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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

Dress . The numerous synonyms for ‘dress’ to be found in our EV [Note: English Version.] ‘apparel,’ ‘attire,’ ‘clothes,’ ‘raiment,’ ‘garments,’ etc. fairly reflect a similar wealth of terminology in the original Hebrew and Greek, more especially the former. As regards the particular articles of dress, the identification of these is in many cases rendered almost impossible for the English reader by the curious lack of consistency in the renderings of the translators, illustrations of which will be met with again and again in this article. For this and other reasons it will be necessary to have recourse to transliteration as the only certain means of distinguishing the various garments to be discussed.

1. Materials . Scripture and anthropology are in agreement as to the great antiquity of the skins of animals, wild and domesticated, as dress material (  Genesis 3:21 ‘coats of skin’; cf. for later times,   Hebrews 11:37 ). The favourite materials in Palestine, however, were wool and flax (  Proverbs 31:13 ). The finest quality of linen was probably an importation from Egypt (see Linen). Goats’ hair and camels’ hair supplied the materials for coarser fabrics. The first certain mention of silk is in   Revelation 18:12 , for the meaning of the word so rendered in   Ezekiel 16:10;   Ezekiel 16:13 is doubtful, and the silk of   Proverbs 31:22 (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ) is really ‘fine linen’ as in RV [Note: Revised Version.] .

2. Under Garments . ( a ) The oldest and most widely distributed of all the articles of human apparel is the loin-cloth (Heb. ’çzôr ), originally a strip of skin or cloth wrapped round the loins and fastened with a knot. Among the Hebrews in historical times it had been displaced in ordinary life by the shirt or tunic (see below). The loin-cloth or waist-cloth, however, is found in a number of interesting survivals in OT, where it is unfortunately hidden from the English reader by the translation ‘ girdle ,’ a term which should be reserved for an entirely different article of dress (see § 3 ). The universal sign of mourning, for example, was the ‘girding’ of the waist with an ’çzôr of hair-cloth (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘sackcloth’). Certain of the prophets, again, as exponents of the simple life, wore the waist-cloth as their only under garment, such as Elijah, who ‘was girt about with a loin-cloth (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘girdle’) of leather’ (  2 Kings 1:8 ), and John the Baptist (  Matthew 3:4 ,   Mark 1:6 ). Isaiah on one occasion wore an ’çzôr of hair-cloth (  Isaiah 20:2 ), and Jeremiah on another occasion one of linen (  Jeremiah 13:1 ff.).

The noun and the cognate verb are frequently used in figurative senses, the point of which is lost unless it is remembered that the waist-cloth was always worn next the skin, as e.g.   Jeremiah 13:11 ,   Isaiah 11:5 , the figure in the latter case signifying that righteousness and faithfulness are essential and inseparable elements in the character of the Messianic ‘Shoot.’

( b ) The aprons of   Acts 19:12 were the Roman semicinctium , a short waist-cloth worn specially by slaves and workmen (see illust. in Rich, Dict. of Rom. and Gr. Antiq., s.v. ).

( c ) In early times the priests wore a waist-cloth of linen, which bore the special name of the ephod (  1 Samuel 2:18 ), and which the incident recorded in   2 Samuel 6:14 ff. David, as priest, dancing before the ark shows to have been of the nature of a short kilt. By the Priests’ Code, however, the priests were required to wear the under garment described under Breeches. See, further, Hosen.

( d ) In OT, as has been said, the everyday under garment of all classes save for certain individuals or on special occasions is the shirt or tunic ( kuttoneth , a term which reappears in Greek as chitôn , and probably in Latin as tunica ). The uniform rendering of EV [Note: English Version.] is coat, only   John 19:23 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘tunic’ A familiar Assyrian sculpture, representing the siege and capture of Lachish by Sennacherib, shows the Jewish captives, male and female alike, dressed in a moderately tight garment fitting close to the neck (cf.   Job 30:18 ) and reaching almost to the ankles, which must represent the kuttoneth of the period as worn in towns. That of the peasantry and of most workmen was probably both looser and shorter, resembling in these respects its modern representative, the kamees (Lat. camisia , our ‘chemise’) of the Syrian fellahin.

