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Easton's Bible Dictionary

Materials used.

The earliest and simplest an apron of fig-leaves sewed together ( Genesis 3:7 ); then skins of animals ( 3:21 ). Elijah's dress was probably the skin of a sheep ( 2 Kings 1:8 ). The Hebrews were early acquainted with the art of weaving hair into cloth ( Exodus 26:7 ; 35:6 ), which formed the sackcloth of mourners. This was the material of John the Baptist's robe ( Matthew 3:4 ). Wool was also woven into garments ( Leviticus 13:47 ; Deuteronomy 22:11 ; Ezekiel 34:3 ; Job 31:20 ; Proverbs 27:26 ). The Israelites probably learned the art of weaving linen when they were in Egypt ( 1 Chronicles 4:21 ). Fine linen was used in the vestments of the high priest ( Exodus 28:5 ), as well as by the rich ( Genesis 41:42 ; Proverbs 31:22 ; Luke 16:19 ). The use of mixed material, as wool and flax, was forbidden ( Leviticus 19:19 ; Deuteronomy 22:11 ).


The prevailing colour was the natural white of the material used, which was sometimes rendered purer by the fuller's art ( Psalms 104:1 , 104:2 ; Isaiah 63:3 ; Mark 9:3 ). The Hebrews were acquainted with the art of dyeing ( Genesis 37:3 ,s 37:23 ). Various modes of ornamentation were adopted in the process of weaving ( Exodus 28:6 ; 26:1 , 26:31 ; 35:25 ), and by needle-work ( Judges 5:30 ; Psalms 45:13 ). Dyed robes were imported from foreign countries, particularly from Phoenicia ( Zephaniah 1:8 ). Purple and scarlet robes were the marks of the wealthy ( Luke 16:19 ; 2 Samuel 1:24 ).


The robes of men and women were not very much different in form from each other.

(a) The "coat" (kethoneth), of wool, cotton, or linen, was worn by both sexes. It was a closely-fitting garment, resembling in use and form our shirt ( John 19:23 ). It was kept close to the body by a girdle ( John 21:7 ). A person wearing this "coat" alone was described as naked ( 1 Samuel 19:24 ; Isaiah 20:2 ; 2 Kings 6:30 ; John 21:7 ); deprived of it he would be absolutely naked.

(b) A linen cloth or wrapper (sadin) of fine linen, used somewhat as a night-shirt ( Mark 14:51 ). It is mentioned in Judg. Mark 14:12 Mark 14:13 , and rendered there "sheets."

(c) An upper tunic (meil), longer than the "coat" ( 1 Samuel 2:19 ; 24:4 ; 28:14 ). In 1 Samuel 28:14 it is the mantle in which Samuel was enveloped; in 1 Samuel 24:4 it is the "robe" under which Saul slept. The disciples were forbidden to wear two "coats" ( Matthew 10:10 ; Luke 9:3 ).

(d) The usual outer garment consisted of a piece of woollen cloth like a Scotch plaid, either wrapped round the body or thrown over the shoulders like a shawl, with the ends hanging down in front, or it might be thrown over the head so as to conceal the face ( 2 Samuel 15:30 ; Esther 6:12 ). It was confined to the waist by a girdle, and the fold formed by the overlapping of the robe served as a pocket ( 2 Kings 4:39 ; Psalms 79:12 ; Haggai 2:12 ; Proverbs 17:23 ; 21:14 ).

Female dress.

The "coat" was common to both sexes (Canticles 5:3 ). But peculiar to females were (1) the "veil" or "wimple," a kind of shawl ( Ruth 3:15 ; rendered "mantle," RSV, Isaiah 3:22 ); (2) the "mantle," also a species of shawl ( Isaiah 3:22 ); (3) a "veil," probably a light summer dress ( Genesis 24:65 ); (4) a "stomacher," a holiday dress ( Isaiah 3:24 ). The outer garment terminated in an ample fringe or border, which concealed the feet ( Isaiah 47:2 ; Jeremiah 13:22 ).

The dress of the Persians is described in Daniel 3:21 .

The reference to the art of sewing are few, inasmuch as the garments generally came forth from the loom ready for being worn, and all that was required in the making of clothes devolved on the women of a family ( Proverbs 31:22 ; Acts 9:39 ).

