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  • Long-term imprisonment

    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).

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  • craftsmen and goldsmiths

    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.

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  • Highways

    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).

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  • Cut off from the loom

    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 […]

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  • To eat of your own vine and fig tree

    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).

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  • “He who counted”

    “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.

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  • Watchtowers

    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.

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  • The sieve of destruction

    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 […]

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  • Yearly “round” of feasts

    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.

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