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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Linen (2)

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LINEN (βύσσος, σινδών).—Cloth of various kinds prepared from the fibre of flax was largely used in Egypt and Palestine for under-garments. It was preferred to cotton or wool, as being cleaner and cooler in the hot climate. It formed an important element in priestly dress, and in the Temple hangings. Worn together with purple it constituted the characteristic clothing of the wealthy (Esther 8:15, Luke 16:19), and probably of royalty (Genesis 41:42). Linen was used in Egypt to prepare the bodies of both men and animals for burial, and in Palestine it was the common wrapping of the dead. Wool was avoided, the belief being that it tended to breed worms. To this day linen is used for these purposes in Palestine by all who can afford it. Coarser cloth was made in the country, but the finer sorts were imported, the products of Egypt being held in high esteem. As an article of merchandise, linen ranked with gold, silver, precious stones, silk, etc. (Revelation 18:12).

σινδών (Mark 14:51-52) probably corresponds to the Rabbinic sadin or sedina, a linen cloth, or loose linen wrapper; although possibly it may also mean a night-dress (Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, 1900, ii. 545). In this garment the body of Jesus was wrapped when taken from the cross (Matthew 27:59). It may have been torn into strips to form the ὀθόνια in which, with the spices, the body was bound (John 19:40; John 20:5 ff.). Probably, however, these were the bandages fastening the σινδών.

W. Ewing.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Linen (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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