Extravagance in dress is referred to in Jeremiah 4:30 ; Ezek. 16:10 ; Zephaniah 1:8 (RSV, "foreign apparel"); 1 Timothy 2:9 ; 1 Peter 3:3 . Rending the robes was expressive of grief ( Genesis 37:29 Genesis 37:34 ), fear ( 1 Kings 21:27 ), indignation ( 2 Kings 5:7 ), or despair ( Judges 11:35 ; Esther 4:1 ).

Shaking the garments, or shaking the dust from off them, was a sign of renunciation ( Acts 18:6 ); wrapping them round the head, of awe ( 1 Kings 19:13 ) or grief ( 2 Samuel 15:30 ; casting them off, of excitement ( Acts 22:23 ); laying hold of them, of supplication ( 1 Samuel 15:27 ). In the case of travelling, the outer garments were girded up ( 1 Kings 18:46 ). They were thrown aside also when they would impede action ( Mark 10:50 ; John 13:4 ; Acts 7:58 ).


Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names

(no entry)


Smith's Bible Dictionary

Materials .--

After the first "apron" of fig leaves, ( Genesis 3:7 ) the skins of animals were used for clothing. ( Genesis 3:21 ) Such was the "mantle" worn by Elijah. Pelisses of sheepskin still form an ordinary article of dress in the East. The art of weaving hear was known to the Hebrews at an early period, ( Exodus 25:4 ; 26:7 ) and wool was known earlier still. ( Genesis 38:12 ) Their acquaintance with linen and perhaps cotton dates from the captivity in Egypt, ( 1 Chronicles 4:21 ) silk was introduced much later. ( Revelation 18:12 ) The use of mixed material, such as wool and flax, was forbidden. ( Leviticus 19:19 ; 22:11 )

Color and decoration. --

The prevailing color of the Hebrew dress was the natural white of the materials employed, which might be brought to a high state of brilliancy by the art of the fuller. ( Mark 9:3 ) The notice of scarlet thread, ( Genesis 38:28 ) implies some acquaintance with dyeing. The elements of ornamentation were --

(1) weaving with threads previously dyed, ( Exodus 35:25 )

(2) the introduction of gold thread or wire, ( Exodus 27:6 ) ff;

(3) the addition of figures. Robes decorated with gold, ( Psalms 45:13 ) and with silver thread, cf. ( Acts 12:21 ) were worn by royal personages; other kinds of embroidered robes were worn by the wealthy, ( Judges 5:30 ; Psalms 45:14 ; Ezekiel 16:13 ) as well as purple, ( Proverbs 31:22 ; Luke 16:19 ) and scarlet. ( 2 Samuel 1:24 )

The names, forms, and modes of wearing the robes. -- The general characteristics of Oriental dress have preserved a remarkable uniformity in all ages: the modern Arab dresses much as the ancient Hebrew did. The costume of the men and women was very similar; there was sufficient difference, however, to mark the sex, and it was strictly forbidden to a woman to wear the appendages, such as the staff, signet-ring, and other ornaments, of a man; as well as to a man to wear the outer robe of a woman. ( Deuteronomy 22:5 ) We shall first describe the robes which were common to the two sexes, and then those which were peculiar to women.

(1) The inner garment was the most essential article of dress. It was a closely-fitting garment, resembling in form and use our shirt, though unfortunately translate "coat" in the Authorized Version. The material of which it was made was either wool, cotton or linen. It was without sleeves, and reached only to the knee. Another kind reached to the wrists and ankles. It was in either case kept close to the body by a girdle, and the fold formed by the overlapping of the robe served as an inner pocket. A person wearing the inner garment alone was described as naked.

(2) There was an upper or second tunic, the difference being that it was longer than the first.

