What is Education?
Of secular education, in our sense of the word, the Jews knew little, but they enjoined the duty and enjoyed the privilege of religious and moral training at home and in public worship far more than any nation of antiquity. They learned from their parents and their public teachers, the Levites, and later the Rabbins, to read and write and commit the Law. During the Captivity they were brought into contact with the extensive learning of the Chaldaeans. Moses derived his knowledge from Egyptian priests, and Solomon was both a scholar and a wise man, to whose open mind the gathered treasures of instruction and the books of nature and human life brought lessons of priceless wisdom. The people at large must have been ignorant of things outside of religion, and their religious exclusiveness would tend to keep them so, but there were men among them acquainted with mensuration, Josh 18:8-9, and with foreign languages, 2 Kgs 18:26, and who were skilled in writing, like the chronialers of the various kings, and in keeping accounts, like the scribes who are often mentioned. In the days of the monarchy the advantages of education were secured by many in the so-called "schools of the prophets." After the Captivity the Rabbins regularly gave instruction in the synagogues upon the Bible and the Talmud. In the entire history it holds good that boys remained up to their fifth year in the women's apartments and then their fathers began to instruct them in the Law. Later, the boys began at this age the Rabbinical books. The Captivity was in many respects an incalculable blessing to the Jews. It taught them that there was something worth learning outside of the Mosaic books. Hence, after their return, they were a greatly-improved people. It was then that synagogues sprang up, furnishing practical instruction. After Jerusalem fell the Jews kept up these schools, and they exist even in this day. One valuable custom was the learning of a trade on the part of each one. Well known is the instance of Paul, who, although well trained, a pupil of Gamaliel, still could, and did, make tents. Acts 18:3; Acts 22:3. Girls were generally without much more education than the rudiments, yet they could attend the schools and learn more than to do needle-work, keep house, and care for the children. Women were far higher in the social scale among the Jews than at present among the Orientals. The sect of the Essenes, by preference celibates, took great pains to instruct children, but confined their attention chiefly to morality and the Law. The Rabbins taught the physical sciences. In these schools the teachers sat on raised seats; hence Paul could say literally that he was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. Luke 2:46; Acts 22:3. Unmarried men and women were forbidden to teach boys. The ancient Jews enjoyed more advantages in mental training than other contemporary nations. And if they knew little about matters of common information among us, they knew more than did the great mass of people living outside of Judaea.
Bibliography Information Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'education' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". bible-history.com - Schaff's