corner graphic

Bible Dictionaries

The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary


Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

I have thought it worth the reader's attention to pause at this word, in order from the customs of the East to be enabled to form a better apprehension concerning the towel with which the Lord Jesus girded himself when he washed his disciples' feet. John the Evangelist, with his usual simplicity of narration, describes the Redeemer as arising from supper and laying aside his garments, taking a towel and girding himself. And then with that unequalled humility which distinguished the Lord of life and glory, washing his disciples' feet and wiping them with the towel wherewith he was girded. (John 13:5, etc.)

We shall have a more lively idea of this most interesting scene, as well as the wonderful grace and condescension of the Almighty Redeemer in this act of his, if we attend to what was the custom of the dress among those eastern people in the days of our Lord. "Dr. Shaw, in his Observations on the customs and manners of the East," hath very largely entered into the subject, page 292 of his folio edition. He saith that it was the custom to wear underneath their hykes (the hyke was a large woollen blanket) a close bodied frock or tunic, not unlike the Roman tunic. So that when the Lord Jesus laid aside his garments he threw off this hyke, and was then in this close-bodied tunic only. Such was always the method observed for labour of all kinds. Similar was the act of Peter on the sea of Tiberias, when it is said "he girt his fisher's coat unto him, for he was naked." (John 21:7) It doth not mean absolutely without the least covering, for this close-bodied tunic was always upon them. But it means he had not the hyke girt about him. In like manner when Peter was in prison, (Acts 12:8) the angel commanded him to cast his garments (that is this hyke) about him, for he was with his tunic only before.

Dr. Shaw therefore observes, that the hyke and burnoose (which was also a cloak or upper garment) being probably at that time the proper dress or clothing of the Eastern Nations, as they continue to be at this day of the Kabyles and Arabs, the laying them aside, or appearing without them, might according to the eastern manner of expression, be other words only for being naked of their hyke. If these remarks in allusion to the dress of the Orientalsbe properly attended to, they will serve to throw a light upon many similar passages in holy writ which we meet with that require some explanation properly to apprehend.

I cannot dismiss this view of Jesus girded with the towel, and washing the feet of poor fishermen, without calling upon the reader once more, yea, evermore, to behold in this endearment of character the Lord of life and glory. Was there ever an instance of humility like this? and at a time, it should be remembered, also, Jesus knew that "all things were given into his hand as Mediator, the Sovereign of heaven and earth." (See John 13:3) Let the soul of all his redeemed take encouragement to come to him from such displays of unequalled grace and love. Did Jesus, I would, methinks, have every poor sinner say, did Jesus not think it unbecoming of him then to wash poor fishermen's feet? And will he reject the humble cries of poor sinners now? Yea, will he not delight to receive them? Is he not become more glorious to our view, from becoming so gracious to our need? Precious Lord, I would say for myself and reader, give each of us grace to be everlastingly beholding thee into his most lovely portrait girded with thy towel; and the lower thou comest down to suit the wants of our souls, be thou the higher exalted in our hearts, and live and reign there for ever!

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Towel'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. London. 1828.

Search for…
Enter query in the box:
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

Prev Entry
to Eat
Next Entry
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology