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Occupations in Bible times: Carpenters

Bible overview
Carpenters and their work in Bible times.
Contributed by David Padfield
Story also available on our translated websites: Spanish, Polish, Hindi
Carpenters in the Bible have significance, as Joseph was a carpenter and trained Jesus up in this trade (Matthew 13:55). People said of Jesus ‘Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary?’ (Mark 6:3). – Slide 1
Carpenters often had a workshop and many could work with stone, iron, and copper, as well as in wood (2 Samuel 5:11, 1 Chronicles 14:1, Mark 6:3). – Slide 2
They worked at a coarse wooden carpenter’s table. – Slide 3
Isaiah mentions four of the tools of a carpenter: a measuring line, a marking tool, a plane and an axe. (Isaiah 44:14). – Slide 4
The axe was used to shape timber as well as fell trees. It had an iron head fastened to a wooden handle with a thong. (Deuteronomy 19:5 and 2 Kings 6:5). – Slide 5
In early times people used ribbon flint tools as saws. Later these were made from strips of metal that had been set in frames of wood. – Slide 6
The carpenter’s saw is mentioned in the Bible (1 Kings 7:9). – Slide 7
Hammers were made of stone or metal and mallets of wood. Jeremiah refers to the use of hammer and nails (Jeremiah 10:4). – Slide 8
The use of an awl is mentioned in Exodus 21:6 and Deuteronomy 15:17. These instruments for boring were often set in bone handles. – Slide 9
Chisels were made of bronze or iron. – Slide 10
Some carpenters worked with a bow drill. A bow string would be twisted so it could turn a drill. It could also turn wood, allowing the carpenter to shape it with chisels, a form of early lathe. – Slide 11
Carpenters made wooden ploughs and yokes which were vital for farming. – Slide 12
They also made furniture for homes such as doors, roofs, tables, stools and storage chests. The word ‘carpenter’ can also mean builder. – Slide 13
The most ornamental work would be panelling for roofs, latticework for windows and decorative art on house doors. – Slide 14
A carpenter took great pride in his work and displayed a high level of craftsmanship. – Slide 15
Slide 16