As regards sleeves , which are not expressly mentioned in OT but see RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] at   Genesis 37:3 (Joseph) and   2 Samuel 13:18 (Tamar) three modes are found. An early Egyptian representation of a group of Semitic traders ( c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 2000) shows a coloured sleeveless tunic, which fastens on the left shoulder, leaving the right shoulder bare. The Lachish tunics, above mentioned, have short sleeves reaching half-way to the elbows. This probably represents the prevailing type of tunic among the Hebrews of the earlier period at least, since a third variety, fitted with long and wide sleeves and reaching to the ground, was evidently restricted to the upper and wealthier classes. This is the ‘tunic of ( i.e. reaching to) palms and soles’ worn by Joseph and the royal princess Tamar (see above), more familiar as the ‘ coat of many (or diverse) colours ,’ a rendering which represents a now generally abandoned tradition. In Josephus’ day the long white linen tunic, which was the chief garment of the ordinary priesthood, had sleeves which for practical reasons were tied to the arms (Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . III. vii. 2). By this time, also, it had become usual even among the lower ranks of the people to wear an under tunic or real shirt ( ib. XVII. v. 7; Mishna, passim , where this garment is named châlûk ). In this case the upper tunic, the kuttoneth proper, would be taken off at night (  Song of Solomon 5:3 ).

The ordinary tunic was made in at least three ways. (1) It might consist of two similar pieces of woollen or linen cloth cut from a larger web, which were sewed together along the sides and top. (2) The material for a single tunic might be woven on the loom, and afterwards put together without cutting, in the manner of the Egyptian tunics described and figured in Smith’s Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Antiq . 3 s.v. ‘Tunica’ (ii. 904). (3) As we know from the description of the chitôn worn by our Lord at the time of His Passion (  John 19:23 ), and from other sources, a third variety was woven ‘without seam’ on a special loom (see Spinning and Weaving) and required no further adjustment.

The garment intended by the ‘coats’ of  Daniel 3:21;   Daniel 3:27 (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ) is uncertain. Most recent authorities favour mantles (so AVm [Note: Authorized Version margin.]; RV [Note: Revised Version.] has ‘hosen,’ wh. see). For the ‘coat of mail’ see Armour, 2 (c).

3. The Girdle . Almost as indispensable as the tunic was the girdle , which varied in material and workmanship from a simple rope (  Isaiah 3:24 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) to the rich and elaborate waist-belt of the priests, and the ‘golden girdles’ of   Revelation 1:13;   Revelation 15:6 . Usually it consisted of a long strip of cloth, folded several times and wound round the waist above the tunic, with or without the ends hanging down in front. When work or a journey was in contemplation, the girdle was put on, and part of the tunic drawn up till it hung over in folds. Hence this operation of ‘girding the loins’ became a figure for energetic action. The girdle served also as a sword-belt (  2 Samuel 20:8 ); through it was stuck the writer’s inkhorn (  Ezekiel 9:3;   Ezekiel 9:11 ), while its folds served as a purse (  Matthew 10:9 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ). The special priests’ girdle, termed ’abnçt (  Exodus 28:4 and oft.), was a richly embroidered sash wound several times round the waist, according to Josephus, and tied in front, the ends falling to the ankles.

4. Upper Garments . While the kuttoneth or tunic was the garment in which the work of the day was done (see   Matthew 24:18 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ,   Mark 13:16 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), men and women alike possessed a second garment, which served as a protection against inclement weather by day and as a covering by night (  Exodus 22:26 f.). The two are sharply distinguished in the familiar saying of Jesus: ‘If any man sue thee at the law and take away thy coat ( chitôn ), let him have thy cloke ( himation ) also’ (  Matthew 5:40 ).

( a ) The commonest name for this upper garment in OT is simlah or salmah . The simlah was almost certainly a large rectangular piece of cloth, in most cases of wool, in more special cases of linen. It was thus the exact counterpart of the himation of the Greeks, which we have seen to be its NT name, and the pallium of the Romans. Like them, it belonged not to the class of endumata or garments ‘put on,’ as the tunic, but to the periblemata or garments ‘wrapped round’ the body.

