7 Smartest Technological Innovations in Biblical Times
The Fourth Industrial Revolution in the 21st century is changing now how people live. With the advent of artificial intelligence, genome editing, augmented reality, robotics, and 3-D printing, we could only expect more until the end of time.
At its core, technology aims to aid man’s everyday activities–whether it be in trade, industry, manufacturing, healthcare, education, and the like. Humans consciously innovate and modify the environment to suit their insatiable wants and needs.
Nowadays, Bible history can even be learned through a Bible game whence in ancient times this is transmitted orally and memorized by generations. Does this mean today’s technology is superior?
Often, when people think of technology, they think of robots, gadgets, and machinery. However, technology doesn’t look like this throughout history. In the Bible, men had also sought ways to make their activities more comfortable and faster. In this article, we will dig into the seven smartest technological innovations in Biblical times!
When the Lord confused the people’s language during the construction of the tower of Babel, people developed systems of writing. Cuneiform is the first system of writing that originated in the ancient Middle East. Cuneiform was initially developed to write the Sumerian language of southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).
Cuneiform existed before the time of Abraham. And although the Bible was not written in cuneiform, scholars have found many Biblical characters, places, and situations cited in cuneiform.
For example, the Cyrus Cylinder provides convincing evidence that after taking Babylon in 539 B.C.E., Cyrus applied his policy of returning captives to their homelands.
In Biblical times, the standard writing material aside from clay, stones, and animal skins is the papyrus. Papyrus is a paper made from reeds. The papyrus plant is commonly found in the lakes and rivers of Egypt and Syria.
The papyrus originated in Egypt. Due to its dry climate, some New Testament manuscripts were found and preserved in Egypt’s dry sands.
Archaeologists found some ancient scrolls and books written in papyrus. In 1940, 800 scrolls (Dead Sea Scrolls) were discovered by Bedouin shepherds in 11 caves along the northwest shore of Israel’s Dead Sea.
Chariots are mentioned in the Bible multiple times. The earliest account was in Genesis 41:43, where Joseph was paraded through the chariot throughout Egypt as Pharaoh’s second line in command.
Yet, typically we find chariots in the Bible for warlike purposes (Exodus 14:7). The nation’s military power is often estimated by the number of chariots (1 Samuel 13:5; 2 Samuel 8:4; 2 Samuel 10: 18). The prophets also allude to chariots as power (Psalms 20:7; 104:3; Jeremiah 51:21; Zechariah 6:1).
Both spearmen and charioteers mounted chariots. However, it is doubted that fighting was conducted from the vehicle itself. During the time of the Greek empire, cavalry and chariot racing replaced war chariots.
In 4000 B.C.E., sailboats were as simple as a cloth sail on single logs. In 3000 B.C.E., square sailboats were used by the Mesopotamians to aid them in transporting their goods in nearby cities and countries.
Water transportation was the most convenient option for the Mesopotamians since they were situated between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. Also, land transportation during those times was long and arduous.
Sailboats are one of the essential contributions of the Mesopotamians in modern times. And even though these vessels wouldn’t carry that much, these ships revolutionized water travel. Also, we can still see similarities in the basic design of sailboats to modern ones.
When civilization began to trade, a need to count was created. A form of measuring things like the number of sheep, crops, and exchanged goods comprises early mathematics. Later, mathematics solved more complex problems like irrigation and architecture.
The Sumerians developed a modern counting and measuring system in 3100 BC. In comparison, the Egyptians in 2700 BC developed the first fully functional ten-number system.
On the other hand, Mathematics in Babylonia was abstract and entirely unrealistic. These did not solve practical problems. Many texts refer to this mathematics for social activities like construction, planning, and surveys.
- Astrology and Astronomy
The Mesopotamians practiced astrology and astronomy mainly to predict the future. Astronomy is the science that deals with studying everything outside earth’s atmosphere (e.g., stars, asteroids, planets, and galaxies). And Astrology is the study of the positioning of the planets and stars.
In the Bible, the study of astrology and astronomy is vital for the Mesopotamians. An example is how stars guided the men of the east to locate the newly-born Jesus. Also, the Mesopotamians have various gods tied to the planets, which the Greeks and Romans later adopted.
After the Babylonian era, the Persians continued the study of astronomy. There were schools teaching astronomy in Uruk, Sippar, Babylon, and Borsippa. Nabu-rimanni, a great astronomer, studied eclipses and his calculations were more accurate than Copernicus and Ptolemy.
The Greeks continued the study and later identified 48 constellations. They also added information and explanations of motion geometry to the existing numerical relationships that the Babylonians had discovered.
Canals, gated ditches, levees, and gates were significant critical components of Mesopotamian irrigation. Since Mesopotamia is a “land between rivers,” irrigation was vital to Mesopotamia.
