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Updated: 2023.05.29 

אֵשׁ & Humans: From The Beginning

אֵשׁ: Definition; Differentiated From Explosion, Oxidation, Electricity

Fire is the medium-speed oxidation of a fuel in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.  At a certain point in the combustion reaction, called the ignition point, flames are produced. The flame is the visible portion of the fire. (Faster oxidation processes are called explosions. Slower oxidation processes are called rust, and digestion).

Electricity is entirely different: a wave-flow of electrons within a conductor!

Only by researching how our mortal perspectives developed from our beginnings can we begin to see when and how mortals have veered from DërꞋëkh יְהוָׂה—the Way of Existant.

"Out of Supercontinent-Pangea"

Terassic Drift Of Cimmerian Terranes
Click to enlargeTriassic Period Terraneal & Subcontinental Drifts. 

(Based on Professor Emeritus, Professor Honoraire Gérard Stampfli, Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland)

Before ≈220Ma,  pre-humans apparently ranged the supercontinent of Pangea. Consequently, all subsequent continental break-ups were likely already inhabited with various species of pre-humans, the seeds of ÕdãmꞋ and Khau•ãhꞋ—humankind. Thus, human civilizations likely sprang up from an earlier common ancestral link prior to the break up of Pangea, resulting in different proto-human species arising in different parts of the resulting world; therefore, more or less simultaneously, in parallel (see ÕdãmꞋ).

Gan EidꞋën seems to have been A•dãm•ãhꞋ in Pangea (I've hi-lited on map).

>¾ Ma  (Early Palaeolithic Age) 

אֵשׁ All-Powerful Chief God To "Archaic Humans"

2010 Carmel ''consuming fire'' - Seraphim (AFP photo)
אֵשׁ שְׂרָפִים (Carmel 2010.12.03, AFP, -ÃrꞋëtz)

Archaic humans inherited their yi•rᵊæꞋ-אֵשׁ from their prehistoric ancestors. They observed that every object could move, even if it required something around the object to cause it to move (perceived as the object reacting); even if objects had to instigate an earthquake (another nëphꞋësh), to achieve its effect. They perceived such events to be manifestations of objects' inner nëphꞋësh. The nëphꞋësh of leaves and tree limbs shook and whispered or moaned at the presence of an invisible rūꞋakh nëphꞋësh blowing through. Even a rock could "break itself" loose to roll down a hill, or along a river bottom. Storm nëphꞋësh and thunder nëphꞋësh proclaimed the presence of fearsome lightning nëphꞋësh.

An especially inviting "scientific (of the day) proof" to primitive peoples (archaic humans) of a living internal nëphꞋësh (i.e., apparent autonomous movement), which anybody could see with their own eyes, was fire rampaging through a forest, along a ridge, or across a plain, devouring everything in its path. All ancient peoples were in boundless yi•rᵊãhꞋ of unstoppable raging אֵשׁ nëphꞋësh that transformed everything in their path, assumed to be a Supreme RūꞋakh of Ël•ōh•imꞋSᵊrãph•imꞋ!

As related to archaic humans by their ancestors—probably around a communal אֵשׁ (-NëphꞋësh), אֵשׁ had always been, the All-Consuming NëphꞋësh, the All-Powerful Chief of Ë•ōh•imꞋ, having the power to devour everything in its path. Moreover, where אֵשׁ passed, new meadows and forest emerge. Life is renewed, reborn; resurrected—clearly (they reasoned), the exclusive realm of the אֵשׁ Ë•ōh•imꞋ (-NëphꞋësh). Ergo, they reasoned, אֵשׁ was the Ël•ōh•imꞋ of Ël•ōh•imꞋ and, like renewed growth after a burned forest, hope of a renewed afterlife!

Unthinkingly, modern, traditional, translators of Ta•na״khꞋ displaced the ancient frame of reference with their own, modern European, perspective; burying and paving-over the authentic—ancient—mindset that was framed within their primitive culture and technology; the perspective of the original authors. Instead, readers of translations today have been deprived of any connection to relate to the ancient perspective, meaning and intent. Yet, the limited understanding of these primitive cultures and perspectives pervade the Biblical era in Ta•na״khꞋ.

Early humanity was physicomorphic (the superset  of animistic)—believing that every physical thing is a container of some spirit-soul—just like we are! Thus, in ancient thinking, wind didn't merely blow tree leaves to make them move. Rather, in their thinking, the wind-spirit spoke to each leaf-spirit the same way that the wind-spirit spoke to one's face and the leaf-spirits then responded to the wind-spirits, etc. (Some ancients probably held conversations with the wind, trees, especially the subset of idol-spirits, and other "spirits".) If a rock-spirit tripped you or fell on you then you'd better figure out what you did to offend it and make amends. So fiery stones were regarded as fiery spirits capable of unleashing their fire-spirit; but only when the fire-spirit wished or a human succeeded in appeasing the fire-spirit—i.e. אֵשׁ-making. A critical concept here: idolatry is a subset of animism, which, in turn, is a subset of physicomorphism—which is what the Hebrew Ta•na״khꞋ prohibits!!! "Idolatry" is a Hellenist Greek transgarble-ization (later Anglicized) not found in the Hebrew Ta•na״khꞋ! Humanity is still held under the sway of much such "religion" (superstition); believing their particular delusions ("religious faith")—yes, even Christian and Muslim, no exceptions—in contradiction of the reality of the Omniscient. Even modern rabbis are highly assimilated and superstitious/QaꞋbãlistic, from "hamsas" to praying to ancestors as intercessors (while correctly pointing-out that Judaism doesn't permit intercession).

Physicomorphic beliefs recurred within Bᵊn•eiꞋ-Yi•sᵊrã•eilꞋ repeatedly—and were repeatedly punished. The authors of Ta•na״khꞋ repeatedly refer to the אֵשׁ-ël•ōh•imꞋ and its offspring gods of these earliest peoples; repudiated by Avᵊrã•hãmꞋ and Mōsh•ëhꞋ (i.e. Tōr•ãhꞋ) alike.

Still, these same אֵשׁ-ël•ōh•imꞋ, along with its offspring gods, periodically recurred among the backward, the uneducated and superstitious elements within Bᵊn•eiꞋ-Yi•sᵊrã•eilꞋ—as well as other peoples:

The saddest part of all, however, is that these same אֵשׁ-ël•ōh•imꞋ and offspring gods and physicomorphisms—from YëshꞋ"u to Mohammed's Pegasus and 70-virgin heaven to perverting mᵊzuz•ōt, tᵊphil•inꞋ, et al. into amulets—persist among all of the so-called "Abrahamic religions" today. Avᵊrã•hãmꞋ, Mōsh•ëhꞋ, Hi•leilꞋ ha-Za•qeinꞋ, "the Babylonian" and Riyb"y were about יְהוָׂה (English: Existant), lᵊ-ha•vᵊdilꞋ from khōl.

Archaic humans' original theorizings about our beginnings were necessarily framed in terms of what they were currently able to understand; perceptions limited to their local surroundings and what they could see with their naked eye of the universe overhead. Thus, they perceived a Higher Creator-Power like everything else, physicomorphically.

TzëdꞋëq Existant never requires from mortals beyond what they are capable. Clearly, as mortals' knowledge and capability grow over time, so, correspondingly, does what Existant requires of us. While Existant and Principles (e.g., TzëdꞋëq and Ë•mëtꞋ) never morph, הָעוֹלָם הִשְׁתַּנָּה (mundus mutatus )! Mortals who anchor their perceptions in Stone Age perspectives—loading oxcarts  & creating-אֵשׁ, etc.—are, necessarily, unable to comprehend the perplexities of mortals' interactions in today's far more literate and technologically advanced world. Clergies of all colors & stripes have fossilized as physicomorphic Bᵊn•æꞋ-KhōꞋshëkh, who repeatedly misread and pervert TzëdꞋëq and Ë•mëtꞋ of DërꞋëkh יְהוָׂה in today's, and tommorow's, world. Tragically, that describes every clergy—no exception. Which is also why the Nᵊviy•imꞋ understood: Dᵊvãr•imꞋ 30.11-14 (& 15-20); Yi•rᵊmᵊyãhꞋū 31.33 (26-36); Yō•ælꞋ 2.23-4.3 (note: male & female).

