As shown below the word λίμην that usually is translated as lake can also mean an artificial basin.
A huge basin made of cast bronze near the entrance of the Temple and in front of the altar (1 Kin. 7:23–26). The bronze sea, about 4 1/2 meters (15 feet) in diameter, was cast by Hiram, a bronze worker employed by Solomon (1 Kin. 7:13–14). The bronze sea was supported by 12 oxen—or bulls—consisting of three animals pointing toward each of the four points of the compass. According to 2 Chronicles 4:6, the purpose of the sea was “for the priests to wash in.” The Babylonians broke the bronze sea and carried the pieces to Babylon (2 Kin. 25:13).
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Ronald F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison et al. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1995).
ίμνη, ἡ, pool of standing water left by the sea or a river, Il.21.317: hence, marshy lake , mere, distd. from ἕλος, Pl.Criti.114e, Lg.824c; Βοιβηῒς λ. Il.2.711; Γυγαίη ib. 865; Κηφισίς 5.709; λ. Γοργῶπις A.Ag.302; Μαιῶτις Id.Pr.419 (lyr.), cf. 729, Pers.871 (lyr.), Hdt.4.86; ἡ Βόλβη λ. Th.4.103; λ. τροχοειδής, at Delos, Hdt.2.170, cf. A.Eu.9. b. also, artificial pool or basin , Hdt.1.185, 191, al., SIG799 ii 3 (Cyzic., i a.d.).
Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, Henry Stuart Jones and Roderick McKenzie, A Greek-
Brazen Sea -
λίμην, ἡ, (λείβω) a pool of standing water left by the sea or a river, Il.: then, a marshy lake, mere, Lat. palus, Ib., Hdt., Att.:—also, a large pool or basin (artificial) , Hdt.
2. in Hom. and other Poets, the sea.
II. Λίμναι, αἱ, a quarter of Athens (once prob. marshy), near the Acropolis, in which stood the Lenaeum, Ar., Thuc., etc.
H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon : Abridged from Liddell and Scott's Greek-
Brazen Sea -
5. Solomon also cast a brazen sea , the figure of which was that of an hemisphere. This brazen vessel was called a sea for its largeness, for the laver was ten cubits in diameter, and cast of the thickness of a palm; its middle part rested on a short pillar, that had ten spirals round it, and that pillar was ten cubits in diameter. There stood round about it twelve oxen, that looked to the four winds of heaven, three to each wind, having their hinder parts depressed, that so the hemispherical vessel might rest upon them, which itself was also depressed round about inwardly. Now this sea contained three thousand baths.
6. He also made ten brazen bases for so many quadrangular lavers : the length of every one of these bases was five cubits, and the breadth four cubits, and the height six cubits. This vessel was partly turned, and was thus contrived: There were four small quadrangular pillars, that stood one at each corner; these had the sides of the base fitted to them on each quarter; they were parted into three parts; every interval had a border fitted to support [the laver]; upon which was engraven, in one place a lion, and in another place a bull, and an eagle. The small pillars had the same animals engraven that were engraven on the sides. The whole work was elevated, and stood upon four wheels, which were also cast, which had also naves and felloes, and were a foot and a half in diameter. Anyone who saw the spokes of the wheels, how exactly they were turned, and united to the sides of the bases, and with what harmony they agreed to the felloes, would wonder at them. However, their structure was this: Certain shoulders of hands stretched out, held the corners above, upon which rested a short spiral pillar, that lay under the hollow part of the laver, resting upon the fore part of the eagle and the lion, which were adapted to them, insomuch, that those who viewed them would think they were of one piece: between these were engravings of palm trees. This was the construction of the ten bases: he also made ten large round brass vessels, which were the lavers themselves, each of which contained forty baths;e for it had its height four cubits, and its edges were as much distant from each other: he also placed these lavers upon the ten bases that were called Mechonoth: and he set five of the lavers on the left side of the temple,f which was that side towards the north wind, and as many on the right side, towards the south, but looking towards the east; the same [eastern] way he also set the sea . Now, he appointed the sea to be for washing the hands and the feet of the priests when they entered into the temple and were to ascend the altar ; but the lavers to cleanse the entrails of the beasts that were to be burnt offerings, with their feet also.
Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1996, c1987). The works of Josephus : Complete and unabridged. Includes index. (Ant 8.78-
Brazen Sea -
[Heb yām mûṣāq (יָם מוּצָק)]. Var. BRONZE SEA; SEA. Designations for a spectacular bronze appurtenance that is said to have stood in the courtyard of Solomon’s temple. It is described in the temple text of 1 Kings (1 Kgs 7:23–26) and in the parallel account in Chronicles (2 Chr 4:2–5). Both 2 Kings (25:13) and Jeremiah (52:17) list the Sea among the temple vessels that were broken into pieces and carried off to Babylon when the temple was destroyed in 587.
The bronze Sea (Heb yām hannĕḥōšet), like the other bronze vessels of the temple, was crafted by Hiram of Tyre, an expert in bronze work. The Chronicles preserves a tradition that the requisite metal for the sea and other vessels was part of spoils acquired by David (1 Chr 18:8; cf. 2 Sam 8:8). It apparently was made by casting, since the term “molten” derives from the Hebrew root yṣq, “to cast, pour” (as metal). According to the Kings account, it was a vessel of huge proportions: 10 cubits in diameter (ca. 15 feet), 5 cubits high (ca. 7.5 feet), and 30 cubits in circumference. When empty it would have weighed between 25 and 30 tons. Although it is not certain whether it was a hemisphere or a cylinder, its capacity would have been enormous. The Bible has two conflicting traditions about how much it held: 2000 baths in 1 Kgs 7:26, and 3000 baths in 2 Chr 4:5. Furthermore, it is not certain how baths were reckoned, and some have suggested that 1000 baths would be a better figure (Scott 1958:209–12). In any case, it can be estimated to have had a capacity of about 10,000 gallons of water (Paul and Dever 1973:257).
Just as spectacular as its size was its ornamentation. Under its rim was a series of cast decorations: two rows of “gourds.” The rim (“brim”) itself was made of lily work. Most amazing of all was the way it was supported on four sets of bronze oxen, with three oxen in each set. Each set of oxen faced a direction of the compass, with their “hinder parts” facing inward and supporting the basin.
The cultic purpose of this elaborate item among the courtyard appurtenances of the temple is not specified, except for a rather peripheral notation in 2 Chr 4:5 that it was “for the priests to wash in.” Its use as a laver is dubious, since ten bronze lavers, also large and spectacular in design, were also part of the courtyard furnishings. Furthermore, its height makes it difficult to imagine how it was used for lustrations. The cultic purpose of the Sea may lie more in its symbolic nature rather than as a ritual vessel.
One of the features of ANE temples was their utilization of artistic and architectural elements relating to the idea of the temple as the cosmic center of the world. The great deep, or cosmic waters, is one aspect of the array of cosmic attributes of such a holy spot. The temple of Marduk at Babylon, for example, had an artificial sea (ta-
The great Sea did not survive intact until the Babylonian conquest. At the end of the 8th century, Ahaz partially dismantled it, an action that was one of several changes he made in the temple precincts. These changes can be seen as part of his political maneuvering with the Assyrians.
Carol Meyers, "Sea, Molten", in The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman, 5:1061-
A basin located in the court between the tent of meeting and the burnt-
Freedman, D. N., Myers, A. C., & Beck, A. B. (2000). Bronze Laver. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (D. N. Freedman, Ed.) (201). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
[Heb kiyyôr (כִּיֹּור); Gk loutron (λουτρον)]. Bronze wash basin situated in both the tabernacle and temple courtyards. Although situated in the cultic precincts, the laver itself was not a ritual object. The tabernacle laver (Exod 30:18, 29; 31:9; 35:16; 38:8; 39:39; 40:7, 11, 30; Lev 8:11) was filled with water for the priests to use in washing their hands and feet (Exod 30:17–21). Made of the mirrors of the “women who ministered at the door of the tent of meeting” (Exod 38:8), it was placed on a bronze base between the altar and the entrance to the tabernacle.
