Job Description and Background

Blacksmiths. In the days of King Saul the Philistines put a ban on Hebrew blacksmiths. "Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears" (I Samuel 13:19). The Philistines required the Hebrews to bring their coulters and mattocks to the vicinity of Ramle to be sharpened, and this district in the Valley of Ajalon for many years afterward came to be known as the Valley of Smiths.

But Jewish blacksmiths were active in the days of Isaiah, for he said: "The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers" (Isaiah 44:12). Isaiah refers to the blacksmith's anvil (Isaiah 41:7), and Jeremiah makes mention of his bellows (Jeremiah 6:29). The primitive type of anvil that has been in use for centuries is simply a cube of iron that has been inserted in a block of oak log. The old type of bellows, which is worked by hand, is made of the skin either of a goat or of a cow with the hair left on it.