Generic lines:

Have you signed the census, yet?

Shalom, welcome weary traveler. Have you journeyed far?

Do not forget to pay your taxes.

I have seen the Roman soldiers carrying off those who refused to pay their taxes.

Beware of the Roman soldiers they are in a foul mood this night.

Keep your valuables and children close to you. There are rumors that the Romans sell small children to the Phoenicians as slaves.

I do not know the answer to that question. Perhaps the rabbi would know. He is in the synagogue and is a wise and learned man. Or maybe the scribe, he can read and write in four languages.

Shop Specific Lines

Please help me pay my taxes. I must make enough this evening to give to the tax collector or he will put me in prison.

I am working on a chariot for the centurion. He is a demanding man and does not pay well.

I have made tools for many of the shops here in Bethlehem. You may see my craftsmanship in the looms of the weaver and the shelves in the potter’s shop.

My wood comes from the forests; I must cut and haul it here with the help of my sons.

Job Description and Background Information


Palestine carpenters have plied their trade in the Holy Land in much the same way through the centuries. Visitors to towns like Nazareth or Tiberias have found these

workmen to be quite primitive. About the only modern innovation they have adopted has been to have a workbench instead of sitting on the floor beside their working board, as some men, engaged in related crafts, actually do even in modern times. Instead of working, however, always at this bench, they are seen to do much of their work at the doorsill where the light is much better.


This occupation has undergone little change from the days when they said of the young Messiah, "Is not this the carpenter?" (Mark 6:3). Carpenter's tools. With but few exceptions, the tools used by the carpenter in Bible times are those used by these primitive Palestinian carpenters of today. The prophet Isaiah names four instruments used by the carpenter of his day. "The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass" (Isaiah 44:13). The "rule" was no doubt a measuring line; the "line" was a marking tool or stylus, taking the place of our pencil; the "plane" was a scraping tool; and the "compass" was an instrument for making a circle, as it is today. The "ax" was used in olden times to shape timber as well as to fell trees. It had an iron head usually fastened by means of thongs to a wooden handle, and so it was easy for the head to slip off. Deuteronomy 19:5 and II Kings 6:5).


Excavations at the city of Gezer revealed that the people of Palestine in Bible times had developed ribbon-flint knives into saws by making their edges irregular. Finds there also indicate that they used saws that were made of thin, flexible strips of metal that had been set in frames of wood.


Isaiah mentions the use of the saw: "Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?" (Isaiah 10:15). Jeremiah refers to the use of hammer and nails: "They fasten it with nails and with hammers that it move not" (Jeremiah 10:4). The archaeologists have found an abundance of bronze and iron nails. The hammers they have brought to light were made mostly of stone. Thus CHRIST must have made use of both hammer and nails in his Nazareth carpenter shop.


The Bible mentions twice the use of the awl (Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17). these boring instruments as found at Gezer were usually set in bone handles. Chisels found there were made either of bronze or iron. CHRIST must have used this tool also.


Products of the carpenter. There are several products of the Eastern carpenter's skill. Many have

wondered what JESUS as a carpenter made. There is an old tradition that has come down to us,

that he was a maker of plows and yokes.


The yoke, and most of the plow, with the exception of the iron ploughshare, are constructed of

wood, and so would be the task of the carpenters. As there were many farmers among the ancient

Hebrews, as there are among the Arab peasants today, there would be a great demand for yokes

and plows. Other products of the carpenter would include wooden locks and wooden keys for

houses, doors, roofs, windows, low tables, chairs or stools and chests for storage use. The

carpenter's most ornamental work would include paneling of the roof, latticework for windows,

and decorative art on house doors.


The skill of the Oriental carpenter. Because of the use of what seems to the Westerner to be very

crude and primitive tools, some have thought that these workmen are lacking in skill, but this is

not so. In many ways he is able to use his simple tools in a way that displays great skill. Much

personal attention is given the product, and great pride is taken in the resulting handiwork.