(Acts 18:3; 19:25; Revelation 18:22) A trade was taught to ail the Jewish boys as a necessary part of their education. Even the greatest rabbis maintained themselves by trades (Delitzsch). Says Rabbi Jehuda, "He who does not teach his son a trade is much the same as if he taught him to be a thief". In the present article brief notice only can be given of such handicraft trades as are mentioned in Scripture.
Smiths or metal-workers: The preparation of iron for use either in war, in agriculture or for domestic purposes was doubtless one of the earliest applications of labor; and together with iron, working in brass, or rather copper alloyed with tin (bronze), is mentioned as practiced in antediluvian times. (Genesis 4:22) After the establishment of the Jews in Canaan, the occupation of a smith became recognized as a distinct employment- (1 Samuel 13:19) The smith's work and its results are often mentioned in Scripture. (2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Kings 6:7; 2 Chronicles 26:14; Isaiah 44:12; 54:16) The worker in gold and silver must have found employment among both the Hebrews and the neighboring nations in very early times. (Genesis 24:22,53; 35:4; 38:18) Various processes of the goldsmith's work are illustrated by Egyptian monuments. After the conquest frequent notices are found of both moulded and wrought metal, including soldering.
Carpenters are often mentioned in Scripture. (Genesis 6:14; Exodus 37; Isaiah 44:13) In the palace built by David for himself the workmen employed were chiefly foreigners. (2 Samuel 5:11) That the Jewish carpenters must have been able to carve with some skill is evident from (Isaiah 41:7; 44:13) In the New Testament the occupation of a carpenter is mentioned in connection with Joseph the husband of the Virgin Mary, and ascribed to our Lord himself, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3) The trade included our cabinet work as well as carpentering.
The masons employed by David and Solomon, at least the chief of them, were Phoenicians. (1 Kings 5:18; Ezekiel 27:9) The large stones used in Solomon's temple are said by Josephus to have been fitted together exactly without either mortar or clamps, but the foundation stones to have been fastened with lead. For ordinary building mortar was used; sometimes, perhaps, bitumen, as was the case at Babylon. (Genesis 11:3) The wall "daubed with untempered mortar" of (Ezekiel 13:10) was perhaps a sort of cob-wall of mud or clay without lime, which would give way under heavy rain. The use of whitewash on tombs is remarked by our Lord. (Matthew 23:27)
Ship-building must have been exercised to some extent for the fishing-vessels on the Lake of Gennesaret. (Matthew 8:23; 9:1; John 21:3,8) Solomon built ships for his foreign trade. (1 Kings 9:26,27; 22:48; 2 Chronicles 20:36,37)
Apothecaries or perfumers appear to have formed a guild or association. (Exodus 30:25,35; 2 Chronicles 16:14; Nehemiah 3:8; Ecclesiastes 7:1; 10:1) Ecclus 38:8.
Weavers: The arts of spinning and weaving both wool and linen were carried on in early times, as they usually are still among the Bedouins, by women. (Exodus 35:20,26; Leviticus 19:19; 22:11; 2 Kings 23:7; Ezekiel 16:16; Proverbs 31:13,14) The loom with its beam, (1 Samuel 17:7) pin, (Judges 16:14) and shuttles (Job 7:6) was perhaps introduced later, but as early as David's time. (1 Samuel 17:7)
Barbers. (Numbers 6:5,19; Ezekiel 5:1)
Tentmakers are noticed in (Acts 18:3)
Potters are frequently alluded to. (Jeremiah 18:2-6)
Bakers are noticed in Scripture, (Jeremiah 37:21; Hosea 7:4) and the well-known valley Tyropoeon probably derived its name from the occupation of the cheese-makers, its inhabitants.
Butchers, not Jewish, are spoken of (1 Corinthians 10:25) Shoemakers, tailors, glaziers and glass vessels painters and gold workers are mentioned in the Mishna. Chel. viii. 9; xxix. 3,4; xxx. 1.
Main reference: Smith's Bible Dictionary (1860s)
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