Did You Know?
What sort of work would Jesus have done as a carpenter?
Jesus’ adoptive father was a carpenter. Jesus learned the same trade. When he began his ministry at the age of “about thirty,” he was considered not only “the carpenter’s son” but also a carpenter in his own right.—Luke 3:23; Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3.
In Jesus’ hometown, there would have been a demand for such farming equipment as plows and yokes, which were primarily made out of wood. Among the carpenter’s other regular products would have been pieces of furniture—tables, chairs, stools, and storage chests—as well as such items as doors, windows, wooden locks, and rafters. In fact, part of the carpenter’s work involved construction.
In an illustration, John the Baptizer mentioned the ax, a tool that Jesus and other carpenters would likely have used to fell trees. Thereafter, they would either fashion the timber into beams on-site or transport the timber to their workshops. This phase of the job doubtless required great physical strength. (Matthew 3:10) Isaiah lists other instruments used by carpenters in his day: “As for the wood carver, he has stretched out the measuring line; he traces it out with red chalk; he works it up with a wood scraper; and with a compass he keeps tracing it out.” (Isaiah 44:13) Archaeological finds confirm the use of metal saws, stone hammers, and bronze nails in Biblical times. (Exodus 21:6; Isaiah 10:15; Jeremiah 10:4) It is reasonable to suppose that Jesus would have used such things.
Who were “the bankers” that Jesus mentioned in one of his illustrations, and how did they operate?
Jesus spoke of a master who reprimanded an unproductive slave, saying: “You ought to have deposited my silver monies with the bankers, and on my arrival I would be receiving what is mine with interest.”—Matthew 25:27.
Large-scale financial institutions as we know them today did not exist in Jesus’ time. However, moneylenders had long paid interest on money deposited with them and had lent money at a higher interest rate. According to The Anchor Bible Dictionary, interest-bearing loans were common in Greece by the fourth century B.C.E. And during the period of peace established by the Romans, annual interest rates for credit throughout the Roman Empire fluctuated between 4 and 6 percent.
The Mosaic Law forbade the lending of money on interest to needy Israelites. (Exodus 22:25) This rule seems to have applied primarily to loans to the poor. However, as indicated by Jesus’ illustration, it was normal to receive interest on funds deposited with moneylenders, or “bankers.” Thus, as usual, Jesus used what was familiar to his listeners.