A brief survey of Bible people's clothes, work and homelife.
Life was not easy in Bible times and people worked very hard. All
their clothing had to be made by hand. The men would shear the sheep
and then the women would wash the wool and lay it out to dry in the sun.
Next, with a spindle, they spun the the wool into threads and then
wove this into cloth on a hand loom. The cloth would then be sewn by
hand into clothes.
Mary, the mother of Jesus was a clever mother, because she wove him a
one-piece garment that the soldiers gambled for at His crucifixion.
Jesus and all the people wore sandles made from leather with thongs to
tie them onto the feet.
The main foods people ate were bread, olives, fruit, vegetables, milk,
cheese, and fish. Bread was the basic food, and had to be made
fresh every day. The women ground the grain into flour and then
mixed this with water and a little dough saved from a previous baking
to make the bread rise. The dough was shaped into round, flat
cakes which could be folded over cheese, olives or figs before baking
in an oven.
Some men were shepherds like king David in his youth. With their
crooks and slingshots they would watch over the sheep and protect them
from wolves and other animals, and ensure that none got lost.
Many farmers grew olives, while others had vineyards of grapes which
were used for food, raisins, and wine. And then there were
farmers who grew wheat and barley grains needed for their food and
A number of men like the apostle Paul, were tent makers. They would
weave cloth and use it to make tents for shepherds and the Roman
soldiers. Other men were bricklayers or workers who hammered
copper into trays, basins, dishes and other useful items.
Potters made clay pots, water jars and the storage jars that were used in
every home. He would put his wet clay onto a wheel which he then
turned with his feet, while his fingers shaped the clay. The jars
were then baked in a kiln or furnace and sold in the market place.
Carpentry was an important craft. Joseph was a carpenter and young
Jesus learned this trade from him. They made plowshares for the
farmers to plow with, pulled by a team of oxen. They also made
wooden chests, tables, cradles, doors and roof beams for people's
The traders who travelled with their caravans would sit and talk with the
villagers while their camels rested from the journey. Then they
would unload their goods and sell them in the market place. They
showed people how to keep accounts on clay tablets and how to send
letters. They told of new ideas and customs in other lands and
carried local ideas to other villages.
In those days, the scribes were important men who wrote on clay tablets
and later on papyrus which was like paper, but made from reeds.
They were important as they wrote letters for businessmen, made copies
of the law on scrolls, and explained to the people the meaning of all
kinds of laws and rules.
Many men were fishermen, like Simon and Andrew, who were casting their
nets for fish when Jesus called to them to follow Him, and become
"Fishers of Men". Fishermen in Bible times used baited hooks on
lines to catch fish or otherwise used nets with small weights around
the edges to make them sink into the water. They would throw the
net ahead of them or let it down into the water over the side of a
boat. After a time they would pull the edges and draw up many
fishes - if they were lucky!
In the evenings when work was done, each family and their friends would
relax on the roof of their house. In pleasant weather they
could eat on the roof and watch the stars and enjoy the cool evening
air after the heat of the day. At night they would go into their
houses, which usually had only one room.
The room was divided into two parts by a high platform, and the lower
part of the room housed the family's animals. The family slept
above on the platform. As the cooking fires in the centre of the
room died down into embers, each member of the family would snuggle up
in his bedroll for a sound night's sleep!