While advances in knowledge (body of knowledge, science & logic) have since enabled mortals to continuously hone their understanding of יְהוָׂה (Hebrew: Existant), humans are limited to regarding what they're currently unable to understand only in terms of what they currently can understand.  Ergo, earliest humans perceived the Highest Power (i.e. "God") in physicomorphic terms they knew: the "אֵשׁ NëphꞋësh". A cognate of אֵשׁ, mirroring the ancients' physicomorphic conflating of the Creator with the created (i.e. creatures and the physical universe), אִישׁ—the intersection of animism and divine physicomorphic deity (origin of anthropomorphism, hypernym of later Greek, i.e. Hellenist, Εἰδωλολατρία. אֵשׁ as the Supreme Ël•ōh•imꞋ Creator, millenia later trickling down to Aristotle, in post-Greek Dark Ages, BCE 4th century Classical Greece, as the Prime physical element from which the entire physical universe originally derived—alchemy!

Every object, place—especially spoken words (ench/​inc)anted  exactly like the physicomorphic Creator physicomorphically spoke them caused, they believed, things to animistically happen or physicomorphically come into existence. And, just like they were also able to cause some things, the cause of fire and everything else in their world, they extrapolated, must be a living nëphꞋësh identity within—the definition of animism—the English term describing a small slice of the much broader set of Ta•na״khꞋ prohibitions that modern societies call "idolatry". However, there is no Hebrew word origin for "idolatry"! Animism + physicomorphism better describes the far broader set of Ta•na״khꞋ prohibitions. These were narrowed in extreme to a Hellenized slice in Greek: Εἰδωλολατρία (Hellenist. Ergo, the Greek-derived "idolatry" only covers a small slice of the Ta•na״khꞋ prohibition!

This animism would persist from the dawn of civilizations—past the times of Avᵊrã•hãmꞋ, Mōsh•ëhꞋ, Dã•widꞋ ha-MëlꞋëkh, past the destruction of the Beit ha-Mi•qᵊdãshꞋ of ShᵊlōmꞋōh and into the Classical Greek (Hellenist) era—and beyond, into our day.

Thus, today's superstitious folks' animist yi•rᵊãhꞋ of any thing(s), real physical (charms, amulets, clouds, tea leaves, tarot cards, etc.) or imagined (ghosts, aliens, witches, warlocks, zombies, angels, devils, demons, giant frogs, physicomorphic Arm, Hand, Sword or Angel of God, and the like), descend from primitive animism. This includes everything from sacred sculptures, paintings and pictures to today's mystical reverence for crosses, hamsas, amulets, Ouija boards and crystal balls as well as Jewish animist superstitious perversion of mezuzas, kippas, talitot, tephilin and even holy days, rituals and incantations (disguised as carefully "correct" holy "prayers"). Sᵊrãph•imꞋ, tᵊrãph•imꞋ, amulets and lucky charms aren't merely artifacts from primitive peoples. A countless and ever-growing smorgasboard of charms and amulets are slickly marketed today by institutional religious clergies of every style and color.

With the emergence of the identifiable Greeks (as defined by their culture—Hellenism) cBCE 3000, they began to mold animist cosmology, evolving toward eventual alchemy (in the Classical Greek Era cBCE 444–443), which asserted that all matter and energy in the entire universe—visible & dark, derived from 4 basic elements—sᵊrãph•imꞋ, earth, air & water. (A fifth, ether, was later appended.) Aristotle (BCE 384–322) "refined" this early basic Hellenist-animism, perceiving sᵊrãph•imꞋ to be the origin from which the other (by then 4) animist elements derived. As the earliest ancestors had posed, then, sᵊrãph•imꞋ fire was the Holy Grail of earliest civilization: holy fire, the "Divine אֵשׁ" spark of God, from which, the Greeks animistically believed, all things derived. If you didn't understand it, you needed to have faith. After all, Aristotle said it.

Holy Fire! The Perceived Domestication Of The "Divine אֵשׁ-God"

In the same way that early nomads made friends with, and domesticated, herd animals and pets, each primitive civilization eventually achieved the breakthrough in "making friends" and "domesticating" (transporting and maintaining) an ember from a naturally-occurring fire, which they then viewed to be their own "divine אֵשׁ-god". This perception seemed to be confirmed by the functioning of the Fire-God Stone.

Still perceiving (and fearing) such embers, originally plucked from a natural fire, as fire-gods, primitive peoples built a house for them, which they envisioned to be a god-worthy home (temple). They then animistically brought a variety of their best foods (including wood, which they knew they "ate"), from which they could eat what they want. Thus, they animistically maintained, feared and did their utmost to please and coax their "holy אֵשׁ-gods" to grant their prayers.

These primitive peoples assumed that the rūꞋakh of their ël•ōh•imꞋ (i.e. their "holy אֵשׁ-gods") consumed their animist sacrifices like they consumed the firewood; thereby, they believed, returning the life (which they animistically believed was contained in its blood) of their sacrifice, to their "holy אֵשׁ-ël•ōh•imꞋ".

Today's observer cannot avoid noticing that primitive animist superstitions survive, popping-up practically everywhere in every religion; persisting nowhere moreso than in traditional religions and clergies; even, despite the best efforts of Avᵊrã•hãmꞋ and Mōsh•ëhꞋ, in Judaism—among the most traditional Orthodox rabbis!

Today's Society Wrongly Assumes Today's Values For Ancient Peoples

Afghan women carrying kindling for fire (maximsnews.com)
Afghan women lugging home kindling for אֵשׁ (maximsnews.com)

The everyday life of ancient peoples depended upon, and orbited אֵשׁ. And not just ancient peoples; in some places in the world these primitive living conditions still prevail even today. Women spent long hours walking into the wilderness, gathering tinder and kindling and lugging it back home. Men spent long hours walking into the wilderness, cutting down trees with primitive axes, removing limbs with their axes, cutting the trees into logs with their axes and lugging it home—on ox-drawn carts if they could afford both an ox and a cart. Otherwise they lugged it on their shoulders or dragged it by hand. All to feed the family fire so they could cook, keep warm, have light at night and keep predators out of their hovels.

None of that included making an אֵשׁ! If the אֵשׁ went out in the famiy hearth, making an אֵשׁ required a lot more time and physical effort—laboring over a wood (or later ceramic) fire-drill (later bow-drill) in a hearth-wood or hearth-stone; often made more difficult, by wind; and especially in the cold, rainy winter months of the Mediterranean.

If the right type of rocks could be found locally, or imported, then knocking certain rocks together could produce a spark to ignite an ember/burning coal in the tinder and, if it wasn't too rainy or windy, one might coax the burning coal into a flame, igniting the tinder and producing sufficient heat to ignite the kindling, then igniting the wood—producing a useful אֵשׁ.

Palaeolithic Fire-Making

Just as the Inuit have a catalog of terms for different kinds of snow, each stage of fire-making must have had its own particular term; in Kᴴa•tᵊ•tūꞋshan, Tzūr•imꞋ, Aramaic, Hebrew (later, to a lesser extent, Pūlossian Greek) and other ancient languages. Confused modern translators, failing to relate to their subjects' ancient methodologies, conflate all of the related terms together; every term simply conflated to modern instant, push-button fire-making. Like solving a cryptogram, the mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ inherent in Palaeolithic fire-making must be teased out of related synonyms based on all of their instances in Ta•na״khꞋ, relating them back to their appropriate stage of primitive fire-making. You will not be able to appreciate the inherent mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ, treated as self-evident in Ta•na״khꞋ, without hands-on fire-making solely using Palaeolithic materials and methods. (Most TV "wilderness survivalist" personalities and "influencers" cheat, using modern non-flint "flints" and more easily ignited tinder. A particular exception is trained-biologist, native American Hazen Audel; best known for his National Geographic TV series "Survive the Tribe" and "Primal Survivor".)

