Pr.9.1

Pr.9.1

Pr.9.1

This is another “turned-type” of oil lamp on which a side nozzle for the wick is formed or added after turning the clay on the wheel.

In Luke, Jesus speaks to general practice of oil lamp usage and likens it to a believer’s walk in obedience and filling of the Holy Spirit. The idea is that Christ has enabled the Christian to live an abundant life for all to see. The Christian should cleanse themselves of greed and other sins for the Spirit to manifest itself in them so to walk in the light as He is in the light.

“No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, that those who come in may see the light. The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn’t darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light” (Luke 11:33-36 WEB).

Early “molded type” lamp

Pr.8.r

Pr.8.r

Here is another molded lamp that is a bit worse for wear or was buried in a way so as to obscure some of its features. As I mentioned, these devices were ubiquitous as most folks would readily need lighting during the absence of natural illumination.

Proverbs 31:18, speaking of the excellent woman, says that “her lamp does not go out at night,” referring to her industriousness. Verse 15 speaks of her getting up before first light to start her duties in taking care of her household. So a lamp would be required both at night and early in the morning.

Also, in Ecclesiastes a man is told to hedge his bets in his vocational life: “In the morning plant your seeds. In the evening keep your hands busy. You don’t know what will succeed. It may be one or the other” (11:6 NIRV). This passage instructs the reader to diversify their efforts since the future is unclear. This was the typical practice of the Jewish males, in particular, as seen by the Apostle Paul, in that he was “instructed at the feet of Gamaliel,” as a rabbi, yet his vocation was the production of tents as is seen when he met Aquila and Priscilla at the Jewish tentmakers’ guild (Acts 18:2, 3). All these efforts would employ the use of oil lamps whether the work was before dawn or after sunset.

Early “Molded Type” Oil Lamp

Pr.7.1

Pr.7.1

Here is an example of an early “molded-type” of pottery used for oil lamps. It is probably later (younger) than the “turned type” of lamps. The artifact is just not in very good shape compared with older lamps using more primitive methods.

Clues which indicate it is produced from a mold are the faint decoration on its “shoulder” and the evidence of the joint on the lamp’s side. There were two molds at least and multiple tops if the potter wanted to feature various decorations (the bottom mold could be the same). The clay was pressed into the mold; then, after drying partially, the two pieces would be joined with the seam smoothed out.

It is hard to ascertain when the molded lamps developed but it is a later method of production. Also, in some places, oil lamp pottery could have been produced by molds while they may have still used the wheel in other places until the technology or economics caught up with the culture.

Early Greek Unadorned Oil Lamp

Early Greek Unadorned Oil Lamp

Early Greek Unadorned Oil Lamp

These oil lamps, posted after the North African “saucer type,” have all come from Greek areas and date to the 9th Century B.C. for the most primitive ones. Generally, the more adornments and features on the pottery the later the lamp.

This lamp has a protrusion on its side possibly for some kind of retention function wherever it was placed. Also, the discus drains into a small opening in the reservoir. Whether this small opening signifies portability is hard to determine. The legend at the exhibit offered no rationale for any of these features.

The exhibit boasted many lamps; it makes sense that so many intact lamps were found if one considers that each household probably had several oil lamps to illumine different areas. The light would not shine far from an oil-burning wick; therefore, the larger the dwelling the more lamps would be needed for lighting.

“Doughnut Type” Oil Lamp

Through the center of the oil reservoir the potter constructed a hollow column which, presumably, the lamp could be attached to a stick or peg for fixing it where the owner wanted the lamp to shine.

This feature would prove ideal if the owner used the lamp in a tent for example. The dirt floor of a tent provided a place to plant the stick and hence the light anywhere it was needed.

The lamp also could be fixed on a very long stick to illumine out of reach areas whether they were elevated or even underground (if the stick was placed into the lamp from the top and secured underneath.

Finally, it may have had usage in a permanent dwelling by placing the lamp through a peg in the wall at an acute angle where the lamp’s side opposite the wick would have rested against the wall.

