Among the nations of ancient times, recorded history leads us to believe spinning was distinctively a woman’s occupation. The tools used were primitive, but most early spinners were highly skilled craftsmen. Woolen and linen cloth was made from wool and flax. Camel and goat hair where spun for sackcloth. Wheel spinning was unknown. The fibers were drawn from the distaff and twisted into thread by means of the spindle. (Exodus 35:25, 26 and Proverbs 31:19)
In the early days of setting up our Order and of choosing sacred tenets, great care and Divine guidance was executed so that Adoptive Masonry would contain some of the most sublime sentiments known to humanity. A system that would appeal to the highest and noblest aim of life, yet bearing a precaution of relief from the monotony of the endless repetition of the degrees. The story of spinning interwoven with the history of man, the connection of spinning and the purpose for the use of the flax drying on the roof of Rahab, as stated in the 2nd Chapter of the Book of Joshua, gives us a reassuring understanding of why the spinning wheel was chosen as the identifying emblem of The Heroines of Jericho. We have been told that Rahab was a harlot. The flax drying on the roof leads us to believe that she was also an industrious woman as well.
The story of spinning is interwoven with the history of man. Wherever traces of early man were found, there also has been evidence of spun thread or spinning implements. The first attempt of the spinning process consisted of twisting animal fibers with suitable plant materials. Many of the earliest methods and tools are still in use to this day; especially the various drop spindles and such types as the India and Navajo spindles. This consisted of a stick from nine to fifteen inches long. It had a notch at one end for catching the thread and a stone or baked clay bowl called a whorl, to help make the spindle spin like a top. The Ancient Egyptians used such spindles to make thread for fine cloth. They spun cotton from combed rolls. Wool or flax fibers were wound around a stick called a distaff, which was used to hold the flax or wool.
The spinning wheel used in Europe as far back as the 1200’s, was the first device to give the spindle a spinning movement. The principle was the same as the hand spindle. A band or small belt connected to a large wheel passed over a groove in the spindle and turned it. A foot pedal turned the wheel. A distaff carried the material to be spun. The material was drawn off the distaff by hand. The Fineness of the thread depended on the speed with which the twisting thread was drawn. For very fine thread, two spinnings were necessary.
It is written in Proverbs 31:19, “She puts her hand to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle”.
Proverbs 31:10-31, has been called, “A Tribute to a Virtuous Woman”.