When the Occupational Outlook Handbook was a print publication, it was the number-one best-seller of the U.S. Government Printing Office. But surely it did not outsell the Bible. You may not think of the Bible as a place to read about occupations, but the next time you pick it up, pay attention to how many times working people are mentioned there.
For these references, I am particularly fond of the book of Isaiah. You may think of him as an other-worldly prophet, but he often uses metaphors that indicate he has observed many people working at their jobs. The economy of his time was mainly agricultural, and many of his metaphors are drawn from farming and viniculture, but he also mentions the work of artisans and other kinds of workers.
Following are some example, drawn from the King James translation as found on www.kingjamesbibleonline.org. Besides their interest from a career-awareness perspective, they serve as excellent examples of how concrete language can be used to make an abstract point. Some writers assume that when they write about ideas, they should be using only abstract language. As these examples show, highly specific language, based on everyday experiences, can contribute to a powerful generalization. (George Orwell, in his essay Politics and the English Language, uses an example from Ecclesiastes to make the same point.)
10:15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.
18:5 For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches.
19:8–10 The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish. Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded. And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.
28:27–28 For the fitches [an herb] are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin [another herb, nowadays spelled cumin]; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod. Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.
29:16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?
41:7 So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
44:12–13 The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint. The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.
46:6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.
47:13 Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.
47:15 Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee.
63:2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
To those who observe it later this month, I wish you a happy new year.