BL - 28 Bible Customs

manners and customs of THE bible 
  1. shepherding
The first shepherd was Abel (Gen4: 2). Even Israel from the beginning, especially from Abraham, were shepherds. Jewish statement of belief begins “My Father was a wandering Aramean” (Deut 26:1-5). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had many herds and flocks. When Abraham left Ur, he turned his wealth and property into flocks and herds so that his property could travel with him to the Promised Land.
  Sheep is generally white.  The Jews reared either sheep or goat.  Bible generally mentions both as sheep.  They used to get milk, meat, wool and leather from them.  Their horns were used as oil containers (I Sam 16:1; 1 kgs 1:39) trumpet or shofar (num 29:1, Lev 25:9; Josh 6:4).  The Passover lamb is roasted whole (Ex 12:9).  The boiled meat was eaten on special festivals occasionally roasted.
  It was a goat that became the scapegoat taking the sins of the people to the desert (Lev 16:22).  Probably John refers to this scapegoat as a Lamb of God (Jn 1:29).  It is generally any dark color or with spots.  Goat milk was used to make yoghurt and cheese (pro 27:27).  Since its meat is not as good as lamb, it was mainly used for sacrifice (Lev 1:10).  Sometimes, it was substituted for meat too (LK 15:29, Jud 6:19).  Its hair was woven into sachcloth and hanging in the Tabernacle (Ex26:7; 35:23:26).  Their processed skin was used as water carriers like bottles.
          The Jewish Jews family asked the youngest son to keep sheep.  This custom made David the last son of Jesse as shepherd (I Sam 16:11).  Sometimes a hired shepherd was employed to look after the sheep for the whole village, if the village is a permanent settlement.  This hired shepherd may flee in times of danger to save his life instead of protecting sheep.  Jesus mentions this kind of shepherd in contrast to the good shepherd.  the true shepherd risks his life so as to protect the sheep (Jn 10:11-13).
          The shepherd pastures his sheep where green pasture was available.  In the evening they brought the flock near a well, which was closed by a big stone in order to avoid evaporation of water.  They together removed the stone and drew water for the sheep.  Jacob removed such a stone (Gen 29:10). these shepherds kept their flocks in caves or sheepfold where stonewall was built around.  This protection was necessary to protect the sheep from thieves and wild animals.  David killed a lion to protect his sheep (I Sam 17:34-36).  Lions and bears were common at the gorge of Jordan.  When they crossed rivers and streams, the shepherd carried the weak and the young sheep on his hands (Is 40:11; 43:2).  Isaiah depicted this with God’s care (Lk 15:5).
Relation between sheep and shepherd
          Both the shepherd and the sheep love each other.  They play too.  Some times the shepherd slowly runs ahead, as if he has forsaken the sheep. Immediately the sheep run fast and overtake him; not allowing him to run further by surrounding him. After a while the shepherd repeats the same game.
          Each shepherd has a peculiar voice, which he made by his mouth or by his music instrument especially by a pipe.  His sheep could recognize that voice or noise and they would follow him.  Sometimes more than two flocks would mix together while watering at a well in the evening or while keeping in the sheepfold.  In order to separate them, the shepherds one after another would make the peculiar voice of their choice as standing in different directions.  As soon as the sheep hear their shepherd’s voice, they recognize and run to that direction and follow him. A sheep will never follow a shepherd whose voice is not familiar to it.  Jesus explains this practice of shepherd.  (Jn 10:3-5).  In the same way a truly saved person will follow Jesus, the good shepherd.  The shepherd used to name every sheep of his flock.  He calls them by name too.
Sheep Shearing and Sacrifice
          Sheep shearing was done after summer grazing.  It was a time of celebration  (I Sam 25, 2 Sam 13:23-25). Since sheep were sacrificed to God, there was a special gate at Jerusalem to bring the sheep into the temple site for sacrifice (Neh 3:1) and nearby was pool of Bethesda (Jn 5:2) used to bathe them.
Shepherds’ Possessions
          Every shepherd used to have two pouches, a staff, a harp or a pipe and a sling. Staff was about six feet, with a crook at the end.  This staff was used to give direction and to count the sheep.  Ezekiel used this practice to say that God would prevent rebels from returning to their homeland after exile. Only loyal Jews to God would pass under his rod (Ezek 20:37-38).  Staff was used to separate sheep and goat.
The small pouch was used to carry pebbles for the sling.  This pebble was used to chase away thieves and wild animals.  David killed Goliath by sling and pebble (I Sam 17). The sling was also helpful to control the sheep.  A well-placed pebble stone, dropped by shooting with sling in front of the sheep that was wandering from the main flock, would bring it back again. The big pouch was used to carry food for the shepherd, when he went far away from the village.
Pipe was an musical instrument made from two hollowed-out pieces of cane.  It was easily made and easily broken. If it was damaged, the shepherd discarded it and made a new.  When this practice was referred to the good shepherd Jesus, that “a bruised reed he will not break”, the prophet said contrary to practice.  Shepherds discarded the damaged pipe but Jesus would repair the broken  pipe rather than discard it, and use it again to play music (Mt 12:20)
Shepherds and Jesus’ birth
          Though the exact date of birth of Jesus is unknown, it might be at December.  Because that day coincided with the Jewish festival of Hannukah (Jewish month Chislev 25th) the festival of light, that was to counteract the dark winters.  In additional evidence, there were sheep on the Bethlehem hills indicates that Jesus was certainly born about a Passover time; because sheep were kept on the hillsides of Bethlehem to provide for the Passover lambs at Jerusalem.  Moreover there was no room in the inn, since it was a festival time; many pilgrims would occupy the inns.  So Jesus was born out side of inn or in a shepherd’s cave.  As soon as he was born the angels appeared to the shepherds who were keeping sheep at Bethlehem for sacrifice at temple in Jerusalem.
          When Abraham left Ur, he took semi nomadic life.  From Abraham till Israel’s entering into Canaan (after 430 years of slavery and 40 years in wilderness), they had semi nomadic life.  They were basically shepherds.  Since they were shepherds, Egyptian would not sit with them (Gen 43:32).  After possessing the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, they started cultivation and agricultural works.   They had a little experience in cultivation, when they were in Egypt. Land of Canaan has less water sources in comparing with the Nile of Egypt.  This made people in Israel to depend mainly on rain.  This rainfall varied from year to year.  This uncertainty of rainfall was the cause that Moses pre-warned Israel to depend on God (Deut 11:10-15).
          Cultivation began when the former rain came in October / November. This former rain softens the soil, which was baked hard by summer sun (Jer 14:4).  As former rain softens the soil, the farmer began ploughing.  Ploughing was done either with oxen or bulls.  They should not mix ox and donkey to pull the plough.  (Deut 22:10).  The cause of this law was probably the weaker animal might suffer due to unequal pull. This practice is applied in 2 Corinthians 6:14.While ploughing if the oxen were un willing to move forward, the farmer used to encourage them by prodding with a sharp pointed goad which caused severe pain.  Jesus used such a symbolic goad to push Paul at his conversion (Act 26:14).
