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People's Dictionary of the Bible

Garments

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Garments. Notice: 1. Materials; 2. Color and decoration; 3. Name and mode of wearing the various articles; 4. Usages relating thereto.

1. Materials.— The first human dress was an "apron" of fig leaves, Genesis 3:7; then the skins of animals, Genesis 3:21; as later the "mantle" worn by Elijah. Sheepskin is still a common material of dress in the East. The art of weaving hair and wool was known to the Hebrews at an early period. Exodus 25:4; Exodus 26:7; Genesis 38:12. Linen and perhaps cotton fabrics were known, 1 Chronicles 4:21; and silk was introduced much later. Revelation 18:12. The use of mixed material, such as wool and flax, was forbidden. Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:11.

2. Color and decoration.— The prevailing color of the Hebrew dress was the natural white of the materials employed. Mark 9:8. The use of colors was known; notice the scarlet thread. Genesis 38:28. Also, the art of weaving with threads previously dyed, Exodus 35:25; of the introduction of gold thread or wire. Exodus 27:6 ff. 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.

3. The names and modes of wearing garments.—Oriental dress has 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 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. The robes common to the two sexes were:(1) The inner garment, closely fitting, resembling in form and use our shirt, though unfortunately translated "coat" in the Authorized Version. It was made of either wool, cotton, or linen, was without sleeves, and reached only to the knee. Another kind reached to the wrists and ankles. It was 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) Upper or second. tunic, 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 square piece of woolen cloth. 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 man's bed-clothing. Exodus 22:26-27. The dress of the women differed from that of men in the outer garment; an inner garment being worn alike by both sexes. Song of Solomon 5:3. Among their distinctive robes was a kind of shawl, Ruth 3:15; Isaiah 3:22; light summer dresses and gay holiday dresses. Isaiah 3:24. The garments of females had an ample border of fringe (skirts, A. V.), which concealed the feet. Isaiah 47:2; Jeremiah 13:22. The travelling cloak referred to by Paul, 2 Timothy 4:13, is sometimes explained as a travelling case for carrying clothes or books. The coat of many colors worn by Joseph, Genesis 37:3; Genesis 37:23, was a tunic furnished with sleeves and reaching down to the ankles.

4. Usages in 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, Mark 10:50; or 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. The presentation of a robe was often an installation or investiture, Genesis 41:42; Esther 8:16; Isaiah 22:21; taking it away a dismissal from office. 2 Maccabees 4:38. The best robe was a mark of honor. Luke 15:22. The number of robes kept in store for presents was very large, Job 22:6; Matthew 6:19; James 5:2, and implied the possession of wealth and power. Isaiah 3:6-7. On wedding occasions the entertainer sometimes provided robes for his guests. Matthew 22:12; Luke 5:22. The business of making clothes devolved upon women in a family. Proverbs 31:22; Acts 9:39.


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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Garments'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/rpd/g/garments.html. 1893.

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