(3) the linen cloth appears to have been a wrapper of fine linen, which might be used in various ways, but especially as a night-shirt. ( Mark 14:51 )

(4) The outer garment consisted of a quadrangular piece of woollen cloth, probably resembling in shape a Scotch plaid. The size and texture would vary with the means of the wearer. It might be worn in various ways, either wrapped round the body or thrown over the shoulders like a shawl, with the ends or "skirts" hanging down in front; or it might be thrown over the head, so as to conceal the face. ( 2 Samuel 15:30 ; Esther 6:12 ) The ends were skirted with a fringe and bound with a dark purple ribbon, ( Numbers 15:38 ) it was confined at the waist by a girdle. The outer garment was the poor mans bed clothing. ( Exodus 22:26 , 22:27 ) The dress of the women differed from that of the men in regard to the outer garment, the inner garment being worn equally by both sexes. ( Solomon 5:3 ) Among their distinctive robes we find a kind of shawl, ( Ruth 3:15 ; Isaiah 3:22 ) light summer dresses of handsome appearance and ample dimensions, and gay holiday dresses. ( Isaiah 3:24 ) The garments of females were terminated by an ample border of fringe (skirts , Authorized Version), which concealed the feet. ( Isaiah 47:2 ; Jeremiah 13:22 ) The travelling cloak referred to by St. Paul, ( 2 Timothy 4:13 ) is generally identified with the Roman paenula . It is, however, otherwise explained as a travelling-case for carrying clothes or books. The coat of many colors worn by Joseph, ( Genesis 37:3 , 37:23 ) is variously taken to be either a "coat of divers colors" or a tunic furnished with sleeves and reaching down to the ankles. The latter is probably the correct sense.

Special usages relating to dress. --

The length of the dress rendered it inconvenient for active exercise; hence the outer garments were either left in the house by a person working close by, ( Matthew 24:18 ) or were thrown off when the occasion arose, ( Mark 10:50 ) or, if this were not possible, as in the case of a person travelling, they were girded up. ( 1 Kings 18:46 ; 1 Peter 1:13 ) On entering a house the upper garment was probably laid aside, and resumed on going out. ( Acts 12:8 ) In a sitting posture, the garments concealed the feet; this was held to be an act of reverence. ( Isaiah 6:2 ) The number of suits possessed by the Hebrews was considerable: a single suit consisted of an under and upper garment. The presentation of a robe in many instances amounted to installation or investiture, ( Genesis 41:42 ; Esther 8:15 ; Isaiah 22:21 ) on the other hand, taking it away amounted to dismissal from office. 2 Macc. 4:38. The production of the best robe was a mark of special honor in a household. ( Luke 15:22 ) The number of robes thus received or kept in store for presents was very large, and formed one of the main elements of wealth in the East, ( Job 22:6 ; Matthew 6:19 ; James 5:2 ) so that to have clothing implied the possession of wealth and power. ( Isaiah 3:6 Isaiah 3:7 ) On grand occasions the entertainer offered becoming robes to his guests. The business of making clothes devolved upon women in a family. ( Proverbs 31:22 ; Acts 9:39 ) little art was required in what we may term the tailoring department; the garments came forth for the most part ready made from the loom, so that the weaver supplanted the tailor.


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

In the Hebrew and Greek there is a wonderful wealth of terminology having to do with the general subject of dress among the ancient Orientals. This is reflected in the numerous synonyms for "dress" to be found in English Versions of the Bible, "apparel," "attire," "clothes," "raiment," "garments," etc. But the words used in the originals are often greatly obscured through the inconsistent variations of the translators. Besides there are few indications even in the original Hebrew or Greek of the exact shape or specific materials of the various articles of dress named, and so their identification is made doubly difficult. In dealing with the subject, therefore, the most reliable sources of information, apart from the meaning of the terms used in characterization, are certain well-known facts about the costumes and dress-customs of the orthodox Jews, and others about the forms of dress worn today by the people of simple life and primitive habits in modern Palestine. Thanks to the ultraconservatism and unchanging usages of the nearer East, this is no mean help. In the endeavor to discover, distinguish and deal with the various oriental garments, then, we will consider:

1. Meaning of Terms:

There was originally a sharp distinction between classical and oriental costume, but this was palpably lessened under the cosmopolitanism of the Roman Empire. This of course had its effect both in the modification of the fashions of the day and upon the words used for articles of clothing in the New Testament.

(1) The terms most used for clothes in general were, in the Old Testament, cadhin, simlah, salmah, and in the New Testament himation (Matthew 21:7 ; 24:18 ; 26:65 ; Luke 8:27) and enduma (Matthew 22:11; compare Matthew 7:15), plural, though the oldest and most widely distributed article of human apparel was probably the "loin-cloth" (Hebrew 'ezor), entirely different from "girdle" (Greek zone). Biblical references for clothes are nearly all to the costume of the males, owing doubtless to the fact that the garments ordinarily used indoors were worn alike by men and women.