Since this view is at variance with that of acknowledged authorities on the subject (Nowack, Benzinger, Mackie in art. ‘Dress’ in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] i. 625), who identify the simlah with the modern ‘aba , the coarse loose overcoat of the modern Syrian peasantry, the grounds on which it is based may be here briefly set forth. (1) If the parallel passages,   Exodus 22:26 f. and   Deuteronomy 24:13;   Deuteronomy 24:17 on the one hand, and   Numbers 15:38 and   Deuteronomy 22:12 on the other, are compared in the original, it will be found that three terms are used indiscriminately for the ordinary upper garment of the Hebrews, and, further, that this garment had four corners , to each of which a tassel had to be attached (see more fully Fringes) a detail which suggests a plain four-cornered plaid like the himation , not a made-up garment like the chitôn or the ‘aba . (2) The incident of the sick woman in   Matthew 9:20 ff. and parallel passages, who reached forward in the crowd to touch the tassel of Jesus’ himation from behind , shows that the Jewish upper garment was still worn by being wrapped round the body, over the back from left to right, with one corner and its tassel falling over the left shoulder. (3) The shape of the simple oblong tallith or prayer-shawl of the modern Jews, with its four tassels, which is the direct descendant of the simlah and the more recent tallith of the Mishna, is in favour of the former having the shape now advocated. (4) The clear distinction in NT already referred to, between the two principal garments of the Jews, confirms the conclusion that the typical Jewish upper garment closely resembled, if it was not identical with, the garment known as the himation throughout the Greek-speaking world.

In our EV [Note: English Version.] the simlah is concealed from the English reader under a variety of renderings. Thus, to give but a few illustrations, it is the ‘ garment ’ with which Noah’s nakedness was covered in   Genesis 9:23 , and the ‘ clothes ’ in which the Hebrews bound up their kneading-troughs (  Exodus 12:34 ); it is the ‘garment’ of Gideon in   Judges 8:25 , and the ‘ raiment ’ of Ruth (  Ruth 3:3 ); just as the himation of NT is not only the ‘ cloke ’ of   Matthew 5:40 , but the ‘clothes’ of   Matthew 24:18 (but RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘cloke’); the ‘garment’ of   Mark 13:16 , and so on.

( b ) Another variety of upper garment, known as the me‘îl , is mentioned only in connexion with men of high social position or of the priestly order. It is the robe of Saul the skirt (lit. ‘corner’) of which was cut off by David (  1 Samuel 24:4 f.) of Jonathan (  1 Samuel 18:4 ), and of Ezra (  Ezra 9:3;   Ezra 9:5 ), the little ‘coat’ of the boy-priest Samuel (  1 Samuel 2:19 ), and his ‘mantle’ at a later stage (  1 Samuel 15:27 ). RV [Note: Revised Version.] has ‘robe’ for me‘îl throughout. Wherein did the me‘îl differ from the simlah  ? From its constant association with men of rank, we should expect it to be of a more elaborate and ornate description. The violet ‘robe of the ephod’ prescribed for the high priest (  Exodus 28:31 ff;   Exodus 39:22 ff.) had ‘a hole for the head in the midst thereof, as it were the bole of a coat of mail,’ and was trimmed with an elaborate ball-and-bell fringe. Now on the black obelisk of Shalmaneser, the bearers of Jehu’s tribute, nobles of Samaria doubtless, are represented wearing over their tunics a similar fringed and sleeveless garment, open at the sides, and resembling, if not identical with, the upper garment of Assyrian kings and dignitaries of state, which may with some confidence be identified with the me‘îl . The latter, then, seems to have been a piece of cloth of superior material and workmanship, in the shape of a magnified chest-protector, worn over the tunic like a priest’s chasuble, and reaching almost to the ankles. It probably came to the Hebrews from Babylonia through the medium of the Canaanites, and survives to-day in the ‘little tallith’ or arba kanphoth of the Jews (see Fringes). By the time of Josephus, the high priest’s me‘îl had become a sleeveless and seamless upper tunic (Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . III. vii. 4).

( c ) A third variety of upper garment, the ’addereth , appears to have been the distinctive garment of the prophets (see   Zechariah 13:4 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘hairy mantle’). Elijah’s mantle , in particular, is always so named. The latter, according to the Gr. version of Kings, was made of sheepskin, with the wool outside (cf.   2 Kings 1:8 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] and   Genesis 25:25 ‘hairy garment’). It may, however, have been of goats’ or camels’ hair, as in the case of John the Baptist (  Matthew 3:4 ,   Mark 1:6 ).

( d ) Among the products of the domestic loom was a fourth garment, the sâdîn (  Proverbs 31:24 ). From the Mishna we learn that it was a plain sheet of fine linen with tassels, which could be used as a light upper garment, as a curtain, and as a shroud. In this last respect it resembled the NT sindôn , the ‘linen cloth’ of   Matthew 27:59 ,   Mark 15:46 RV [Note: Revised Version.] . It is probably as an upper garment of fine white linen for gala use (cf.   Ecclesiastes 9:8 ) that the sâdîn is introduced in   Judges 14:12 f. (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘sheets,’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘linen garments’) and   Isaiah 3:23 .

