A cutting tool with a notched or toothed blade and one or two handles. Early saws did not cut in both directions; some were designed to cut when pulled toward the user; others, when pushed away. Egyptian saws were generally made of bronze and usually had teeth that slanted in the direction of the handle. Such a saw would cut when drawn toward the person using it. The blade was either inserted in the handle or fastened to it by means of thongs. Two-handled saws having iron blades were in use among the Assyrians. Hebrew carpenters employed the saw to cut wood, and their masons used saws capable of cutting stone.—Isa 10:15; 1Ki 7:9.
David put captive Ammonites to work at such tasks as sawing stones. (2Sa 12:29-31) Their tools included “axes,” or, literally, “stone saws,” according to the Masoretic text at 1 Chronicles 20:3. In some cases it appears that copper-bladed saws with stone teeth were used to cut stone. But apparently an abrasive such as emery powder was sometimes put under the cutting edge of a saw having a copper or a bronze blade so as to facilitate the cutting of stone.
Persecution of faithful pre-Christian witnesses of Jehovah was so severe at times that some were killed by being “sawn asunder.” (Heb 11:37, 38) According to tradition, wicked King Manasseh had Isaiah put to death in that extremely painful manner, though the Scriptures do not say so.