          Israelites used plough, hoe, and Mattock to soften the soil.  They used sickle to cut grain (Jer 50:16; Joel 3:13).  A long flexible stick called flail was used to beat the grain in threshing.  When the quantity of grain harvest was large, they used oxen to pull a sledge.  The oxen, which were used to plough with yoke were first castrated.  Such oxen were not sacrificed, since it is forbidden in the law (Num 19:2). Israelites cultivated grains like wheat, barley, millet, peas, lentils, and corns.  The vegetables were melons, cucumbers, carob beans, leeks, onions and garlic.  (Num 11:5).  They cultivated fruits like, vine and figs.  Olive trees were also planted in hilly terrains.  Flax was cultivated near Jordan River.
          Sowing was done after softening the soil by ploughing or hoeing.  Sometimes, sowing was simultaneous operation while ploughing; so that birds would not eat the seeds (Mt 13).  Hard path and thorns were also typical of these lands.  These were the background of the parable of sower.  Grains were sowed in this method.
          Animals jawbone and flints were used for harvesting.  Later metal sickle was used (Jer 50:16 Joel 3:13).  The corners of the fields were left without cutting the grain, which was taken by the poor.  (Lev 23:22).  If the reapers missed any thing, poor gleaned it as well (Ruth 2).  The stalks of grain were carried to the threshing floor by donkeys.
          Threshing was done either with flails or with sledge pulled by animals.  Flail was used by Ruth (Ruth 2:17).  Animals, which were threshing, should not be muzzled (Deut 25:4).  This practice was later applied to the gospel workers who could live from their ministry (I Cor 9:7,9; I Tim 5:18). After threshing, the straw and grain were winnowed at the wind.  Sieve was also used to winnow.  The weeds were separated from grains by winnowing, and weeds were later burned by fire.  This winnowing to separate the weeds and subsequent burning of them are referred to judgment of God on unbelievers. (Ps 1:4 Jer 15:7; Mt 3:12).
          After winnowing the good grains were stored in earthenware jars, dry pit or cistern, granaries and in silos.  The storerooms were attached to the house. (Deut 28:8; Pro 3:10; Mt 13:30; Luk 12:18).  They were built of brick with thick walls and a hole only put on the top of the building to keep thieves and pests away.  The offering, which supported ministry, was stored in these storehouses. (Lev, 27:30 – 32, Deut 14:22-29).
Enemies of Farmers
          An Israeli farmer had to face many enemies from the time of sowing to the time of harvesting.  First crop might fail due to drought.  Israel was known for less rainfall.  Second, fire might destroy the grain before harvesting (Ex 22:6).  This fire was kindled by enemies or wildfire (Jud 6:1-6; 15:4-5).  Third, thieves used to harvest the grain just prior to harvesting by the owner. Fourth the birds used to eat the seeds while sowing (Mt 13:1-9). Fifth locusts destroyed the green leaves and made the sapling dried.  Sixth weeds and tares grew with the grain and caused less production of grain.  Seventh, Erosion was another problem to a farmer.  The winter rains used to wash away the covering of soil down from the hills. Retaining wall had to be built. So a farmer would go to sow with tears, fearing he might not get a good harvest due to these enemies.  He would be rejoicing while bringing the sheaves of harvest because God had given him the good harvest by protecting his crop from all such enemies (Ps 126:5,6).
          Apart from cultivating grains, flax and vegetables, Israel had plantations for vine, fig and olive. Products of vine, fig and olive were important for Israel. Israel’s economy often depended on these produces.  Vine and olive had some significance in their social and spiritual life as well.
          Noah first cultivated vine (Gen 9:20). Israel, after possessing the Promised Land, cultivated vine alongside his house to give shade during the hot summer. This was referred by Psalmist  (Ps 128:3).  Though many had their own vineyards, the poor farmers cultivated vine for landlords.  At the time of harvest, the poor farmers used to get a percentage of this produce as payment from land- lords (LK 20: 9-10; I kings 21:6).
Process of cultivation
          The hilly land was  cleaned by removing the stones.  These stones were used to build terrace in order to avoid soil erosion, as well as to build watchtower.  This process of preparing land for vine was depicted in Isaiah (Isa 5:1-2, Matt 21:33).  Since vineyard was planted at hillside, which provided good drainage and which helped the grapes to catch the sun.  The vineyard was fenced around by digging a ditch; and the soil excavated from the ditch was used for the wall.  Sometimes, thorns were placed upon the wall to keep out wild animals (Pro 24:30 – 31).  The watchtower helped the farmer to watch from the top whether any damaging animals or any things invade into vineyard.  Jesus explained a man whose money ran out while building such a tower (LK 14:28-30).
          After planting grape plants, pruning was done with a pruning hook, during the winter to remove weak, and diseased branches.  This pruning was necessary so that the vine might produce the best grapes.  As vine branches were pruned, we are being pruned by the teaching of Jesus as he said in John 15:1-8.
          During vintage, the whole village would move to the vineyards so as to complete the harvest quickly.  The vintage time was a time of singing, dancing and celebrations.  The absence of celebration was a mark of God’s judgment (Isa 16:10).  The harvested grapes were collected into huge baskets and taken to winepress, so as to get juice.
          Winepress was a tank cut out of rock with an outlet hole at the bottom.  In this tank grapes were put and tread with feet as laughter and enjoyment. Several men would get into tank to tread the grapes.  If a man trod alone the grapes, it was a sign of judgment (Isa 63:2,3).  When the men who trod the grapes in the tank came out of it, their clothes were red like blood (Isa 63:3-6; Rev 19:13,15). Grape juice came out through the out let hole while trading; and it was collected into a vat.
          This juice was kept in the collecting vessels for six weeks for fermentation.  After fermentation, wine from the top portion of Jar was tipped up gently into another vessel without disturbing the sludge (lees) which was formed as sediment at the bottom of Jar. Sometimes, the wine was collected in wineskins (goatskin bottles).  If the wineskin was old, it could not expand to take the gases formed at fermentation.  Since it could not expand, it would burst and the wine would be lost (Matt 9:17).
          The Jews used wine instead of water which was usually unsafe and contaminated; because rainwater was stored in cistern.  This was a reason that unsafe water might harm health. So Paul told Timothy to drink wine for his stomach’s sake (1 Tim 5:23).  Grape syrup (dibs) was made by boiling grapes and this syrup was called honey in most verses in the Bible.  The wine was used to clean wounds before inserting olive for healing (LK 10:34).
          In Jewish religion, wine had important place.  Israel was God’s wine (Isa 5).  Wine was offered for thanks giving (Eke 29:40).  If the farmer lived far away from central sanctuary, he could sell the wine tithe and should buy something of the same value of wine to thank God (Deut 14:22-26).  Nazirite took no fruit wine (Num 6:3); so also priests and John the Baptist (Lev 10:5-9; LK 1:15) Wine drinking was not condemned in the Bible but using wine for intoxicating purpose.  Above all Jesus was the true wine (John 15:5-7).
          As wine was, olive was a significant one for Israel is social and religious life.  The olive tree is less attractive with its gnarled bark and dull green leaves.  Olive trees were grown by inserting a graft from a good cultivated  tree into a wild olive stock, which was then cut down to the ground.  Olive tree sends its roots deeply into the rocky soil; thus it sucks sap for oil from the flinty rocks (Deut 32:13).  The tree grows as high as six meters.  It normally takes fifty years to grow to its full maturity and then it bears fruit for many centuries.  New stems shoot from the roots of old tree, as Isaiah pictures messiah the new stem from the root of Jesse (Is 11:1).  The new shoot was grafted into stock.  Paul explain in Romans that when Christianity followed the Judaism, then it was as if, contrary to practice, wild olive plants were being grafted onto a cultivated stock (Rom 11).