Through the center of the oil reservoir the potter has constructed a hollow column which, presumably, provides the ability to attach the lamp to a stick or peg for fixing it where the owner wanted it to shine.

This feature would prove ideal if the owner used the lamp in a tent, for example. The dirt floor of a tent provided a place to plant the stick and, hence, the light to shine anywhere it was needed.

The lamp also could be fixed on a very long stick to illumine out of reach areas whether they were elevated or even underground (if the stick was placed into the lamp from the top and secured underneath).

Finally, it may have had usage in a permanent dwelling by placing the lamp through a peg in the wall at an acute angle where the lamp’s side opposite the wick would have rested against the wall.

Early “Stylized Rim” Lamp

This turned pottery features a longer wick funnel to separate the burning wick from the reservoir opening presumably so that the lamp could be refilled easily while still providing light.

The raised rim on the “discus” of the lamp (top) is the beginning of early styling as the lamps developed a smaller filling hole for practical reasons.

This turned pottery features a longer wick nozzle to separate the burning wick from the reservoir opening presumably so that the lamp could be refilled easily while still providing light.

The raised rim on the “discus” of the lamp (top) is the beginning of early styling as the lamps developed a smaller filling hole for practical reasons.

Additionally, this lamp has a loop on its side where it could have a string threaded through it so as to attach the lamp to a place or possibly a person such as on shoes for walking at night.

“Turned” lamp

This type of lamp was made on the potter’s wheel and featured high sides. The lamp’s unadorned style shows that it was from an early time period but later than the “saucer type”.

This type of lamp was made on the potter’s wheel and featured high sides. The lamp’s unadorned style shows that it was from an early time period but later than the “saucer type”.

9th Century B.C. North African Oil Lamps

9th Century B.C. African Oil Lamps

The rest of the oil lamp pictures will be much better than this one. These were unique lamps and the earliest from the region. The clay lamp technology and culture came from Phoenicia from where settlers from Tyre and probably other cities crossed the Mediterranean in in their vessels and established a colony in present day Tunisia.

The information I am posting comes from a combination of personal knowledge and the museum’s placards next to the display case. I took pictures of the placards to retrieve the information.

9th Century B.C. African Oil Lamps

The rest of the oil lamp pictures will be much better than this one. These were unique lamps and the earliest from the region. The clay lamp technology and  other culture came from Phoenicia. Settlers from Tyre and probably other cities crossed the Mediterranean in their vessels and established a colony in present day Tunisia.

The information I am posting comes from a combination of personal knowledge and the museum’s legends which describe the artifacts next to the display case. I took pictures of the legends to retrieve the information.

4-way Oil Lamp

4-way Oil Lamp

This “saucer type” of lamp consisted of pottery with indentations for the wick. This one would support 4 wicks and so gave more light. It would however use up the oil proportionately as to the amount of lit wicks. The user with this lamp had options as to how much light he wanted to generate.

4-way Oil Lamp

This “saucer type” of lamp consisted of pottery with indentations for the wick. This one could support 4 wicks and so give more light. It would however use up the oil proportionately as to the amount of lit wicks. The user with this lamp had options as to how much light he wanted to generate.

Apologies for the quality of this picture but I wanted to show this example of one of the earliest types to chronicle clay oil lamp development. This example dates to before 1000B.C. and was a feature in virtually every house or tent during this time.

“Who is This?…

“Who is This?”

In Matthew.21.1 we have the account of the “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus from the Mount of Olives at Bethphage to the entrance of Jerusalem. This fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9.9 which depicted the Messianic King humbly riding on a donkey and the colt of a donkey. Frequent readers of the Bible will be familiar with the scene of the people spreading their cloaks and palm branches on the path for this procession through the valley from the Olivet Mount to Mount Zion. The Christians later adopted the Sunday before Easter to commemorate this event as Palm Sunday. The praise that Jesus received from this joyful assembly was “Hosanna to the Son of David” signifying Him as the promised Divine King from David’s lineage who would reign over God’s people during a time of blessed security.