Especially because early scribes also used Hebrew fire-making synonyms metaphorically, it's key to grasp the distinguishing intricacies of these words. While these word roots still need additional "tuning", they generally refer to the following stages of אֵשׁ as understood by our forefathers and their contemporaries from the Palæolithic and Bronze Ages:

Maintaining a fire was comparatively easy—and vital. But every part of the preparation and making of a fire was physically exhausting work—the routine mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ of everyday life.

Before matches, lighters, gunpowder—even before civilization ever smelted steel or iron, fire-making typically required the tedious preparatory mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ of scouting for suitable tinder,  gathering kindling, and then lugging it all home. Once home, the tinder, kindling and wood had to be properly constructed (also mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ).

Finally, the fire-maker had to rub two sticks together, sometimes for hours, until the friction finally produced an ember he could, if skillful enough, nurse into an אֵשׁ — massive mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ — and even that only worked in dry weather or when well protected from rain and wet.

The Difference From Modern Civilization Is—Striking

striking a match
Striking a match

The technology of matches is newer than the New York Stock Exchange and American baseball! The first match was created in 1805 by Jean Chancel in Paris; but not introduced to the public until an English chemist began producing them in 1826. Movies of events up through the mid-19th century CE often show campfires and stove fires, but when did you ever see the hero—especially in the wilderness—kneeling to set out tinder on a dry tray, arrange a tinder bundle and then knock a flint against iron ("firesteel") in order to eat, light a torch at night, keep warm, light a fire in a fireplace, or even have a cup of coffee? For the first 200+ Thanksgivings after the first (1621), celebrants didn't start a fire nor smoke a peace-pipe without first knocking a flint rock against a firesteel to make a campfire! Even the flint & steel used to produce a spark in a flintlock (which, without a musket-ball in the barrel, could also be used to start a fire) wasn't widely available before 1630.

If the crews of the first steamboat up the Mississippi, or the first steamer to cross the Atlantic, had allowed their steam engine fire to go out, they would have been dead in the water until they could make a fire by knocking a piece of flint against a firesteel (percussive sparks, fire-making) to get running again. And if you used-up or lost either the flint or the steel then percussive fire-making was gone, resulting in complete reliance on friction fire-making with a fire-drill or fire-plow; enormously more arduous, time-consuming and unreliable. In significant windy or wet conditions, making fire by friction sometimes didn't work at all.

If the engineer of the first chartered railway in the U.S. allowed the steam engine fire to go out at night, he would have had to knock flint against a firesteel to make a new fire the next morning to get running again. If your town came under attack in the War of 1812 and no one had a fire going, your cannons couldn't fire back without at least one specific rock (flint) and depending on a bit of luck (no rain, light wind) getting a fire started, to light the cannon off, before the enemy overwhelmed the town. Fire was #1 on everybody's priority list. Without flint & steel fire-making (or transferring fire) you didn't cook dinner. Without flint & steel fire-making (or transferring fire) in winter you froze to death or died of thirst unable to thaw snow to drink.

From the first controlled fires in A•dãm•ãhꞋ cBCE ¾ million years, the ability to make fire, the hearth, became the center of human existence. If Beethoven's candle went out and there was no fire nearby, he couldn't continue writing the Fifth Symphony until he knocked some flint against a firesteel to start a fire. "Keep the home fires (plural) burning" had a whole 'nuther connotation.

Yet, has any movie ever shown the poor freezing and starving private who had to knock a flint against a firesteel (likely by firing a flintlock with no musket-ball—unless noise would have given away their position to the enemy) to get the first campfire going at Valley Forge? And, unless they carried live coals with them in their boat like ancient Israel and ancient armies like the Roman Legions, knock steel against flint again after the freezing night-crossing to the far side of the Delaware River? I mean to emphasize that easy fire-making is recent, really recent; the last veritable Planck-second in the megaannia of human existence. My own paternal grandfather's grandfather, Alexander R. Van Nest, was born (1816) in New York City, during the term of the 4th American President, James Madison (1809-17)—before matches were invented!

It should therefore come as no surprise that strict Orthodox rabbis, whose orientation and perspective are limited to the Egyptian-era technology of Ta•lᵊmūdꞋ—pre-machine house and work chores, hauling stone on oxcarts, especially cutting wood & making fires, remain mired in animism and physicomorphism that pre-determines their often-daffy generalizations concerning every modern human activity and situation. Strict Orthodox rabbis are typically either unaware of, or conveniently avoid, any acknowledgment that electricity differs from אֵשׁ—which they, accordingly, associate with physicomorphic divine creation! By contrast, it is the mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ involved in fire-making that is prohibited on Sha•bãtꞋ, not mortals' imaginary QaꞋbãlistic physicomorphic "divine creating". As Riyby declared, Sha•bãtꞋ is for the benefit of mortals, not the reverse.

1.7 Ma  to Terminus Ad Quem ¾ Ma—Early Palaeolithic Age: 

Civilization In A•dãm•ãhꞋ Already Working Flint  & Cooking With Controlled אֵשׁ

BCE 780,000—Cooking, especially fish (what made us human), are two important indicators suggesting these were Homo sapiens. The earliest signs discovered to date of cooking by prehistoric humans was 780,000 years ago, when wooly-mammoths and saber-toothed tigers roamed the earth around them. This predated previous evidence by some 600,000 years. A close analysis of the remains of a carp-like fish found at the GëshꞋër Bᵊnōt Ya•a•qōvꞋ (near Lake Hula, ≈12km {7½ mi.} north of Yãm Ki•nërꞋët) archaeological site in ha-A•dãm•ãhꞋ shows that the fish were cooked approximately 780,000 years ago by Homo erectus hunter-gatherers] 

ConundrumYet, H. sapiens didn't emerge "out of Africa" until nearly half a million years later!

Archaeological scientists (degreed in a hard science) taking the stage today must be distinguished from the art-adventurer "archaeologists" of yesteryear. Increasingly, the latter's flawed logic, generalizations and unwarranted leaps to conclusions gave way to a fatal penchant for heralding a lone ancient discovery (sample of 1) as representative of an entire region at a certain time; letting their imagination generalize limitlessly—still today—from their faulty generalization.

New discoveries and genuine scientific analyses are shredding many earlier foolish heraldings, in some of the most prestigious universities of the world, of previous generations of faux-scientific art adventurers parading as archaeologists.

The earliest discovery of archaic human Homo is a lone specimen, 2.8 million years old, in Ethiopia—roughly halfway between the Eastern Mediterranean shores and southern Africa where, based on rare finds, almost a million years later, H. sapiens is claimed to have migrated "out of Africa". So, did H. sapiens migrate south from Ethiopia to southern Africa??? If the migration was southward, from where did "Ethiopian civilization" migrate? The eastern shores of the Mediterranean Basin—A•dãm•ãhꞋ?

A lone specimen in Ethiopia or South Africa only establishes the terminus ad quem that archaic humans or H. sapiens existed at that particular time. It isn't a logical basis to assume archaic humans didn't exist elsewhere—like the East Coast of the Mediterranean Basin: A•dãm•ãhꞋ, where scientists have just today published findings of the "earliest signs of cooking by prehistoric human to 780,000 years ago, predating the available data by some 600,000 years… A close analysis of the remains of a carp-like fish found at the Gesher Benot Ya’aqov (GBY [Lake Hula, ≈12km {7½ mi.} N of Yam Kineret]) archaeological site in Israel shows that the fish were cooked roughly 780,000 years ago." [by Acheulian {Homo erectus} hunter-gatherers] (https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/971207)—supposedly like the "hunter-gatherers" who built pyramids and Göbekli Tepe in Turkey! Applying the reasoning of the art adventurers of yesteryear: in wilderness areas today around the world we can find survivalists who prefer wilderness life—hunter-gatherers! Therefore, their reasoning concludes that we're still in the "hunter-gatherer age" today. Roll eyes

cBCE 50,000 Neandertals Make Fire

Perhaps an early hominid was using a flint "pencil" to draw on a limestone (sedimentary calcium carbonate) walls, infused with fine-grained, isometric crystal flecks of pyrite—and noticed a spark. As he continued drawing, he produced more sparks, at will. It wouldn't have been a great leap from that to find a loose piece of the limestone and repeat the process for family and friends. It's then not a great leap to some brush catching fire and, eureka, fire-making.

In 2018, Sorenson, et al. "inferred from microwear analysis… that the occasional use of bifaces as ‘strike-a-lights’ was a technocultural feature shared among the late Neandertals" 

Even further, "Manganese dioxide (MnO2)—a black mineral that when powdered and added to woody material lowers its combustion temperature by around 100 °C—was collected by late Neandertals and may have been used as a tinder-enhancer for fire making." 

Physics Of Fire-Making

Researchers suggest that, despite the wood-friction method of fire-making having been far more widespread in the Palaeolithic world, the percussive (flint-pyrite) technique was the earliest method. The two most frequently found rocks discovered next to ancient skeletons are flint  and iron pyrite. When struck together they produce a spark, which if coaxed properly, can kick-start a fire.

The earliest low-grade, harder-than-iron steel "artifacts" were probably "waste" nodules of blister steel, formed unintentionally, as a byproduct of forging iron. While I haven't found, so far, any description in the literature of precisely where these earliest steel "artifacts" (perhaps contrasted with tools, weapons or other useful objects) were discovered in situ, it seems likely that they were, at first, found to be too brittle to use for anything useful and simply discarded in the waste ashes of iron forges.

However, it probably wasn't long before a blacksmith, cleaning up his forge, noticed that waste nodules being thrown out may have struck against something iron, scratching it. Even the earliest blacksmiths would have instantly understood that meant that their "waste" nodules were, like pyrite, harder than iron; and would have soon figured-out that they created a spark when striking iron—the first ever all mortal-made אֵשׁ-god—the new world of the firesteel! Or children may have found and played with cooled nodules of blister steel they found among leftover charcoal ashes, thrown out by a blacksmith from an iron forge, and noticed that they could scratch a sun or stick-figure into something made of iron—and, when scraped hard, they produced sparks (perhaps even sparking an accidental fire). In any event, it couldn't have taken very long after the first blacksmiths, producing iron in forges, noticed that, a. these waste nodules, scratching iron, were harder than iron—which, until then, was the hardest known metal. And, b. scraping these waste nodules against an iron object produced a spark—like flint on pyrite!!! In whatever case, for the first time in the history of the planet, man made the אֵשׁ-god entirely from mortal-produced materials!

And, just like that, overnight, the firesteel was born; and the very heart of every civilizations' daily worklife changed overnight; from exclusive focus on pyrite mining and distribution to sharing competition with acquiring "waste" nodule firesteels from iron forges. A national economy like the Kit•imꞋ, who were heavily invested in mining and shipping pyrite, suffered, perhaps seriously weakened; inexorably becoming ever increasingly vulnerable.

However, the earliest artifacts of steel occurred only as waste nodules discovered among charcoal ashes discarded from iron forges. Incidental waste by-product and low quality, brittle steel, while revolutionizing civilization's fire-making technology, remains a far cry from a useful steel tool or weapon. The earliest extant high-grade steel weapon appears to be the Israeli-made Vered-Yᵊrikh•ōꞋ sword, from the BCE 7th century—more than a millennia later.

Probably within a century of the introduction of iron forging, well before the Bronze Age Collapse and Greek Dark Age (cBCE 1545–900) and the times of Shi•mᵊsh•ōnꞋ, (cBCE 1200), the kingdom of Dã•widꞋ and Eil•i•yãhꞋū, ha-Nã•viꞋ (cBCE 957). Very likely, larger steel nodules were soon discovered, probably by accident or play in less than a century (i.e. cBCE 1000), to both scratch iron (i.e. revealing that it's harder than iron) and produce sparks when struck, or scraped hard, by the sharp edge of flint, chert or similar rock. —and Eureka! The firesteel was discovered!

Percussion Ignition

There are two primary components of percussive fire-making: the presence of carbon particles (molecules?) and relative hardness of the two materials. Chemically, pyrite is FeS2 (iron disulfide, Moh's hardness scale 6–6.5), which is not as hard as flint, which is a form of quartz and a Moh's 7.

Just Strike 2 Rocks Together & Poof?—אֵשׁ

Flint & pyrite fire-making Oxford vid
Ancient percussive flint & pyrite fire-making ; labels © 2022 by Paqid Yirmᵊyahu Ben-David

"In percussion [ignition] fire making, hard, sharp flint shatters the pyrite surface into microscopic particles, breaking its covalent bonds and releasing heat. Now exposed to atmospheric oxygen, these already hot [iron] pyrite particles [immediately] oxidize and release even more heat. Because this heat is released too quickly to dissipate, it forms a shower of visible sparks." 

The Fire-God Stone: First Percussive Ignition

Click to enlargeIron pyrite nodule—God stone, believed by ancients to be supernatural flakes of Gods' Flesh; now "Fool's Gold"

"The first mineral-sparking material was the Fire-God Stone (iron pyrite, FeS2, iron disulfide). The striking materi­al was flint, a form of microcrystalline quartz. Harder than pyrite, flint could be easily shaped into a striking edge. When flint strikes pyrite, part of the pyrite surface shatters and emits a shower of sparks, which can ignite dry tinder…

Mass Preference For The Firesteel

The firesteel was surely an immediate sensation. Producing a spark from scraping flint on pyrite depended on the amount of pyrite fineness of pyrite grains. News of the discovery would have spread quickly, at least among the people who discovered it.

≈BCE 7,000—Civilization's Earliest Matches?

fired-clay (stoneware) fire-drill cylinders BAS 20170903
Click to enlargeFirst half of 6th millennium BCE stone/​stoneware  friction-styli for fire-plow hearthstones. Cone 6 (≈1222°C/2232°F fired) stoneware can reach Moh hardness of 7-8. (Bow marks more likely from ancient lathing used to turn-out the finished points; not from אֵשׁ-making use, which would have blunted points round rather than pointed). (BAS 2017.09.03)

Israel Antiquities Authority photo limestone hearthstone (2 depressions) Ramat Biet Shemesh "The ancient people who lived here during the Pre-pottery Neolithic B period (the New Stone Age) prepared a thick limestone slab with two depressions in it and grooves between them that connected the hollows… according to researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, such slabs were used for starting fire: this device made it possible to rapidly rotate a wooden branch in the hollow (similar to a drill). The rotational energy was translated into heat, and when it came in contact with a flammable material placed inside the hollow, it began to burn and the fire was lit." 

Matches ancient ceramic fire-making experiment vid: Owen Budd
Matches? Ancient ceramic fire-making experiment vid: Owen Budd

"Cylindrical objects made usually of fired clay but sometimes of stone were found at the Yarmukian Pottery Neolithic sites of Sha‘ar HaGolan and Munhata (first half of the 8th millennium BP) in the Jordan Valley… We suggest that these objects were components of fire drills and consider them the earliest evidence of a complex technology of fire ignition, which incorporates the cylindrical objects in the role of matches… Dark coloration: Excessive heat has resulted in black staining… and occurs only on the conical tips of artifacts. This coloration was apparently produced unintentionally and after the clay cylinders had been fired… the Egyptian hieroglyph for fire, … portrays a fire drill of bow drill type… Fire drills must have been a very common artifact type in antiquity to become an illustrative reference to fire." 

Limestone fire-hearth cBCE 7,000 (Ramat Beit Shemesh 2017
Click to enlargeLimestone fire-hearth cBCE 7,000 (Ramat Beit Shemesh 2017, photo: Assaf Perez, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority) 

Only recently recognized as a widespread ancient method of making an אֵשׁ in Israel, the stone tools, some dating from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB; ca. 10,500–8,400 calBP) haven’t been properly understood, nor their terminology properly sorted out. Since a stone cannot be a fire-board, and a boulder cannot be held in the hand as a hand-stone, I’m introducing more accurate terminology. For uniformity, I’m substituting the term “hearth-stone” as the stone corollary of a hearth-board and a cylindrical “friction-stylus” as the stone corollary of the fire-drill, or fire-plow, friction-stick. To make an אֵשׁ using rocks then, the most practical means was to use a bow-drill to rotate a friction-stylus in a drill-socket of a grooved “hearth-stone”. Until very recently, fired-clay friction-styli for stone fire-drills were simply interpreted to be phallus figures for ritual worship. However, Goren-Inbar et al. point out, these two associations are complementary.

