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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

toolz: In the Bible, references to the handicrafts are almost entirely incidental, and not many tools are named. The following article aims to give a list of those mentioned, together with those that must have existed also. For detailed description and the Hebrew and Greek terms employed, see the separate articles.

(1) The percussion tool was the hammer, used for splitting or trimming stone, beating metals, and in wood-carving, as well as for driving nails, tent pins, etc. Several words are translated "hammer," but the distinction between them is very vague and in some cases the propriety of the translation is dubious. Certainly no such distinction is made as that between "hammer" and "mallet," nor were separate names given to the different hammers used in the various crafts (compare, e.g., Judges 4:21 1 Kings 6:7; Isaiah 44:12 Jeremiah 10:4 -all for maqqabhah).


(2) Of cutting tools, the simplest was of course the knife. In Exodus 20:25, however, the knife ("sword," English Versions of the Bible "tool") appears as a stone-cutter's implement and is without doubt a chisel. But the hatchet of Psalm 74:6 may be a knife.


For ax, again, various words are employed in a way that is quite obscure to us and apparently with meanings that are not fixed. So garzen in Deuteronomy 20:19 is certainly an ax, but in the Siloam Inscription (ll 2, 4) it is a pickax (see MATTOCK). The various words translated "ax" (the Revised Version (British and American) "axe") must also somewhere include the word for adz, but the specific term, if there were any such (ma'atsadh(?)), is unknown. But the adz is a very ancient tool and must certainly have existed in Palestine.


The saw was used both for wood and for stone (1 Kings 7:9), in the latter case being employed in connection with water and sand. But sawing stone was a very laborious process, and this was one reason why the ancients preferred stone in large blocks. These were quarried by the use of heavy hammers and wedges.

See SAW.

The plane (maqtso`ah) of Isaiah 44:13 should be translated chisel. Chisels, of course, are almost as old as humanity, and were used on both wood and stone and doubtless also on metals. In particular, with a broad chisel and an adz the surface of wood may be finished very smoothly, and these two implements took the place of the plane. For wood-carving the concave chisel (gouge) may have been invented.

The pencil of Isaiah 44:13 is probably a stylus, for engraving as well as for marking out lines. For engraving on gems (Exodus 28:9, etc.) particularly delicate instruments of this kind must have been used.


(3) Among the boring tools, only the awl appears (Exodus 21:6 Deuteronomy 15:17), an instrument primarily for the use of workers in leather. Holes in wood or stone were made by a drill, often worked with the aid of a drawn bow, through the string of which the drill was passed.

See AWL.

(4) Blunted tools were of course sharpened on stones, as everywhere. In 1 Samuel 13:21 English Versions of the Bible speaks of sharpening with a file, but the text of the verse is hopelessly corrupt and the translation mere guesswork. But files of some sort (stone?) must of course have been used by metal-workers.


(5) Measuring tools were the line and the rod (see REED), and the latter must also have been used as a straight-edge. The compasses of Isaiah 44:13 were for drawing circles, but doubtless served for measuring also. See COMPASSES. Plumb-line ('anakh in Amos 7:7, a symbol of the searching moral investigation which would be followed by a precise and exact judgment; compare mishkoleth, "plummet," 2 Kings 21:13 Isaiah 28:17) and plummet ('ebhen bedhil, "a stone of tin," Zechariah 4:10, used by Zerubbabel in testing the completed walls) were likewise necessities and had existed from a very early period. Tools of some sort must have been used in addition by builders in drawing plans, but their nature is unknown.


(6) The tools for holding and handling work (vises, tongs, pincers, etc.) are never alluded to (the King James Version in Isaiah 44:12 is wrong; see TONGS). For moving larger objects no use was made of cranes, and lifting was done by the aid of inclined planes and rollers; but blocks of stone weighing hundreds of tons could be handled in this way.

The material of the Hebrew tools was either iron or bronze. The former was introduced at least by the time of David (2 Samuel 12:31), but the mention of iron as a material is often made in such a way (Amos 1:3, etc.) as to show that it was not to be taken for granted. In fact, iron was hard to work and expensive, and bronze probably persisted for a while as a cheaper material. Stone tools would be used only by the very poor or as occasional makeshifts or for sacred purposes (Joshua 5:2).

For the agricultural tools see AGRICULTURE.


Burton Scott Easton

Strong's Hebrew
240. azen -- implements, tools
... 239, 240. azen. 241 . implements, tools. Transliteration: azen Phonetic
Spelling: (aw-zane') Short Definition: tools. Word Origin ...
/hebrew/240.htm - 6k

2790. charash -- to cut in, engrave, plow, devise
... A primitive root; to scratch, ie (by implication) to engrave, plough; hence (from
the use of tools) to fabricate (of any material); figuratively, to devise (in ...
/hebrew/2790.htm - 6k


The Arrest of the Body
... And the fatal day came, the fatal day for the Hand, when he who bore it made a new
discovery. It was the discovery of Tools. ... Tools are external Hands. ...
/.../drummond/the lowell lectures on the ascent of man/chapter iii the arrest of.htm

... Suppose a workman has power and skill with his hands alone to fashion a certain
article, but you put into his hands the worst of tools you can find; you know ...
/...// sermons volume 1 1855/conversion.htm

The Builders
... wage is lower. A race of giants they were, handsome, magnificently built,
and well skilled in the use of their simple tools. In the ...
/.../cable/the fulfilment of a dream of pastor hsis/chapter xv the builders.htm