          The tree would be covered with white blossoms during the spring; the falling blossoms look like a shower of snow -flakes (Job 15:33).  During fruit season, women and boys spread a large cloth under the tree and beat the branches to shake the fruits to fall on the cloth.  These fallen fruits were collected and the fruits, which did not fall, were left for the poor.  The young branches were destroyed due to beating. This resulted in a poor crop in the following year; so every alternate year was either good or bad for the crop.
          Since olives are harder than grapes, they were pressed by stone press.  Olives were put into a cylindrical stone tank and another stone wheel was rotated in that cylindrical stone by pulling with a donkey.  This stone wheel crushed olives and made them into pulp.  This pulp was put either into basket or cloth bags, which were then trodden under feet, while treading oil came through the cloth.
          Olive oil was used for cooking, fuel for lamp, skin treatment for shine, applying on the head for hair shine, healing and preserving leather from cracking.  The wood of olive tree was used for woodcarving.  The cherubim of the temple were made of olive wood.  During Old Testament, olive oil was offered as meal offering (Lev 2:1), used to consecrate objects for God’s service and to anoint prophets, priests and kings.  The prophets spoke from God to the people, the priests represented the people before God, and the kings established the law of God.
Fig Tree
          This tree grows about ten-meter height.  The Jews plant fig trees around their hours for shade.  The cultivated fig was planted in vineyards.  Since the leaves were large enough, Adam and Eve made their covering by fig leaves.  The leaves developed at the end of April as a sign for approaching summer (Mt 24:32).  Fig tree yields fruits about ten months of the year.  Fruits could be eaten either fresh or pressed into a cake and preserved by drying.  Hezekiah probably used dry figs as a poultice (2 kgs 20:7).
          Since fig trees were known for shade, Nathaniel was sitting under fig tree (Jn 1:48).  Sometimes during hot climate of the day, the Jews used to sit under fig tree to meditate God’s word.  Probably Nathaniel did the same.  Fig tree was a symbol of security and prosperity for the Jews (1 kgs 4:25, Micah 4:4; Zech 3:10). Since figs bear fruits for ten months of the year, Jesus was probably looking for winter figs or for the first ripe figs.  Whichever was missing indicated that the tree was infertile and would not give a main crop at the season of figs (Mt 21:19-20).
          Israel, after their semi nomadic life, settled in Promised Land.  The land was divided up among twelve tribe by lot.  Each tribe considered its portion as an inheritance from God.  Such inheritances were marked by landmarks, a heap of stones usually.  Since an inheritance was the gift of God, the landmark should not be moved (Deut 19:14) Naboth, refused to sell his vineyard to Ahab because selling one’s inheritance was considered as dishonoring God who gave the inheritance (1 kgs 21:3)
          Selling of land was only done, when a family faced hard times and financial troubles.  Such sold lands should be returned to the original owner in the year of Jubilee, which came every fifty years.  Purchased man would not lose his money while returning land to the owner, since the sale value of the land was fixed upon the number of years left until Jubilee (Lev 25:10-17). Land passed from fathers to sons.  The eldest son received double portion as much as each of his brothers.  In case there was no son, the land passed from fathers to daughters (Num 27:1-11).  Some times father gave double portion to the dearest among his sons.  In this way Joseph, as Jacob’s heir received a double portion in the name of his sons Ephraim and Manasseh.
          Abraham lived in tents and in caves, his descendants after getting the Promised Land lived in tents for short time in their allotted inheritance. The poles were erected and the ropes were tied between poles.  The end of ropes was pegged to the ground with tent nails.  Awning of goat-hair cloth was spread over to protect from sun and rain.  This tent could be extended simply by weaving an extra length onto the original awning and providing an additional hanging curtain. Isaiah 54:2 uses this practice of enlarging tents in order to explain, the future expansion of Jews, during wilderness journey, God was their shelter (Ps. 90:1; 61:3-4; Isaiah 4:6).
          The tent was divided into portions as rooms.  Rugs were spread on the ground inside the tent so as to avoid dust and sand.  Men should be in the porch area of tent.  The only male allowed within the curtains of the tent to enter into women’s area was either husband or father.  If a male stranger entered into women’s quarters of the tent, he would be punished by death.  Sisera was punished for the same (Jud 4:18,21).
          As Israel started to build brick houses, dwelling in tents gradually reduced.  Then tents were used only when kings went for war with their army.  Later when Israel completely abandoned tent dwellings the annual festival of Tabernacle was celebrated. During festival, families spent their holiday in specially constructed booths made of branches so as to remind the time when they had lived in tents in wilderness journey.
Brick Houses
          Tents were useful when the Jews led semi nomadic life in wilderness and while shepherding the flocks and the herds.  As they started settled life in the Promised Land and began agriculture works, they gradually changed from tents to brick houses. Early houses were built sun – dried mud bricks, later with baked bricks from kiln. Probably Solomon first used squared stones by shaping them with the available iron tools to dress the stone.  Houses were considered as the gift of God.  Thus newly built houses were dedicated (Deut 20:5).
          The poor families in the villages constructed their houses with a single room, square shaped.  This type of houses had only one door and a small window.  The door of village  house was opened in daytime and was closed in the night.  According to Rev 3:8, God keeps his house door open all times so that one can approach him at any time (LK 11:7).  The floor of this house was divided into two parts; first part near the door was leveled and the second part at the back part of room was a raised platform of stone.  This platform was used for sitting, sleeping and eating.  Cooking was done in lower floor.  The walls were very poorly built often unplastered.  These unplastered walls contained holes, which harboured insects even snakes.  These insects and snakes often harmed family members as Amos pictured these events (Amos 5:19).
          The roof was made by laying brushwood across rough sycamore beams and binding them together by putting mud.  To compact the mud material, a heavy stoneroller was rolled after rain.  This roof was not water tight; caused leaks during rain.  The continual drip of water during rainy season caused a cold and miserable time for the family, they could not sleep in those raining days.  This situation was referred to a wife who brought sleepless night to her husband (Pro 19:13; 27:15) Since the roof was made of mud, there grew green plants and grass from the seed which were already in the mud or from drying out grain.  They grew on the top of roof after rain.  These plants and grass wither away when the weather is hot during sunny day, as Isaiah mentioned in 37:27.
          The flat roof was used for drying out of crops; sleeping on a hot summer’s night; a place for quietness for meditating God’s word, and as a vantage point (Isa 22:1). It was a vantage point because public announcements were made from housetops; it would help the people to hear the message clearly as Jesus said (Matt 10:27).  Since the roof was flat, the law required a parapet be built around to avoid people falling from house-top (Deut 28:8). This kind of roof was easily removed as well as remolded.  This made the four friends to remove the roof and to let the paralytic down before Jesus for healing (Mk 2:4, LK 5: 19).
          In cities, houses with flat roof were literally joined house to house.  It was therefore easy and possible to run from roof to roof over the housetops at the time trouble to escape.  Jesus alluded this escape in Matthew 24:17.
          They used small oil lamps. Since the floor of village house was rough, besides the houses would not have enough light due to a single door, it was very hard to find anything lost such as coin (LK 15:8).  In order to have enough light at night, an oil lamp was put on a projection from the wall or placed on a lamp stand which was usually a thick tree branch pushed into the earthen floor, at the middle of the room.