Countless "Mysterious" Grooved Rocks Throughout Israel & The World

Grooved stone from Gotland. Fire plow trench-marks?
Click to enlargeGrooved rock on Gotland Island, Sweden, similar to "numer­ous" unexplained stones in Israel. Note apparent scorching near the bottom of the grooves where sparks would collect and tinder placed. Is it a hard (Mohs 6-7, spark-producing) rock? Perhaps a stylus grinding rock? Or merely soft (Mohs 3-4, no sparks) widely prevalent limestone, perhaps grain grinder?

No one yet has realized what the “mysterious” stones with all the grooves were used for. Interest to date primarily by astrologists, producing no useful information.

Possible Use:

  1. This appears to be limestone. (It could be granite-igneous but I could find no geological nor scientific research (only astrological nonsense). Given a stone (or stoneware) stylus fire-plow of similar (but not identical) hardness, the apparent scorching of what may be a hearthstone may indicate that it was used to make fire. In such case, dragging a fire-plow down toward the focal point could produce sparks, which then travel downward onto kindling at focal point.

  2. Grooves In Limestone: Production of friction-styli and pestles perhaps for making a fire, grinding grains, etc. Flint on limestone fine-grained marcasite (Moh's 6–6.5, similar to pyrite) also produces a spark.

Over time, fire-makers may have discovered that a pointed flint, fine-grained pyrite  or marcasite, natural ironstone or fired-clay cylinder made the most effective friction-styli and produce good sparks when used on a softer grooved rock, hearthstone-trench—which simultaneously protects the spark from the elements and focuses the accumulating sparks, directing them sparks to the tinder.

The limestone hearth-stone for a stone fire-drill featured the socket (in which the friction-stylus rotated), a groove (presumably to tease the spark down the gutter under the tinder placed in the firepan depression. 

pestle or friction stylus
Click to enlargeSmall-scale grain grinder? Producing pestles or friction-styli? (Stone axe-heads & swords ruled-out) in situ grinding-stone (Lau, Gotland Island, Baltic Sea)

Archeologists have found countless similarly grooved rocks in Israel that they haven't been able to explain, simply ascribing them to some unknown cult ritual or enigmatic astrology. I haven't been able to obtain the geological types (flint-rich limestone fire-trench hearthstone for pyrite striker-styli?) and hardness indices of any of these stones individually—not surprising this information isn't recorded given the many failures of "Old School" (humanities-trained, arts-degreed) archeologists. They're still absorbed in finding astrological meanings, evidence of magic rituals, heavenly alignments and an endless myriad of fools' errands. Firemaking issues relative to these stones and this stylus fire-plow & fire-trench stone method need to be demonstrated and proven by experiment, or failure and correction.

Gotland Island, Sweden — "More than 3600 … [grooved stones] are known [in Gotland], of which about 700 occur in the solid limestone outcrop and the rest are divided among about 800 blocks. The latter often consist of hard rock such as granite or gneiss, but also limestone and sandstone occur."

Toward the bottom, where sparks (if produced), friction-heated in the grooves by a friction-stylus, would have fallen onto the kindling, many of the grooves and side are dark stained—perhaps heat-scorched?

Friction (Wood-On-Wood)

Ancient Fire-Making (Friction) Fire-Plow (left), Fire-Drill (right)

Early civilization in Egypt (or before) certainly noticed how, when vigorously drilling holes in wood with their bow drills, the board being drilled would heat up, char around the hole being drilled, and smoke. When a worker first noticed an ember drop into some natural tinder and cause a fire, the art of duplicating such an אֵשׁ was likely figured-out.

Somewhere along the line, life-and-death desperate for an אֵשׁ but lacking a bow, someone with no other alternative may have tried to adapt the idea by rubbing a stick furiously back and forth along a hearth-board, forming a groove. After hours of furious mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ, Voila! Hearth-boards and fire-plows.

cBCE 3300–1200: Bronze Age In Kᵊna•anꞋ

Whether Striking Stones Together Or Rubbing Sticks, Making אֵשׁ Was Mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ

The Ta•na״khꞋ precept was demonstratively directed at prohibiting the mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ involved in the ancient method of walking out on the chore of hunting, cutting and collecting kindling, and firewood, lugging it back home, cutting the firewood, then manually kindling an אֵשׁ. The man in bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbarꞋ 15.32ff who was executed, was executed for gathering and preparing kindlingmᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ, not for "lighting an אֵשׁ"! He never even got as far as lighting his אֵשׁ!

≈BCE 3300—𝄞♫ Ötzi The Snowman ♭♪

Ötzi in chronological diffusion of agriculture
Click to enlargeÖtzi in the chronological-geographical diffusion of agriculture (map: Eupedia.com)

Otzi (iceman it)
2016 Reconstruction. 14C dating, and his copper axe, showed that Ötzi was from the dawn of the Bronze Age: "older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge". Genetics showed that his ancestry was Kit•imꞋ (West Turkey; photo: iceman.it; data: iceman.it/en/database)

Corroborating his genetic Late-Neolithic Kit•imꞋ-Ta•rᵊshishꞋ ancestry, his snow-covered, glacier-mummy was discovered ≈180 km (112 mi) NW of the Adriatic Sea—an extension of the Mediterranean Sea. The location of his demise seems to push back the opening of Ta•rᵊshishꞋ-Kit•imꞋ Mediterranean maritime ("Sea Peoples") trade routes through the Adriatic Sea into the Late Chalcolithic Age—a contemporary, by the way, of the exact day, 3760.06.14, that Orthodox rabbis insist the world was—Poof!—created! By the rabbis' reckoning, this must be ÕdãmꞋRoll eyes

Days before his death, Ötzi was gashed by a knife between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand in some altercation. He fled into the mountains where he was caught and killed by an arrow in the back (left shoulder). When he bled-out from the arrow wound, Ötzi was carrying 2 Birch-bark fanny-packs, which were extremely light and robust. 

One of his fanny packs contained, inter alia, freshly picked leaves of Norway maple (Acer platanoides), a known curative. The museum reports, "It is assumed" that Ötzi wrapped unreported "charcoal embers" (probably his charred Fomitopsis betulina tinder) in the fresh leaves and carried them in the birch-bark fanny pack. "In this way," the researchers lamely claim, "the embers could be kept for several hours and fanned into fire in a few seconds." Yet, Ötzi had clearly been on the run, up in glacial mountains, for several days, not mere hours! They'll have to demonstrate how minuscule embers could be kept alive wrapped in fresh maple leaves in glacial mountains for several days. Wrapping embers to carry is a convenience Ötzi certainly had no time for while running for his life. If embers went cold, the means to make a fire determined survival!

birch polypore Fomitopsis betulina (jackravenbushcraft co uk)
Birch polypore (Fomitopsis betulina) photo: jackravenbushcraft.co.uk

Ötzi carried in a fanny-pack fragments of Birch polypore (F. betulina), which can multi-serve either dried as a curative  or 1st-aid bandage, or, after charring, as tinder in a fire-making kit. 

Since the interior (of at least one) of Ötzi's fanny packs was "blackened" through a wrapping of fresh Norway maple leaves, it is more likely that Ötzi had deliberately charred part of his F. betulina for use as tinder in his fire-making kit. But charred tinder couldn't be uncharred to restore it if needed as a curative or bandage. So most of his supply F. betulina would have been kept dried for use as a curative or bandage—always charring only the next bit from a current fire as tinder to make the next fire while preserving as much curative and bandage source as he could.

Norway maple leaves could have been carried for a different reason: "Maple leaves also contain tannins and saponins, which can help reduce gastrointestinal infections" 

Ötzi's flint knife
Ötzi's broken-tip flint knife. Ötzi had been shot in the back (left shoulder) with an arrow and his right hand badly gashed between the thumb and forefinger, He may well have broken-off the tip of his knife.

