The number five, with its immediate connection to the fingers of one hand, often represents a small amount in the Bible. The idea expressed in modern terms is “just a handful.” When faced with the hunger of five thousand, all Jesus’ disciples could come up with was a child’s lunch of five loaves and two fish (John 6:9). Yet Jesus had no problem multiplying that small gift into abundance for the meal. Isaiah mentions five Egyptian cities that will be unusual as a foreign remnant from that land and that will “swear
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Trumpets in Bible times were made of metal or bone and formed into an instrument at least two feet long. They had a high sound that could be regulated to some degree, but they were used more for signaling than for making music. Rams’ horns, also called shofar, were signaling instruments used to assemble the army (Judg 3:27; 1Sam 13:3) or sound an alarm (Job 39:24-25; Jer 6:1; Amos 3:6). They are the most commonly mentioned instrument in the Bible, with seventy-two references.
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Creation starts the Bible, in the book of Genesis
The end of the world finishes it, in Revelation. That could lead us to think the Bible is printed in chronological order. But it’s not. If it were, Job would likely come after Genesis. That’s because Job seems to have lived in about the time of Abraham, whose story appears in Genesis. Instead, Job’s story comes after Esther, though this Persian queen wasn’t born for at least 1,500 years after Abraham and Job. The Bible is a library of 66 books written in many genres and over a span of more than a thousand years. How
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Silver is one of the precious metals mentioned frequently in the Bible. It symbolizes value. Proverbs uses silver alone with gold as significant measures of the even greater value of wisdom: “The profit gained from wisdom is greater than the profit gained from silver. Its yield is better than fine gold” (3:4).
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One of the earliest of iron in making swords. The sword was the primary weapon of warfare throughout the ancient world. As such, it became the primary symbol of warfare in general. The Israelites “put [cities] to the sword” (Deu 13:14 NIV) and “smote [them with the edge of the sword” (Num 21:24 KJV). The defeated enemy was “cut . . . down with
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AQUILA (uh QUILL uh)
First century AD
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Thoughts about Eden make us look back and look forward. The beautiful garden where the first human beings were created is a symbol of a perfect beginning before sin shattered the creation. It was a protected place where God provided for every creature’s needs and had a face-to-face relationship with the man and woman, walking with them in the cool of the day. That Eden is gone. While the general location of the garden is indicated as the Tigris and Euphrates valley (along with two other water channels no longer functioning), all evidence of the paradise that was there has long been erased. The place exists, but the paradise is lost. What a fitting metaphor for the spiritual price we paid for the fall and the curse of sin. But a new heaven and new earth have been promised, an Eden-like place that will once again be the home of those who have been rescued from sin and given an eternal destiny with God.
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Entertainment and spectator/participatory sports did not develop until Greek and Roman times. Races had been run in Israel (Jeremiah 12:5), but they were not for entertainment. It was the promotion of sports in the Greek fashion in 170 BC that led to the division among Jews between Sadducees and Hasidim.
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The Jewish diet was generally good for health. (For instance, Daniel and his friends looked far healthier on a vegetarian diet than did their companions who ate meat, Daniel 1:5-16.) The Jewish food laws gave a good degree of protection from food poisoning when cooking temperatures were low. The biggest health problem concerned the water, which
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Grapevines are a plant well suited to the climate of Palestine. Grapes were cultivated as far back as Noah’s day (Gen 9:20) and were eaten fresh, dried, or crushed to make juice, vinegar, or wine. In an area where water was often in short supply, the juice from grapes became crucial for life. Clusters of grapes as large as five kilograms (twelve pounds) have been reported in Palestine, giving validity to the spies’ account of the grapes in Canaan in
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