          Earlier lamp was an open earthenware saucer of which brim was pinched in one place while manufacturing so as to provide a place for a flaxen wick.  Olive oil was used as fuel.  As the oil began to run low the wick would smoulder and the lamp would need refilling of oil from the oil container.  Later, lamps with decoration handles and with multiple wicks were made to provide additional light.  Though oil was used for lamps combustible materials such as dried animal manure, sticks, dried grass, thorn bushes, charcoal and fire wood were used for heating and cooking.  Better constructed homes were provided with chimney.  Fire was kindled with flints by friction.  Heating was important during winter. A light in the home indicated to the outside that there were sleepers present.  If the light was absent in the night, it meant there was disaster (Job 18:6) in the home.  For God to light one’s lamp was a great blessing (Ps 18:28).  Messiah will lit the lamp by trimming the wick (Is 42:3).
          Water was collected from the wells.  Since water was precious in Israel, every one dreamed to have his own cistern.  A cistern was a hole or tank cut out of rock to store water.  Having own well was a status symbol; this was the reason Sennacherib promised that he would provide a cistern, if Israelites in Jerusalem would surrender to him (2 kings 18:31). If there was no water in the cistern during summer, it would provide a hiding place where Jonathan and Ahimaaz hid (2 Sam 17:18,19).
          The major difference between the houses of the rich and the poor was the provision of a courtyard, in the wealthy houses.  The richest people build two or three rooms around courtyard, and build upper story where usually visitors stay (2 kings 4:10).  Jesus celebrated Passover in one of such upper rooms (Mk 14:12-16).  The wealthy house had porch with a single door, which used to be locked from inner side by a wooden lock.  There was a hole in the door to insert the hand to unlock the lock. Strangers could not unlock the lock and enter into the house because a porter used to sit behind the door.  Rhoda was a porter who was guarding the gate of such a rich house where Peter was knocking (Act 12:13-14).  Probably Jesus was knocking the outer gate of this type rich house (Rev 3:20). Besides the above facilities, the rich houses had wooden furniture like bed, table, chairs, and dining tables.
          Father was the head of Jewish family.  Children must submit to his authority.  Rejecting his authority could be punished with death (Deut 21:18-21).  A woman of Jewish community was to do helpmate role to her husband, by fetching water making cloths, cooking food etc.  She did such helps in natural submission to him, since she realized that man was first created (I Tim 2:13-15).  Motherhood was important because a wife saved her position in the family through childbirth.  If there was no childbirth, her husband might marry another women.  Because of husband’s second marriage, she might lose her position and prominence in family.  Thus childbirth helped to secure her position.  Children are a great blessing of family (Ps 127:5)
          Both parents had responsibility in teaching to their children (Ex 20:12; Deut 6:7).  It was father’s special responsibility that he should teach an occupation to his son.  He would use that occupation to win bread when he makes his own family after marriage.  It was possible that Joseph taught carpentry to Jesus.  While father taught to sons, mother must teach culinary works to daughters.  Thus daughters were prepared to take care of their future family.  In this way, parents fulfilled their responsibility by teaching God’s word, the law as well as by teaching occupation.
          A local midwife assisted in the delivery, which was normally, took place at home (Ex 1:15-19, Jer 20:14-15).  The newborn baby was washed.  Then salt was rubbed over the skin in belief that it hardened skin.  Eight days after the birth the male baby was circumcised.  Circumcision was a sign, by which the Jewish family kept the covenant between God and Abraham, and by which a male was dedicated to God.  Thus circumcision was a national dedication to God. Circumcision accompanied with the naming of the child.  The naming and circumcision were done at the same day for Jesus (LK 2:21).
          Mother stayed at home for seven days for boy and for the fourteen days for girls after the birth.  She must offer a lamb with pigeon on dove to restore woman’s fellowship with God after thirty-three days of boy’s birth.  She should offer after sixty-six days as well, if the baby was girl (Lev 12). In case of poverty, she should offer a dove or pigeon instead of the lamb. Mary did so (Lk 2:23-24).  Babies were breast fed by the mother for years.  (I Sam 1:24; Ps 131:2).  If mother was unable to feed, breast-feeding was done by a wet nurse, who was hired by the family.  There was a celebration when the child was weaned (Gen 21:8).
          After the age of thirteen a Jewish boy would have his last Passover as a child.  With that Passover, he was qualified to become one of the members of ten men who could constitute a synagogue.  He was also called a “son of the law”.  At this age only, Jesus was left behind at the temple by his parents (LK 2:41-49)
          The name of God was often incorporated into personal names of boys.  Girls mostly got the names after nature, birds, and animals of beauty.  Beautiful names were derived from nature for girls.  (Ex) Jemima (Dove); Dorcas (Gazelle); Rachel; (Lamb); Salome (Peace); Esther (Star); Rodha (Rose); Deborah (Bee)
Marriage Arrangements
          Marriages were normally arranged by the parents.  While arranging marriages, parents considered the feelings of their children.  Rebekah was consulted as well (Gen 24:58).  When the arrangement was done for marriage, it was conformed by the Betrothal.  Betrothal could be broken by a legal ground, if there was a true evidence for adultery (Deut 22:24).  Betrothal lasted for twelve months.  During betrothal time, bridegroom must prepare a home, and bride must prepare the wedding cloths.  The bride’s family would prepare the wedding festivities.  Jesus probably meant this preparation of a house by the groom, when he said that, he would prepare a place (Jn 14:2).
          A friend used to negotiate on behalf of the bridegroom and his father with a representative of the bride’s father.  John the Baptist himself referred to this role (Jn 3:29).  Bridegroom must give dowry to bride’s father.  He gives dowry because her father had to lose income of her work, and husband would get that income after marriage.  Therefore dowry was a compensation to father-in-law, who could use its interest but could not spend it, because it would be kept in trust for his daughter.  In case she was divorced or became widow, she could receive the sum of dowry to face her poverty.  If the groom could not pay dowry, as sum of money, he could pay it through other means such as service (Gen 29:18) or elimination of enemies (I Sam 18:25).  At the marriage agreement woman’s father also offered a marriage gift to her (Gen 24:59-61; Jud 1:12-15). It was also a custom that a portion of the dowry should be a circlet of coins that were attached to the woman’s headdress. Those coins became a symbol like wedding ring.  Therefore the loss of such a coin would cause a great worry to a woman.  Such a woman sought the coin with great effort (LK 15:8-10).
          Early Jewish marriage was nonreligious and elders probably father, mother or brothers just blessed the occasion (Gen 24:60).  It was possible that Jesus was called to bless the wedding (Jn2).  In recent times, Jewish marriage became ceremonial and religious by the blessing of a rabbi or priest.
          Though both bridegroom and bride adorned well, bride adorned like a queen (Rev 21:2).  Her hair was braided with many precious stones, which her family possessed (Ps 45:14-15; Is 61:10; Ezek 16:11-12). Friends accompanied both of them.  The bridegroom would come to fetch the bride from her father’s house at evening.  When the groom came, bride was wearing a veil.  At some point, the veil was taken off and laid on the shoulder of the groom with the declaration “the government shall be upon his shoulder”, (Is 9:6).  This declaration meant that husband was responsible to rule, to protect, and to sustain her from that time.
