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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(1) The percussion tool was the hammer , used for splitting or trimming stone, beating metals, and in wood-carving, as well as for driving nails, tent pins, etc. Several words are translated "hammer," but the distinction between them is very vague and in some cases the propriety of the translation is dubious. Certainly no such distinction is made as that between "hammer" and "mallet," nor were separate names given to the different hammers used in the various crafts (compare, e.g., Judges 4:21; 1 Kings 6:7; Isaiah 44:12; Jeremiah 10:4 - all for
(2) Of cutting tools, the simplest was of course the knife. In Exodus 20:25 , however, the knife ("sword," English Versions of the Bible "tool") appears as a stone-cutter's implement and is without doubt a chisel. But the hatchet of Psalm 74:6 may be a knife. See HATCHET; KNIFE .
For ax , again, various words are employed in a way that is quite obscure to us and apparently with meanings that are not fixed. So
The saw was used both for wood and for stone ( 1 Kings 7:9 ), in the latter case being employed in connection with water and sand. But sawing stone was a very laborious process, and this was one reason why the ancients preferred stone in large blocks. These were quarried by the use of heavy hammers and wedges. See SAW .
The plane (
The pencil of Isaiah 44:13 is probably a stylus, for engraving as well as for marking out lines. For engraving on gems ( Exodus 28:9 , etc.) particularly delicate instruments of this kind must have been used. See LINE; PENCIL .
(3) Among the boring tools, only the awl appears ( Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17 ), an instrument primarily for the use of workers in leather. Holes in wood or stone were made by a drill, often worked with the aid of a drawn bow, through the string of which the drill was passed. See AWL .
(4) Blunted tools were of course sharpened on stones, as everywhere. In 1 Samuel 13:21 English Versions of the Bible speaks of sharpening with a file , but the text of the verse is hopelessly corrupt and the translation mere guesswork. But files of some sort (stone?) must of course have been used by metal-workers. See FILE .
(5) Measuring tools were the line and the rod (see REED ), and the latter must also have been used as a straight-edge. The compasses of Isaiah 44:13 were for drawing circles, but doubtless served for measuring also. See
(6) The tools for holding and handling work (vises, tongs, pincers, etc.) are never alluded to (the King James Version in Isaiah 44:12 is wrong; see TONGS ). For moving larger objects no use was made of cranes, and lifting was done by the aid of inclined planes and rollers; but blocks of stone weighing hundreds of tons could be handled in this way.
The material of the Hebrew tools was either iron or bronze. The former was introduced at least by the time of David (2 Samuel 12:31 ), but the mention of iron as a material is often made in such a way (Amos 1:3 , etc.) as to show that it was not to be taken for granted. In fact, iron was hard to work and expensive, and bronze probably persisted for a while as a cheaper material. Stone tools would be used only by the very poor or as occasional makeshifts or for sacred purposes (Joshua 5:2 ).
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Tools'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/t/tools.html. 1915.
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26