The noisy sounds of celebration as Jesus entered through Jerusalem’s gates prompted the onlookers to ask the identity of this person who was receiving such lavish praise. The answer: “Jesus the prophet from Nazareth.” This is of course true that Jesus was a prophet similar to the other prophets sent the Jewish nation previously by God throughout their history. Yet He was more. He was their King, “The Son of David” as many had just exclaimed during His journey from Olivet. He was also the priest in Melchizedek’s line who would soon enter heaven with His own blood to make atonement on our behalf in that greater Temple in heaven as is depicted in the book of Hebrews, the antitype of the earthly sacrifices of the Jewish Nation.

The question some may ask: “why did those in Jerusalem ask who this was if ‘Jesus had gone about doing good’ among the people for a period of about three years?” The answer may not readily be apparent unless one is familiar with the scene, timing, and culture of the Jews.

It helps to know the background of the scene with which we are presented in Mt.21 to answer the question of unfamiliarity of Jesus. This was just before the feast of Passover (Pesach), First Fruits (barley), and Feast of Unleavened Bread. As commanded by God, one of the three periods of the Jewish year where every male of the people were to “appear before God” at Jerusalem. The other times were Pentecost (Shavuot: wheat offering, two leavened loaves) and Tabernacles (Sukkot: summer fruits of grapes, figs, pomegranates, others).

So let us imagine the surrounding countryside: Jews, not only from all over the land of Israel, but from all the other countries were now encamped in the open spaces surrounding Jerusalem in tents. The pilgrims would have their beasts of burden with them, possibly sacrificial animals, and their families too, especially if from the immediate area. The scene would have been a bustling crowd where not every person had direct sight lines or were strangers to the local fame of Jesus. Bible commentators often estimate that the population of Jerusalem would swell to from more than a million to several millions during the time of the Jewish festivals. So it is easy to see the reason for the inquiry of who was the celebrated rider entering into Jerusalem.

This fact of festival attendance also helps explain Paul’s “other occupation” of tent making. A ready market would have existed among the Hellenistic Jews of Asia Minor and Greece who sought to be faithful to God’s command to appear at Jerusalem during these three set times.

Another cultural consideration as to why Jesus was not easily recognizable in this instance as well as at other times could be because of the general appearance of Hebrew men. Clothing, before looms were mechanized, was probably not very distinctive. The cloaks were woolen most likely and possibly fairly uniform. Turbans were maybe all white and prevented easy recognition of a person’s distinctive features. Further, all the men wore full beards which naturally hid the face.

All of these factors make this question a natural one despite the local acquaintance of the people or their leaders who sought to kill Him. So we see how knowing some of the setting helps explain the Biblical text. Although I did not consult it for this article, an old standard on the culture of Israel during the time of Jesus is Alfred Edersheim’s “Sketches of Jewish Social Life” written more than a century ago. It is still a good volume on the historical context of Christ’s life.

Preview of August Photoblog Posts

Psalm 119.105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Metaphorically, the Psalmist tells his readers that God’s word enables wise choices for every decision in his life. He uses the revealed truth to keep from stumbling into sin and its consequences. He wants to continue to enjoy God’s blessing uninterrupted.

Ancient Hebrews used clay oil lamps into which olive oil was poured and a wick inserted and protruding outside the lamp was lit and so gave its light until the oil supply was spent or the wick material consumed. These lamps were somewhat similar throughout the Mideast region, and, while I have no pictures of Israeli lamps, the ones from the Greeks, Persians, and North Africa give hints as to the lighting devices of which the Psalmist speaks.

Not all of the pictures are as clear as I would like them to be but think the images portray the device so as to give the idea of the technology of the period. All of the pictures were taken through glass as the museum displayed these artifacts for their preservation. Neither were all of these lamps in the focus field of my camera as it was impossible to separate the groupings and only certain angles produced the best representations. None of the pictures were taken with the camera’s flash function as it was not allowed by the museum.

I was able to isolate 31 images of lamps and will caption a verse or part of a verse from Proverbs with each calendar day corresponding to the chapter in this “Wisdom” book. The title of my post will briefly describe the artifact.