( e ) Mention must also be made of the ‘scarlet robe’ ( chlamys ) in which Jesus was arrayed by the Roman soldiers (  Matthew 27:28;   Matthew 27:31 ). It is the paludamentum or military cloak worn over their armour by the superior officers of the Roman army. The ‘ cloke ’ finally, which St. Paul left at Troas (  2 Timothy 4:13 ) was the Roman pÅ“nula , a circular travelling cape. For the brooch or buckle by which an upper garment was sometimes fastened, see Ornaments, § 5 .

5. Headdress . ( a ) The Hebrews appear at first to have had no covering for the head, except on special occasions, such as war, when a leather helmet was worn (see Armour, 2 ( b )). At most a rope or cord served as a fillet, as may be inferred from   1 Kings 20:31 f., and as may be seen in the representations of Syrians on the monuments of Egypt. In cases of prolonged exposure to the sun, it is most probable that recourse would be had to a covering in the style of the modern keffiyeh , which protects not only the head but also the neck and shoulders. Jehu’s tribute-carriers, above mentioned, are depicted in a headgear resembling the familiar Phrygian cap. The best attested covering, however at least for the upper ranks of both sexes is the tsânîph (from a root signifying to ‘wind round’) or turban . It is the royal ‘ diadem ’ of   Isaiah 62:3 , the ladies’ ‘ hood ’ of   Isaiah 3:23 (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘turban’), and the ‘ mitre ’ of   Zechariah 3:5 (RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘turban or diadem’). A kindred word is used for the high priest’s turban, the ‘mitre’ of   Exodus 28:4 , etc., for which see Mitre. A turban is also implied in Ezekiel’s description of a lady’s headdress: ‘I have bound thee with a tire of fine linen’ (  Ezekiel 16:10 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ). The egg-shaped turban of the ordinary priests has been discussed under Bonnet (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘head-tires’). The ‘ hats ’ of   Daniel 3:21 were probably a variety of the conical Babylonian headdress, although RV [Note: Revised Version.] gives ‘mantles.’ Antiochus Epiphanes, it is recorded, compelled the young Jewish nobles to wear the petasus , the low, broad-brimmed hat associated with Hermes ( 2Ma 4:12 , RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘the Greek cap ’).

In NT times, as may be learned from the Mishna, many forms of headdress were in use. One was named the sûdâr , from the Lat. sudarium (a cloth for wiping off perspiration, sudor ), which is the napkin of   John 11:44;   John 20:7 , although there it appears as a kerchief or head-covering for the dead (cf. below, 8 ).

( b ) As regards the headdress of the female sex, we have seen that both sexes of the wealthier classes wore the tsânîph or turban. The female captives from Lachish wear over their tunics an upper garment, which covers the forehead and hair and falls down over the shoulders as far as the ankles. Whether this is the garment intended by any of the words rendered vail in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , as that of Ruth, for example (  Ruth 3:15 , RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘mantle’), or by the ‘ kerchiefs for the head’ of   Ezekiel 13:18 RV [Note: Revised Version.] , it is impossible to say. The veil, however, with which Rebekah and Tamar covered themselves (  Genesis 24:65;   Genesis 38:14 ), was more probably a large mantle in which the whole body could be wrapped, like the sâdîn of 4 ( d ) above. Indeed, it is impossible to draw a clear distinction in OT between the mantle and the veil. The only express mention of a face-veil is in the case of Moses (  Exodus 34:33 ).

6. Shoes and sandals . Within doors the Hebrews went barefoot. Out of doors it was customary to wear either sandals or shoes, mostly the former. The simplest form of sandal consisted of a plain sole of leather, bound to the feet by a leather thong, the ‘ shoelatchet ’ of   Genesis 14:23 and the ‘ latchet ’ of   Mark 1:7 etc. The Assyrians preferred a sandal fitted with a heel-cap, by which they are distinguished from Jehu’s attendants on the obelisk of Shalmaneser, who wear shoes completely covering the feet. In Ezekiel’s day ladies wore shoes of ‘sealskin’ (  Ezekiel 16:10 RV [Note: Revised Version.]; but see Badgers’ Skins). The laced boot of the soldier may be referred to in   Isaiah 9:5 (see RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ). The sandals were removed not only in cases of mourning (  2 Samuel 15:30 ) and of a visit to a friend, but also on entering a sacred precinct (  Exodus 3:5 ,   Joshua 5:15 ); the Jewish priests, accordingly, performed all their offices in the Temple barefoot.

