This well-known long-handled scooping implement has been in use since early times. Shovels made of copper were employed at the tabernacle when clearing away the ashes from the altar of burnt offering. (Ex. 27:1-3; 38:3; Num. 4:14) Serving the same purpose were the copper shovels the Hebrew-Phoenician workman Hiram made for use at the temple built by Solomon. (1 Ki. 7:13, 14, 40, 45) These were among the temple utensils that the Babylonians carried away in 607 B.C.E.—2 Ki. 25:8, 14; Jer. 52:18.
Shovels, likely made of wood, were used to winnow grain. (Isa. 30:24) The broad winnowing shovel was employed at a threshing floor to scoop up threshed grain and throw it into the air against the wind, which blew away the refuse, such as chaff, and allowed the grain to fall to the threshing floor. John the Baptist prophetically described the Messiah as having in hand a figurative winnowing shovel, with which he would separate symbolic “wheat” from “chaff.”—Matt. 3:1, 12; see WINNOWING.