The "bow of steel" in (A.V.) 2Sa 22:35; Job 20:24; Ps 18:34 is in the Revised Version "bow of brass" (Heb kesheth-nehushah). In Jer 15:12 the same word is used, and is also rendered in the Revised Version "brass." But more correctly it is copper (q.v.), as brass in the ordinary sense of the word (an alloy of copper and zinc) was not known to the ancients.
Jer 15:12. Rather copper, which being mixed with "iron" by the Chalybes near the Euxine Pontus formed the hardest metal, "the northern iron and the steel." "Shall (ordinary) iron break" this? No more can the Jews break the hardier Chaldees of the N. So in Job 20:24; Ps 18:34, translated "brass" or "copper." Bronze was anciently used for strengthening arms.
The words are nechosheth or nechushah, and are often translated 'brass.' Either copper, or some alloy is most probable, not what is now known as steel, though in the first three passages it is 'a bow of steel.' 2Sa 22:35; Job 20:24; Ps 18:34; Jer 15:12.
In all cases were the word "steel" occurs in the Authorized Version the true rendering of the Hebrew is "copper." Whether the ancient Hebrews were acquainted with steel is not perfectly certain. It has been inferred from a passage in
that the "iron from the north" there spoken of denoted a superior kind of metal, hardened in an unusual manner, like the steel obtained from the Chalybes of the Pontus, the iron smiths of the ancient world. The hardening of iron for cutting instruments was practiced in Pontus, Lydia and Laconia. There is, however, a word in hebrew, paldah, which occurs only in
(4) and is there rendered "torches," but which most probably denotes steel or hardened iron, and refers to the flashing scythes of the Assyrian chariots. Steel appears to have been known to the Egyptians. The steel weapons in the tomb of Rameses III., says Wilkinson, are painted blue, the bronze red.