« PreviousContinue »
Abyssinia. This is the representation of an Egyptian loom,
from a painting at
Beni Hassan :-(, b, 64
rollers for carrying and tightening the warp; C, C, C, warp; d, d, frame of the machine; e, f, movable bars, for pressing the successive weft-threads together; g, roller for receiving the cloth when woven; k, hooked stick, (used instead of a shuttle) to carry the weftthreads.
sents an Egyptian 9
weaver at work; it is copied from an
ancient painting, and shows much more machinery than the simple family loom already described.
As an additional proof that the manufactures among the Jews were not extensive, we may refer to Ezekiel xxvii. In that chapter the prophet describes, very minutely, all the articles in which the merchants of Tyre dealt; but none of them came from Judæa, except “wheat, honey, oil, and balm,” ver. 17; all of which were productions of the soil of that country.
The account given of many articles made for the use of the tabernacle, Exod. xxv. 25, 26, and for the temple, shows that they were made by the Israelites, rather as family employments, than as regular manufactures. Solomon sent to Huram, king of Tyre, 2 Chron. ii. 7, 13, for a man skilful enough to direct the manufacture of the articles he wished to have made for the temple.
Shoes and clothes were also made at home: this was usual in other countries. Homer describes Eumeas, the very respectable steward of king Ulysses, employed in making his own shoes. Sometimes these articles might be sold, Amos. ii. 6; but that was usually by way of barter: and there is no mention of regular shoemakers or tailors, as tradesmen.
There were few butchers or bakers. The country people brought meat and other articles of food to the large towns. The men of Tyre, Neh. xiii. 16, did so, and sold them in the market at Jerusalem. We read of the sheep-market, and other similar places. In the case of the men of Tyre, just mentioned, the purchase and sale of provisions on the sabbath was forbidden. It is sad to think how many in our land constantly break the fourth commandment.
That bakers were not common, we may suppose from the distress of David, 1 Sam. xxi. 3. He would hardly have been so urgent with the priests of Nob, to give him the shewbread, if he could have bought bread. We read, Jer. xxxvii. 21, of a bakers' street: but this was in later times, and at Jerusalem. Our blessed Lord told his disciples to buy bread for the multitude, but they did not consider it could be done, John vi. 5–7; and a boy appears to have followed the crowd with a few loaves and fishes for sale, verse 9.
In the New Testament, there is mention of several trades. Joseph was a carpenter, Matt. xiii. 55; Mark vi. 3; Simon, a tanner, Acts ix. 43; Demetrius, a silversmith, Acts xix. 24; Alexander, a coppersmith, 2 Tim. iv. 14; Paul and Aquila were tent makers, Acts xviii. 3; or, it is supposed, upholsterers: Lydia, a seller of purple, or dyer, ch. xvi. 14. The preparation of leather was, and still is, an important art in the east, from the many uses to which the skins of beasts are applied, particularly for water skins. The bark of oak, or the peels of pomegranates, are often used for tanning. Robinson describes a manufactory at Hebron, where he saw 1500 goat-skins in preparation.
There is another employment frequently spoken of in the Scriptures—the fishermen mending their nets, Matt. iv. 21; Mark i. 19. No doubt they also made their own nets. M'Cheyne describes the nets he saw used in Egypt, and at the sea of Galilee ; a sort of purse net, but in fishing from boats, larger nets would be used. The fact that the gospel was made known through the world by the preaching of twelve persons, who were plain fishermen, or others much of the same class, is one of the strongest proofs that can be of the Divine origin of the Christian religion, and that its prevalence has not been owing to human contrivance or art.
The first mention in the Bible respecting trade, Gen. xxxvii., is about the Midianites and Ishmaelites, who were carrying spices, and balm, and myrrh, from Gilead to Egypt. These articles were much used in that country,
It is a
for embalming the bodies of the dead. Nicodemus brought a quantity of spices for the body of Jesus, John xix. 39. But those merchants appear to have been willing to buy anything whereby they could make a profit ; so they bought Joseph, and paid twenty pieces of silver to his brethren for him. They do not seem to have cared whether the sons of Jacob had any right to sell Joseph : they doubtless were aware that the Hebrews were doing wrong; but, like too many, even at the present day, they did not mind whether this were the case or not, if they could make a profit by what they bought. When the merchants took Joseph down to Egypt, they little thought that the poor lad was a treasure more precious than all their spices, and balm, and myrrh; and that their poor young slave would one day be the lord of Egypt.
Also notice, that these merchants dealt in slaves. very dreadful thing, that men, women, and children, should be sold like cattle, and that by persons called Christians.
In the law, as delivered to Moses, there are no precepts or regulations respecting trade. The neighbouring nations were idolaters, and the Hebrews could not have intercourse in trade with them without danger of being led away from the true religion. But trade and commerce were not forbidden : there are positive commands for just and true dealings in the way of trade, Deut. xxv. 15, 16, “Thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have : that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, (those who have unjust weights and measures, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.”
M'Cheyne observed, that the people often used stones as weights, as Lev. xix. 36 : “ Just balances, just stones (as weights) shall ye have.”
It would be well if this and similar texts were written up in every shop and warehouse ; but still better, if they were written upon the hearts of all buyers and sellers. See also Prov. xi. 1. In later times, the Jews traded more with the surrounding nations ; see 1 Kings x. 22, 28, 29; and 2 Chron. viii. 17, 18. Trade was encouraged by king Solomon, and was accounted honourable. In 1 Kings xxii. 48, we read of king Jehoshaphat preparing ships to trade with Ophir ; but when Ahaziah, a wicked king of Israel, wanted him to join in this trade, he refused, 49.
MONEY AND COMMERCE.
Money is often mentioned in Scripture. The earliest notice is Gen. xxiii. 16, where Abraham paid a sum of four hundred shekels of silver to Ephron, “money current with the merchant.” It is not supposed that this was coined money, but only that weight in silver ; for the ancient method of receiving or paying money was by weighing the
pieces of metal, as is now usual in China and in some other countries. Malcolm says, “Burmah has no coinage. Silver passes in fragments of all sizes, and the amount of every transaction is regularly weighed out.” There is no certainty of any coinage of money among the Jews, till the time of Judas Maccabeus, long after the return from Babylon. The penny paid to the labourers, Matt. xx. 9, for their day's wages, was a Greek silver coin, worth about seven pence, which would then purchase more food than two or three times that sum now would buy. In later times, the Greek and Roman money was current in Judæa, Matt. xxii. 20. In this money the taxes were paid. The reader will recollect that a publican was one who collected the taxes and custom money, Matt. ix. 9 ; Mark ii. 14. Matthew and Zaccheus were such. In general, the publicans were guilty of fraud : they were also much hated by the Jews for being the officers of their foreign rulers. On these accounts they are spoken of in the manner we read in the Gospels.
Even now in the east, the traveller is often stopped by toll collectors, who are very insolent and oppressive. Bruce and Morier describe the extortions they practise when they are able to enforce their demands.
Much of the ancient Greek and Roman money consisted of the pieces now called medals. Some record the conquest of Judæa by the Romans, representing that country as a female captive sitting under a palm tree, they testify the truth of Scripture.
Our blessed Lord referred to merchants and trade. In Matt. xiii. 45, 46, is the parable of the merchant-man, who sought for goodly pearls; and, in Matt. xxv. 16, 17, we