It's curious why Ötzi researchers downplayed the presence of gold pyrite ([lit. " firestone", i.e. chrysolite], modern "Fool's Gold")—believed by primitive peoples to be God-stone, flesh of the gods. The two stones of survival in primitive peoples were flint (his knife) & pyrite—because raking the flint down a pyrite stone produces a spark capable of igniting charred F. betulina (probably the charred particles found in his fanny-pack) and be coaxed into a fire—and "Remnants of pyrite were found on Ötzi's tinder polypore, but no pyrite bulb was found on him…  [and] there was no pyrite nodule or characteristic impact marks on his flint tools…  [M]aybe the pyrite nodule simply did not survive, because pyrite quickly breaks down into contact with moisture and oxygen." (So how did the smaller particles survive on Ötzi's tinder polypore???

Ötzi's serrated-knife sharpener
Ötzi's (naturally-serrated flint knife) sharpener

The most conspicuous, and only mentioned that I noticed, flint that Ötzi carried was his knife. The researchers noted that the mysterious item they identify (probably correctly) as a "retoucheur" (French for, and pronounced identical to English "retoucher"); i.e. a serrated-knife sharpener made from a fire-hardened antler tip embedded in a stick.

Modern serrated-knife sharpener (diamond)
Modern tapered, diamond-coated, rod-sharpen­er for serrated-knives

The items listed by researchers in the fanny-pack notably avoids pyrite; discovered only in the notes. No pyrite gold Godstone/God-stone was found on his body. Contrary to all good sense, researchers concluded from what valueless items they did find, that he wasn't robbed after being killed. They didn't think that contrivance odd among primitive peoples struggling to survive at least several nights in glacial mountains? All of the items left on his body were non-vital to their survival, Indeed, being weighed-down in snow by non-vital items, and slowing hunting for food, were contrary to maximizing survival. M,oreover, every item left on his body was readily available and cheap back home—down the mountains. Everybody chasing him had plenty of the essentials for survival, and all the resupplies they wanted were readily available back home down the mountains—except the gold Godstone/God-stone, which was super-precious everywhere! What we regard as Fool's Gold was the difference between life and death in those mountains; more valuable than anything else, even food. Assuming pyrite wasn't taken is real Fool's Gold; particularly since researchers report pyrite residue in Ötzi's charred tinder! Everyone (except the researchers) knows that every ancient man carried his own personal fire-making kit, particularly up in glacial mountains, or they didn't survive even one night!

Magnifying Mirrors Or Lenses

While magnifying mirrors and lenses also date back to generally this period, these a. depended on a bright day (no inclement weather nor night firemaking) and b. probably lacked adequate focus quality to start a fire reliably.

Transporting אֵשׁ

Fire-box מַחְתָּה (makhtah) Arch of Titus Rome
Ma•khᵊt•ãhꞋ, still carrying אֵשׁ‎ — 17 centuries later (Arch of Titus, Rome)

Early fire was certainly gleaned from lightning strikes, brush fires and the like. Almost certainly, fire was first controlled by learning to transport it as a torch; later in a fire-box, which continued to be more convenient even after the strenuous art of fire-making was discovered.

אֵשׁ was so central to ancient life, and so difficult to make, that great efforts and attention were devoted to maintaining an אֵשׁ, even carrying live embers along with them on journeys. They made bronze fireboxes to carry the live embers around — trailing a column/​cloud/​pillar of smoke — so that אֵשׁ could be revived and transferred rather than made from (literally) scratch.

Even then, however, to maintain an אֵשׁ at home required regularly going out to gather firewood, then lugging it home to feed the אֵשׁ and keep it going —mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ that was forbidden on Sha•bãtꞋ.

The BIGGER (!) Question Central To Ancient Everyday Life

Conflict and war happened frequently. So formidable weapons were critical. But life was everyday. Cooking to eat, a fire to stay warm and stave-off predators and light oil-lamps to see at night were every day needs. If the presence of a new material, steel, were found to be an alchemist's, MORTAL-makable, synthetic new shortcut in fire-making, that would, practically overnight, reduce pyrite from invaluable supernatural flakes of Fire-God Stone (i.e. firestone) to worthless "Fool's Gold"! To ancient peoples, shifting wealth from a pyrite-based national economy to some enemy country's steel-producing economy would be a FAR more critical event—an economic, empire game-changer! This transpired half a millennium before the first steel sword was ever forged—plus another half a millennium before the cataclysmic Thæra eruption and Mediterranean Basin descended into its LBAC  "Dark Age". Since the firesteel preceded the eruption, these ancient peoples may even have interpreted the eruption as god's vengeance for mortals having arrogated their "divine flesh" (pyrite) for making divine (holy) fire?

Jaw-Dropping Breakthrough In Fire-Making Technology

c BCE 2000–1800: The Firesteel 

Jaw drop

The physics of flint-[fire]steel percussion is identical to the physics of flint-pyrite percussive ignition. When struck with the harder flint, the iron bonds of a low-grade steel separate, fragmenting iron molecules in low-grade, comparatively soft, wrought-iron, steel—releasing heat and light in the form of sparks. These tiny particles of hot [iron] then contact atmospheric oxygen and undergo complete, immediate oxidation, releasing additional heat in the form of visible sparks. 

"Iron sulfide deposits are a flammable hazard… Pyrophoric Iron (FeS) is a form of iron sulfide that combusts on exposure to oxygen; in this case with air… The oxidation of the sulfide anion by the oxygen in the air releases a tremendous amount of heat. The amount of heat can be enough to make the iron deposits glow red. While the iron itself cannot catch fire, if there is a fuel source present (e.g., residual oils, hydrocarbon gases), the heat created is adequate to ignite the fuel source…" 

Iron is pyrophoric. Chemical "Reaction of iron with air: Iron reacts with oxygen, O2, forming Fe(II) and Fe(III) oxides. The oxide layers do not passivate the surface. Finely divided iron, e.g. powder or iron wool, can burn:
4 Fe(s) + 3 O2(g) → 2 Fe2O3(s)
3 Fe(s) + 2 O2(g) → Fe3O4(s)

Even further, "Manganese dioxide (MnO2)—a black mineral that when powdered and added to woody material lowers its combustion temperature by around 100 °C—was collected by late Neandertals and may have been used as a tinder-enhancer for fire making." 

"Steels are an alloy of iron , that is, a combination of iron and carbon . The maximum carbon content that steel can have is 2%. They are classified according to their carbon content: Low carbon steel . Contains less than 0.25%. It is ductile and offers high mechanical resistance. Medium carbon steel . It contains between 0.25% and 0.6%. It is less ductile but more resistant, so it is used in mechanical parts that must resist wear. High carbon steel . It contains between 0.6% and 1.4%. It is a very hard material that is used in tools." 

Flint  Fe (Ferrous: Iron Pyrite, Firesteel, Ferrocerium)

"Under aerobic, moderate pH conditions ferrous iron is oxidized spontaneously to the ferric (Fe3+) form…" 

Iron is reactive (poryphoric). Essentially, percussive ignition today is still achieved by knocking (scraping) Fe-ions loose from firesteel.

High-Grade Hardened Firesteel Replaces Flint, Scraping Fe-Ions From Low-Grade (Historical) Firesteel Fe-Ion Donor

So, in our modern vernacular, the term "firesteel" has swapped functions. Today, the "firesteel" blades of popular outdoors knives, despite being made of Fe steel, are called the flint (instead of the firesteel). The knife blades achieve this because their high-grade steel is harder than the historical firesteel; hard enough to scrape fellow Fe-ions off of a not-as-hard historical Fe firesteel. Less logical but more relevant and confusing: whereas people learned that the striker was the flint against the target firesteel, today the striker (hence wrongly assumed flint) is the firesteel knife spline. Now-a-days, fire-starter kits have replaced the historical target firesteel Fe-Ion donor with a "soft-iron" (Fe-alloy Ferrocerium) rod. In short, today, the spline (back edge) of a hardened firesteel knife-blade is used to scrape Fe-Ions off of a softened firesteel, producing sparks. Look ma, neither flint nor Fire-God Stone; just 2 firesteels (of different hardness), splitting atoms!

National Pyrite Mining & Shipping Economies Left Holding Worthless "Fool's Gold"

Economies bolstered by pyrite mining and its maritime shipping—both seem to have been pillar resources of the Kit•imꞋ economy—would have suffered immediate and significant loss of national income; possibly collapsing the economy and leading to changes in world powers. This might hint at the time of the discovery of the firesteel. "Leftovers" in the ashes of iron forges may have become the hottest, and most valuable, commodity.