The temple passages in 1 Kings contain a description of ten bronze lavers (1 Kgs 7:38), each supported by an elaborate stand (1 Kgs 7:27–37). The lavers themselves were bronze bowls, each with a capacity of forty baths (ca. 243 gallons). The stands were incredibly ornate. Each was 4 cubits square (ca. 6.5 ft square) and 3 cubits high (ca. 5 ft). The sides were set with framed panels decorated with animals—lions, oxen—and cherubim in relief. The frames themselves were decorated with “beveled work.” Each stand rested on four bronze wheels, each 1.5 cubits high, with bronze axles, thus forming a sort of cart. Projecting 1 cubit upward from the stands at each corner were supports, decorated with wreaths, and holding a band or ring (“crown”), 0.5 cubit high, in which the laver itself was placed. The band was paneled, perhaps in metope divisions, and decorated with cherubim, lions, and palm trees.
Various archaeological discoveries contribute to an understanding of what lavers looked like (Paul and Dever 1973: 258–59). Metal lavers from Megiddo and Ras Shamra provide some information, as do some Cypriot bases. In particular, carriage bases from Larnaka have wheels, and one is decorated with a sphinx, a lion, a chariot, and two figures. Also, an 8th-
All of these artifacts feature some elements in common with the Solomonic lavers, but none can provide an exact parallel for these elaborate courtyard furnishings. If the biblical depiction is to be taken literally, the lavers would have been far taller than an average person. Thus, it is difficult to comprehend how they may have been used. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the relatively small wheels could have supported the stand, the laver, and nearly a ton of water.
Whatever the reality of the lavers was, they did not survive as long as the temple did. King Ahaz partially dismantled them (2 Kgs 16:17), removing the frames and the laver. But the stands themselves may have survived until the Babylonian conquest (2 Kgs 25:13, 16; Jer 52:17, 20).
The lavers were essential for priestly purification, and they may also have had symbolic value. The Hebrew word has been related to the Akkadian kiuri, or ki-
The NT word loutron is translated “washing.” It is the same as the LXX word for “lavers” and is used metaphorically in relation to baptism (Titus 3:5; Eph 5:26).
Bibliography: Paul, S. M., and Dever, W. G., eds. 1973. Biblical Archaeology. Jerusalem. Carol Meyers Professor, Duke University, Durham, NC Meyers, C. (1996). Laver. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (D. N. Freedman, Ed.) (4:241-
(Heb. kiyor, a “basin” for boiling in, a “pan” for cooking (1 Sam. 2:14), a “fire-
That which was originally used in the tabernacle was of brass (rather copper; Heb. nihsheth), made from the metal mirrors the women brought out of Egypt (Ex. 38:8). It contained water wherewith the priests washed their hands and feet when they entered the tabernacle (40:32). It stood in the court between the altar and the door of the tabernacle (30:19, 21).
In the temple there were ten lavers used for the sacrifices, and the molten sea for the ablutions of the priests (2 Chr. 4:6). The position and uses of these are described 1 Kings 7:23–39; 2 Chr. 4:6. The “molten sea” was made of copper, taken from Tibhath and Chun, cities of Hadarezer, king of Zobah (1 Chr. 18:8; 1 Kings 7:23–26).
No lavers are mentioned in the second temple.
Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
3067. λουτρόν loutrón; gen.loutroú, neut. noun fromloúō (3068), to bathe. A basin or laver for washing, the washing itself. For its possible relativity to baptism in Eph. 5:26, seebáptisma (908), baptism. It is used metaphorically of the Word of God as the instrument of spiritual cleansing. In Titus 3:5, “the washing [bath] of regeneration” brings to mind the close connection between cleansing from sin and regeneration (cf. John 3:8; Rom. 6:4; 2 Cor. 5:17). Although these two passages are often, and with valid exegetical support, classified as relating to baptism, the language of the texts is not so unequivocal that such a claim can be made with dogmatic certitude. The weakest case is Titus 3:5. The washing mentioned can easily be understood metaphorically. Regeneration itself is an operation portrayed in Scripture as effecting a spiritual cleansing (Ezek. 36:25, 26; John 3:5; 1 Cor. 6:11). In addition, since the expression “washing of regeneration” stands parallel to “renewal of the Holy Ghost”, it is more natural to assume the force of the gen. is also parallel. The gen. of latter phrase is certainly subjective. Hence, the words “washing of regeneration” refer to the washing produced by regeneration. Any other gen. classification would not suit both constructions and to treat them differently would destroy the literary symmetry of the passage. The possible exception to this would be a descriptive gen., but this would seem to be an awkward way to treat the personal reference to the Holy Spirit. Not so easily disputed is its meaning in Eph. 5:26 where it is said that the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice is to sanctify the church “and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Heretṓloutrṓ (dat. sing.) is modified bytoú húdatos (húdōr, water), of the water. The def. art. points to a particular occasion or use of water, one with which the readers would have been readily familiar. It has been suggested that this is a reference to the custom practiced by Jews and Gentiles alike of brides taking preparatory baths prior to the marriage ceremony. While this may be the source of Paul’s analogy, it does not settle the question of where and when such a cleansing is accomplished. What is the corresponding reality to such a figure? Proponents of the baptismal interpretation say that either the washing is at once the figure and the reality, or that no figure is present. In this latter argument, it is contended that the washing is a direct reference to baptism itself. This indeed may be the case. However, Paul is careful to finish his statement with the phraseen rhḗmati (en, in;rhḗma, word), by (the) word. Whatever cleansing is signified by the washing of water, it is accomplished by the word. The anarthrous construction makes the expression adv. indicating the manner (or means) of the cleansing action, that it is in word form, through teaching or preaching, that the cleansing is effected. The regenerative and cleansing powers of God’s Word are attested to throughout Scripture (John 15:3; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23). Therefore, it is plausible to understand Paul to be saying that the word of God is the cleansing agent in sanctification and it is the reality for which washing stands as a figure. In Class. Gr., the pl.loutrá denotes propitiatory offerings and offerings for purification.
Ant.:akatharsía (167), uncleanness.Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G3067). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
C. Sea as a Cultic Object
A large bronze basin (over 7 feet high and over 14 feet across) stood outside Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem and was referred to as the “brazen (bronze) sea” (2 Kgs 25:13; 1 Chr 18:8; Jer 52:17), the “molten sea” (1 Kgs 7:24; 2 Chr 4:2), or “the sea” (1 Kgs 7:24; 2 Kgs 16:17). It was designed and cast by Hiram, a Phoenician craftsman from Tyre (1 Kgs 7:13–14) and was supported by twelve bronze bulls. The basin was full of water, and was probably used by the priests in connection with the animal sacrifice carried out on the great altar which stood across from it at the temple entrance. Apart from its practical function as a place to wash, the bronze sea probably symbolized the cosmic ocean, even as the temple itself represented the created order of the universe. The sea was dismantled when the Babylonians destroyed the temple in 586 b.c. See SEA, MOLTEN.
Follis, E. R. (1996). Sea. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (D. N. Freedman, Ed.) (5:1058-
A bowl or basin (so NRSV) used for ceremonial washing associated with both the wilderness tabernacle (Exod. 30:17–21) and the Jerusalem temple (1 Kgs. 7:38–39; 2 Chr. 4:6). In one instance Heb. kiyyôr refers to a bronze platform upon which Solomon stood in solemn assembly to offer his prayer when dedicating the temple (2 Chr. 6:13). The term can also have more profane associations, referring to a caldron or pot of fire (1 Sam. 2:14; Zech. 12:6).
The ceremonial basin associated with the wilderness tabernacle was to be made of bronze and placed between the tent of meeting and the altar so that Moses, Aaron, and his sons could wash their hands and feet whenever they approached the altar or entered the tent of meeting (Exod. 30:18–21; 40:30–32). The sacred character of the basin is indicated by the divinely-
Solomon’s temple had 10 ceremonial basins used primarily for rinsing the items associated with the burnt offerings (2 Chr. 4:6). Here, the focus is on the splendor of the lavers rather than their sacred character, as in the tabernacle. The 10 bronze basins each held 40 baths (one bath was ca. 23 l. [6 gal.]), and each stood on its own bronze, wheeled stand (1 Kgs. 7:27–37). These elaborate stands were pillaged by Ahaz several centuries later in his attempt to bribe the king of Assyria (2 Kgs. 16:17).
Hall, K. D. (2000). Laver. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (D. N. Freedman, Ed.) (793). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.