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Forum topic by Kent Shepherd posted 07-01-2009 08:42 PM 11294 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Kent Shepherd

2715 posts in 2706 days

07-01-2009 08:42 PM

I wasn’t sure where to post this, but tools seemed to be as good as any.

For a long time I have kicked around an idea for a drama to do in church. The premise would be Joseph the Carpenter doing a monalogue while actually dong some sort of woodworking. My question is—I’m having a hard time finding any good history on early Jewish tools. I wanted to keep it as authentic as possible, but don’t know where to start. I’ve found more info on Roman tools from that time frame, including the project that Yorkshire Stewart did some time ago, but not much at all for Israel itself. Maybe some of you from that part of the world could help.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.



22 replies so far

View patron's profile


13524 posts in 2761 days

#1 posted 07-01-2009 08:49 PM

square , compass , plumb , level ,
they were all used to build solomans temple .
check a freemason site for replicas .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View kiwi1969's profile


609 posts in 2861 days

#2 posted 07-01-2009 11:48 PM

Try this link, scroll down and you will see the ancient egyptian woodworking page which you can download to pdf. It,s not from palistine but it,s close and would have been very familiar to them. I believe that in palastine, being at the crossroads of the ancient world, they would have known about tools and skills from east and west so egyptian and roman and probably indian tools would have been known. On a curious note, in syria they push their handplanes like europeans and pull their bowsaws like the japanese.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View roadrunner0925's profile


43 posts in 3040 days

#3 posted 07-02-2009 02:01 AM

since rome was a power and influence through that time frame, maybe their tools were used by the jewish people. just a thought…

-- wm, brandon,ms

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Craftsman on the lake

2506 posts in 2857 days

#4 posted 07-02-2009 02:24 AM

Hmm.. when they translated the Bible from greek versions long ago, the word for ‘builder’ they used was the term carpenter. But actually there was very little carpentry and the metal tools needed for that Joseph would never have been able to acquire. They were expensive and only for the rich artisans. Joseph was a mason. Look at the old buildings and ruins in Jerusalem. They were all made of flat stones laid upon each other. All the buildings are made that way. Almost no wood in them as there was very little wood to be had. Joseph was probably the correct term for ‘builder’ at the time. A laborer, one of the poorest and hardest on the back professions of the time. You can’t go by biblical movies or famous art that was made a thousand years later. But because we as a culture have that vision of the holy family in our minds then I suppose it’s ok to make him a carpenter.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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Michael Clark

28 posts in 2743 days

#5 posted 07-02-2009 04:02 AM

I’d love to see the script. I once wrote an Easter thing that didn’t feature Jesus at all, it was all people that had interacted with him. One guy had to play a centurion. Some how, he managed to acquire first century Roman replica armor.

Everybody else had cheap, poorly made robes and turbans.

Back on topic…

I think the tools would be more Roman in style:

-- Sometimes... At night... My router tells me to do things to wood. Bad Things.

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Kent Shepherd

2715 posts in 2706 days

#6 posted 07-02-2009 07:52 PM

Thanks for the input guys. I’ll check it all out

Michael, When I get it done I’ll let you know. It may take me a while. Last year I played a Roman Centurion for Easter. The costume was homemade, but I found a cool helmet on line that was pretty realistic. I had to remove the ear pieces though. I sang a solo, and I couln’t hear the monitor.


View timmytimmy's profile


12 posts in 3164 days

#7 posted 07-06-2009 12:02 AM

I have no idea how much woodworking Joseph did but I was just thinking yesterday how it would have been to work on some of the temple carpentry. I think it was Solomon’s temple that had allot of cedar in it. I am amazed at the things people built in ancient times. Well, I was no help to you but I wish you luck in your search.
Oh, and I think if you study the original greek manuscripts you will find that Joseph favored Panasonic screw guns…

-- timmytimmy

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patrick m

197 posts in 3233 days

#8 posted 07-06-2009 12:25 AM

The temple of gallilee has a jewish wood carver mosaic on the floor,The hebrew and palestinian craftsmen of the time, carved quite a bit, Torah scroll handles they must have shaped them with some sort of bow turning tool.
You could make a prop line turning bench, Ivory and wood carving where common by jewish artisans. Just small thing I remember reading. I think it would be interesting to have a (saw pit ) as a stage prop one man above one below. But I’m not sure at all the date these where first used. I’m interested in this let me know what you find out. Do you have the “my boss is a jewish carpenter” bumpersticker?
Funny how us humans made better work with less technology. Up until 100 years ago woodworking Blows my mind. Now it all seems, I don’t know? Not as good. There’s something to be said for putting in 5,000 hours on one piece.