(2) The three normal body garments, the ones most mentioned in the Scriptures, are cadjin, a rather long "under garment" provided with sleeves; kethoneth (Greek chiton), a long-sleeved tunic worn over the cadhin, likewise a shirt with sleeves (see Masterman, DCG, article "Dress"); and simlah (Greek himation), the cloak of the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American), used in the plural for "garments" in general; and the "girdle" (Greek zone; Arabic zunnar). The "headdress" (two types are now in use, the "turban" and the "kufiyeh") is never definitely named in the Bible, though we know it was the universal custom among ancient Orientals to cover the head.

(3) The simlah (Greek himation) signifies an "outer garment" (see below), a "mantle," or "cloak" (see lexicons). A kindred word in the Greek himatismos, (translated "raiment" in Luke 9:29, "garments" in Matthew 27:35 , and "vesture" in John 19:24) stands in antithesis to himation. The Greek chiton, Hebrew kethoneth, the "under garment," is translated "coat" in Matthew 5:40, "clothes" in Mark 14:63. The Hebrew word me`il, Greek stole, Latin stola, stands for a variety of garment used only by men of rank or of the priestly order, rendered the Revised Version (British and American) "robe." It stands for the long garments of the scribes rendered "long robes" (Mark 12:38 ; Luke 20:46) and "best robe" in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:22). (For difference between me`il and simlah, see Kennedy, one-vol HDB, 197.) Oriental influences led to the adoption of the long tunic in Rome, and in Cicero's time it was a mark of effeminacy. It came to be known in its white form as tunica alba, or "white tunic," afterward in English "alb."

Other New Testament terms are porphuran, the "purple" (Luke 16:19); the purple robe of Jesus is called himation in John 19:2; lention, "the towel" with which Jesus girded himself (John 13:4 , 5); then othonion, "linen cloth" (Luke 24:12 ; John 19:40); sindon, "linen cloth" (Matthew 27:59); and bussos, "fine linen" (Luke 16:19).

The primitive "aprons" of Genesis 3:7, made of "sewed fig-leaves," were quite different from the "aprons" brought to the apostles in Acts 19:12. The latter were of a species known among the Romans as semicinctium, a short "waist-cloth" worn especially by slaves (Rich, Dict. of Roman and Greek Antiq.).

2. The Materials:

Anthropology, Scripture and archaeology all witness to the use by primitive man of skins of animals as dress material (Genesis 3:21, "coats of skin"; compare Hebrews 11:37, "went about in sheepskins, in goatskins").

Even today the traveler will occasionally see in Palestine a shepherd clad in "a coat of skin." Then, as now, goat's hair and camel's hair supplied the materials for the coarser fabrics of the poor. John the Baptist had his raiment, enduma, of camel's hair (literally, "of camel's hairs," Matthew 3:4). This was a coarse cloth made by weaving camel's hairs. There is no evidence that coats of camel's skin, like those made of goat's skin or sheep's skin have ever been worn in the East, as imagined by painters (see Meyer, Bleek, Weiss and Broadus; but compare HDB, article "Camel"). The favorite materials, however, in Palestine, as throughout the Orient, in ancient times, were wool (see Proverbs 27:26 , "The lambs are for thy clothing") and flax (see Proverbs 31:13, where it is said of the ideal woman of King Lemuel, "She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands"). The finest quality of ancient "linen" seems to have been the product of Egypt (see LINEN). The "silk" of Proverbs 31:22 the King James Version is really "fine linen," as in the Revised Version (British and American). The first certain mention of "silk" in the Bible, it is now conceded, is in Revelation 18:12, as the word rendered "silk" in Ezekiel 16:10 , 13 is of doubtful meaning.

3. The Outer Garments:

(1) We may well begin here with the familiar saying of Jesus for a basal distinction: "If any man would go to law with thee, and take away thy coat (Greek chiton), let him have thy cloak (himation) also" (Matthew 5:40). Here the "coat" (Hebrew kethoneth) was the ordinary "inner garment" worn by the Jew of the day, in which he did the work of the day (see Matthew 24:18; Mark 13:16). It resembled the Roman "tunic," corresponding most nearly to our "long shirt," reaching below the knees always, and, in case it was designed for dress occasions, reaching almost to the ground. Sometimes "two coats" were worn (Luke 3:11; compare Matthew 10:10 ; Mark 6:9), but in general only one. It was this garment of Jesus that is said by John (John 19:23) to have been "without seam, woven from the top throughout."

(2) The word himation, here rendered "cloak," denotes the well-known "outer garment" of the Jews (see Matthew 9:20 , 21 ; 14:36 ; 21:7 , 8; but compare also Matthew 9:16 ; 17:2 ; 24:18 ; 26:65 ; 27:31 , 35). It appears in some cases to have been a loose robe, but in most others, certainly, it was a large square piece of cloth, like a modern shawl, which could be wrapped around the person, with more or less taste and comfort. Now these two, with the "girdle" (a necessary and almost universal article of oriental dress), were commonly all the garments worn by the ordinary man of the Orient. The "outer garment" was frequently used by the poor and by the traveler as his only covering at night, just as shawls are used among us now.

(3) The common Hebrew name for this "outer garment" in the Old Testament is as above, simlah or salmah. In most cases it was of "wool," though sometimes of "linen," and was as a rule certainly the counterpart of the himation of the Greek (this is its name throughout the New Testament). It answered, too, to the pallium of the Romans. It belonged, like them, not to the endumata, or garments "put on," but to the periblemata, or garments "wrapped, around" the body. It was concerning this "cloak" that the Law of Moses provided that, if it were taken in pawn, it should be returned before sunset--"for that is his only covering, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? .... for I am gracious" (Exodus 22:27). The Jewish tribunals would naturally, therefore, allow the "inner garment" to be taken by legal process, rather than the outer one (Matthew 5:40; Luke 6:29); but Jesus virtually teaches that rather than have difficulty or indulge animosity one would better yield one's rights in this, as in other matters; compare 1 Corinthians 6:7.

Some identify the simlah of the ancient Hebrews with modern aba, the coarse blouse or overcoat worn today by the Syrian peasant (Nowack, Benzinger, Mackie in HDB); but the distinction between these two garments of the Jews, so clearly made in the New Testament, seems to confirm the conclusion otherwise reached, that this Jewish "outer garment" closely resembled, if it was not identical with, the himation of the Greeks (see Jew Encyclopedia, article "Cloke" and 1-vol HDB, "Dress," 197; but compare Masterman, DCG, article "Dress," 499, and Dearmer, DCG, article "Cloke"). In no respect has the variety of renderings in our English Versions of the Bible done more to conceal from English readers the meaning of the original than in the case of this word simlah. For instance it is the "garment" with which Noah's nakedness was covered (Genesis 9:23); the "clothes" in which the Hebrews bound up, their kneading-troughs (Exodus 12:34); the "garment" of Gideon in Judges 8:25; the "raiment" of Ruth (3:3); just as the himation of the New Testament is the "cloak" of Matthew 5:40, the "clothes" of Matthew 24:18 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) "cloak"), the "garment" (Mark 13:16 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "cloak").

4. The Under Garments:

(1) In considering the under garments, contrary to the impression made by English Versions of the Bible, we must begin with the "loin-cloth" (Hebrew 'ezor), which unlike the "girdle" (see GIRDLE), was always worn next to the skin. The figurative use made of it in Isaiah 11:5, and Jeremiah 13:11, e. g. will be lost unless this is remembered. Often it was the only "under garment," as with certain of the prophets (Elijah, 2 Kings 1:8; compare John the Baptist, Matthew 3:4; Isaiah 20:2; Jeremiah 13:1). In later times it was displaced among the Hebrews by the "shirt" or "tunic". The universal "sign of mourning" was the girding of the waist with an 'ezor or "hair-cloth" (English Versions, "sack-cloth"). A "loincloth" of "linen" was worn by the priests of early times and bore the special name of 'ephodh (1 Samuel 2:18; compare 2 Samuel 6:14).

