Working in clay is one of the ancient professions. Long before paper, damp clay served as a surface to receive the marks that represented early writing called cuneiform. And people discovered that baked clay contained water and could be used for cooking more efficiently than tightest woven baskets. When one of our brilliant ancestors discovered the potter’s wheel, the age of clay had arrived. Eventually, clay pots became widely used
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
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.
The number 144,000 is used in only one book of the Bible: Revelation. The number relates to a group mentioned in Revelation 7:4-8 made up of twelve thousand people from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The significance of twelve is heightened by using twelve times twelve as a number. This large, exact number is immediately followed by an even larger and more expansive number in verse 9 (“a large crowd from every
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).
The rainbow is the primary biblical symbol most people can identify. Children in Sunday school learn early on about Noah’s ark and the rainbow that accompanied God’s promise to never again destroy the whole earth by flood:
During the exodus, the people of Israel repeatedly rebelled against God and didn’t trust his Word, so God sent “poisonous snakes” (Num 21:6) into the camp as a punishment for their sin. Some translation call them “fiery serpents.” When the Israelites repented and begged for deliverance, God told Moses to create a bronze serpent and put
Camels were a common sight throughout Bible times, particularly in cities and villages along caravan routes, where these long-distance beasts of burden might pause for a night before trudging on to their destination. In addition to being a means of
God wanted to dwell among his people. How does a holy God dwell among sinful people? First God required the people to sacrifice a perfect animal for their sins (Lev 17:11). The blood of the animal was important to justify the people before God. Only the finest animal-a perfect one-was good enough. Sacrifices needed to be offered on a regular basis (Heb 9:25). The person bringing the offering would put his hand on the head of the lamb
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