-- PJM.`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸ ><((((º> ""BY HAMMER AND HAND ALL ARTS DO STAND""1785-1974 nyc Semper Fi, Patrick M

View Raymond McInnis's profile

Raymond McInnis

36 posts in 2667 days

#9 posted 07-06-2009 03:27 PM

on my website,, i have numerous references to tools of the biblical era, and the egyptian, etc.

the egyptians were making dovetail joints and cabriole legs when they constructed the pyramids. even the concept of sanding was known to the egyptians!

this page— —has the key to my glossary of terms in woodworking history, but i haven’t gotten it entirely organized yet—all of this takes time .

i have a bibliography on this page:

W L Goodman’s History of Woodworking Tools 1966 is still the best single-volume source; even though it is more comprehensive in its coverage, R A Salaman’s Dictionary of Woodworking Tools 1975 picks up at 1700, too recent to help with biblical tool technology

let me tell you that gathering info on the research conducted on anything of the biblical era is not an easy task, completed in a few minutes, even on the internet, using the google “book search” tool.

sorting out the findings is time consuming, so if you are serious, expect to invest quite a bit of your time.

-- Raymond McInnis Washington State

View MNWOODWORKER's profile


105 posts in 3005 days

#10 posted 07-07-2009 07:00 AM

I just love to see that there are so many here that are open to speak about our Lord and the biblical times along with woodworking. So many seem to hide thier feeling because it may not be politicaly correct. Hats off to all of you.

View Grumpy's profile


21459 posts in 3271 days

#11 posted 07-08-2009 12:39 AM

Kent, have a word to Yorkshire Stewart. He’s a LJ that replicates ancient tools.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View bauerwood's profile


22 posts in 2428 days

#12 posted 07-09-2010 03:17 AM

I think you should stick with the Freemason idea. Part of what led me to Freemasonry was the ancient connection with tools and the advanced level of knowledge it took to construct such grand structures so long ago. The square, compass, level, trowel and so on have such a strong tie to the Grand Architect and the use of geometry.

View JoelMartin's profile


21 posts in 2314 days

#13 posted 07-09-2010 03:33 AM

This is a great Forum!
Very interesting.
You are right MNWOODWORKER, it is great to see people talk about Christ.
Who wants to be politically correct anyways?
Thanks alot for the topic Kent!

-- Joel -- Ontario -- "Measure once, Cut twice, And its still too short"

View Rick's profile


8287 posts in 2452 days

#14 posted 07-09-2010 05:59 AM

This is a VERY NICE Post. “bauerwood” “Happy To Meet.”

The Picture below might not have a lot to Directly Connect with Kent’s Actual Topic, but Maybe Close. Hope I’m not too far “Off Track” Kent.

A Copy of this Painting was given to me by a Very Close Friend (Since Departed) more than 40 Years Ago.

To this Day it remains My Favorite of many that I have. It is almost Hypnotic to sit, look at it and let your Mind take over, or “Enter” the Picture. Title: “St. Joseph The Carpenter” and a Young Jesus. BY: Georges de la Tour, 1645. Original is in the Louvre, Paris.

St Joseph 375x513

Thank You: Rick

-- Hope Everyone Is Doing Well! .... Best Regards: Rick

View Knothead62's profile


2581 posts in 2381 days

#15 posted 07-09-2010 02:24 PM

Permit me to share something here. I have heard that the term “carpenter” entailed not only woodworking but also masonry. It could have had a broad meaning to indicate what we would call “handyman.” Looking at the Greek New Testament by Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, et al., and the accompanying dictionary, the Greek word tekton (transliterating from the Greek) defines the word as: woodcraftsman, carpenter. The corresponding Hebrew word, depending on context, carries the meaning of engraver, artificer of iron, brass, stone, wood, i. e., a smith, mason or carpenter. Interesting that cultures of the past had such people invovled in the crafts of the time.
No doubt Joseph would have subscribed to Lumberjocks if it were in existence at that time.
This has been interesting about tools used in the ancient world. Museums are full of weapons and things that pertain to everyday life but I don’t recall anything about tools.
Thanks for allowing me to share.

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