Long-term imprisonment was not as common in the ancient world as it is today. Prisons housed criminals awaiting trial. If there was no room in the jail, a pit or hole would be dug to hold the prisoner until his fate was decided (42:22).
The craftsmen and goldsmiths mentioned in 41:7 were fashioning idols. The craftsman would begin by making a mold from an existing image. He would then cast the new image in metal. The goldsmith would then add gold plating, smooth it out with a hammer, and burnish it to give it a shine.
The highways of the ancient Near East were not paved like many modern highways around the world today. Rather, they were maintained by the people living along the roads. They did their best to keep the roads level and free of obstacles (see 40:3).
Cut off from the loom. Weaving on a loom involves warp threads, which are attached to the top and bottom of the loom, and weft threads, which are woven through the warp. When the weaver finishes a piece, he cuts the warp threads from the loom. When Hezekiah was ill, he felt as if he had […]
To eat of your own vine and fig tree was a traditional blessing found in both the historical and prophetic books of Israel (36:16; 1 Kings 4:25). It was a reward for trusting in the Lord. On the other hand, to lose those precious resources was a sign of God’s disfavor (Jer. 5:17).
“He who counted” (33:18) refers to tax collectors. If people couldn’t pay their taxes, their property might be seized or they might become forced laborers. If the official failed to collect all the taxes due, he himself was punished.
Watchtowers (32:14) sometimes served as signal beacons when an invading force was approaching. By lighting small fires at the tops of the towers, watchmen could signal other towns that danger was near.
The sieve of destruction. Farmers used two different kinds of sieves when working in the fields. The larger sieve was used to sift out big rocks and stones from the fields. A smaller one was used to sift out smaller particles from the grain being harvested. This smaller sieve is the one mentioned in 30:28; the Lord […]
Hebrew schoolchildren were taught the yearly “round” of feasts (29:1) at an early age. But the Lord is never impressed by insincere religious observances.
Details about farming. While a farmer “scatters” seeds like dill and cumin, other seeds, such as wheat and barley, had to be planted “in rows . . . in its proper place” (28:25). The Bible is accurate and trustworthy, even in such agricultural details.