          After the declaration, a procession set out from bride’s house to the couple’s new home.  Since the procession took place in the night, all those who joined in the precession had oil lamps.  So also the guests who came to welcome the new couple had to bring oil lamps.  They used to keep a reserve flask of oil to refill their lamps if lamp’s oil ran low. Sometime, the procession was slow, and thus the new couple was later than expected.  When there was such a delay, the reserve oil was used to refill the lamps.  To face such delays, the guests normally used to keep reserve flask of oil.  Five foolish virgins mentioned in Matthew 25:1-13 did not bring reserve oil.  According to the custom, no body was allowed to join the procession with out a lamp.  Thus those five foolish virgins were left out from the procession when the groom came.  Wedding procession normally had singing and dancing; some times bride danced too! (Jer 16:9; Song of Songs 6:13).
          Wedding festivities often continued for seven days (Jud 14:12).  During festivities, God’s blessing was sought upon the couple.  Very rich families provided special wedding clothes, even to their guests (Matt 22:12).  A great deal of time was spent in eating and drinking, especially wine.  (Jn 2).  At the end, the blood stained bed coverings were as proofs to demonstrate that the bride had been a virgin (Deut 22:13-21).
          Though God does not want divorce, he permitted it when there was adultery (Mal 2:16; Matt 5:31, 32; 19:6 Deut 24:1-2).  If a man had raped a girl whom he later married, such a man could not divorce her (Deut 22:28,29).  A man who falsely accused his wife regarding virginity could not divorce her (Deut 22:13-19).  If a divorced lady remarried and her new husband divorced her or died, the original first husband should not remarry her (Deut 24:3-4).  If a divorced wife had not remarried, her first husband could remarry her (Hos 3).
          Since most died before seventy, it was believed a man’s life was complete at seventy (Ps 90:10).  Early Jews believed that the dead were gathered in Sheol where they experienced shades of their past.  First Daniel mentioned about the resurrection for eternal life and for eternal punishment (Dan 12:2).  There was wailing and mourning when death had taken place. Rich families hired professional mourners (Jer 9:17,18; Amos 5:16).  Micah said their mourning sounded like of Jackal’s noise  (Micah 1:8).  Mourners to demonstrate grief wore sackcloth  of goats hair, beat their breast (LK 23:48) and tore their clothes (2 Sam 3:31).  After burial, there was a funeral meal to conclude the mourning period.
          Dead bodies were quickly buried to avoid fast decomposition due to hot climate.  Nevertheless burial did not take place on a Sabbath or special days (Jer 11:39; 19:31).  They buried the dead in a natural cave or artificially made sepulchre (Gen 49:29-32, Jud 8:32).  Natural caves were widened like rooms.  Such rooms of caves had niches or shelves to keep the body.  Wealthy family had burial caves with two rooms.  In such caves, the second room of cave had the niche for dead body.
          The dead body was covered in spices with paste by the layers of white roller bandage.  The paste hardened the bandage when dried and formed a mould or cocoon similar to the body shape. After cocoon was made, they kept a cap to head.  It was almost impossible to take out the body from this cocoon, which was fully dried.  At resurrection, Jesus body passed through this cocoon without breaking its body shape.  The disciple who first arrived at tomb of Christ saw this cocoon and thought it was the body. Therefore he did not enter into tomb (Jn 20:4,5).  Peter who arrived a little later entered into the tomb and saw cocoon into its original unbroken shape and found that there was a gap where the face should have been.  He understood the resurrected body had come out without braking the cocoon.  He also realized that the body could not be stolen through that gap where the face was for it was small and it was impossible to take out only the body without breaking cocoon.  Evaluating all these, Peter believed it was really the resurrection            (Jn 20:6-9).
The death of husband placed widowed wife in a difficult position financially.  Prostitution was the only means for such a widow to earn money to live.  To avoid such practices, Paul asked the families to take care of widows (I Tim 5:3-11). Early church set aside a sum of money to care for widows (Act 6:1).
          The Jewish families made their cloth with the material of wool, linen and cotton according to their financial wealth.  Parents gave special coats to the dearest child as Jacob gave to Joseph (Gen 37:3). Tunic was the essential garment for both men and women.  It was made by two pieces seamed horizontally at waist level.  Man’s tunic was usually short and colored while woman’s tunic was ankle length upto knee in blue color.  Man’s tunic, being short up to knee, would stimulate the sexual passion, when a woman wore it.  Therefore the law prohibited exchanging of cloths (Deut 22:5).
          A girdle made of leather held the tunic to the waist.  Sometimes they kept money, valuable possession or even weapons in the girdle’s pocket (Mk 6:8; I Sam 25:13).  When men worked or ran, they lifted the hem of the tunic and tucked the hem into the girdle so as to get freedom of movement.  Peter used this practice to Christians for their clear thinking (I Per 1:13) as well as Paul used to Christians life style (Col 3:12).
          They wore an undergarment under tunic.  The undergarment was either loincloth or a small waist slip.  Peter was probably having only this coin cloth at his waist, when he saw Jesus in John 21:7.  Jesus was also crucified only with this loincloth because soldiers had already removed his tunic (Jn 19:23).
          As they wore loincloth tunic, they wore cloak (or mantle) over tunic.  Cloak was usually made from woolen materials to give warmer during winter.  Since it was the only protection from winter cold, even the pledged cloak should be returned to the owner before nightfall to sleep (Ex 22:26-27). Since it was for protection, the Jewish court never asked any one to give his cloak (Mt 5:40).
          Rich families had cloak of silk with wide sleeves. They never went out of door even to nearby places without silk cloak.  As numbers 15:38-39 commanded, Pharisees wore cloaks with blue fringes at the bottom.  Pharisees sometimes widened the fringes to be ostentatious and to show that they would keep the law.  Jesus condemned such boasting (Mt 23:5). Woman in Matthew 9:20 touched the bottom of Jesus’ cloak. They washed cloths in stream and ponds.  To remove the dirt away, they pounded the cloth on the flat stones.  David asked God to cleanse him by this method (Ps 51:2).  They also used soap made from olive.  At the time of sorrow, they tore their cloths (Job 1:20).
          While man wore a skullcap, women wore head covering which was allowed to fall over neck and shoulders to protect from the sun. Rich and respectable women went out with head covering and veil over face as Rebekah (Gen 24:65).  In their custom, only prostitutes displayed their faces to attract men.  Based on this custom, Paul advocated Christian women in Corinth to cover their head (I Cor 11:10).
          Wealthy woman wore jewels and ornaments in addition to cloths.  Their ear-rings, bracelets and pendants were set with precious stones (Is 3:18-21).  Cosmetics and oil based pigments were used to beautify face and fingernails respectively.  They also decorated the hair by applying oil and by wearing jewels.  Though such decorations are not forbidden for Christians, Peter encourage Christian woman to adorn themselves with meekness and humility (I Pet 3:3-4).  Man sometimes wore a ring on the finger or a chain around the neck.  Though poor often walked with barefoot, the rich man and woman wore sandals tied around ankle (Lk 3:16).  They even sold a man in order to buy a pair of shoe (Amos 2:6). Paul explained clothing of soldier in Ephesians 6:10-11 as well as Isaiah said (Is 59:16-17).
Priest’s Clothing
          They wore a linen garment (Ephod) over tunic to keep it clean (I Sam 2:18-19).  Though all men had basic clothes, the high priest wore a special cloth; blue tunic and embroidered ephod.  Ephod had a pouch in which lots were kept to find out God’s will.  He wore white cloak and special turban on the head. (Ex 28).