Mesopotamia is a desert, and rainfall is limited. The Nile and the Tigris-Euphrates rivers supply water. The flooding of the Nile or Tigris-Euphrates, most of the time, destroyed crops yet made the land always fertile.
Inventions in irrigation such as dikes and dams were used to solve this challenge. Also, irrigation canals and pumping systems were created to control the water that flows through the crops. Later on, the Sumer made their levees, basically a larger channel that could handle much more water.
- Law Code
One of the significant technological contributions of the Bible in history is the introduction of the law codes such as moral law, civil law, and ceremonial laws. As we know it, rules build and strengthen a civilization. Nowadays, the modern age can trace many of its laws similar to the moral laws in the Bible.
Although we don’t adhere to some civil and ceremonials in Moses’ time anymore, its principles remain applicable. For example, inter-marriage with relatives may cause harmful genetic conditions to the couple’s children.
Another is the importance of the health laws like the unclean and clean foods found in Leviticus 11. Nowadays, studies have shown that many of the diseases people acquire stems from their diet and lifestyle.
- Thummim and Urim
The Thummim and Urim are significant items in the Israelites’ time. These stones are a means of revelation which is entrusted to the high priest. It also represents the will of God.
These items first appeared in Exodus 28:30. It lights (God’s light) whenever God’s people need to make an important decision (Numbers 27:21). The Urim and Thummim guidance is followed, especially in difficult circumstances (Judges 20: 18-28). A perfect light miraculously shone from the stones, giving the needed authentication to the high priest’s question.
One of the greatest inventions in the Bible is bricks. Bricks were used to build wall gates, houses, altars, and a lot more architectural structures. To create the tower of Babel, the people had to use bricks (Genesis 11:3-4). And during the time of Egyptian bondage, the Israelites were forced to make bricks (Exodus 1: 14).
The earliest bricks were dried from the sun. While the oldest bricks were initially found in the upper Tigris region, dating 7500 BC. Ceramic or fired bricks were seen as early as 3000 BC in early Indus valleys suck Kalibangan. The evidence of this can be seen today at the ruins of Harappa Buhen and Mohenjo-Daro.
The bricks used among the Jews were 12-13 inches square and 3 ½ inches thick. Bricks mentioned in 2 Samuel 12:31 and Jeremiah 43:9 were made with Nile mud and straw to prevent cracking.
The Bible mentioned tombs numerous times. The first one was the Cave of Machpelah, bought by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite (Genesis 23:20). The Bible states that Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah were also buried there (Gen. 25:9; 49:29-33; 50:12; Acts 7:16).
Tombs were also mentioned in the Book of Judges, 2 Samuel, and 2 Kings. Lazarus was raised from the tomb (John 11: 38-44). And Jesus was laid for a while in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Mathew 27:60).
Tombs vary in layout. Some have elaborate facades, while others had simple exteriors with a rectangular blocking stone or mudbrick. Complex tombs have an internment room, then the entrance. The complexity of the architecture of tombs is related to the social status of the deceased.
Ordinary people in the Bible times used copper coins for everyday transactions. Only the rich handled golds. The wealth belonging to the royalty was measured in talents equating to ten thousand drachmas or half a million pounds. Thus the money handed over by the master in the parable of talents was a large sum of money.
A denarius, equivalent of a day’s wage for a laborer today, is about 70 dollars. This coin was what the widower lost in the Parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8) and the currency that the good samaritan paid for the wounded man (two denarii in Luke 10:35). Another incident was when the servant went to jail for a hundred denarii debt from his fellow steward (Matthew 18:28).
The shekel, on the other hand, is worth four denarii. The half-shekel was the temple taxed to all Israelites to support the temple of Jerusalem. The moneychangers in the temple courts rebuked by Jesus in Matthew 21:12 used Tyrian shekels or half shekels. This currency from Tyre didn’t bear the image of any ruler.
- Tithing System
The Lord established a system of benevolence for his people. This system pertains to the command of God to set aside the tenth portion of their produce, flocks, and cattle (Deuteronomy 14:22).
In Malachi 3:10, tithes were a test of faith and a prerequisite for blessings to God’s people. Israelites used tithes to sustain the priestly tribe who did not have a portion in Israel’s land (Numbers 18: 20, 21). It is also used as a provision for particular festivals or given to the poor for their sustenance (Deuteronomy 14: 28, 29; 26: 12).
Moreover, records of tithing were first recorded when Abraham gave ten percent of his wealth to Melchizedek, king-priest of Salem (Genesis 14: 18-20; Hebrews 7:4). And Jacob promised that he would give God a “tenth of everything” he received if He would bless him (Genesis 28: 20-22).
Did you find this article informative? Share it now!
Heroes 2: The Game is a Bible trivia game released by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Hope Channel. It is a sequel to the game, Heroes, which was released way back in 2013. The latest game version is on its new 3D animation, comes with unique features, and has more challenging Bible questions in four languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French. The game is available on both iOS and Android.