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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

spin'-ing: Although spinning must have been one of the commonest of the crafts in Bible times, it is mentioned definitely in three passages only, namely, Exodus 35:25, where Tawah, is so translated, and in Matthew 6:28 Luke 12:27 nethein), where Jesus refers to the lilies of the field as neither toiling nor spinning.

The materials commonly spun were flax, cotton, wool, goats' hair. Goats' hair required little preparation other than washing, before spinning. Wool was first cleansed and then carded. The present method of carding, which no doubt is of ancient origin, is to pile the wool on a mat and then detach the fibers from each other by snapping a bow-string against the pile. The bow is specially constructed and carefully balanced so that it can be easily held with one hand while with the other the string is struck with a pestle-shaped mallet like a carver's mallet. The same instrument is used for carding cotton.

Flax was treated in ancient times as today, if the Egyptian sculptures have been rightly interpreted. The stalks after being stripped of their seeds were first retted. This operation consisted in soaking the stems in water until fermentation or rotting had so loosened the fibers that they could be separated from each other by combing. A series of washings and long exposure to the weather finally produced what was termed snowy-white linen.

The various fibers, mentioned above, to be made into thread, were gathered into a loose rope which was wound around a distaff or about the left hand. From this reel it was unwound as needed, the fibers more carefully adjusted with the thumbs and two first fingers of both hands, and then the rope twisted by means of a spindle. The spindle varied in form but was always a shaft, 8 to 12 in. in length, provided at one end with a hook or other means of fastening the thread and at the other end with a circular wharve or whorl of stone or other heavy material to give momentum to the rotating spindle. When 2 or 3 ft. of the rope was prepared as mentioned above, the spindle was twirled with the right hand or laid on the thigh and rotated by passing the hand over the shaft. After the thread was twisted it was wound on the spindle, fastened, and a new portion of rope prepared and twisted. The rope was sometimes fastened to a post and the spindle twisted with both hands, in which case the whorl was not necessary (see Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt, I, 317; II, 170, 172). Spinning was the work of both men and women in ancient Egypt. The Bible characterizes it as the work of women (Exodus 35 Proverbs 31:19). The same method of spinning is still used by the women of Syria, although imported yarn is largely taking the place of homespun thread.


James A. Patch


One Hank Over for the Candle.
... She was busy working at her spinning-wheel, and watching the candle, turning
now and again to trim it. All night long she sat at ...
/.../gordon/quiet talks with world winners/one hank over for the.htm

Flimsy Garments
... wrong course. Hatching and spinning both suggest protracted, sedulous labour.
And then the issue of it all is" nothing. Take the ...
/.../maclaren/expositions of holy scripture h/flimsy garments.htm

Women's Bible Training School
... she argued, "and repairs are badly needed." Every evening they met to read the Bible
and pray, and Mrs. Bah, prompted by curiosity, took her spinning to within ...
/.../the fulfilment of a dream of pastor hsis/chapter xvi womens bible training.htm

The Story of Histiaeus.
... Her hands, being thus not required either for the horse or for the vessel, were
employed in spinning, as she walked along, by means of a distaff and spindle. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/abbott/darius the great/chapter x the story of.htm

Events During the War
... This quantity of yarn would make only about 25 yards of jeans. Mother did
her own spinning and weaving until some years after the war. ...
/.../cole/trials and triumphs of faith/chapter iv events during the.htm

The Empress Theodora
... she began from this moment to adopt a retired and blameless life in a modest mansion,
where she relieved her poverty by the feminine task of spinning wool. ...
/.../brittain/women of early christianity/xi the empress theodora.htm

On the Advisableness of Improving Natural Knowledge.
... certain that for every victim slain by the plague, hundreds of mankind exist and
find a fair share of happiness in the world, by the aid of the spinning jenny. ...
/.../huxley/lay sermons addresses and reviews/i on the advisableness of.htm

Excuses Commonly Urged in Defence of Second Marriage their ...
... pretexts are: the necessities of props to lean on; a house to be managed; a family
to be governed; chests [567] and keys to be guarded; the wool-spinning to be ...
/.../tertullian/on exhortation to chastity/chapter xii excuses commonly urged in.htm