          Although Ur was a developed city with school (Jablet house), there was no evidence of Abraham’s education. In patriarchal period, education was not mentioned, but Moses’ education was in Egypt (Act 7:22).  Moses could learn language script, arithmetic, music, astronomy etc.  His educational background and writing skill on papyrus helped, when he wrote the law according to God’s command (Ex 17:14).
          Jewish mother was responsible for teaching her children both boys and girls upto three year old.  After that, mother taught only to girls about singing (Ecc 2:8) and midwifery.  Father was responsible to teach a trade to his son after three years of age.  Jesus was called carpenters son (Mt 13:55) as well as carpenter (Mk 6:3).
          Nature of Jewish education was religious, based on Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  Jewish festivals helped the children to ask and to know about this history and God’s acts (Ex 12:26; Deut 6:20-25).  Natural objects were used for teaching religious Matters (Ex 13:13-15) and history (Josh 4:6).  Priest also taught to boys (I Sam 1:24), if parents asked so. During Samuel period, he established a school of the prophets of Ramah (I Sam 19:18-21).  This school of prophets was a kind of theological schools.  These schools had many (2 king 2:7) who recorded history of Israel.  Head of this school of prophets was called as father (2 king 2:12). After Babylonian captivity, Jewish education came under the influence of Assyrian and Babylonian education (Dan 1:3-9, 19-20).  This was the time of the development of synagogue, which became center of education and of worship.  Ezra and Nehemiah were important persons of this time and they taught the Law of Moses to the people (Ezra 7:12-26; Nehe 8:1-8).  Scribes taught and wrote to people from God’s word.  Scribes were called “men of the great synagogue”.
          During Greek and Roman rule, Jewish people were influenced by Greek culture and education.  Nevertheless the common did not leave their religion.  Jewish parents sent their boys to “the house of the book” where teachers taught the law, prophets and writings.  Jesus must have studied in one of such schools in Nazareth, when he was about six years old.  One of such a house of book was attached to the Temple of Jerusalem.  It was probably one where Jesus talked with elders (LK 2:41-52).  In the house of book (school), the students would sit at the feet of the great teachers (Act 22:3) and memorize the scripture by reading aloud (Act 8:30).  Some times students repeated what the teacher said little by little (Is 28:9,10).  They wrote in wax on the woolen tablet (Lk 1:63) or on the ground (Jn 8:6).  Sometimes, students received a slate with engraved scripture on it. Such slate was smeared with honey.  The student had to trace the letters through honey with the nib of the pen; when he traced on the letter, the smeared honey sticked on the nib of the pen. The student used to lick the nib of the pen to taste the honey.  He proceeded this practice of tracing letters of scripture, as he tasted honey too.  As he tasted the word of God, he ate honey.  This practice was mentioned by David in Ps 19:9-10.
Scholars in Athens set up an education committee called the Areopagus.  Paul set up such a system of education for Christian teaching (Act 17:16-34).
          The Jews of Jesus’ time had simple food habits. They ate only two times after washing hands (MK 7:1-8) (Lk 14:12). Bread, olives, cheese, fruit and vegetables formed the staple diet.  Bread was essential food to them.  The prayer “Give us each day our daily bread” (LK 11:3) meant for asking God for daily provision of food itself.  Since bread was so special and very basic for the daily life of Jews, Jesus referred to himself as the “bread of life” (Jn 6:35).  This statement of Jesus tells us the truth that every one needs Jesus in his daily life.  Every Jews used to break his bread, since they believed that bread referred to life.  Cutting the bread with knife was considered to killing the life.  Jesus and early church also broke bread (Act 20:7).  Bread was usually made from wheat or barley.  Bread was made in three sizes; paper-thin loaves (Act 26:23); biscuit-sized loaves (Jn 6:9) and heavier loaves (Jud 7:13).
          The boy in John 6:9 had barley bread in biscuit size. The poor used barley bread, the rich used wheat bread.  This small biscuit size bread was blessed by Jesus and used to feed five thousand people.  Since such a small bread of poor boy helped to feed the large crowed, it was a real miracle.
          They used vegetables like beans, leeks, onions, garlic, cucumbers, and melon (Num 11:5).  They also used grains, lentils, millet and spelt.  Jacob gave a lentil based stew to Esau (Gen 25:33, 34).  Locusts mentioned in Leviticus 11:22 were probably locust beans, eaten by John the Baptist (Matt 3:4) as well as prodigal son (Lk 15:16).  These locust beans (carob pods) taste sweet and sticky.
          Since they were mostly shepherds, they used milk and milk based yoghurt, butter (Pro 30:33), cheese (2 Sam 17:29).  Though they might have used butter milk, it was never mentioned in the Bible.
          It was an important food for Jews.  They ate Olives, figs (I Sam 25:18, Jer 24:2), grapes, pomegranates, melons and dates.  Almond and Pistachio nuts were also eaten (Gen 43:11).
Hunting and meat eating
          Though Jews was basically shepherds, they did not use much meat in daily food.  Fish as well as meat was luxury food of wealthy families.  Common people ate meat during either festival or sacrifice.  King Solomon regularly ate any one of meat like beef, Mutton, game and fowl.  Hunting was less in Israel in comparing with other ancient people, since dietary laws of old testament prevented many animals from being eaten (Lev 11).  However there was hunting.  Pits were dug to trap large animals. They were covered over with brushwood, and straw and often approaches were built so that animals could be attracted toward the pit.  Nets were also used for trapping animals and birds (Job 18:8-10; Ames 3:3). The trapped animals were killed with bow and arrow spear or knife (Ecc 9:12; Isa 51:20; Ezek 12:13).  The Law of Moses did not allow Jews to eat the blood (Lev 17:13, 14; Deut 12:15).
          Since they could not eat, the blood had to be drained from the animal.  The blood is identified with life; both are synonyms in Jewish concept.  The prohibition against eating blood should have been based on the earlier practice of cruelty that neighboring tribal people cut parts of flesh from a living animal and then kept the same animal alive until more meat was necessary.  The draining of blood prevented such practice.  Thus the prohibition should have been a health law to prevent blood borne diseases and infections.
          Fishing was rare among early Israel for they were not good in boat and were afraid of sea too! However, fishing was very common during the period of Jesus.  Fishing was never in Dead Sea because Dead Sea had few living creature.  Most of fishing was done in Sea of Galilee and a little in Jordan River.  Fishing was done with rod and line, hook, spear and net. Cast net was used to catch fish in shallows.  When there was a shoal of fish, this net was cast over them.  The weight at the edge of net carried the net down and the fish were trapped into net.  Then the net was pulled into the shore.
          Sometimes, a man who stands at the shore could easily see shoal of fish, which at shore-level are difficult to see.  In such instances it is possible for someone higher up the shore to tell the fisherman where to cast his net. Probably this could have happened in John 21:4-6.  Disciples were fishing at shallows within calling distance.  Jesus could see fish from shore and he could tell it to Peter.