(2) The ordinary "under garment," later worn by all classes--certain special occasions and individuals being exceptions--was the "shirt" (Hebrew kethoneth) which, as we have seen, reappears as chiton in Greek, and tunica in Latin It is uniformly rendered "coat" in English Versions of the Bible, except that the Revised Version, margin has "tunic" in John 19:23. The well-known piece of Assyrian sculpture, representing the siege and capture of Lachish by Sennacherib, shows the Jewish captives, male and female, dressed in a moderately tight garment, fitting close to the neck (compare Job 30:18) and reaching almost to the ankles; which must represent the kethoneth, or kuttoneth of the period, as worn in towns at least. Probably the kuttoneth of the peasantry was both looser and shorter, resembling more the modern kamis of the Syrian fellah (compare Latin camisa, and English "chemise").

(3) As regards sleeves, they are not expressly mentioned in the Old Testament, but the Lachish tunics mentioned above have short sleeves, reaching half-way to the elbows. This probably represents the prevailing type of sleeve among the Hebrews of the earlier period. An early Egyptian picture of a group of Semitic traders (circa 2000 BC) shows a colored tunic without sleeves, which, fastened on the left shoulder, left the right bare. Another variety of sleeves, restricted to the upper and wealthy classes, had long and wide sleeves reaching to the ground. This was the tunic worn by Tamar, the royal princess (2 Samuel 13:18, "A garment of divers colors upon her; for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins appareled"), "the tunic of (i.e. reaching to) palms and soles" worn by Joseph, familiarly known as the "coat of many colors" (Genesis 37:3), a rendering which represents now an abandoned tradition (compare Kennedy, HDB). The long white linen tunic, which was the chief garment of the ordinary Jewish priest of the later period, had sleeves, which, for special reasons, were tied to the arms (compare Josephus, Ant., III, vii, 2).

(4) Ultimately it became usual, even with the people of the lower ranks, to wear an under "tunic," or "real shirt" (Josephus, Ant., XVII, vi, 7; Mishna, passim, where it is called chaluq). In this case the upper tunic, the kuttoneth proper, would be removed at night (compare Song of Solomon 5:3, "I have put off my garment").

The material for the tunic might be either

(1) woven on the loom in two pieces, and afterward put together without cutting (compare Dict. of Roman and Greek Antiq., article "Tunica"), or

(2) the garment might be woven whole on a special loom, "without seam," i.e. so as to require no sewing, as we know from the description given in John 19:23, and from other sources, was the chiton worn by our Lord just before His crucifixion. The garments intended by the Hebrew (Daniel 3:21-27), rendered "coats" the King James Version, have not been certainly made out. The King James Version margin has "mantles" the English Revised Version "hosen" the American Standard Revised Version "breeches" (see HOSEN). For "coat of mail" (1 Samuel 17:5) see ARMOR.

5 . The Headdress:

When the Hebrews first emerged into view, they seem to have had no covering for the head except on special demand, as in case of war, when a leather-helmet was worn (see ARMOR). Ordinarily, as with the fellah of Palestine today, a rope or cord served as a fillet (compare 1 Kings 20:32, and Virgil, Aeneid (Dryden), iv.213: "A golden fillet binds his awful brows"). Such "fillets" may be seen surviving in the representation of Syrians on the monuments of Egypt. Naturally, in the course of time, exposure to the Syrian sun in the tropical summer time would compel recourse to some such covering as the modern kufiyeh, which lets in the breeze, but protects in a graceful, easy way, the head, the neck and the shoulders. The headgear of Ben- hadad's tribute carriers (see above) resembles the Phrygian cap.

The head covering, however, which is best attested, at least for the upper ranks of both sexes, is the turban (Hebrew tsaniph, from a root meaning to "wind round"). It is the ladies' "hood" of Isaiah 3:23, the Revised Version (British and American) "turban"; the "royal diadem" of Isaiah 62:3, and the "mitre" of Zechariah 3:5, the Revised Version, margin "turban" or "diadem." Ezekiel's description of a lady's headdress: "I bound thee with attire of fine linen" (Ezekiel 16:10 margin), points to a turban. For the egg-shaped turban of the priests see BONNET (the Revised Version (British and American) "head-tires"). The hats of Daniel 3:21 (the Revised Version (British and American) "mantles") are thought by some to have been the conical Babylonian headdress seen on the monuments. According to 2 Macc 4:12 the Revised Version (British and American) the young Jewish nobles were compelled by Antiochus Epiphanes to wear the petasos, the low, broad-brimmed hat associated with Hermes. Other forms of headdress were in use in New Testament times, as we learn from the Mishna, as well as from the New Testament, e. g. the suddar (soudarion) from Latin sudarium (a cloth for wiping off perspiration, sudor) which is probably the "napkin" of John 11:44; 20:7, although there it appears as a kerchief, or covering, for the head. The female captives from Lachish (see above) wear over their tunics an upper garment, which covers the forehead and falls down over the shoulders to the ankles. Whether this is the garment intended by the Hebrew in Ruth 3:15, rendered "vail" by the King James Version and "mantle" by the Revised Version (British and American), and "kerchiefs for the head" (Ezekiel 13:18 the Revised Version (British and American)), we cannot say. The "veil" with which Rebekah and Tamar "covered themselves" (Genesis 24:65; 38:14) was most likely a large "mantle" in which the whole body could be wrapped, like the cadhin (see above). But it seems impossible to draw a clear distinction between "mantle" and "veil" in the Old Testament (Kennedy). The case of Moses (Exodus 34:33) gives us the only express mention of a "face-veil."

