Mechanic The Hebrews appear to have learned in Egypt the elements at least of all the forms of handicraft practiced in that highly-civilized country, and later their neighbors the Phoenicians, famous in early times for their progress in the industrial arts, doubtless exerted a further influence upon them; nevertheless, down at least to the close of the period of the judges, the skill of the Hebrews in manufactures was quite inconsiderable (1Sa 13:20). Many of the handicrafts were practiced by the proprietor of the house (landowner) himself (comp. Homer, Odyss. v,243), chiefly the coarser kinds of work (i.e. in wood), while other sorts fell to the female head of the family, such as baking (2Sa 13:8), weaving and embroidering (Ex 35:28; Pr 31:24), and the making up of garments, including those of the men (Pr 31:21; 1Sa 2:19; Ac 9:39). SEE WOMAN, and comp. the Mishna, Kethuboth, v. 5. But all the varied forms of manufacture, which, being generally executed by dint of actual manipulation, required a good degree of personal dexterity, were carried on among the Hebrews by the owners themselves, who were not slaves. So in the Homeric poems several kinds of mechanic arts appear (Hiad, 4:110, 485; 18:601; Odyss. 3:425, 432; see Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterth. II, 1:47 sq.).
Accordingly we find mention of the gold and silver smith (צוֹרֵŠ or מצָרֵŠ, Jg 17:4; Isa 40:19; Jer 10:14, etc.), who especially fabricated idols, or plated and ornamented them; the apothecary (רֹקֵח or רִקִּח, Ex 30:35; comp. μυρεψός, Ecclus. 38:7); the artificer (חָרָשׁ, Ex 35:35; De 27:15; 1Sa 13:19), a term inclusive of blacksmiths (חָרָשֵׁי בִּרזֶל, Isa 44:12; 2Ki 24:14; 1Sa 13:19; Tam. נִפָּחַין, Mishna, Chel. 14:3) and braziers (ח8 נחשֶׁת Kings 7:14; comp. χαλκεύς)C, 2Ti 4:14), as well as carpenters (ח8 עֵוֹ. 2Sa 5:11; Isa 44:13; comp. τέκτων, Mt 3:17; Mr 6:3; also cabinet-makers, Mishna, Baba Kamma, 9:3) and masolis (קַיר חָרָשֵׁי, 1Ch 14:1); the stone- squarers (חֹצבֵי אֶבֶן , 2Ki 12:12), which was distinct from the last named, but whether the plasterers .(תָפֵל טָחֵי, Eze 13:11) were a separate trade from the masons is not clear; the potter (יֹצֵר Isa 29:16, etc.; κερμεύς, Mt 27:7,10; comp. Gesenius, Monum. Phoen. p. 161); the locksmith (מִסגֵּר, Jer 29:2); the fuller (בֹּבֵס or מכִבֵּס i 2Ki 18:17; γναφεύς, Mr 9:3; comp. Gesen. ut sup. p. 181); the weaver (אֹרֵג) early (Ex 28:32) formed a separate branch of industry (especially in fabrics of byssus, 1Ch 4:21), and in large cities the baker (אֹפֶה, Ho 7:4; Jer 37:21; see Josephus, Ant. 15:9, 2; but Lu 11:2, does not: rove the absence of such a trade); later also the barber (גִּלִּב, Eze 5:1) is named (סִפָּר, according to the Targum of Jonath. at Le 13:45; Mishna, Shabb. 1:2). See each in its place. 'Nevertheless, that the Hebrews took no very high rank in the fine styles of work, especially those in which labor passes over into an art, appears from the fact that a single individual often carried on several trades at once (Ex 31:3 sq.; 2Ch 2:14); while David and Solomon are recorded as having imported for their structures Phoenician (Sidonian) artificers (1Ki 5:6; 1Ch 14:1; 2Ch 2:7,14, etc.). SEE PHOENICIA.
After the exile handicrafts and arts in general stood in greater esteem among the Jews, so that experts were found among them, and their productions acquired considerable reputation (see Rosenmuller, Morgenland, 6:42). It passed for a sign of a bad bringing up when a father failed to teach his son a trade (Mishna, Kiddush. 4:14; Lightfoot, p 616; comp. Pirke Aboth, 2:2; Wagenseil, Sota, p. 597; Otho, Lex. Rabb. p.491). In the Apocrypha of the Old Test. there are mentioned the κεραμεύς , as a moulder of figures of clay (Wisd. 15:8), the χρυσουρνός, ἀργυροχόος, and χαλκοπλάστης among metal-workers (Wisd. 15:19), chiefly as tributary to idol image-makers.; in the New Test. the tanner (βυρσεύς, Ac 9:43; Ac 10:6,32; Talm. מורסיין orעבדנין, Chel. 15:1), the tentmaker (σκηνοποιός, Ac 18:3); in Josephus occur the cheese- makers (τυροποιοί, War, v. 4, 1), the barbers (κουριεῖς, Ant. xvi, 5; War, 1:27, 5), who were of service to princes; in the Talmud, among others, the tailor (הייט, Shabb. 1:3), the shoemaker (רצען, Pesach, 4:6), the plasterer (סייד , Chel. 29:3), the glazier (גזז, Chel. 8:9), the goldsmith (זהר, Chel. 29:6), the dyer (צבע, comp. Thilo, Apocr. p. 111). Some of these occupations were of so low repute that those who followed them could not attain the office of high-priest (Kiddush. lxxxii. 1); viz. those of the weaver, the barber, the fuller, the apothecary, the bloodletter, the bath- keeper, the tanner, which avocations, especially the barber's and the tanner's, were very odious (Kiddush. 4:14; Megilla, 3:2; comp. Otho, Lex. Rabb. p. 155; Wetstein, Nov. Test. 2:516). The workshops or place of business of the artisans appear (in the larger cities) to have been in certain streets or squares (bazaars, Tournefort, Trav. 2:322), where they were collected (Jer 39:18); as in the Talmud, for instance, there is mention (Surenhusius, Mischna, v. 169, 225) of a meat-market (אישלין אטלס), and in Josephus (War, v. 4, 1) of a cheese-maker's valley (the Tyropceon), as likewise of forges and dealers in wool and garments (War,v. 8, i). On occasions of public mourning such places were closed (Philo, 2:525). See generally, Iken, Antiq. Hebr. 2:578 sq.; Bellermann, Handb. 1:221 sq. SEE HANDICRAFT.