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by Wayne Blank
During Bible History, baskets were common containers that were made from reeds or bulrushes (as in the above example with Moses), twigs or other natural materials. They varied widely in strength, shape and purpose, although they usually had handles of some sort, and sometimes lids. They were commonly used for such things as bread and fruit (due to their woven construction, they were usually not waterproof - the reason that "Moses' Ark" was coated with pitch, as was Noah's Ark which was made of wood - see How Big Was Noah's Ark?), but were also used as cages for pet birds or other small animals. They varied in size from small to medium (carried by hand, or on the shoulder or head) to large (carried on a pole between two people).
There were four different Hebrew words in the Old Testament, and two Greek words in the New Testament, that have been translated into English as basket. Some examples:
"When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph [see Coat Of Many Colors], "I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh" (Genesis 40:16-17 RSV)
Fact Finder: How did the apostle Paul escape an assassination attempt in Damascus?