Handicraft a general term (not occurring, however, in the Bible) for any manufacture. SEE ARTIFICER. Although the extent cannot be ascertained to which those arts were carried whose invention is ascribed to Tubal-Cain (Ge 4:22), it is probable that this was proportionate to the nomadic or settled habits of the antediluvian races. Among nomad races, as the Bedouin Arabs, or the tribes of Northern and Central Asia and of' America, the wants of life, as well as the arts which supply them, are few; — and it is only among the city dwellers that both of them are multiplied and make progress. The following particulars may be gathered respecting the various handicrafts mentioned in he Scriptures. SEE CRAFTSMAN.
1. The preparation of iron for use either in war, in agriculture, or for domestic purposes, was doubtless one (the earliest applications of labor; and, together with iron, working in brass, or, rather, copper alloyed with tin, bronze (נַחשֶׁת, Gesenius, Thes. Heb. p. 875), is mentioned in the same passage as practiced in antediluvian times (Ge 4:22). The use of this last is usually considered as an art of higher antiquity even than that of iron (Hesiod, Works and Days, p. 150; Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 2, 152, abridgment), and there can be no doubt that metal, whether iron or bronze, must have been largely used, either in material or in tools, for the construction of the ark (Ge 6:14,16). Whether the weapons for war or chase used by the early warriors of Syria and Assyria, or the arrow- heads of the archer Ishmael, were of bronze or iron, cannot be ascertained;
but we know that iron was used for warlike purposes by the Assyrians (Layard, Nin. and Bab. p. 194); and, on the other hand, that stone-tipped arrows, as was the case also in Mexico, were used in the earlier times by the Egyptians, as well as the Persians and Greeks, and that stone or flint knives continued to be used by them, and by the inhabit-ants of the desert, and also by the Jews, For religious purposes, after the introduction of iron into general use (Wilkinson, Anc. Ay. 1, 353, 354; 2, 163; Prescott, Mexico, 1, 118; Ex 4:25; Jos 5:2; Jos 1st Egypt. room, Brit. Mus. case 36, 37). In the construction of the tabernacle, copper, but no iron, appears to have been used, though the utility of iron was at the same period well known to the Jews, both from their own use of it and from their Egyptian education, while the Canaanitish inhabitants of Palestine and Syria were in full possession of its use both for warlike and domestic purposes (Ex 20:25; Ex 25:3; Ex 27:19; Nu 35:16; De 3:11; De 4:20; De 8:9; Jos 8:31; Jos 17:16,18). After the establishment of the Jews in Canaan, the occupation of a smith (חָרָשׁ) became recognized as a distinct employment (1Sa 13:19). The designer of a higher order appears to have been called specially חשֵׁב (Gesenius, p. 531; Ex 35:30,35; 2Ch 26:15; Saalschtitz, Arch. Hebr. c. 14, § 16).. The smith's work (including workers in the precious metals) and its results are often mentioned in Scripture (2Sa 12:31; 1Ki 6:7; 2Ch 26:14; Isa 44:12; Isa 54:16). Among the captives taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar were 1000 "craftsmen" and smiths, who were probably of the superior kind (2Ki 24:16; Jer 29:2). SEE CHARASHIIM.
The worker in gold and silver (צוֹרֵŠ; ἀργυροκόπος; χωνευτής, argentarius, aurifex) must have found employment both among the Hebrews and the neighboring nations in very early times, as appears from the ornaments sent by Abraham to Rebekah (Ge 24:22,53; Ge 35:4; Ge 38:18; De 7:25). But, whatever skill the Hebrews possessed, it is quite clear that they must have learned much from Egypt and its "iron- furnaces," both in metal-work and in the arts of setting and polishing precious stones; arts which were turned to account both in the construction of the Tabernacle and the making of the priests' ornaments, and also in the casting of the golden calf as well as its destruction by Moses, probably, as suggested by Goguet, by a method which he had learnt in Egypt (Ge 41:42; Ex 3:22; Ex 12:35; Ex 31:4-5; Ex 32:2,4,20,24; Ex 37:17,24; Ex 38:4,8,24,24-25; Ex 39:6,39; Ne 3:8; Isa 44:12). Various processes of the goldsmiths' work, including operations in the raw material, are illustrated by Egyptian monuments (Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 2, 136,152,162). SEE GOLDSMITH, etc.
