the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
Various kinds of lamps are mentioned in the Bible, some for indoor use (2 Kings 4:10; Daniel 5:5; Matthew 5:15; Acts 20:8), others for outdoor use (Psalms 119:105; Matthew 25:1; John 18:3). They were made of a variety of materials (clay, metal or wood) and were of different shapes and designs, but they all functioned in much the same way. Basically, a lamp consisted of a bowl to hold the fuel (oil) and a cloth wick that soaked up the oil for the flame (Exodus 27:20; Matthew 25:3-4).
A lamp was so important for everyday living in the ancient world that it was almost a symbol of life itself (2 Samuel 21:17; Job 29:2-3; Proverbs 13:9; Revelation 18:23). The Word of God and the servants of God are at times likened to lamps, since they provide light from God in a world of darkness (Psalms 119:105; Matthew 5:16). The lamp was therefore a fitting symbol of the witness that the people of God bear to him (Luke 12:35; John 5:33; John 5:35; cf. John 1:7).
In the tabernacle built by Moses, seven lamps were fitted to a single lampstand to provide light for the Holy Place. God gave Moses no dimensions for the lampstand, but it weighed about thirty-five kilograms, was made of one piece of gold and was richly ornamented. The common people provided the oil for the lamps, and the priests checked the lamps each morning and evening to ensure they were kept burning (Exodus 25:31-40; Exodus 27:20-21). In Solomon’s temple there were ten lampstands, five against each of the two side walls (1 Kings 7:49).
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