One who casts, hammers, carves, engraves, or otherwise works with metals. (Isa 41:7) The first “forger of every sort of tool of copper and iron” in recorded history was Tubal-cain. (Ge 4:22) Ancient metalworkers made tools, household items, weapons, armor, musical instruments, ornaments, and figurines. Besides fashioning new items, they also did repair work. (2Ch 24:12) Many were specialists in working such metals as gold (Ne 3:8, 31, 32), silver (Jg 17:4; Ac 19:24), or copper (2Ti 4:14). At times they formed a kind of association or guild. (Ne 3:31; Ac 19:24-28) Their trade called for skill in artistic design.
The Israelites may have had knowledge of metalworking prior to their entry into Egypt, or possibly they acquired it there. By the time of the Exodus, they had ability to fashion a molten calf and a copper serpent. (Ex 32:4; Nu 21:9) More impressive, however, was the production of various metal items for the tabernacle service. Bezalel and his assistants were aided by Jehovah’s spirit in their metalworking.—Ex 31:2, 3; 35:30-35.
Later, when oppressed by the Philistines, the Israelites were not allowed to have their own metalworkers. This measure prevented them from making weapons. (1Sa 13:19-22) Doubtless for similar reasons Nebuchadnezzar took the metalworkers and other craftsmen captive the first time he assaulted Jerusalem.—2Ki 24:14, 16; Jer 24:1; 29:1, 2.