Even With Fire-God Stone, Making אֵשׁ Is Mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ

Even if the mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ of friction אֵשׁ-making —working like a docile and compliant ox  on a fire-plow, fire-drill, bow-drill—were eased by improved technology (i.e. percussive אֵשׁ-making: knocking rocks together), the gathering of בְּעֵרָה for בְּעִירָה an æsh was no small mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ.

Even with mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ eliminated from fire-starting, the mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋchore—required in אֵשׁ-making, i.e. hunting & gathering tinder, kindling and wood or coal fuel, remained an integral necessity in אֵשׁ-making until the advent of oil heating in 1930s CE in the U.S. In fact, it was these supplementary chores for which a man who hadn't even lit his אֵשׁ, yet he was executed—for working (like a docile and compliant ox on a fire-plow, fire-drill, bow-drill, or knocking flint on pyrite, until, the ancients physicomorphically believed, the animist fire-spirit in the physicomorphic fire-making components (Fire-God Stone, tinder-spirits and nᵊshãm•ãhꞋ-spirit) conjoin to ignite the kindling (bᵊMi•dᵊbarꞋ 15.32-36).

c BCE : Thæra & The Yᵊtzi•ãhꞋ

Israel's trek into Kᵊna•anꞋ 40 years after c BCE , was during the latter part of the Bronze Age in the Levant; 3½ centuries before the Iron Age time of Shi•mᵊsh•ōnꞋ (c BCE 1200 in the Levant).

Steel Suitable Only For Fire-Making, Not Producing Weapons Or Tools

“The development of steel can be traced back 4000 years to the beginning of the Iron Age… For the following few thousand years, the quality of iron produced would depend as much on the ore available as on the production methods…

The Era of Iron

“At very high temperatures, iron begins to absorb carbon, which lowers the melting point of the metal, resulting in cast iron (2.5 to 4.5% carbon)…cc

“Pig iron is molten iron run out of the blast furnaces and cooled in the main channel and adjoining molds. The large, central and adjoining smaller ingots resembled a sow and suckling piglets.

“Cast iron is strong but suffers from brittleness due to its [high] carbon content, making it less than ideal for working and shaping.” 

We can be certain that firesteels were an overnight sensation—displacing God Stone (and all of the miners, caravan-merchants, caravansaries and maritime shipping powers that had perhaps previously relied heavily on pyrite mining; this may have changed, or contributed heavily to changing, the maritime Alpha-Power). But production of non-brittle steel  that was useful for making weapons and tools, and in sufficient quantities, remained a post-alchemy, science-based millennia in the future, until 1856 CE;  It wasn't until late into the Industrial Revolution, and the beginning of our own 20th century, before civilization finally figured out how to make fires hot enough, combined with chemical processes, to mass produce useful (non-brittle) steel—to produce steel weapons and tools.

The Firesteel!!!
Even With The Firesteel, Making אֵשׁ Remained Mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ

In the ancient Mediterranean Basin and for its surrounding ancient peoples, however, poor quality steel "waste" nodules leftover in the ashes of iron forges limited the use of steel to firesteels—nevertheless, revolutionizing fire-making technology.

The firesteel may have reshaped Mediterranean Basin civilizations, peoples and; at approximately at the time that the Mediterranean Basin dropped into its "Dark Age". The big question here is: could pieces of scrap steel, salvaged from a forge, have been large enough and hard enough that, when struck by a flint, would have produced a suitable spark? When the firesteel emerged seems to hang on the answer to this question.

While the firesteel didn't reach Egypt until after the Yi•sᵊr•ã•eil•imꞋ had already left, after hundreds of thousands of years making fires from rubbing sticks together or knocking flint against "Fool's Gold" (pyrite, chrysolite), now everyone could buy a firesteel and knocking flint against a firesteel would remain the latest fire technology for the next 3 millennia. For the first time ever, available to everyone, quick 'n easy—no mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ—fire is a comparatively very recent development in the history of civilizations.

Before the advent of the firesteel, an entire ancient economy—and its empire and people—may have collapsed because the Ta•rᵊshishꞋ "God-Stone" (fire-stone, aka chysolite, aka pyrite, Fool's Gold) mines-monopoly they operated and traded on the fleet of seafaring ships of their own design, that the natural pyrite vein enabled them to build, with far-superior cedar timber that they the mines enabled them to purchase from the Kᵊna•an•imꞋ, probably bringing untold wealth into their coffers and perhaps the centerpiece of their entire national economy, became useless as safety-restraint airbags on a camel; literally, practically overnight-worthless Fool's Gold. Today, however, an astronaut on a launchpad could sing "Baby Light My Fire" and a literal toddler baby could push the button to light the fire launching a rocket to Mars!

Reliance On Firesteel Mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ Æsh-Making Technology Persisted Into The 19th Century CE!!!

Even into modern times, Daniel Boone didn't live long enough to see a friction match, which changed the way the modern world created fire. The friction match was invented as recent as the year Thomas Jefferson died, when my paternal grandfather's grandfather (Alexander R. Van Nest, 1816-1894) was 10 years old. Before that—rockin' on steel was about Balls of Fire—but had nothing to do with music, dance or guitars.

Wild Bill Hickok didn't live long enough to see the first combustion-engine car. As late as the lifetime of your grandfather's grandfather, at the beginning of the 20th century, only 2 years before my Mom was born, people didn't drive around in cars, nor shop in super markets, nor make telephone calls, nor see TV (much less a cellphone or the internet), nor flip a switch on a light or microwave to cook or get warm. Cooking with a gas range didn't happen until the 1830s CE—and that was only for the rich. Buffalo Bill didn't live long enough to cook on an electric range, which didn't become generally available until my Mom's lifetime—the 1920s. And electricity wasn’t available to most American cities (much less the rest of the world), until my Mom was a young girl in the early 20th century CE!!! The first Zippo didn't come into the marketplace until the mid-1930s. The first Bic was flicked in 1973. I was working toward a Master's in Computer Science in the early 1980s when the internet arrived—before Facebook or Google. I'm the guy who argued for and convinced those who were running the internet at that time to move Judaism from a category of Christianity, where they had relegated it, to its own, distinctly separate religion (but refusing to acknowledge that Judaism was senior to Christianity).

From the Iron Age until the introduction of electricity, the only way to light a fire was by striking a firesteel with the sharp edge of a flint. It wasn't until the beginning of the 16th century CE, that the flintlock were invented, enabling the starting of a fire by firing (!) an unloaded (for the safety of any bystander) flintlock pistol. The tinder bundle could also be enhanced with a bit of gunpowder (first formulated in China in the 9th century CE).

≈BCE 7th Century: Weapons-Grade Steel!!!

Vered-Yᵊrikho steel sword BCE 7th century, 105cm; Israel Museum (museum photo upright)
Artifact: Vered-Yᵊrikho mild-steel sword, BCE 7th century, 105 cm, Israel Museum (original photo upright)

BCE 7th-century Vered-Yᵊrikho steel sword
Click to enlargeReplica: BCE 7th-century Vered-Yᵊrikho "mild-steel" sword (Shad Brooks )

It was at this time, cBCE 613, that N•khūmꞋ (2.4) warned mëlꞋëkh Kit•imꞋ-Tzūr•imꞋ  "the shield of his warrior-heroes is ã•dōmꞋ; soldiers-of-war crimson-worm-armored בְּאֵשׁ־פְּלָדֹ֥ת.

Only about 30 years later (cBCE 597-570), Yᵊkhë•zᵊq•ælꞋ (28.12–14) warnsmëlꞋëkh Kit•imꞋ-Tzūr•imꞋ  "… prepared the day you were created. With a kᵊrūv thatched roof anointing [m.n.]; so I've allowed you  on Har QōꞋdësh of the gods; you've  been strolling among the אַבְנֵי־אֵ֖שׁ."

