Light

In Matthew 25 there is a parable of the wise and foolish women with their lamps awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom.  Five take extra oil in case of need and five do not and so are unprepared.

Lamps were a very early source of light. They consisted of a hollowed out rock filled with some absorbent material soaked in animal fat and then ignited. Some areas used shells and the shell shape was kept when the lamps became made out of pottery, alabaster or metal.  These lamps were used in many places including Palestine. Further to the east there was a saucer shaped lamp with sometimes a spike or hollow for a wick.

The word lamp derives from the Greek word lampas meaning torch, and it did indeed replace torches and braziers. The pottery versions became more elaborate with a shallow cup shape and sometimes more than one spout for the wicks. They had a circular hole in top for filling them with oil and handles to carry them.  Sometimes they had handles for hanging them.

The metal lamps became even more elaborate, taking on various designs including that of plants and animals.

Lamps had a special place in Jewish tradition with the Hanukkah lamp with its eight small spoon shaped sections. This is similar to some lamps in Indian Temples. Some sanctuary lamps have wicks that float on cork or wood.

Lighting has changed from lamps and candles to kerosene lighting, gas lighting and of course electricity with all its various forms over the years.

There is natural lighting also with glow-worms, fireflies, phosphorescent plants and fish, and of course stars, moon and sun.

Whatever its source, light is a benefit, wonder and delight. It is also the first thing God created.