After the conquest, frequent notices are found both of molded and wrought metal, including soldering, which last had long been known, in Egypt; but the Phoenicians appear to have possessed greater skill than the Jews in these arts, at least in Solomon's time (Jg 3:24,27; Jg 17:4; 1Ki 7:13,45-46; Isa 41:7; Wisd. 15:4; Ecclus. 38:28; Bar. 6:50, 55, 57; Wilkinson, 2, 162). SEE ZAREPHATH. Even in the desert, mention is made of beating gold-into plates, cutting it into wire, and also of setting precious stones in gold (Ex 39:3,6, etc.; Beckmamn, tist. nouv. 2, 414; Gesenius, p. 1229). SEE METAL.
Among the tools of the smith are mentioned tongs (מֶלקַחִים, λαβίς. forceps, Gesenius, p. 761; Isa 6:6), hammer (פִּטַּישׁ, σφυρἄ, malleus, Gesen. p. 1101), anvil (פִּעִם, Gesenius, p. 1118), bellows. (מִפֻּח, φυσητήρ, sufflatorium, Gesenius, p. 896; Isa 41:7; Jer 6:29; Ecclus. 38:28; Wilkinson, 2, 316). See each word.
In the N.T., Alexander "the coppersmith"(ὁ χαλκεύς) of Ephesus is mentioned, where also was carried on that trade in "silver' shrines"(ναοὶ ἀρλυποῖ) which was represented by Demetrius the silversmith (ἀρλυροκόπος) as being in danger from the spread of Christianity (Ac 19:24,28; 2Ti 4:14). SEE COPPERSMITH.
2. The work of the carpenter' (חָרִשׁ עֵצַים, τέκτω (Wilkinson.) artifex lignarius) is often mentioned in Scripture (e.g. Ge 6:14; Ex 37; Isa 44:13). In the palace built by David for himself, the workmen employed were chiefly Phoenicians sent by Hiram (2Sa 5:11; 1Ch 14:1), as most probably were those, or at least the. principal of those who were employed by Solomon in his works (1Ki 5:6). But in the repairs of the Temple, executed under Joash, king of Judah, and also in the rebuilding under Zerubbabel, no mention is made of foreign workmen, though in the latter case the timber is expressly said to have been brought by sea to Joppa by Zidonians (2Ki 11:11; 2Ch 24:12; Ezr 3:7). That the Jewish carpenters must have been able to carve with some skill is evident from Isa 41:7; Isa 44:13, in which last passage some of the implements used in the trade are mentioned: the rule (שֶׂרֶר, μέτρον, norma, possibly a chalk pencil, Gesenius, p. 1337), measuring-line (קָר, Gesenius, p. 1201), compass (מחיּגָה, παραγραφίς, ypaoil, circinus, Gesenius, p. 450), plane, or smoothing instrument (מַקַצוּעָה, κόλλα, uncina (Gesen. p. 1228, 1338), axe (גִּרזֶן, Gesen. p. 302, or קִרדֹּם, Gesen. p. 1236, ἀξίνη, securis). See each of these words.
The process of the work, and the tools used by Egyptian carpenters, and also coopers and wheelwrights, are displayed in Egyptian monuments and relics; the former, including dovetailing, veneering, drilling, gluing, varnishing, and inlaying, may be seen in Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 2, 111-119. Of the latter, many specimens, including saws, hatchets, knives, awls, nails, a hone, and a drill, also turned objects in bone, exist in the British Museum, 1st Egypt room, case 42-43, Nos. 6046-6188. See also Wilkinson, 2, p. 113, fig. 395. SEE CARPENTER.
In the N.T. the occupation of a carpenter (τέκτων) is mentioned in connection with Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary, and ascribed to our Lord himself by way of reproach (Mr 6:3; Mt 13:55; and Just. Mart. dial. Tryph. c. 88).