The Dilemma in which I am Placed is of Your Making: it is Brought ...
... in which I am placed is of your making: it is brought out, not from the resources
of dialectics, of which you are ignorant, but from among the tools of the ...
/.../3 the dilemma in which.htm

A Methodist Isaac Newton
... He observed the clockmaker's tools and the manner how he took it in pieces and put
it together again; when he came home, he first made himself tools, and then ...
/.../wesley/the journal of john wesley/a methodist isaac newton.htm

Practical Righteousness
... Yes! and I have seen canoe-paddles carved by South Sea Islanders with no better
tools than an oyster-shell and a sharp fish-bone, which in the minuteness and ...
/.../expositions of holy scripture ephesians peter/practical righteousness.htm

The Programme of Christianity
... When He made the earth He made a rough ball of matter and supplied it with a multitude
of tools to mould it into form"the rain-drop to carve it, the glacier ...
/.../the programme of christianity 2.htm

... The process was like that of the artist who has first to make his own tools.
He does many things, and resorts to many contrivances ...
/.../epistles on the arian heresy and the deposition of arius/elucidations.htm

God, when one Believes in Him as You and I Do...
... masters and slaves, nobles and serfs, of citizens and bondmen or subjects disinherited
and enslaved, considered as living furniture, as tools and laughing ...
/.../lamartine/atheism among the people/v god when one believes.htm

The Release of Saint George.
... "I cannot free you from this prison by magic power; but I will give you tools with
which you may free yourselves, and then you will set more value on your ...
/.../kingston/the seven champions of christendom/chapter eleven the release of.htm

Tools (3 Occurrences)
... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia TOOLS. toolz: In the Bible, references to the
handicrafts are almost entirely incidental, and not many tools are named. ...
/t/tools.htm - 14k

Tool (13 Occurrences)
... like, used in the manual arts, to facilitate mechanical operations; any instrument
used by a craftsman or laborer at his work; an implement; as, the tools of a ...
/t/tool.htm - 11k

Crafts (2 Occurrences)
... which in no respect is less striking than that of Egyptian contemporaries in this
handicraft." Jewelry, weapons, votive images, various utensils, tools of many ...
/c/crafts.htm - 30k

Iron (104 Occurrences)
... It seems more likely that steel tools were used. After the discovery of
iron, it was evidently a long time in replacing bronze. ...
/i/iron.htm - 50k

Tooth (7 Occurrences)

/t/tooth.htm - 10k

Ruler (329 Occurrences)
... angels of the devil (Matthew 25:41; Matthew 12:45) or Satan, the prince of this
world (John 12:31), participate in his power; they are his tools, their sphere ...
/r/ruler.htm - 50k

Writing (194 Occurrences)
... Other instruments are: the various tools for modeling, molds, stencils, dies, stamps,
needles, engraving tools, compass, instruments for erasure, for the ...
/w/writing.htm - 70k

... inspiration of the Bible (compare BOOK) has given the fact new significance and
makes an understanding of the nature of a library one of the best tools for the ...
/l/libraries.htm - 38k

Finding (57 Occurrences)
... 2. (n.) That which is found, come upon, or provided; esp. (pl.), that which a
journeyman artisan finds or provides for himself; as tools, trimmings, etc. ...
/f/finding.htm - 23k

File (1 Occurrence)
... The Hebrew (petsirah phim) signifies "bluntness of edge," and is so rendered in
the Revised Version, margin. See TOOLS. Multi-Version Concordance ...
/f/file.htm - 9k

Bible Concordance
Tools (3 Occurrences)

Genesis 4:22 Zillah also gave birth to Tubal Cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron. Tubal Cain's sister was Naamah.
(See NIV)

Deuteronomy 23:13 and you shall have a paddle among your weapons; and it shall be, when you sit down abroad, you shall dig therewith, and shall turn back and cover that which comes from you:
(See NAS)

2 Chronicles 34:6 and in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their tools, round about.



Related Terms

Tool (13 Occurrences)

Crafts (2 Occurrences)

Iron (104 Occurrences)

Tooth (7 Occurrences)

Ruler (329 Occurrences)

Writing (194 Occurrences)


Finding (57 Occurrences)

File (1 Occurrence)

Farming (4 Occurrences)

Formeth (11 Occurrences)

Timber (32 Occurrences)

Turning (381 Occurrences)

Roughs (1 Occurrence)

Rub (1 Occurrence)

Monitor (1 Occurrence)

Mine (2991 Occurrences)


Potter (14 Occurrences)

Plane (5 Occurrences)

Pottery (11 Occurrences)

Chalk (8 Occurrences)

Convenient (11 Occurrences)

Carving (5 Occurrences)

Carpenter (4 Occurrences)

Chasing (12 Occurrences)

Cheek (9 Occurrences)

Cheekbone (1 Occurrence)

Shaft (13 Occurrences)

Slip (22 Occurrences)

Stick (47 Occurrences)

Stock (16 Occurrences)

Hammer (15 Occurrences)

Trade (33 Occurrences)

Buying (12 Occurrences)

Shinar (8 Occurrences)


Phoenicia (6 Occurrences)

Babylonia (17 Occurrences)

Tongs (6 Occurrences)

Plummet (4 Occurrences)

Plumb-line (2 Occurrences)

Plumbline (2 Occurrences)

Saw (6047 Occurrences)


Palestine (1 Occurrence)

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