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is no clear description of a lamp in the Bible but many have been discovered
from the ancient world, especially in Israel. We
know the lamps that were in use during the time of Jesus, and we also know the
lamps that were in use by the Hebrews in early Egypt because of archaeological
Oil lamps were
made of common pottery and first
began to appear in Israel during the Neolithic Period. Throughout
the centuries the shape of oil lamps changed a great deal, and more elaborate
designs were being implemented.
In the ancient world
people did not have electricity like we have today, in fact the inside of the
home was about as dim as a 40 watt
light bulb. Most homes would contain
several oil lamps because olive oil
was in abundance and therefore not expensive. There
was also an oven that provided a little bit of light, but the oil lampswere the
main source of light in every home.
The King James
Version of the Bible translates the word for lamp "candlesticks," but that is
not an accurate translation because in ancient world they did not use candles.
Even the seven branches on the menorah
within the Tabernacle and the Temple were actually lamps that held olive oil and
Ancient lamps were oval
shaped, and flat on top. They actually had small
bowls on one end, with the other end
pinched real tight which formed a groove to hold the cotton or flax wick. One
end of the wick would even float in the olive oil. Some
of the lamps had a lid over the bowl. They were usually made of clay, but the
more expensive lamps were made of bronze and
sometimes even of gold. Some of these
were very beautiful and would contain
very elaborate decorations, manyRoman
lamps had images of their gods.
In order to light a
lamp they had to rub sticks together, or they would strike stones to make
sparks. Olive oil was available in abundance and therefore lamps were left on
for long periods of time, and also gave off a sweet scent.
The Bible often
talks about lamps:
Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp to
my feet And a light to my path.
Jesus often spoke of
lamps and light in His teachings:
Luke 15:8-10 "Or what woman, having
ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house,
and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls
her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found
the piece which I lost!' Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of
the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them
again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in
darkness, but have the light of life."
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