          Seine (SEINE NET) net fishing was also practiced during Jesus time.  This net was three meter broad and hundreds meter long.  This was suspended in the water like a net fence and kept afloat by corks.  Then it was pulled by two big boats.  Men sat in pairs to oar the boat.  They often faced storm is the Sea of Galilee when they went for such fishing. Jesus calmed such a storm. (MK 4:39)
          There was a fish named “Tilapa”.  It carries its young fish within its mouth.  The young ones return to their mother’s mouth for protection at time of danger, when they go in search of food.  If the mother wants to keep them away as young growing, she picks up an object.  That object is mostly a bright stone.  One of such fish picked up a bright coin instead of bright stone.  This fish was caught by Peter to pay tax (Matt 17:24-27).  Since then this “Tilapa” fish is also called as “St. Peter’s Fish”.
          Since seasoning of food was done by salt, it was one of the important ingredients in most of their foods.  Salt was in plenty at the salt hills near the Dead Sea.  The Jews seasoned fish and preserved the food with salt (Job 6:6).  It was also used in sacrificial offerings (Lev 2:13).  Whenever they celebrated a signing of an agreement between two parties, salt was used in that celebrating meal as to symbolize the preservation of that agreement.  They also believed that salt has healing properties (2 Kings 2:19-22).
          If salt is not good for seasoning for losing its saltiness, that salt was stored in the temple of Jerusalem.  Such salt was used to spread on the marble pavement of courtyards in order to avoid slippery during rainy season.  Devotees could trample salt on pavement and they could walk without slipping and falling down.  This was referred by Jesus in Mt 5:13.
          Honey was used for sweetening.  The Jews got honey from wild bees.  Since Egypt and Assyria colonized bees in hives, Jews probably involved in apiary.  Apart from wild honey (Jud 14:8-9, I Sam 14:25-27, Deut 32:13), they also produced a juice from grapes similar to honey.  It was spread on bread.  God’s word is compared to honey (Ps. 19:10).
          It is essential for sustaining life all over the world.  Jews collected rainwater in cisterns and hewn rocks.  Having own cistern was considered as prestige for the families.  This was the reason Sennacherib promised Jews a own cistern, if they surrender to him.  Instead of listening Hezekiah (2 Kgs 18:31). Since they collected rainwater during rain, it was possible for them to be affected with illness by drinking contaminated water.  They were affected with infections, stomach problems etc.  Thus Paul recommended wine listed of water (1 Tim 5:23).
          When there was water scarcity, there was selling of water by hawkers.  Sometimes, rich philanthropist bought pots of water from hawkers and distributed freely to poor people.  Jesus referred such practice when he said about living water freely given to those who come to him (Jn 7:37, 38 Cf. Isa 55:1).  Thus Jesus pictures God the Father as the greatest philanthropist and refers Himself (Jesus) as the hawker who distributes freely.
          People of that time got up early morning either to work or to pray (Gen 22:3; Exo 34:4; Job 1:5; Mk 1:35).  Men and older boys left for their work, eating break- fast as they went. Women and young boys who could not go for field work and who could not shepherd remained in home to do domestic chores.  The youngest son usually cared for animals that family possessed as David did (I Sam 16:11).
          After men departed to work, women began milling of grains with hand mill, which was made of two stones.  The lower stone had an upright wooden stake that passed through an ample hole in the upper basalt stone (Light weight rock).  An upright handle of the upper stone made it possible to rotate the upper stone about the wooden stake (Pivot).  Grains were put into the pivot hole while the upper stone was being rotated.  Being upper stone rotated, the grains were crushed between the two stones.  Although this milling could be done by one, milling with a companion made the work easy (Matt 24:41).  This type of milling stones was available in villages of India, before grinding machines were introduced.
          Slaves and prisoners of war were used in grinding as Samson did (Jud 16:21; Lam 5:13).  The sound of milling stone in Jew’s house was the sign of life, plenty freedom, food to eat and comfort.  The absence of milling and grinding sound is the sign of poverty and curse.  God warned the Jews through Jeremiah such an absence of sound as a judgment (Jer 25:10).
          Women fetched water both morning and evening. They did not fetch water at noon.  Samaritan women (Jn 4:1-26) were an exception, probably due to her different life style.  It was also unusual for men to fetch water; this was a reason Jesus gave it as a sign for easy identification of the house to prepare the pass over (Lk 14:13). However, men helped to fetch water during marriages and festivals (Jn 2:5-9). Since Israel is hotter and dry climate, they used to buy vegetables daily as to avoid decay and drying of vegetables.  This was the reason Jesus prayed “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt 6:11).  Collecting food, buying vegetables and fetching of water were   responsibilities of mothers and of older women.  Younger women and girls used to keep house clean and to assist in cooking.
          Bread was their basic food.  It was usually made in three sizes (Refer: Bread title under food and meals).  As heat at noon increased it was time for a siesta out of the sun either in house or in cave or under free (Gen 18:1; 1 Sam 24:3; 2 Sam 4:5).  After midday rest, the evening meal had to be prepared mainly consisted of vegetables or a lentil stew (Gen 25:29, 34).  They also had popped corn or parched corn (I Sam 17:17; 25:18).  Jesus referred their two basic meals, breakfast and evening meal (Luke 14:12).
          Washing and bath used to be done at river (Ex 2:5; 2 kings 5:10).  Homes of the wealthy were provided with a both tub. Apart from cooking food and fetching water, women spins, weaves, stitches clothe. She sold her surplus of produces at the market (Pro 31:10-31).
          It was a basic of Jewish crafts.  Although Jewish were good enough in pottery, they never reached the highest standards of decoration as their neighbors.  Clay was exposed to the weather until it was ready for use.  That clay was then mixed with water and trampled into a plastic mud.  Limestone was added to the clay in order to enable the completed article (pot, Jar etc) to with stand heat better and be used for cooking.  Trampling of clay is mentioned in Isaiah 41:25.
          This processed clay was used to pots by the potter while rotating potters wheel.  If a pot did not come to a shape desired by the potter he immediately crushed it and he made new one from the same clay.  Then fresh pots were dried and then baked by fire in kilns.  To decorate pots, they mixed two colors of clay normally red and black.  Burnishing was also another method for decoration.  In this process, they made pots, as well as lamps.
          Breaking of pots was a symbol of judgment (Ps 2:9; Jer 19:10-11; Rev 2:27).  Pieces of broken pots were called ostraca (Potshreds).  These pieces were used as scrapers and writing materials.  They wrote accounts and memory verses of scripture in those pieces.
          During OT times, the Jews were unskillful in carpentry as compared with Phoenicians.  Therefore king of Tyre sent carpenters to build David’s house (1 Chro 14:1).  Carpentry was a rough, tough job, which needed a great deal of physical strength and endurance as well as great skill.  Nevertheless, Jesus was a carpenter (Mk 6:3).  This tells a truth that Jesus was a hard worker before beginning his ministry at the age of thirty. They used tools like axe, chisel, hone for sharpening tools, bow drill, saw, small handsaw, adz, bradawl, mallet, etc.  Axe was made of bronze or iron.  If axe head was lost, it was considered as a disaster because of its cost (2 kings 6:5). Nails were also used to fasten pieces of wood (Jer 10:4).
Metal Worker
          Tubalcain was probably the first metal smith (Gen 4:17, 22).  They used metals like copper, bronze, iron, gold and silver.  Copper ore was taken from deep mines (Job 28:2-11).  Generally metals were extracted from their respective ores by heating into furnaces.  Gold was one of the first metals to be extracted and used.  The Jews were good in arts and crafts of jewelry; therefore goldsmiths were important as a group (Neh 3:8). Since bronze was attractive and cheaper, it was used for decorative substitute (I king 14:27; I King 10:22; 22: 29; Amos 3:15) However, the Jews were less skillful in iron related works, when compared with Philistines.  Philistines had chariots with iron fitting, therefore they dominated (Jud 1:19; I Sam 13:19-22).
