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Life in Bible times: Weavers and Looms

Bible overview
Life in Bible times. Weavers, spindles and looms.
Contributed by David Padfield
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Weaving was practised from early Bible times (Exodus 35:35). The Egyptians were especially skilled in it (Isaiah 19:9, Ezekiel 27:7) and the Israelites most likely learnt it from them. Joseph wore fine linen (Genesis 41:42). – Slide 1
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Men wove in ancient times (I Chronicles 4:21) and Bezaleel was skilled in the art (Exodus 35:35). However, it is generally referred to as a task done by women (1 Samuel 2:19, Proverbs 31:13). – Slide 2
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The book of Proverbs talks about a woman whose ‘hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fibre’ (Proverbs 31:19). – Slide 3
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Wool was extensively used for clothing (Leviticus 13:47, Proverbs 27:26, Ezekiel 27:18) while for finer work flax was used. Sometimes flax and wool were woven together (Leviticus 19:19). – Slide 4
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Coarser kinds of garment such as tent cloth, sack cloth and ‘hairy garments’ of the poor were made of goats or camel hair. Elijah and John the Baptist wore such clothes. – Slide 5
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Fleeces were gathered from sheep to make wool. – Slide 6
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A spindle was used to twist the fibres into length of yarn. – Slide 7
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Stands of the fibre were fed on to the wooden spindle. – Slide 8
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The spindle was then spun … – Slide 9
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… to twist the fibre into balls of yarn. – Slide 10
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Looms were generally upright frames made of wood. Delilah used such a loom to weave Samson’s long hair (Judges 16:13-14). – Slide 11
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Lengths of yarn were hung from a top frame to fall vertically to the ground. – Slide 12
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Small weights were tied to the base of these to keep them taut. – Slide 13
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The weaver would then use a wooden shuttle to thread the horizontal threads of wool back and forwards through the vertical threads. We read of a shuttle in Job 7:6. – Slide 14
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Using this method elaborate patterns could be woven using dyed wool. The Babylonians wove pictures of men and animals on their clothes. Textures with golden thread were considered the most valuable (Psalm 45:13). – Slide 15
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Some garments were woven without a seam. Priestly garment were woven in this way. Jesus wore a seamless coat. It was a valuable item, hence the soldiers who crucified Jesus cast lots to see who would have it (John 19:23). – Slide 16
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