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Quarry

Inside Solomon's Quarry at Jerusalem.

Several VSS (ASV, RSV, ERV) tr. מַסָּ֖ע as “quarry” in 1 Kings 6:7, saying that the Temple was built of stone made ready “at the quarry.” This tr. is favored by the hiph’il use of the root verb in 1 Kings 5:17 (H 31) and Ecclesiastes 10:9 to mean “hew” or “cut out” stones. In Isaiah 51:1, both RSV and ERV tr. מַקֶּ֥בֶת בֹּ֖ור (lit. “hole of the pit”) as “quarry.” And ASVmg. trs. הַשְּׁבָרִ֔ים in Joshua 7:5 as “quarries” instead of using the proper name, Shebarim, as KJV, ASV, RSV, ERV.

Stone quarries abound in Pal. Suitable rock is plentiful. The limestone used is easily worked and hardens when exposed to air. Stones yet in their quarries, only partially extracted, illustrate methods employed in Biblical days. A narrowbladed pick was used to cut around the sides of the projected stone. The cut was wide enough only for the workman’s arm and pick. Sometimes wedges, inserted in pre-cut holes in a line, were driven deep with a heavy hammer to split the rock. Other times wooden strips were inserted in pre-cut cracks and then made to swell with water. Once loose, the stone was moved with crowbars and then transported by sledges or rollers. The largest stones, weighing several hundred tons each, have been found at Baalbek. They were moved from a quarry nearly one m. distant.

Bibliography

G. A. Reisner, C. S. Fisher, and D. G. Lyon, Harvard Excavations at Samaria, I (1924), 37, 38, 96ff.; J. Simons, GTT (1959), 271, 287.