Carpentry in the Bible

From Issue: Discovery 2/1/2014

The Bible mentions several carpenters. Noah acted as a carpenter when he built the ark (Genesis 6:14).Bezalel was the carpenter who made the ark of the covenant out of acacia wood (Exodus 37:1). Carpenters were used to build King David’s palace (2 Samuel 5:11). Carpenters were used to build the Temple in Solomon’s day, and to repair damages to the Temple years later (1 Kings 5:6,18; 2 Kings 12:11; 22:6). And carpenters were used to rebuild the Temple after the Babylonians destroyed it (Ezra 3:7).

Jesus was said to be a carpenter since He was the adopted son of Joseph (Mark 6:3). Carpenters at that time would have created mainly farm tools (like carts, plows, winnowing forks, and yokes) and things that were part of houses (doors, frames, posts, and beams). They also would have made furniture and kitchen utensils. But carpenters could not go to a lumber yard and buy smooth, pre-cut lumber. They would have had to cut down trees and use tools to chop, chip, and smooth the wood. They would have used axes, hammers, saws, planes, and chisels (1 Samuel 13:20; 1 Kings 6:7; Judges 4:21; Isaiah 10:15; 44:13). Carpentry work was physically challenging, causing the carpenter’s body to be sturdy and muscular.

Jesus spent His childhood years being an obedient son, and maybe even working with his adopted father as a carpenter. But as important as it is for all of us to learn a profession so we can earn a living and support our families (Ephesians 4:28), we must remember that our primary job is to live the Christian life. As Jesus explained to His earthly parents: “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).


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