The population of Palestine in Jesus' day was approximately 500,000 to 600,000 (about that of Vermont, Boston, or Jerusalem today). About 18,000 of these residents were clergy, priests and Levites. Jerusalem was a city of some 55,000, but during major feasts, could swell to 180,000.

Children in Jesus' day played games similar to hopscotch and jacks. Whistles, rattles, toy animals on wheels, hoops, and spinning tops have been found by archaeologists. Older children and adults found time to play, too, mainly with board games. A form of checkers was popular then.

Tradesmen would be instantly recognizable by the symbols they wore. Carpenters stuck wood chips behind their ears, tailors stuck needles in their tunics, and dyers wore colored rags. On the Sabbath, these symbols were left at home.

The second commandment forbade "graven images," so there are few Jewish portraits showing dress at the time. Also because of this prohibition, the Jews produced little in the way of painting, sculpture, or carvings. The masonry and carpentry of the day appear utilitarian. One notable exception to the commandment seems to be the tolerance of dolls for children.

At the two meals each day, bread was the main food. The light breakfasts—often flat bread, olives, and cheese (from goats or sheep)—were carried to work and eaten at mid-morning. Dinners were more substantial, consisting of vegetable (lentil) stew, bread (barley for the poor, wheat for the rich), fruit, eggs, and/or cheese. Fish was a common staple, but red meat was reserved for special occasions. Locusts were a delicacy and reportedly taste like shrimp. (Jews wouldn't have known that, however, since shrimp and all other crustaceans were "unclean.") ...

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