3. The masons (גֹּדנרַים, 2Ki 12:12 , wallbuilders, Gesenius, p. 269) employed by David and Solomon, at least the chief of them, were Phoenicians, as is implied also in the word גַּבלַים, men of Gebal, Jebail, Byblus (Gesen. p. 258; 1Ki 5:18; Eze 27:9; Burckhardt, Syria, p. 179). Other terms employed are חָרָשֵׁי אֶבֶן קַיר, workers of wall-stone (2Sa 5:11; 1Ch 22:15); הֹצבַים, stone- cutters or hewers (1Ch 22:2,15, "workers of stone;" Ezr 2:7, etc.). The בֹּנַים (2Ki 12:12) were probably maste-masons ("builders," ver. 11). Among their implements are mentioned the saw (מַגַרָה, πριων), the plumb-line (אֲנָך, Gesen. p. 215), the measuring-reed (קָנֶה, κάλαμος, calamus, Gesen. p. 1221). As they also prepared the stones by hewing (1Ch 22:2), they must have used the chisel and the mallet (מַקָבָה, 1Ki 6:7), though no mention of the former occurs in Scripture. They used also the measuring-line (קָי, Job 38:5; Zec 1:16) and the axe (גַּרַזֶן, 1Ki 6:7). See each word. Some of these, and also the chisel and mallet, are represented on Egyptian monuments (Wilkinson, Anc. Egyptians, 313, 314), or preserved in the British Museum (1st Egypt. room, No. 6114, 6038). The large stones used in Solomon's Temple are said by Josephus to have been fitted together. exactly without either mortar or cramps, but the foundation stones to have been fastened-with lead (Josephus, Ant. 8, 3 2; 15, 11, 3). For ordinary building, mortar, ry1s (Gesen. p. 1328), was used; sometimes, perhaps, bitumer. as was the case at Babylon (Ge 11:3). The lime, clay, and straw of which mortar is generally composed in the East requires to be very carefully mixed and united so as to resist wet (Lane, Mod. Eg. 1. 27; Shaw, Travels, p. 206). The wall "daubed with untempered mortar"of Ezekiel (Eze 13:10) was perhaps a sort of cob-wall of mud or clay Without lime (תָּפֵל, Gesenius, p. 1516),which would give way under heavy rain. The use of whitewash on tombs is remarked by our Lord (Mt 23:27; see also Mishn. Maaser Sheni, 5, 1). Houses infected with leprosy were required by the law to be replastered (Le 14:40-45). For kindred works in earth and clay, SEE BRICK, SEE POTTER; SEE GLASS, etc.
4. Akin to the craft of the carpenter is that of ship and boat building, which must have been exercised to some extent for the fishing-vessels on the lake of Gennesaret (Mt 8:23; Mt 9:1; Joh 21:3,8). Solomon built at Ezion-Geber ships for his foreign trade, which were manned by Phoenician crews, an experiment which Jehoshaphat endeavored n vain to renew (1 Kings 9:26, 27: 22:487 2Ch 20:36-37). The shipmen were הבֵל, a sailor (Jon 1:6; Eze 27:8,27-29; ναύτης, Ac 27:30; Re 18:17); רַב הִחבל, shipmaster (Jon 1:6; ναύκληρος, Ac 27:11); מַלָּח, mariner (Eze 27:9, etc.; Jon 1:5). SEE SHIP.
5. The perfumes used in the religious services, and in later times in the funeral rites of monarchs, imply knowledge and practice in the art of the "apothecaries"(יִקָּחים, μυρεψοί, pigmentarii), who appear to have formed a guild or association (Ex 30:25,35; Ne 3:8: 2Ch 16:14; Ec 7:1; Ec 10:1; Ecclus. 38:8). SEE PERFUME.
