Besides the evangelistic work he was set apart for (Acts 13:2), the Apostle Paul also worked as a tent maker. But what this tent making really encompassed I had no informed idea… until this week! Then, wow!

I was hopping around the internet, looking for open doors to interesting new amateur work, because health concerns seem to have closed the door for me on handspinning and weaving. And I happened on these surprising videos.

Not only did they make me sit right up with wide-eyed interest, but they also blew my conception of Apostle Paul’s hand labor right out of the water. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean.

Talk about art and creativity! Did he really do work like this? If you watch the first video for a short while, you’ll hear the presenter mentioning him (somewhere about five minutes in or so)…

A few notes:

  • I find applique the most challenging and time-consuming kind of “quilt work.” To see these guys work so skillfully so lightning fast just leaves me breathless.
  • As I was looking again at the videos, I was imagining these works in huge size covering the inside of tents as they once did traditionally (though now only rarely), with the blazing Middle Eastern sun shining through them. Just imagine… !
  • I also started wondering about the “embroidery” (as sometimes translated) in the tabernacle (tent!) of God…
  • Also do you see the enjoyment these men have in their work? In one video we learn that one of them was trained as a lawyer, yet returned to the family craft because he found much more pleasure in it. This really led me to think about Paul, and wonder if part of the reason he continued tent-making as he carried on his ministry was that pleasure and not just earning his own bread…

8 thoughts on “Tentmaking Wows

  1. Hi Sylvia! I loved the first video. They certainly do look pleased with their craft, and I never thought of St. Paul as being a patchwork person, I thought he made actual tents! This opens up a whole new thought process for me. Thank you!

    1. Hi Ceil!
      It’s so good to see you here, to be back in contact. 🙂
      As I understand it, these tentmakers did make the actual tents. This “artistic work” was just part of the whole process. (And whether poor people had fancy interiors like these is a question to consider which my husband brought up.) In the last video is where I think I saw one such tent set up inside-out so you can see its interior. This has totally changed how I picture Paul and his friends Aquila and Priscella possibly working in community on their tent-making trade. And because of that, I can’t get enough of watching these men work and looking at the amazing variety of creations they make.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting.
      Blessings back to you!

  2. I’m always in awe of those who are so painstaking in their creativity and the beauty that can be created as a result 🙂 There is a bit of a maker in all of us if we can have the bravery to look!

    1. Hi Emma!
      Your comment has lingered in my mind, activating lots more thought. The word that stands out is “bravery.” Yes! It does involve bravery to look for how our Maker has imprinted His image of creativity on and in ourselves, and then step out, toe into the water, then foot in, ankle deep, then another step, to explore how He might desire this to play out (or *work* out?) in our lives. Thanks for sharing this thought!

  3. I loved your post and photos and shared it on Face-Book. Our Bible Teacher was thrilled with this information at it reminds us of the craftsmanship that was God Gifted to arts and workers as they built the tent tabernacle with its furnishings in the wilderness.
    Linda our teacher commented thus: “This is amazing. Thank you so much Hazel. I want to share this with Pastor.”

    1. Hazel, I am so very pleased about this! I also have been thinking a lot about that Tabernacle with its furnishings. Looking at Exodus and the actual words giving God’s instructions about their construction/production, I see that there are words added to our English translations that aren’t in the Hebrew text at all—perhaps expressing “guesses” about the work based on our Western traditions and experiences(?) I think the way we tend to imagine it might fall far short of how awesome it was, both in materials that comprised it and the God-gifted artistry that bestowed beauty and splendor on them. Thanks so much for sharing on Facebook. When I get as enthused about something as much as I have about this, I want so much to be able to enjoy others’ sharing the enthusiasm.

  4. We Americans think we have the corner on making anything and everything better. We tend to forget in many countries they still make most things by hand. When we lived in Bolivia I was amazed at how fast the women could makes clothesfrom the Lama and sheep. Good reminders and an way to understand tent making.

    1. Thank you for this input, Betty. That handwork in those other countries is sometimes breath-taking in its beauty and outstanding in its quality, too, isn’t it?

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