7. It need hardly be said that the taste for ‘purple and fine linen’ was not peculiar to the days of Dives, as may be seen from the remarkable dress-list in   Isaiah 3:18 ff. Richly embroidered garments are mentioned as early as the time of the Judges (  Judges 5:30 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). King Josiah had an official who bore the title of ‘the keeper of the wardrobe’ (  2 Kings 22:14 ). The ‘ change of raiment ,’ however, several times mentioned in OT, were not so many complete outfits, but special gala robes, for which one’s ordinary garments were ‘changed.’ In the East, such robes have continued a favourite form of gift and expression of esteem from sovereigns and other persons of high rank to the present day.

For what may be termed accessories of dress, see Ornaments, Seal, Staff.

8. A special interest must always attach to the question of the outward appearance of the Man of Nazareth, so far as it is associated with the dress He wore. This must have consisted of at least six separate articles, not five, as Edersheim states ( Life and Times of Jesus , i. 625). By the 1st cent. it had become usual to wear a linen shirt ( châlûk ) beneath the tunic (see 2 ( d ) above). In our Lord’s case this seems required by the mention of the upper garments ( himatia, i.e. mantle and tunic) which He laid aside before washing the disciples’ feet (  John 13:4 ). The tunic proper, we know, was ‘woven without seam’ throughout, and therefore fitted closely at the neck, with the usual short sleeves as above described. White linen was the favourite material for both shirt and tunic. Above the tunic was the linen girdle wound several times round the waist. On His feet were leather sandals (  Matthew 3:11 ). His upper garment, as has been shown, was of the customary oblong shape probably of white woollen cloth, as is suggested by the details of the Transfiguration narrative in   Mark 9:3 with the four prescribed tassels at the corners (see above, 4 ( a )). To the form of His headdress we have no clue, but it may be regarded as certain the traditional artistic convention notwithstanding that no Jewish teacher of that period would appear in public with head uncovered. Probably a white linen ‘napkin’ ( sudarium ) was tied round the head as a simple turban, the ends falling down over the neck.

A. R. S. Kennedy.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

Aprons of figleaves were our first parents' earliest attempt at dress to clothe their shame (See Adam , (See Abel ) ( Genesis 3:7;  Genesis 3:21); "God made coats of skin and clothed them," doubtless taken from animals slain in sacrifice at His command; type of the garment of righteousness provided by God through His Son's sacrifice, wherewith we, whose own faulty righteousness could not clothe our shame, are completely covered so as to stand before the all-searching eye of God ( Isaiah 61:10). Such a coat of skin Elijah and the prophets commonly wore, 'Addereth implying its amplitude. ( 1 Kings 19:13;  1 Kings 19:19;  2 Kings 2:13;  Zechariah 13:4;  Matthew 7:15, "false prophets come to you in sheep's clothing, but," etc.)

The Kutoneth , or shirtlike inner vest, Greek Chitoon , is inappropriately trans. "coat" ( Matthew 10:10;  John 19:23). Those stripped of every garment but this are termed "naked," it being but a partial covering, our "undress":  1 Samuel 19:24 Saul to imitate the prophets; David ( 2 Samuel 6:20); Peter ( John 21:7);  Isaiah 20:2, the prophet's undress being a silent monition to repentance. Sackcloth, woven of hair, was the mourner's garment. So the king of Nineveh ( Jonah 3:6) laid aside his ample Addereth for sackcloth. Cloth of camel's hair was John Baptist's garment, silently condemning the prevalent luxury ( Matthew 3:4). Cloth of goat's hair (the Roman cilicium) was the material used by the poor. The Israelites learned when bondmen in Egypt to fabricate fine linen ( 1 Chronicles 4:21). The Ketoneth or Kutoneth is related to our word cotton.

The Syrian term for linen, Butz , is the root of Bussos , the Greek for "fine linen" ( Luke 16:19;  Revelation 18:12;  Revelation 18:16). Shesh , the earlier term, was Egyptian, their linen being of the finest texture. Sadin , related to our word satin, was a fine linen for summer wear. A wrapper sometimes used as a nightshirt ( Mark 14:51). Silk was of late introduction ( Revelation 18:12). The mixture of wool and flax was forbidden ( Leviticus 19:19;  Deuteronomy 22:11), the combination being reserved to the high priest alone ( Exodus 28:4), and that a combination of different threads, not of different materials in one thread, such as Linsey Woolsey . The general object of the prohibition was to symbolize simplicity and purity.

