Coal: It is by no means certain that the Hebrews were acquainted with
mineral coal, although it is found in Syria. Their common fuel was
dried dung of animals and wood charcoal. Two different words are
found in Hebrew to denote coal, both occurring in
(Proverbs 26:21) "As coal
[Heb. peham; i.e., "black coal"] is to burning coal [Heb. gehalim]."
The latter of these words is used in
(Job 41:21; Proverbs 6:28; Isaiah 44:19) The
words "live coal" in
(Isaiah 6:6) are more correctly "glowing stone." In
(Lamentations 4:8) the expression "blacker than a coal" is literally rendered in
the margin of the Revised Version "darker than blackness." "Coals of
(2 Samuel 22:9,13; Psalms 18:8,12,13) etc. is an expression used
metaphorically for lightnings proceeding from God. A false tongue is
compared to "coals of juniper"
(Psalms 120:4; James 3:6) "Heaping coals of
fire on the head" symbolizes overcoming evil with good. The words of
(Romans 12:20) are equivalent to saying, "By charity and kindness
thou shalt soften down his enmity as surely as heaping coals on the
fire fuses the metal in the crucible."