Composed of various types of skins, cloth, and woven materials, bags in ancient times were used to hold grains and food, stone weights, valuables, lumps of gold and silver, and in later periods, minted coins. Bags used for water and wine were usually made from tanned skins of animals.—Jos 9:4; Mt 9:17.
The English word “sack” is derived from the Hebrew saq and, though used in the Bible primarily with reference to sackcloth (Le 11:32), this Hebrew word is also used as today to refer to containers for food and grains. (Ge 42:25, 27, 35) The Hebrew word ʼam·taʹchath (“bag,” NW; “sack,” KJ; derived from a verb meaning “spread out” [Isa 40:22]) is employed in the account concerning the visit of Joseph’s brothers to Egypt and appears to be more or less synonymous with saq, perhaps describing the form of the bag rather than the material from which it was made.—Ge 42:27, 28; 43:18-23.
When preparing for his encounter with Goliath, David placed five stones in his shepherds’ “bag” (Heb., keliʹ), which receptacle is suggested to have been a sort of haversack carried across the shoulder and usually made from undressed skins of animals. (1Sa 17:40, 49) The Hebrew word here used is of very general meaning and more frequently refers simply to a receptacle, vessel, or utensil of earthenware, wood, metal, or skin.—Le 6:28; 11:32, 33; Nu 31:20; 1Ki 10:21.
Syrian army officer Naaman gave greedy Gehazi “two talents of silver in two bags [Heb., chari·timʹ], with two changes of garments, and gave them to two of his attendants, that they might carry them.” Since a talent was equal to about 34 kg (92 lb t), it is evident that such a container (cha·ritʹ) must have been of ample size and strength to hold a talent plus a change of garment and, hence, when filled was about as much as one man could carry. (2Ki 5:23) However, the same word is also used to refer to the “purses” used as articles of luxurious adornment by the haughty daughters of Zion.—Isa 3:16, 22.
There was also the bag (Heb., kis) carried by merchants, doubtless much like those that have continued to be used in Oriental lands till recent times. Judging from these later types, they were likely made of woven cotton, of flexible rushes, or of leather. These bags were used by traders, or merchants, for carrying weights required in business transactions where products, grains, or precious metals had to be weighed out. Referring to the kis, a warning against fraudulent business practices in the Mosaic Law stated: “You must not come to have in your bag two sorts of weights.” (De 25:13) Through his prophet, Jehovah asked: “Can I be morally clean with wicked scales and with a bag of deceptive stone weights?” (Mic 6:11; Pr 16:11) The kis could also be used as a “bag” or “purse” for carrying money and valuables.—Pr 1:13, 14; Isa 46:6.
The Hebrew word tserohrʹ is derived from a verb meaning “wrap up” (Ex 12:34) and describes a common form of receptacle tied with a cord or string, either as a “bundle” (Ge 42:35) or as a “bag” with only the neck being drawn together and tied. (Pr 7:20; Ca 1:13) It appears that the money received from the chest of temple contributions was bound into such bundles, doubtless of uniform quantities. (2Ki 12:10) In ancient times, in business transactions involving large sums of money, the pieces were at times weighed and then put in such bundles or bags, the knot thereafter being sealed. If desired, the bag could then pass from one person to another as warranted to contain the stipulated amount. The unbroken seal thus could vouch for the amount of silver, gold, or other metal contained. Job apparently uses such a figure at Job 14:17, saying to God: “Sealed up in a bag is my revolt, and you apply glue over my error.” Abigail expressed confidence in Jehovah’s protection of David, stating that when an enemy pursued David his soul would “prove to be wrapped up in the bag of life with Jehovah [his] God.”—1Sa 25:29.
In the Christian Greek Scriptures reference is made to a “food pouch” (NW) or “bag” (AT, RS). (Mt 10:10; Lu 9:3) The Greek word peʹra is described in Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (1981, Vol. 4, p. 196) as “a traveller’s leathern bag or pouch for holding provisions.”—See FOOD POUCH.
At John 12:6; 13:29 in the King James Version, Judas is spoken of as carrying a “bag”; however, most modern translations render the Greek word glos·soʹko·mon as “box” or “money box.” Originally used to refer to a case for keeping the mouthpiece of a wind instrument, the Greek word came to stand for a small box used for any purpose, including the keeping of money. The translators of the Greek Septuagint used this word to refer to the chest mentioned at 2 Chronicles 24:8, 10. For the “purse” (Lu 10:4) or “girdle purses” (Mt 10:9), see PURSE.