tiny warm-water creatures take the calcium salts from the sea and build out of them beautifully branched shrublike structures that are as hard as stone. In time these formations may amount to great coral reefs and the foundations of coral islands. There are different colors of coral, varieties of white, black and red, the latter being the most costly and most desired in ancient times. Tyre at one time was noted for her trade in coral, which was harvested from the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. (Ezek. 27:16) Out of the raw coral, craftsmen artistically fashioned various ornaments that were highly prized by the wealthy.
Recognizing the esteemed value of coral, the Bible makes several interesting comparisons. Knowledge and wisdom certainly outrate the value of coral. (Job 28:18; Prov. 3:15; 8:11; 20:15) The same is true of a capable wife, “her value is far more than that of corals.”—Prov. 31:10.
As explained at Mark 7:11, “corban” is “a gift dedicated to God.” The Greek word there rendered “corban” is kor·banʹ, the equivalent of the Hebrew word qor·banʹ, meaning an offering. Qor·banʹ is used in Leviticus and Numbers and applies both to offerings containing blood and those that are bloodless. (Lev. 1:2, 3; 2:1; Num. 5:15; 6:14, 21) This Hebrew word is also employed at Ezekiel 20:28 and 40:43. Akin to the Greek word kor·banʹ is kor·ba·nanʹ, appearing at Matthew 27:6, where the chief priests are reported as saying that it would not be lawful to take the betrayal money Judas had thrown into the temple and drop these silver pieces into the “sacred treasury [kor·ba·nanʹ],” because they were “the price of blood.”
By the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth, a culpable practice had developed in connection with corban, it especially being fostered by the Pharisees. They taught that money, property or anything dedicated to the temple as “corban,” or a votive gift, thereafter belonged to the temple and could not be used for some other purpose. Actually the gift or devoted thing was kept by the person who made the vow. Yet, according to this practice, a son could avoid his responsibility to support his old and indigent parents merely by saying that his property, or some portion of it, was “corban,” a gift dedicated to God or to the temple. He would say, “Be it corban,” or, “It is corban,” and he would not have to use such property to support his parents who might be in desperate straits and request or need his aid in the future. In later Judaism, even if a person rashly employed the term “corban” and thereafter changed his mind, the gift so designated was never to be used in any other way.—Mark 7:9-13.
The historian Josephus reports that Pontius Pilate caused a great disturbance “by expending that sacred treasure which is called corban upon aqueducts” to help supply Jerusalem with water. (Wars of the Jews, Book II, chap. IX, par. 4) Josephus also associated “corban” with persons, stating: “Such also as dedicate themselves to God, as a corban, which denotes what the Greeks call a gift, when they are desirous of being freed from that ministration, are to lay down money for the priests.” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, chap. IV, par. 4) However, the term “corban” was more generally used for property dedicated as a gift to God. Of some interest is an Aramaic inscription appearing on the lid of an ossuary found in a Jewish tomb (said to date from the beginning of the Common Era) discovered at Jebel Hallet et-Tûri, SE of Jerusalem. The inscription uses the Aramaic word for “corban” and, while its wording is somewhat uncertain, a suggested reading is: “All that a man may find-to-his-profit in this ossuary (is) an offering to God from him who is within it.”
Several Hebrew words and one Greek word are used in the Scriptures to denote thread, string, cord and rope of various kinds. Most often employed is the Hebrew word hheʹvel (from a root word meaning “to twist”). Hheʹvel is used both literally and figuratively to denote cord and rope. (2 Sam. 17:13; Eccl. 12:6; Hos. 11:4) It can, among other things, signify a measuring line (2 Sam. 8:2) and thus is sometimes employed as a topographical term for a measured area, an allotment (Josh. 17:5, 14; 19:9) or a region.—Deut. 3:4, 13, 14; see MEASURING LINE.
The only Greek word used in the Scriptures to signify rope is skhoi·niʹon, which is applied to a cord or rope and may denote a rope made of reeds or rushes. In righteous indignation, “after making a whip of ropes,” Jesus Christ “drove all those with the sheep and cattle out of the temple,” evidently using the whip of ropes, not on the men, but on the animals.—John 2:13-17.
Some cords and ropes of ancient times were made from flax, others from hemp fiber, the fiber of ramie, or that of the date palm. Strong, thick rope made of palm tree bark fiber was discovered at Ezion-geber. Rushes and reeds of various kinds were also evidently used, and among the materials employed by the Egyptians were twisted leather strips that made a powerful rope. The fibers of ramie (Boehmeria nivea, an Asiatic plant of the nettle family) made a very strong rope, quite useful for fishnets.
Cords were sometimes used as articles of attire. For instance, Judah seems to have carried his seal ring on a cord. (Gen. 38:18, 25) “Wreathed chains, in rope work, of pure gold” were put through the two rings at the extremities of the breastpiece worn by Israel’s high priest. (Ex. 39:15-18) Palace articles of Persian King Ahasuerus included “linen, fine cotton and blue held fast in ropes of fine fabric.”—Esther 1:6.
Cords were used to fasten tents. (Isa. 54:2; Ex. 39:40) There were wagon cords (Isa. 5:18) and cords used for bowstrings. (Job 30:11; Ps. 11:2) Ropes and cords were also used to bind captives. (Judg. 15:13-15; Ezek. 3:25) Ropes served as tackling for ships.—Isa. 33:23.
The congregator said: “A threefold cord cannot quickly be torn in two.” (Eccl. 4:12) By untwisting a cord made up of three strands, each strand alone can quickly be broken. But if they are plaited, the resulting “threefold cord” cannot easily be torn in two. Similarly, God’s servants entwined with one another, as it were, in unity of view and purpose have greater spiritual strength, such as is needed to cope with opposition. The congregator also urged remembering the Creator in youth, “before the silver cord is removed” (Eccl. 12:1, 6), the “silver cord” possibly meaning the spinal cord, the severing of which results in death.
David, referring to a time when a violent death appeared imminent and it seemed certain that Sheol awaited him, said “the ropes of death encircled me” and “the very ropes of Sheol surrounded me.” Apparently, he felt as if ropes had been cast around him and were pulling him down into the grave, drawing him into death and Sheol.—Ps. 18:4, 5.
Isaiah said: “Woe to those drawing error with ropes of untruth, and as with wagon cords sin,” perhaps to indicate their attachment to error and sin in a way similar to that in which animals are bound with ropes, or by cords, to wagons they draw behind them.—Isa. 5:18.
In an act evidently symbolic of abject subjection and humiliation, defeated Syrians “girded sackcloth upon their loins, with ropes upon their heads, and came in to the king of Israel,” seeking Ahab’s indulgence toward Syrian King Ben-hadad. Each may have worn a rope as a band around his head.—1 Ki. 20:31-34.
As pagan rulers and nations who did not want to become vassals of the Israelites gathered together