They were even in minute distinctions to be separated from the pagan, and to remember God is the God of order; and if so in small details, now much more will He disallow the confounding of the eternal distinctions of right and wrong ( Genesis 1:11;  1 Corinthians 11:10-15;  Deuteronomy 22:5). White was the prevalent color of garments. It symbolized purity ( Revelation 3:4-5;  Revelation 7:9;  Revelation 7:13). Joseph's "coat (vest) was of many colors" ( Genesis 37:3). On the tomb of Chnoumhotep of the 12th dynasty, at Beni Hassan, the Semitic visitors are represented in patchwork garments of many colors. An Arab Sheikh to this day wears an Aba or garment composed of stripes of many colors, as emblem of his office. Jacob hereby marked Joseph, the firstborn of his darling Rachel, as successor to the primogeniture, birthright, and priesthood as head of the family, which Reuben by incest had forfeited ( 1 Chronicles 5:1 confirms this).

"Cunning work" had the devices woven into the stuff; "needlework" had the devices cut out of other stuff and attached by the needle (compare  Judges 5:30, "needlework on both sides)." The brilliant colors of the Assyrian nobles spiritually seduced Israel;  Ezekiel 23:12, "clothed most gorgeously," lit. to perfection. The ampler robes and the finer texture distinguished the rich from the poor Hebrew. Women and men were forbidden to assume the dress characteristic of the opposite sex ( Deuteronomy 22:5). The veil distinguished women. She was not to assume the signet ring, the staff, and the weapons of man. The Ketoneth underneath was made of two pieces sewn together at the side. Jesus' "seamless tunic" was probably the Meil or upper tunic without sleeves, reaching to the ankles, worn by kings, prophets, youths, and nobles ( 1 Samuel 24:4;  1 Samuel 28:14;  1 Samuel 2:19;  Job 1:20), whereas the Ketoneth reached only to the knee.

Joseph, Tamar, and the priests wore one reaching to the ankles and wrists ( 2 Samuel 13:18;  Exodus 28:31;  1 Samuel 15:27;  1 Samuel 18:4;  Judges 14:12-13). "Sheets," i.e. shirts, Sedinim , clothes worn next the skin.  John 21:7; Peter wore the linen coat which was worn by Syrian fishermen. The usual outer garment was a quadrangular woolen cloth; Simlah ; Beged of a handsome kind, Kesuth a covering; Lebush a warrior's, priest's, or king's cloak ( 2 Samuel 20:8;  2 Kings 10:22;  Esther 6:11). Μalbush a state dress, court apparel ( 1 Kings 10:5), or religious vestment ( 2 Kings 10:22). Μad , the long cloak ( Judges 3:16). The Greek Himation is the outer robe, stole" long robes" of rich amplitude and grandeur ( Mark 12:38;  Mark 16:5;  Luke 15:22;  Revelation 6:11;  Revelation 7:9;  Revelation 7:13)

The Chitoon , "coat," rather inner vest, is contrasted with the "cloak" or outer Himation ( Matthew 5:40;  Acts 9:39). The outer Beged might be wrapped round the body or the shoulders, with the ends hanging in front or covering the head, as  2 Samuel 15:30;  Esther 6:12. The ends had a fringe, and upon it a blue or purple riband, which continually being before their eyes, with its heavenly hue, would be a remembrance to them that they should "remember all the Lord's commandments" ( Numbers 15:38). A girdle secured it around the waist; the fold made by the overlapping of the robe served as a pocket ( 2 Kings 4:39;  Psalms 79:12;  Haggai 2:12). The Ketoneth was worn by both sexes. Women's distinctive garments were the Mitpachat , or shawl ( Ruth 3:15);  Isaiah 3:22, "wimples," thrown over the head and body.

The Maatapha , full tunic with sleeves and reaching to the feet, worn over the ordinary tunic ( Isaiah 3:22). The Tsaiph , a handsome ample summer cloak-like veil, thrown at pleasure over the head ( Genesis 24:65;  Genesis 38:14). The Radid , "veils" ( Isaiah 3:23), large enough to cover the head and person, distinct from the smaller "mufflers," or veils closely covering the face above, with apertures for the eyes, but loosely flowing below ( Harhhalot ). The veil on the head marks the woman's subjection ( 1 Corinthians 11:3-10); "the woman ought to have power on her head," i.e. the head covering or veil, the emblem of her being under the power of man, her head. Radid , "a veil," is akin to radad, "subjection." The Pethigil , "stomacher," or broad plaited girdle ( Isaiah 3:24). In  Daniel 3:21, for "coats," Sarbalin , translated as wide, long "pantaloons," such as the Babylonians wore (Herodotus i. 195).

