Iron Furnace

In the weekly Torah portion, we can find the following interesting phrase:

“But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the IRON FURNACE, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.” (Deuteronomy 4:20)

‘Iron furnace’ or ‘Kur Ha-Barzel’ {כור הברזל} as it appears in the original Hebrew, is a rare phrase which can be found only a few times more in the Hebrew Bible. It ALWAYS relates to the time that the Israelites spent in Egypt, as can be seen in the following examples:

“For they are your people, and your heritage, which you brought out of Egypt, from the midst of the iron furnace.” (1 Kings 8:51)

“That commanded your fathers when brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace…” (Jeremiah 11:4)

The Jewish Bible commentators explained that an iron furnace is a place where different kinds of metals melt together and eventually become ONE – exactly as happened to the people of Israel who came to Egypt as individuals and went out as a ‘people.’ 

*Note: The modern English term ‘melting pot’ shares the same meaning, however the Modern Hebrew equivalent is ‘Kur Hituch’ {כור היתוך} – ‘Hituch’ means ‘melting’ or ‘fusion’ in Hebrew.