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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Linen Fine

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The word Shesh, thus translated in the Authorized Version, occurs twenty-eight times in Exodus, once in Genesis, once in Proverbs, and three times in Ezekiel. Considerable doubts have, however, always been entertained respecting the true meaning of the word; but it appears to us to signify hemp, which is a plant that in the present day is extensively distributed, being cultivated in Europe, and extending through Persia to the southernmost parts of India. In the plains of that country it is cultivated on account of its intoxicating product, so well known as bang; in the Himalayas both on this account and for its yielding the ligneous fiber which is used for sack and rope-making. There is no doubt that it might easily have been cultivated in Egypt. Herodotus mentions it as being employed by the Thracians for making garments. 'These were so like linen, that none but a very experienced person could tell whether they were of hemp or flax; one who had never seen hemp would certainly suppose them to be linen.' Hemp is used in the present day for smock frocks and tunics; and Russia sheeting and Russia duck are well known. Dioscorides describes it as being employed for making ropes, and it was a good deal cultivated by the Greeks for this purpose. Though we are unable at present to prove that it was cultivated in Egypt at an early period, and used for making garments, yet there is nothing improbable in its having been so. Indeed, as it was known to various Asiatic nations, it could hardly have been unknown to the Egyptians. Hemp might thus have been used at an early period, along with flax and wool, for making cloth for garments and for hangings, and would be much valued until cotton and the finer kinds of linen came to be known.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Linen Fine'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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