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Malachi 3:3

You folks are probably very familiar with the story that has made the rounds in Bible study circles (my own, included) for years about the silver smith who explained how he had to sit, carfully watching the silver he refines until he can see his image in the silver. (reprinted in full below)
Is there a URL anywhere with a credible, professional critique of the story?
Could you, perhaps, include a link on your website or a FAQ briefly critiquing the story from your professional viewpoint?
I think, from the number of websites that currently carry this story, that THOUSANDS of people would appreciate it.

There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (Malachi 3:3) This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week this woman called up a silver smith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot--then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.

She asked the silver smith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy--when I see my image in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you.

-Author Unknown

Re: Malachi 3:3-SIlversmith question

I would also appreciate a professional critique of this story. It is a wonderful illustration to me of the silversmith process, and has much application to what God has done in my personal life. Thanks for any info regarding the validity of the process for me.

Re: Re: Malachi 3:3-SIlversmith question

VERIFICATION: Posted: Thurs, Oct 13, 2005 at 20:39:49 (EDT)
Original: Mon, Oct 10, 2005 at 22:21:33 (EDT)
Posted by: Fred Zweig Recipient: Betty Harris
Email Address:
Browser Type: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
IP Address: Decode-SB!.WJM.WJM.SJL

Subject: Re: Silver Refining Process

I suspect you are refering to the Biblical passage from Malachi 3. An ancient method of refining precious metal called cupelation would use fire to remove the base metals in an alloy. The base metal would soaks into the porous bone ash cupel leaving a near pure silver or gold. When the metal is fully molten the surface will become reflective.

I have been asked these questions many times and here is a response I gave to another guest.

'I am familiar with the verse from Malachi. The similarities of actual refining and the chapter and verse from the Bible are accurate. It is important not to overheat the silver when refined in this process and clean molten silver will shine with a mirror-like quality when it is ready to pour. The high temperatures do volatize the impurities and form on the surface as dross. It is important to be attentive to the molten metal as it does it no good to overheat it. It may not destroy the silver, but silver has an affinity for absorbing oxygen and this can make it unworkable.'

I suggest reading a 1929 edition of the book 'A MANUAL OF FIRE ASSAYING' Fulton, Charles Herman & William J. Sharwood.
N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Book Co. 1929. Cloth. Fair. 3rd Edition. 8vo - over 7¾' - 9¾' tall. xvi 268pp. I suspect you might be able to acquire a copy through an interlibrary loan. You might also research the cupelation of precious metal. Cupelation was a common practice with mining assayers.


Re: Malachi 3:3

Thank you so much---That gives me a good start and shows me at least the credibility of the "point of the story". It is so neat how God inspired His people to write in such illustrative ways that we are so many years later able to use our imagination to understand the passages. Thanks for your time and info.