Rainbow Rule

Our Modern Era

firesteel—Bayite 4in Tool-grade HSS steel striker stick & ferrocerium-magnesium (neo-flint) rod
4" Tool-grade HSS fire-​steel thumb-scraper & ferrocerium mischmetal (neo-flint) "ferro" rod (Bayite)

Producing fire using the percussive technology of flint on pyrite worked by striking a pyrite stone (iron particle source) with a flint (striker). It makes no difference which is the striker and which the "strikee". This was simply a matter of which was the easiest to use as a strike—namely, the flint. (In our era, the striker and strikee have been switched, the easiest to use (striker) now being the iron particle source—which causes a lot of confusion since the still call it a "flint" even thought it's no longer a flint stone. Today the striker has become the iron particle source because it's the easiest to strike (actually scrape) with, while the steel is the struck).

Whichever is used to strike or scrape, or to be struck or scraped, the result is the same: the harder steel abrades iron particles off of the surface of the iron source. When scrapped against the harder steel, the iron bonds of a ferrocerium "striker" (popularly and wrongly "flint") separate, fragmenting its iron molecules—releasing heat and light in the form of sparks. These tiny particles of hot [iron] then contact atmospheric oxygen and undergo complete, immediate oxidation, releasing additional heat in the form of visible sparks.  (See earlier physics explanation, use your browser's "go back" to return here).

"When you make a spark, you are removing white-hot pieces of the ferro with the scraper."  It makes no difference which is the striker and which is the strikee. What is important is that the one containing iron is softer than the other, because the "other" must abrade iron particles from the iron source. The abraded iron particles freshly exposed to oxygen and friction-generated heat, oxidize, releasing heat in the form of sparks. Hence, while modern fire-making products mix "flint" and "steel" terms carelessly, "Flint" was simply the hard substance that abraded iron particles from iron pyrite. Modern firemaking products may have carbide or other harder steel (mislabeled "flint" by marketing) abrading iron particles from softer steel or ferrocerium rods, etc. These are, in turn, popularly mislabeled as "firesteels", Metal-Matches, etc. by marketing.

Rainbow Rule

Warning note: The kit illustrated (see photo) starts fires and isn't a toy to be left with children unattended. However, children old enough to respect the dangers of אֵשׁ should learn to make an אֵשׁ by scouting for and gathering tinder, kindling and firewood in the wilderness, then properly assembling the kindling and firewood into a campfire cone. First, have them try fire-plow & bow-drill methods, then striking together two rocks (not using a modern flint, nor steel—certainly no accelerant) to experience and really understand, first-hand, the difficult effort—mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ—not magic animist fire-spirits or wind-spirits, that was the object of the Ta•na״khꞋ prohibition.

Mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ Emphasis

The Ta•na״khꞋ precept was explicitly directed at prohibiting the mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ involved in the ancient method of מְקֹשֵׁ֥שׁ עֵצִ֖ים, collecting dried kindling (not igniting, lighting) an אֵשׁ! The man in bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbarꞋ 15.32ff who was executed, was executed for gathering hauling home dried-kindlingmᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ, not for "lighting a אֵשׁ"! He never even got as far as lighting his אֵשׁ!

Before matches, lighters, gunpowder—even before civilization ever smelted iron or steel, fire-making typically required the tedious preparatory mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ of scouting for suitable dried tinder, gathering dried kindling, and then lugging it all home. Once home, the tinder, kindling and wood had to be properly constructed (also mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ).

Finally, in Mōsh•ëhꞋ's day, unless the fire-maker had one of each of the right kind of rocks, the fire-maker had to rub two sticks together, sometimes for hours (and in wet weather perhaps not succeed at all), until the friction finally produced an ember. Placing an ember in the dried tinder he could, if skillful enough, "blow fire-spirit" into the ember and tinder, producing a flame—אֵשׁ. This was massive mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ; and even that only worked in dry weather or when well protected from rain, occasional hail, sleet, snow and wet.

cBCE 6th Century Metaphoric Fire Physicomorphisms
Fire of the Gods & Fire-Demons

הָעוֹלָם הִשְׁתַּנָּה (mundus mutatus)

Post-Enlightenment “Orthodox” Rabbinic Reforms
Contravening Biblical History & Science Fake ”Ha•lãkh•ãhꞋ

Neither Electricity Nor Explosions Are אֵשׁ

“Orthodox” rabbinic assertions attempting to contort a prohibition against אֵשׁ into prohibitions against use of electricity and driving on שַׁבָּת arise from:

  1. Post-Enlightenment strayings by ”Orthodox” rabbis mired in a Dark Ages mindset plaguing Israel with a deluge of anti-scientific and anti-historical misconceptions that contravene Ta•na"khꞋ and trample authentic Ha•lãkh•ãhꞋ. This has resulted in neglecting some proper prohibitions of mᵊlãkh•ãhꞋ during שַׁבָּת, while deluging Israel in misconceived prohibitions during שַׁבָּת based on an ignorant (unscientific) and fallacious misconception of אֵשׁ. Even today's rabbinic law recognizes that אֵשׁ may continue on שַׁבָּת as long as its kindled before שַׁבָּת.

  2. ”Orthodox” rabbis' deliberate rejection of science, archeological hard evidence and well-documented historical facts; their defiant refusal to study science and general education, resulting in their willful ignorance of science and their intolerance of scientific realists,

  3. ”Orthodox” rabbis' defiant refusal of hard-evidence and fact to, instead, retain their belief that electricity was a type of אֵשׁ.

The result is their multiple illegitimate religious rulings that do not qualify as Ha•lãkh•ãhꞋ.

Electricity On שַׁבָּת

The issues, and subsequent rabbinic rulings, concerning electricity didn't become possible until the inventions of the incandescent light bulb and telegraphy in the 19th century CE

Regarding electricity, anyone with a high school physics background understands that electricity is a flow of electron field force, not the NFPA 921 definition of אֵשׁ: "A rapid oxidation process, which is a chemical reaction resulting in the evolution of light and heat in varying intensities." Thus, the rabbinic prohibition against use of electricity on שַׁבָּת, which they wrongly thought was based on bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbarꞋ 15.32ff, is not legitimate Ha•lãkh•ãhꞋ.

Driving On שַׁבָּת

The rabbis based their ruling against driving on שַׁבָּת on the same ignorance of science: wrongly believing that [a] the electricity essential to the operation of a combustion engine was a type of אֵשׁ, [b] that the explosions that drive a combustion engine are אֵשׁ and [c] the limit of travel distance on שַׁבָּת.

It turns out that there is also a distinct and persistent scientific difference between אֵשׁ and the explosions that drive the combustion engine in a car.

"According to the Chemical Engineers' Handbook (McGraw-​Hill Book Co., Inc.),… the scientifically-accurate meaning of explosion 'presupposes a sudden violent change of pressure, characteristically involving the liberation and expansion of a large volume of gas due to high temperature. The change taking place is a progressive one pro­ceed­ing from one part of the exploding material to the next adjoining part.' The sudden violent change of pressure, which causes the sound and other effects of an explosion that are absent in אֵשׁ, is the definitive distinction between an explosion and אֵשׁ, according to many sources.

Thus, no element of kindling an אֵשׁ is involved in an explosion detonated by an electric spark." (see my פִּשׁתָּה כֵּהָה Live-Link)

Travel Limitation on שַׁבָּת: Distance Or Travel Time?

The only applicable prohibition to driving, or other travel, on שַׁבָּת, therefore, relates to the "journey" on שַׁבָּת. Even that is subordinate to the principle of פִּקּוּחַ נֶפֶשׁ and debating the dynamics of applying this principle to modern modes of transportation. Which was the core ancient principle: distance or time travel? Is, then, the modern limitation properly defined according to the distance that was traveled in ancient times? Or was the determinant the travel time, which, in ancient times, happened to be on foot or donkey. If travel time is the determinant, which is more flexible to adapt to advancing technology, then (within other limitations; e.g., not doing business on שַׁבָּת), the travel time would apply today depending on whether traveling by foot, by car, by para-glider, by helicopter, in a space station orbiting some planet, or some other, perhaps future, mode.

Pay it forward! Quote & Cite:

Ben-David, Yirmeyahu. Netzarim Jews World Headquarters, Ra'anana, Israel. www.netzarim.co.il. Eish (Fire). Today's date.

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