The Earthquake (Preached October 11, 1863. )
... sets it rolling in waves, like the waves of the sea"which is more hurtful; and one,
the most terrible of all, which gives the ground a spinning motion, so ...
/.../the water of life and other sermons/sermon xv the earthquake preached.htm

Personal Notes: Relics Nearby that the Three Kings had Given to ...
... I saw them fastening a mass of this on their breasts and spinning from it a fine
thread, rolling it up on something they held in their hands. ...
/.../the life of the blessed virgin mary/xv personal notes relics nearby.htm

Smith's Bible Dictionary

The notices of spinning in the Bible are confined to (Exodus 35:25,26; Proverbs 31:19; Matthew 6:28) The latter passage implies (according to the Authorized Version) the use of the same instruments which have been in vogue for hand-spinning down to the present day, viz. the distaff and spindle. The distaff however, appears to have been dispensed with, and the term so rendered means the spindle itself, while that rendered "spindle" represents the whirl of the spindle, a button of circular rim which was affixed to it, and gave steadiness to its circular motion. The "whirl" of the Syrian women was made of amber in the time of Pliny. The spindle was held perpendicularly in the one hand, while the other was employed in drawing out the thread. Spinning was the business of women, both among the Jews and for the most part among the Egyptians.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (p. pr. & vb. n.) of Spin.

2. (a. & n.) from Spin.

... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. SPINNING. ... Goats' hair required little preparation
other than washing, before spinning. Wool was first cleansed and then carded. ...
/s/spinning.htm - 9k

Spindle (2 Occurrences)
... 1. (n.) The long, round, slender rod or pin in spinning wheels by which the thread
is twisted, and on which, when twisted, it is wound; also, the pin on which ...
/s/spindle.htm - 8k

Linen (111 Occurrences)
... 41:42 Isaiah 19:9). From it a large export trade was carried on with surrounding
nations, including the Hebrews, who early learned the art of spinning from the ...
/l/linen.htm - 50k

Wheel (20 Occurrences)
... etc. 2. (n.) Any instrument having the form of, or chiefly consisting of,
a wheel. 3. (n.) A spinning wheel. See under Spinning. 4 ...
/w/wheel.htm - 18k

Fly (33 Occurrences)
... a latch. 22. (n.) The pair of arms revolving around the bobbin, in a spinning
wheel or spinning frame, to twist the yarn. 23. (n ...
/f/fly.htm - 26k

Rock (176 Occurrences)
... 1. (n.) See Roc. 2. (n.) A distaff used in spinning; the staff or frame about which
flax is arranged, and from which the thread is drawn in spinning. ...
/r/rock.htm - 49k

... 6. (n.) A twist or spinning motion given to a ball in striking it that influences
the direction it will take after touching a cushion or another ball. ...
/e/english.htm - 38k

Spin (4 Occurrences)
... 7. (vi) To practice spinning; to work at drawing and twisting threads; to make yarn
or thread from fiber; as, the woman knows how to spin; a machine or jenny ...
/s/spin.htm - 9k

Crafts (2 Occurrences)
... Plastering 16. Spinning and Weaving 17. ... 16. Spinning and Weaving: The arts of spinning
and weaving were early practiced in the household (Exodus 35:25). ...
/c/crafts.htm - 30k

Distaff (2 Occurrences)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary. 1. (n.) The staff for holding a bunch of flax, tow, or
wool, from which the thread is drawn in spinning by hand. ... See SPINNING. ...
/d/distaff.htm - 7k



Spinning by Hand

Related Terms

Spindle (2 Occurrences)

Linen (111 Occurrences)

Wheel (20 Occurrences)

Fly (33 Occurrences)

Rock (176 Occurrences)


Spin (4 Occurrences)

Crafts (2 Occurrences)

Distaff (2 Occurrences)

Woman (4043 Occurrences)

Wool (34 Occurrences)

Fate (138 Occurrences)

Felt (40 Occurrences)

Frame (33 Occurrences)

Flax (11 Occurrences)

Raising (29 Occurrences)

Drawing (60 Occurrences)

Mule (9 Occurrences)

Cot (3 Occurrences)


Silk (4 Occurrences)

Camel (13 Occurrences)

Yarn (37 Occurrences)

Egypt (596 Occurrences)

Spirit (706 Occurrences)

Tabernacle (333 Occurrences)

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