For Young Archaeologists Dyeing To Be Holy -- By: Suzanne Rogers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 15:1 (Winter 2002)
Article: For Young Archaeologists Dyeing To Be Holy
Author: Suzanne Rogers

For Young Archaeologists
Dyeing To Be Holy

Suzanne Rogers

Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishing exactly like the pattern I will show you (Ex 25:8, 9).

This is what the Lord commanded the Israelites to build as a dwelling place for His presence. He told them exactly what to use, the exact measurements of the structure, and how to use the structure once completed. As far as materials, there was a great variety of materials commanded to be used in the construction of this structure. There were 18 items used in all: gold, silver, bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; red ram skins; hides of sea cows; acacia wood; olive oil; spices for anointing oil and incense; onyx stones, and other gems. With these materials, the Lord instructed exactly what each furnishing would be like, from the Ark of the Covenant to the clasps that held the curtains on the poles.

The Lord chose two men to oversee the workmanship of His tabernacle, Bezalel and his assistant, Oholiab.

I have filled [Bezalel] with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you (Ex 31:3, 6b).

He gave both these men the ability to teach trades, and each skilled man and woman began work on the tabernacle. Metal workers began to smelt down gold, silver, and bronze, purifying it. Woodworkers began stripping wood, measuring, cutting, and carving it. Shepherds took their flock and sheared goats and lambs. Leather workers started stretching and curing skins. And women started to spin, weave, and dye the beautiful cloth that was used on the tabernacle.

Murex Shell from the waters of the Mediterranean Coastal City of Tyre in Lebanon.

The dying of yam and cloth was not always a women’s job. All ancient crafts were family affairs and the best techniques and materials were trade secrets. With the rise of the new science of chemistry in the Hellenistic period, the secret formulas were made known (Jameieson 1976). The Bible never explains how the dying process took place, but dyed cloth was mentioned early in the Bible. The dying process must have had the same “rules” as today. When dyes are used, they must be able to “stick” to the cloth; otherwise, the cloth will not take the color. Some materials will not take the dye easily, and a mordant must be added to h...

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