a soft, porous marine substance. Sponges were for a long time supposed to be plants, but are now considered by the best naturalists to belong to the animal kingdom. Sponge is mentioned only in the New Testament. ( Matthew 27:48 ; Mark 15:36 ; John 19:29 ) The commercial value of the sponge was known from very early times; and although there appears to be no notice of it in the Old Testament, yet it is probable that it was used by the ancient Hebrews, who could readily have obtained it good from the Mediterranean, where it was principally found.
The word "sponge," the King James Version "spunge," occurs only in the accounts of our Lord's crucifixion in Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:36; John 19:29. Sponges have been known from the earliest periods. They are mentioned by Homer, Aeschylus, Aristophanes and other ancient writers. The sponge fisheries of the Eastern Mediterranean are still among the most important in the world. Sponges are animals of a very simple organization, fixed to rocks or other objects in the sea or in fresh water. The marketable sponge consists of a mass of soft interlacing fibers which constituted the skeleton of the living animal. The sponge fishers of the Levant dive from boats, with or without diving apparatus, and tear the sponges from the rocks with their hands. The sponges are allowed to die and rot in the air and are then thoroughly washed until nothing but the skeleton remains. Sponges which have calcareous or silicious skeletons are unfit for use.
Alfred Ely Day
These files are public domain.