Did You Know?
What made Jesus’ inner garment so desirable to the Roman soldiers?
The four soldiers who supervised Jesus’ execution divided his clothes among themselves. “But,” says John 19:23, Jesus’ “inner garment was without a seam, being woven from the top throughout its length.” The soldiers decided not to tear it but to cast lots over it. How was such a garment made?
The inner garment appears to refer to a shirtlike tunic made out of linen or wool and reaching to the knees or ankles. These garments were usually made by sewing together two superimposed squares or rectangles of fabric, stitching along three of their sides. Holes were left for the head and arms.
A more expensive type of tunic was made in a similar way but using “only one long piece of cloth, folded in two, with a hole cut in the middle for the head” and hemmed, says the book Jesus and His World. This kind of tunic needed to be stitched at the sides.
Completely seamless garments, like the one Jesus wore, were unique to Palestine. They were woven on upright looms that used two sets of vertical warp threads, one at the front and one at the back of a crossbar. The weaver would alternate his shuttle, which carried the horizontal weft thread, from the front part of the web to the back, “thus creating a cylindric piece of fabric,” says one reference work. A seamless tunic would likely have been a rare possession, and the soldiers considered it a desirable one.
Were there beekeepers in ancient Israel?
According to the Hebrew Scriptures, God promised to bring the ancient Israelites into “a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:8) It appears that most Scriptural references to honey describe the food produced by wild bees. The Bible says nothing about beekeeping in ancient Israel. However, a recent find in Israel’s Bet She’an Valley reveals that in ancient times its inhabitants practiced “beekeeping on an industrial level.”
At Tel Rehov, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology unearthed an apiary dating from the tenth to the early ninth centuries B.C.E.—the early period of Israel’s monarchy. This is the first time that ancient beehives were discovered in the Middle East. It is thought that the apiary originally contained some one hundred beehives arranged in rows and stacked at least three tiers high.
Each hive, says the university’s report on the find, was “a cylinder composed of unbaked clay . . . around 80 centimeters [30 inches] long and 40 centimeters [15 inches] in diameter. . . . Experienced beekeepers and scholars who visited the site estimated that as much as half a ton of honey could be culled each year from these hives.”
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The site at Tel Rehov
Institute of Archaeology/Hebrew University © Tel Rehov Excavations