6. The arts of spinning and weaving both wool and linen were carried on in early times, as they still are usually among the Bedouins, by women. The women spun and wove goat's hair and flax for the Tabernacle, as in later times their skill was employed in like manner for idolatrous purposes. One of the excellences attributed to the good housewife is her skill and industry in these arts (Ex 35:25-26; Le 19:19; De 22:11; 2Ki 23:7; Eze 16:16; Pr 31:13,24, Burckhardt, Notes on Bed. 1, 65; comp. Homer, II. 1, 123; Od. 1, 356; 2, 104). The loom, with its beam (מָנוֹר, μεσάντιον, liciatorium, 1Sa 17:7; Gesen. p. 883), pin (יָתֵד, πάσσαλος, clavus, Jg 16:14; Gesen. p. 643), and shuttle (אֶרֶג, δρομεύς, Job 7:6; Gesen. p. 146) was, perhaps, introduced later, but as early as David's time (1Sa 17:7), and worked by men, as was the case in Egypt, contrary to the practice of other nations. This trade also appears to have been practiced hereditarily (1Ch 4:21; Herod. 2, 35; Sophocles, (Ed. Col. 339). SEE WEAVING.
Together with weaving we read also of embroider, in which gold and silver threads were interwoven with the body of the stuff, sometimes in figure patterns, or with precious stones set in the needlework (Ex 26:1; Ex 28:4; Ex 39:6-13). SEE EMBROIDERY.
7. Besides these arts, those of dyeing and of dressing cloth were practiced in Palestine [ SEE FULLER, etc.], and those also of tanning and dressing leather (Jos 2:15-18; 2Ki 1:8; Mt 3:4; Ac 9:43; Mishna, Megill. 3, 2). Shoemakers, barbers, and tailors are mentioned in the Mishna (Pesach, 4, 6): the barber (גִּלָּב, κουρεύς, Gesenius, p. 283), or his occupation, by Ezekiel (Eze 5:1; Le 14:8: Nu 6:5; Josephus, Ant. 16, II, 5; War, 1, 27, 5; Mishna, Shabb. 1, 2); and the tailor (1:3), plasterers, glaziers, and glass vessels, painters and goldworkers, are mentioned in Mishna (Chel. 8, 9; 29, 3, 4; 30, 1).
The art of setting and engraving precious stones was known to the Israelites from a very early period (Ex 28:9 sq.). See GEM. Works in alabaster were also common among them (בָתֵּי הִנֶפֶשׁ, smelling-boxes, or boxes of perfume; comp. Mt 26:7, etc.). SEE ALABASTER. They also adorned their houses and vessels with ivory (1Ki 22:39; Am 3:15; Am 6:4; Song 5:14). SEE IVORY.
Tent-makers (σκηνοποιοί) are noticed in the Acts (Ac 18:3), and frequent allusion is made to the trade of the potters. See each word.
8. Bakers (אֹפַים, Gesen. p. 136) are noticed in Scripture as carrying on their trade (Jer 37:21; Ho 7:4; Mishna, Chel. 15, 2); and the well-known valley Tyropoeon probably derived its name from the occupation of the cheese-makers, its inhabitants (Josephus War, 5, 4, 1). Butchers, not Jewish, are spoken of in 1Co 10:25.
Trade in all its branches was much developed after the Captivity; and for a father to teach his son a trade was reckoned not only honorable, but indispensable (Mishna, Pirke Ab. 2, 2; Kiddush. 4, 14). Some trades, however, were regarded as less honorable (Jahn, ibl Arch. § 84).
Some, if not all, trades had special localities, as was the case formerly in European and is now in Eastern cities (Jer 37:21; 1Co 10:25; Josephus, War, 5, 4, 1, and 8, 1; Mishna, Becor. 5, 1; Russell, Aleppo, 1, 20; Chardin, Voyages, 7, 274, 394; Lane, Mod. gq. 2, 145). SEE BAZAAR.
One feature, distinguishing Jewish from other workmen, deserves peculiar notice, viz. that they were not slaves, nor were their trades necessarily hereditary, as was and is so often the case among other, especially heathen nations (Jahn, Bibl. Arch. c. 5, § 81-84; Saalschitz, Hebr. Arch. c. 14). SEE MECHANIC.