WORK IN ANCIENT NAZARETH
A young Middle Eastern boy with his flock of sheep
SHEPHERDS AND THEIR SHEEP
Shepherds and their flocks were a common feature of everyday life in biblical times. A flock depended utterly on its shepherd for safety, food and daily care, so the shepherd became a common symbol of God's care for humanity and all creation.
The two most famous uses of this symbol are in Psalm 23 and in John 10. Both of these passages link the good Shepherd with divine care:
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A woman in 1st century Nazareth would have performed all the small tasks expected of any woman in a farming community.
The work may have been shared among all the women, but it was still heavy work, and Mary of Nazareth probably ate her food with a hearty appetite at the end of the day.
Almost everyone in Nazareth was, to some extent, a farmer. They had to be, since very little was imported from outside the village.
It was heavy, continuous work, and Jesus was certainly familiar with it. He probably even worked in the fields as a boy, judging from the Parable of the Sower:
Luke 8:4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable:
Ploughing was done in the wet season, from October to April. This was also the time for sowing seed, harrowing and weeding. Flax and barley were harvested in April and May, then wheat.
Vines had to be pruned and tended during the growing season, then the grapes picked from July to October. Grapes were used as dried fruits, and for making wine. Most people also grew fig and olive trees in their plots of land.
There is a full description of ancient farming, with photographs and archaeological drawings, at Bible Archaeology: Agriculture.
Other Online Bible Websites
Study famous and historical people, places, artwork and archaelogy of the Holy Bible online.
For more online Bible study resources and activities, visit the following websites:
www.bible-people.info - stories of the Bible's most famous men and women - Moses, Judas, John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene and more
www.womeninthebible.net - all about Bible women, good and bad: Ruth, Deborah, Mary of Nazareth, Jezebel
www.bible-archaeology.info - archaeological evidence and the Bible - what can we prove?
http://www.bible-art.info/ - Bible paintings and artworks: Nativity, Resurrection, Esther, Martha and Mary
http://www.bible-topten.com/ - Top Ten heroes, bad women, ways to hell, young people, villains, murders, films
http://www.bible-architecture.info/ - more about houses, palaces, temples and fortresses
To search through all websites click HERE »