Now that we are getting things “ironed out” we can go on to the “valuable” metals.
Copper, like iron, is native to Israel and is an interesting and useful metal. It is in the same chemical family as silver and gold. Copper was used in making every day items and it was used in the making of the Tabernacle. Pots, forks, utensils, fire grates, and bases for the tent and curtain poles were some of the items that were made of copper in the Tabernacle. In the Bible, the same word is used for copper and bronze/brass. Bronze is copper with tin or lead added. So we know alloys and metallurgy appeared very early in Israel’s history.
The “copper” in our lives maybe natural character traits and habits, but these personal qualities may be what God wants to use in developing our ministry. Our “copper” may have fears and other peoples expectations added to it just as bronze is combined with tin or lead. I have found that these additions may be either good or bad. In Genesis 37 we read of the dreams God gave Joseph. Joseph had natural qualities that God wanted to use, but the way the story plays out it would seem that he had to add patience and humility and his pride and arrogance had to be removed before his “copper” was ready for use before God and man.
We are not finished with Esau and his descendants and the trouble they are going to be to Jacob’s side of the family. Esau had Eliphaz, by Adah his first wife, who had a concubine named Timna who had Amalek (Gen. 36:12). She is attributed to Adah (a true wife in the genealogy) but is listed last. For Timna see 1 Chronicles 1:36-39.
The Amalekites are cursed and the Israelites are to be fighting them from generation to generation because they attacked the Israel column (Exodus 17:8-15) as they headed to the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 25:17 – 19 is a serious statement to the Israelites about that incident; it is that commission that King Saul is trying to accomplish in I Samuel 14 and 15.
Josephus 2.1.2 assigns Amalek to the country of Idumea; this is where King Herod came from. Davis Dictionary of the Bible says the Idumeans had circumcision forced on them after being conquered by John Hyrcanus a Maccabaean ruler. This is why the Jews hated Herod so much, he was not a Jew and very possibly an Edomite and he could have even been an Amalekite.
A side thought on this – there was always some kind of contention within Abraham’s family; Ishmael and Esau did not seem like contented brothers and uncles but their genealogies made it into the Bible so that tells me that some communication did exist between parts of the family. Since Moses is credited with writing Genesis and parts of Esau’s history was definitely happening while they were in Egypt there was communication. Moses may have gotten some of the information while he was in Midian.
Other references to Esau/Edom/Amalek being destroyed or facing the judgment of God.
Iron was a metal that was naturally present in Israel, even though it took the Israelites some time to learn how to work it (1 Samuel 13:19-21). Iron requires a lot of heat and hammering to produce a usable material; however, iron has to be protected or it will rust, and eventually the object made of iron will be useless and destroyed. Iron was used for tools made for cutting and digging because of the hard, sharp edges that could be made with iron.
Our “iron things” (some of our natural character traits) come from inside of us and can represent some of our toughest obstacles to overcome. Proverbs 27:17 (as iron sharpens iron) tells us why a person may rub us the wrong way, God wants our hard areas worked on and that is done by having to work with other people’s hard areas. An example in David’s life is his relationship with his brothers (1 Samuel 17:28+29). As an over achieving little brother who had killed a lion and a bear, and had been in the king’s service as a harp player he apparently allowed these accolades to develop as a sore spot with his brothers. Our own attitudes can be a hard, sharp cutting point in our life. People will view them as either our greatest asset or our biggest bane, but yielding this “iron” to God’s testing and use is really what is important. These “iron areas” will either be protected and maintained in us, rust and cause real problems, or sharpened and gotten rid of.