          Babylonian took many captives from the elite craftsmen and metal smiths for they were known for skill and arts in metals (2 kings 24:15,16). There were some traveling smiths who worn a metal cross on their forehead.  Scholars suggest that this cross was the “mark of Cain”, given by God to indicate that the descendents of Cain.  Cain simply means metal.
Leather Works
          Leather was used to make tents.  The tentmakers were called as lather worker’s (Act 18:3).  Leather was used to make bottles, boots and military equipments such as helmets, shields and slings.
          Leather worker had first to skin the animal, and to remove the hairs from the hide in order to make supple for use; sometimes he had dyed it as well.  The process of removing skin was combination of scraping, soaking and the application of lime.  Then that skin was soaked in water mixture of oak galls, sumac leaves and dog manure.  This mixture was so bad in smell.  This soaked skin was hammered to make it as fine leather.  If color was needed, it was dyed.The workers were not free from this smell; therefore, it becomes ground for divorce, if his spouse did not like the smell.  It was also easy to identify a tannery from this smell.  Therefore it was easy to identify the house of Simon, the tanner of Joppa (Act 10:6).
          The Jews took wool from the sheep. After washing the wool, it was combed so as to prepare it for spinning.  They made woolen thread.  Dyeing was done for Yarn after washing. A horizontal loom was first used for weaving.  In one of such a looms, Delilah weaved Samson’s hair into a piece of cloth ( Jud 16:13).  Horizontal loom was limited in its width; hence cloth was made to the arm span of the weaver.  Later they developed upright looms in which they could weave wider cloth materials.
Stone Workers
          Masonry was also a craft that was later learned by the Jews from Phoenicians. Masons filled with rock and lime at the trench of foundation and allowed to settle (LK 6:48).  After the foundation was settled, the same mason who laid the foundation built the wall.  According to the custom, one mason would not build on the foundation, which was laid by other. Paul referred this practice when he compared his ministry. (Rom 15:20).      Large and square corner stones were placed at each corners of the building.  These corner stones were not suitable to any other parts of building, nevertheless they were indispensable at the corner for the strength of the building.  Such unsuitable stones were rejected by others.  But a good mason would use such rejected stones as corner stones.  These corner stones provided strength and direction to the building (Ps 118:22).
          In the same way; Jesus the chief corner stone, was rejected by rulers of Jews. However, God being good mason and architect made Jesus as the corner stone for the church.  Thus Jesus gives strength and direction to church (Act 4:11).  Wall of the buildings was build buy limestone.  Limestones were cut in sizes at the quarry, because it was easy to cut into the desired shapes and sizes at quarry, where limestones were soft. Limestone becomes hard on contact with air when they were taken out of underground quarry.  To avoid this hardness, they were usually sized in quarry.  At the site of the building, small amount of chipping was done to bring the stone to the required size, if it was necessary only.  When Solomon built temple, the blocks were finished in the quarry, where a more accurate finish could be obtained because the blocks were still soft (I kings 6:7).  Phoenicians probably helped for this building project.
          Generally houses were built with mud bricks.  Mud was also used both as mortar and as a plaster. The masons built of silos, wells, cisterns, public buildings, arches, roads and aqueducts.  There was a special key stone that held the arch together in arch shaped buildings.  In the same way, Jesus holds the faith of Jews from falling down (Act 4:11).
Medicine and Doctors
          The Egyptians were known for brain surgery.  They bored holes into the skull to send out the evil spirit.  By making holes, they relieved the pressure with in; and this sometimes led to cures of patient. The Jews believed that healing comes from God, if they obeyed God (Exo 15:26).  The law also gave many health laws like Sabbath rest, relaxation, and suitable food, avoiding contaminated water, cleanliness, marriage purity and separation from any contagious disease.  Therefore the Jews were free from many diseases.  When there was sickness, they prayed to God for healing.  They seldom called for doctors.  If any one called doctors, he was told going against the will of God.  (Num 21:7; 2 Kings 20).
          However, Jews applied medicines too! This can be known from Isaiah’s statements regarding Judah’s condition, which could be healed by cleansing, bandaging and ointment (Isa 1:6).  They believed that wine mixed with myrrh was a painkiller, which was given to Jesus to bear pain on the cross (Mt 27:34); that mandrake roots were for conception (Gen 30).
          There was a belief at the time of Jesus, that there was a connection between disease and sin (John 9:2).  However, Jesus did not accept this concept.  Many villages at this time, had doctors.  Therefore woman with the issue of blood could consult many of them (Mk 5:26).  Midwifery was practiced from Old Testament times (Exo 1:15; Ezek 16:4). Early doctors based on the teaching of Hippocrates took an oath; that the life of patient should come first, that they never take advantage of woman; they never procure abortions; and they never reveal confidential information of patient.
          Business, purchase of lands and any transitions were usually done by exchange of equal value of things like, gold, silver, copper.  Abraham weighed out four hundred shekels of silver in payment to purchase a land for burial place (Gen 23:16). There was no mention of coins until Nehemiah (Neh 7:71). When Jesus told his disciples to take no gold or silver, he probably referred to coin age (Mt 10:9). The parable of workers in the Vineyard (Mt 20:1-16) tells that they received one denarious which was then the standard wage for a laborer. Romans allowed Jews to have their local coin; therefore the sole Jewish coin was a copper lepton, which means “thin”.  The widow put them in the treasury (Mk 12:42).
          There were three kinds of coinage such as Roman, Greeks and Jews. When people needed a particular coinage, they went to moneychangers for change of coinage.  Moneychangers charged ten percent for the exchange.  Since Old Testament economy was based on agriculture, there was no need of loans, which would tide a person. For this reason, a charge of interest was not allowed because that would have been making a profit out of a brother’s plight (Ex 22:25; Lev 25:53).  But interest could be collected for the loans given to a foreigner (Deut 23:20).
          In early Israel, taxation was used only to support the temple (Deut 14:22-27; 18:1-5).  When people wanted King, Samuel warned that king might increase taxation for his rule along with tax for temple (I Sam 8:15).  Year after year tax was increased, this led to the division of kingdom.
          During Roman rule, Roman sold the right to collect the taxes in an area to the highest bidder.  The highest bidder (Tax commissioner) would appoint the tax collectors (Publicans).  Zacheaeus was a tax commissioner (Lk 19:8). Levy would have been a local collector (Luk 5:27). Publican collected more tax than permitted by  the Romans; also they were considered as traitors to the foreign rulers.  Therefore the Jews disliked publicans. However Jesus visited publican’s house. 
          Agriculture did not give enough profit in early Israel.  Later as trade with other countries increased, agricultural products gave them profit.  During the time of Ezekiel (27:17-24), they traded wheat, olives, figs, honey and balm with Tyre and they exported wool, woolen cloth, oil and wine to Egypt.  Israel imported timber, tin, lead, silver, copper, spices, silk, jewels and gold.  The important trade route was through sea, controlled by the Phoenicians who had friendship with Solomon.  The kings high way at the east of Jordan and Sea of Galilee connected Damascus.