into the house-wall upon which to hang (Isa 22:22) domestic utensils or the like.
A. R. S. Kennedy.
1. Of finger. (a) A nail or claw of man or animal. (b) A point or style e.g. for writing; see
2. (a) A nail,
also a tent-peg. Tent-pegs were usually of wood and of large size; but some times, as was the case with those used to fasten the curtains of the tabernacle of metal.
(b) A nail, primarily a point. We are told that David prepared iron for the nails to be used in the temple; and as the holy of holies was plated with gold, the nails for fastening the plates were probably of gold.
NAIL. The nail of Jael's tent with which she killed Sisera, is called ???; it was formed for penetrating earth, or other hard substances, when driven by sufficient force, as with a hammer, &c; it includes the idea of strength. The orientals, in fitting up their houses, were by no means inattentive to the comfort and satisfaction arising from order and method. Their furniture was scanty and plain; but they were careful to arrange the few household utensils they needed, so as not to encumber the apartments to which they belonged. Their devices for this purpose, which, like every part of the structure, bore the character of remarkable simplicity, may not correspond with our ideas of neatness and propriety; but they accorded with their taste, and sufficiently answered their design. One of these consisted in a set of spikes, nails, or large pegs fixed in the walls of the house, upon which they hung up the movables and utensils in common use that belonged to the room. These nails they do not drive into the walls with a hammer or mallet, but fix them there when the house is building; for if the walls are of brick, they are too hard, or if they consist of clay, too soft and mouldering, to admit the action of the hammer. The spikes, which are so contrived as to strengthen the walls, by binding the parts together, as well as to serve for convenience, are large, with square heads like dice, and bent at the ends so as to make them cramp irons. They commonly place them at the windows and doors, in order to hang upon them, when they choose, veils and curtains, although they place them in other parts of the room, to hang up other things of various kinds. The care with which they fixed these nails, may be inferred, as well from the important purposes they were meant to serve, as from the promise of the Lord to Eliakim: "And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place," Isa 22:23. It is evident from the words of the prophet, that it was common in his time to suspend upon them the utensils belonging to the apartment: "Will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?" Eze 15:3. The word used in Isaiah for a nail of this sort, is the same which denotes the stake, or large pin of iron, which fastened down to the ground the cords of their tents. These nails, therefore, were of necessary and common use, and of no small importance in all their apartments; and if they seem to us mean and insignificant, it is because they are unknown to us, and inconsistent with our notions of propriety, and because we have no name for them but what conveys to our ear a low and contemptible idea. It is evident from the frequent allusions in Scripture to these instruments, that they were not regarded with contempt or indifference by the natives of Palestine. "Grace has been shown from the Lord our God," said Ezra, "to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place," Ezr 9:8; or, as explained in the margin, a constant and sure abode. The dignity and propriety of the metaphor appear from the use which the Prophet Zechariah makes of it: "Out of him cometh forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together," Zec 10:4. The whole frame of government, both in church and state, which the chosen people of God enjoyed, was the contrivance of his wisdom and the gift of his bounty; the foundations upon which it rested, the bonds which kept the several parts together, its means of defence, its officers and executors, were all the fruits of distinguishing goodness: even the oppressors of his people were a rod of correction in the hand of Jehovah, to convince them of sin, and restore them to his service.