For "hosen" (as stockings are not common in the East), translated Patish inner "tunics." For "hats," translated Karbla "mantles." In  Matthew 27:28 "robe," Chlamus , is the military cloak of officers. In  2 Timothy 4:13 Paul's Felonee , the Graecized Poenula of the Romans, is the long, thick, sleeveless, traveling cloak, with only an opening for the head. Paul then, on the confines of two worlds, in this wanted a cloak to cover him from the "winter" cold ( 2 Timothy 4:21); in that world was about to be "clothed upon with his house from heaven," even as his soul was already covered with the righteousness of saints. A graphic touch, not unworthy of inspiration. The Beged was often used as a coverlet at night, as the Bedouin uses his Aba . The law, in mercy to the poor, forbade the creditor to retain it after nightfall ( Exodus 22:26-27).

Tearing it expressed grief, indignation, etc. ( Job 1:20). Shaking it, renunciation ( Nehemiah 5:13;  Acts 18:6). Spreading it before another, loyal and joyful submission to his rule ( 2 Kings 9:13;  Acts 21:8). Wrapping it around the head, reverent awe or grief ( 1 Kings 19:13;  2 Samuel 15:30). The long outer robes needed girding up around the waist, when active work was needed; hence, metaphorically ( 1 Peter 1:13), "gird up the loins of' your mind." Workers, pilgrims, runners, wrestlers, warriors, typify the Christian; they all needed girding. So Israel at the Passover ( Exodus 12:11, compare  Luke 12:35). The feet were covered in reverence of the presence of a king ( Isaiah 6:2). The readiness with which their loose garments were changed is noted in  Jeremiah 43:12; "he shall array himself with Egypt as (speedily and easily as) a shepherd putteth on his garment" (compare  Psalms 102:26).

Changes of raiment were a leading constituent of wealth in the East ( Isaiah 3:6-7;  Job 27:16;  Matthew 6:19;  James 5:2) and a usual present ( 2 Kings 5:5). To present one's own robe was a strong token of love ( 1 Samuel 18:4). The gift of a robe installed in office ( Genesis 41:42;  Esther 8:15). The presenting of the best robe was a special honor ( Luke 15:22). In  Isaiah 3:22, "changeable suits" are those reserved for special occasions. A princely host sometimes caused "the keeper of the wardrobe" ( 2 Chronicles 34:22) to furnish robes to his guests (compare  Matthew 22:11). White being the ordinary color a spot was immediately visible ( Judges 1:23;  Revelation 3:4).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Dress. This subject includes the following particulars:

i. Materials;

ii. Color and decoration;

iii. Name, form, and mode of wearing the various articles;

iv. Special usages relating thereto.

1. 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 hair was known to the Hebrews at an early period,  Exodus 25:4;  Exodus 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;  Deuteronomy 22:11.

2. 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, compare  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, 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 man's bed clothing.  Exodus 22:26-27.

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.  Song of 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;  Genesis 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.

4. 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 Maccabees 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 3:6-7.

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.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

  • Form. 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  Judges 14:12,13 , 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;  Psalm 79:12;  Haggai 2:12;  Proverbs 17:23;  21:14 ).

    Female dress. The "coat" was common to both sexes ( Song of Solomon 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;  Ezekiel 16:10;  Zephaniah 1:8 (RSV, "foreign apparel");   1 Timothy 2:9;  1 Peter 3:3 . Rending the robes was expressive of grief ( Genesis 37:29,34 ), 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 ).

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Dress'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/d/dress.html. 1897.

  • Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

    Styles of clothing varied among the different classes of people in Israel, and were often a means of showing a person’s status ( Genesis 37:3;  Joshua 9:5;  2 Samuel 13:18;  Isaiah 3:18-23;  Luke 16:19). Ceremonial clothing worn by people in high positions was often richly embroidered, sometimes with gold thread woven into the cloth ( Exodus 28:4;  Exodus 28:6;  Exodus 28:8;  Exodus 28:15;  Exodus 39:3;  Psalms 45:13). There were special garments for special occasions such as weddings and feasts ( Isaiah 61:10;  Matthew 22:11;  Luke 15:22;  Revelation 19:8; see Ornaments ). Practices that showed immoral tendencies, such as dressing in clothes of the opposite sex (transvestism), were forbidden ( Deuteronomy 22:5).

