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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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The Watchtower  |  August 2011

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

 Did You Know?

What did Jesus mean when he said to Saul: “To keep kicking against the goads makes it hard for you”?​—Acts 26:14.

In Bible times, farmers used goads to guide their draft animals while plowing. The goad was a pointed stick, perhaps eight feet (2.5 m) long. One end of the stick contained a sharp metal spike. If the animal pushed against the goad, it would injure itself. The other end often held a chisellike blade that could be used to remove dirt, clay, or vegetation from the plowshare.

At times, goads served as weapons. The Israelite judge and warrior Shamgar slew 600 Philistines “with a cattle goad.”​—Judges 3:31.

The Scriptures also mention this instrument in a metaphoric sense. For example, King Solomon wrote that the words of a wise person can be “like oxgoads,” prodding a companion to make the right decision.​—Ecclesiastes 12:11.

The resurrected Jesus painted a similar word picture. He advised Saul, a persecutor of Christians, to stop “kicking against the goads.” That expression evokes the image of a stubborn animal that resists the proddings of its owner. Wisely, Saul responded to Jesus’ counsel and changed his course of life, becoming the apostle Paul.

How did first-century Jews keep time at night?

Jews living in the first century C.E. could use a sundial to track the passing of time on a clear day. However, when clouds blocked the sun or when night fell, they used a clepsydra, or water clock. Besides the Jews, the ancient Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans also used this device.

According to The Jewish Encyclopedia, both the Mishnah and the Talmud mention the clepsydra “under various names, perhaps to distinguish different forms and designs, all, however, signifying one thing; namely, the slow escape​—literally the stealing away—​of the water, drop by drop, which is the meaning of ‘clepsydra’ in Greek.”

How did a clepsydra work? Water flowed out of one vessel through a small hole at the bottom and into another. An observer could measure the passing of time by noting the water level in either the upper or the lower vessel, both of which could be marked with degrees of measurement.

Roman military camps used such clocks to determine the night watches. The changing of the watch was indicated by a trumpet blast. Anyone within earshot would have been aware of when each of the four night watches began and ended.​—Mark 13:35.