ALL KINDS OF SCENTED WOOD:
Woods and Woodworking in the Bible
Just as the abundance and variety of trees in the New World contributed to the growth of the United States, the same factors influenced what people in the lands of the Bible could eat, what they could build, how they built it, and other aspects of everyday life.
References to trees and wood, appearing from one end of the Bible to the other, add to its literary and historic value, as well as enlarging its storehouse of inspirational treasures. They reflect keen observation, practical experience, and conditions of everyday life in the biblical world. These treasures may be in the form of pictures, stories, messages, or poems, and they are enduring resources that we may use in enlarging our faith.
Palestine’s geographic position as a bridge between Asia and Africa makes it a crossroads for plants as well as people. This small country has a rich mixture of plants of all types. Early settlers found a variety of plants that offered food in the form of fruit, seeds, leaves, shoots, bulbs, roots, or tubers. Agriculture began at an early date at various places in the Fertile Crescent, including Palestine. The rise of the first cities and the ensuing development of metal working made possible the exploitation of trees for timber and their use in buildings, furniture, vehicles, shipbuilding, and fine woodworking. By New Testament times, craftsmen had a full kit of basic hand tools and had mastered to an admirable degree all the methods of cutting, shaping, and joining wood. The Egyptian perfection of technique and design is still hard to match with modern resources and power tools.
The carpenter shop of Nazareth therefore belonged to a craftsman and master builder whose expertise commanded respect. As his apprentice and eventual successor, Jesus would have had to begin learning the trade at an early age. In so doing, he learned more than a craft. His years of shaping and building with wood helped to prepare him for his work in building the Kingdom of God. While any gainful profession might have been beneficial to Jesus, there was something particularly appropriate in woodworking and carpentry that helped him in his ministry of teaching, healing, and redemption. Learning the principles of design and architecture helped him to understand the plans and purpose of his heavenly father, the architect of the Universe. Learning the importance of thoroughness and attention to detail also taught him the value of obedience and faithfulness to his heavenly father. Just as he learned about different woods and their uses, so too he could see what was in the minds of men and bring out their latent abilities as foundations for his church.
The allusions to wood and woodworking in the Bible give us insights into important lessons that Jesus learned in the carpenter’s shop. Knowing the tools, methods, and materials of Biblical times also helps us benefit from these lessons. In some cases, trees in the Bible are symbols of spiritual truths. In others, they stand as landmarks in the historic revelation of God’s plan. Finally, some specific uses of wood teach us about the extent and power of the love of God.
The appendices include specific, up-to-date information about biblical trees and woods, woodworking tools, and many of the useful trees not mentioned in the Bible.
About the Author:
As a former petroleum geologist who has discovered more oil than Jed Clampett, Richard Barnett now explores the treasures buried in evocative texts and untold stories of the Bible.
Richard Barnett graduated from the University of Houston (B.Sc., 1959; M.Sc., 1969). His geological career includes six years in North Africa, where he studied rocks similar to those in the Holy Land. He is a member of the Houston Geological Society, a 50-year member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and a member of the Geology Section of the American Scientific Affiliation. Retired from teaching geology at Houston Community College, Richard Barnett is now a freelance writer and a volunteer with the Texas Master Naturalists program.
Richard Barnett lives in Wimberley, Texas with his wife, Opal Patricia. He has two grown daughters and attends Wimberley Presbyterian Church.
Richard Barnett’s devotionals have appeared in The Upper Room, Secret Place, These Days, The Quiet Hour, and Penned from the Heart.
Contributions by Richard Barnett to compilation books include the poem “The Carol in the Stable” in Celebrating the Season(Essence Publishing, 2001; ISBN 1-55306-325-2); a devotional in A Cup of Comfort Devotional (Adams Media, 2004; ISBN 1-59337-090-3), and the short story “Silent Night: the Inside Story” in Amazing Cat Tales (Linden Hill, 2006; ISBN 0-9704754-7-0).
His byline has also appeared in Herald of Holiness, Creation Illustrated, Oil & Gas Daily, National Review, Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, Inside Running, London Fog, Adoration, Areopagus (UK), Time of Singing, The Discerning Poet,Eternal Ink e-zine, and local newspapers and bulletins.
His professional contributions appeared in Journal of Paleontology and Transactions of the Gulf Coast Association of Petroleum Geologists. He edited Water Technology News for Business Communications Co. for four years, and contributed to other BCC publications.
Richard Barnett has received awards in the report and newsletter categories from the Society for Technical Communication, Houston Chapter, and awards for creative writing from Inspirational Writers Alive!, Christian Writers Institute, ByLine Magazine, Bay Area Writers League, Eternal Ink (e-zine), Areopagus Magazine (UK), Writers’ International Forum, Time of Singing, and Utmost Christian Writers.
Author’s website: http://www.RichardSBarnett.com
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