Jobs in Ancient Israel were as they are today, an essential part of life in order to provide for their families. Some jobs were simply tasks, others were expressions of pride and passion. So what were these jobs in Israel and how did they affect life around them and where can you see evidence of these professions today?

Jobs in Ancient Israel


Famous Fishermen: Peter, John, Zebedee, James, and Andrew

Fishing is one of the oldest professions in the world. It stems from the hunter and gathering past and one that we still haven’t let go of today thought most of our food today comes from agriculture. In fact, the oldest evidence for fly fishing in the world was found in northern Israel! People would fly fish as far back as 10,000 years ago in the Jordan River.

The Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean were both surrounded by fishing villages. They would fish in boats similar to the one now seen in Nof Ginosar that was found preserved in the mud during a drought, dating back to the time of Jesus.

Fishermen were hard workers who may fish with hooks or with nets. ancient hooks made of animal bone and iron are still found around the shores. The nets were mostly made of linen and had to be carefully cleaned and dried each day. If the fishermen weren’t actively fishing, they were probably repairing their nets. So, when the Bible makes it clear the fishermen left their nets behind, they were leaving behind their entire lives and possibly inheritance if a good net was left to them.

Artisans and Craftsmen

Famous Artisans and Craftsmen: Jesus and Jospeh (earthly father of Jesus) (Master Carpenters), Oholiab son of Ahisamach, Priscilla and Aquila (tent makers).

Artisans and craftsmen held jobs in ancient Israel that were very important but also imparted a bit of style and creativity. The bible actually uses the word “tekton” to describe Jesus and Joseph’s profession as carpenters. This implies that we are not reading about your run of the mill laborer, but a skilled builder and architect. A house found in the town of Nazareth from the time of Jesus is actually thought to possibly be the actual childhood home of Jesus because the house is above that of the usual homes of the area in style and build. It looks like something a tekton would design and build.

Other artisans and craftsmen would include those who made pottery, tapestries, blacksmiths and stoneworkers, etc. Ancient Israel was anything but a non-ornate land! Pottery can be found so plentifully in the state of Israel you can even buy it as a souvenir!

Farmers and Herdsmen

Famous Farmers and Herdsmen: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and his sons, Moses, Amos the Prophet, King David, etc

The basis of modern civilization is the ability to stop hunting and gathering and start planting and managing one’s food supply. Therefore it is not surprising that there were many agriculturalist jobs in ancient Israel. Not only were many of the heroes of the Bible farmers and shepherds, but also these occupations were used as examples and illustrations in the Bible many times, including by Jesus.

Today, you can still see Bedouin shepherds with their herds throughout the country. Agriculture is also a very important industry in Israel, as almost all of the food eaters in Israel is grown in Israel! It is seen as a matter of national security. The most common crops in ancient Israel included wheat, barley, grapes, olives, chickpeas, figs and dates.

When pottery has been found from ancient Israel, often they find seeds inside! In fact, one of these two-thousand year old seeds were used to grow a new palm tree!

Government and Religious Workers

Famous government and religious workers: The Sanhedrin, Matthew the Tax Collector, The Centurion, etc

The last of the ancient jobs in Israel we will discuss, though there were many others, were what would be considered toady as “white collar jobs”. These would be working in government in areas such as administration, tax collection or possibly as a soldier.

The religious workers would be those who worked as rabbis and Pharisees and the Sanhedrin. They would teach, manage the Temple and/or serve as judges in disputes that fell under their jurisdiction. We obviously know about the most famous of this group, the Pharisees during Jesus’ time.

There were other jobs such as merchants, transporters, laborers and servants. In a land of so many people, it took a lot of workers to make it all work!

We hope you will come and explore the Holy Land of Israel very soon! Contact one of our wonderful tour operators for your no-risk proposal.