6. Footgear:

The ancient Hebrews, like Orientals in general, went barefoot within doors. Out of doors they usually wore sandals, less frequently shoes. The simplest form of sandal then, as now, consisted of a sole of untanned leather, bound to the foot by a leather thong, the shoe-latchet of Genesis 14:23 and the latchet of Mark 1:7, etc. In the obelisk of Shalmaneser, however, Jehu's attendants are distinguished by shoes completely covering the feet, from the Assyrians, who are represented as wearing sandals fitted with a heel-cap. Ladies of Ezekiel's day wore shoes of "sealskin" (Ezekiel 16:10 the Revised Version (British and American)). The soldiers' "laced boot" may be intended in Isaiah 9:5 (the Revised Version (British and American), margin). Then, as now, on entering the house of a friend, or a sacred precinct (Exodus 3:5 ; Joshua 5:15), or in case of mourning (2 Samuel 15:30), the sandals, or shoes, were removed. The priests performed their offices in the Temple in bare feet (compare the modern requirement on entering a mosque).

7. The Dress of Jesus and His Disciples:

In general we may say that the clothes worn by Christ and His disciples were of the simplest and least sumptuous kinds. A special interest must attach even to the clothes that Jesus wore. These consisted, it seems quite certain, not of just five separate articles (see Edersheim, LTJM, I, 625), but of six. In His day it had become customary to wear a linen shirt (chaluq) beneath the tunic (see above). That our Lord wore such a "shirt" seems clear from the mention of the laying aside of the upper garments (himatia, plural), i.e. the "mantle" and the "tunic," before washing His disciples' feet (John 13:4). The tunic proper worn by Him, as we have seen, was "woven without seam" throughout, and was of the kind, therefore, that fitted closely about the neck, and had short sleeves. Above the tunic would naturally be the linen girdle, wound several times about the waist. On His feet were leather sandals (Matthew 3:11). His upper garment was of the customary sort and shape, probably of white woolen cloth, as is suggested by the details of the account of the Transfiguration (Mark 9:3), with the four prescribed "tassels" at the corners. As to His headdress, we have no description of it, but we may set it down as certain that no Jewish teacher of that day would appear in public with the head uncovered. He probably wore the customary white linen "napkin" (sudarium), wound round the head as a turban, with the ends of it falling down over the neck. The dress of His disciples was, probably, not materially different.

In conclusion it may be said that, although the dress of even orthodox Jews today is as various as their lands of residence and their languages, yet there are two garments worn by them the world over, the Tallith and the 'arba` kanephoth (see DCG, article "Dress," col. 1). Jews who affect special sanctity, especially those living in the Holy Land, still wear the Tallith all day, as was the common custom in Christ's time. As the earliest mention of the 'arba` kanephoth is in 1350 AD, it is clear that it cannot have existed in New Testament times.


Nowack's and Benzinger's Hebrew Archaologie; Tristram, Eastern Customs in Bible Lands; Rich, Dict. of Roman and Greek Antiq.; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 625, and elsewhere; articles on "Dress," "Clothing," "Costumes," etc., HDB, DCG, Jew Encyclopedia (by Noldeke) in Encyclopedia Biblica (by Abrahams and Cook); Masterman, "Dress and Personal Adornment in Mod. Palestine," in Biblical World, 1902, etc.



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