    From earliest times people used cosmetics and perfumes. Some of these developed from what were originally ointments. Most cosmetics were prepared from spices and vegetable oils, though some facial cosmetics were made from minerals ( 2 Kings 9:30;  Jeremiah 4:30;  Ezekiel 23:40; see Oil ; Spices ).

    To express distress or mourning, people often tore their clothes, dressed in sackcloth, or put on cosmetics that made them look extra miserable ( Genesis 37:34;  2 Samuel 3:31;  1 Kings 21:27;  Job 1:20;  Isaiah 58:3;  Isaiah 58:5;  Matthew 5:16-18;  Matthew 26:65;  Acts 14:14; see Sackcloth ). People taken captive were often humiliated by being made to walk barefoot or naked ( Isaiah 20:4).

    The Bible condemns the practice of making distinctions in the church through favouring those who are well dressed above those who are poorly dressed ( James 2:2-5). It discourages God’s people from dressing extravagantly, and emphasizes that good conduct is more desirable than lavish dress ( Jeremiah 4:30;  Luke 20:46-47;  1 Timothy 2:8-10;  1 Peter 3:3-5; cf.  Colossians 3:9-10).

    Webster's Dictionary [6]

    (1): ( v. t.) To break and train for use, as a horse or other animal.

    (2): ( v. t.) To direct; to put right or straight; to regulate; to order.

    (3): ( v. t.) To arrange in exact continuity of line, as soldiers; commonly to adjust to a straight line and at proper distance; to align; as, to dress the ranks.

    (4): ( v. t.) To treat methodically with remedies, bandages, or curative appliances, as a sore, an ulcer, a wound, or a wounded or diseased part.

    (5): ( v. t.) To adjust; to put in good order; to arrange; specifically: (a) To prepare for use; to fit for any use; to render suitable for an intended purpose; to get ready; as, to dress a slain animal; to dress meat; to dress leather or cloth; to dress or trim a lamp; to dress a garden; to dress a horse, by currying and rubbing; to dress grain, by cleansing it; in mining and metallurgy, to dress ores, by sorting and separating them.

    (6): ( v. t.) To cut to proper dimensions, or give proper shape to, as to a tool by hammering; also, to smooth or finish.

    (7): ( v. t.) To put in proper condition by appareling, as the body; to put clothes upon; to apparel; to invest with garments or rich decorations; to clothe; to deck.

    (8): ( n.) The system of furrows on the face of a millstone.

    (9): ( v. i.) To arrange one's self in due position in a line of soldiers; - the word of command to form alignment in ranks; as, Right, dress!

    (10): ( v. i.) To clothe or apparel one's self; to put on one's garments; to pay particular regard to dress; as, to dress quickly.

    (11): ( n.) That which is used as the covering or ornament of the body; clothes; garments; habit; apparel.

    (12): ( n.) A lady's gown; as, silk or a velvet dress.

    (13): ( n.) Attention to apparel, or skill in adjusting it.

    King James Dictionary [7]

    DRESS, pret. and pp. dressed or drest. L.

    1. To make straight or a straight line to adjust to a right line. We have the primary sense in the military phrase, dress your ranks. Hence the sense, to put in order. 2. To adjust to put in good order as, to dress the beds of a garden. Sometimes, to till or cultivate.  Genesis 2 .  Deuteronomy 28 . 3. To put in good order, as a wounded limb to cleanse a wound, and to apply medicaments. The surgeon dresses the limb or the wound. 4. To prepare, in a general sense to put in the condition desired to make suitable or fit as, to dress meat to dress leather or cloth to dress a lamp but we, in the latter case, generally use trim. To dress hemp or flax, is to break and clean it. 5. To curry, rub and comb as, to dress a horse or to break or tame and prepare for service, as used by Dryden but this is unusual. 6. To put the body in order, or in a suitable condition to put on clothes as, he dressed himself for breakfast. 7. To put on rich garments to adorn to deck to embellish as, the lady dressed herself for a ball.

    To dress up, is to clothe pompously or elegantly as, to dress up with tinsel.

    The sense of dress depends on its application. To dress the body, to dress meat, and to dress leather, are very different senses, but all uniting in the sense of preparing or fitting for use.


    1. To arrange in a line as, look to the right and dress. 2. To pay particular regard to dress or raiment.

    DRESS, n.

    1. That which is used as the covering or ornament of the body clothes garments habit as, the dress of a lady is modest and becoming a gaudy dress is evidence of a false taste. 2. A suit of clothes as, the lady has purchased an elegant dress. 3. Splendid clothes habit of ceremony as a full dress. 4. Skill in adjusting dress, or the practice of wearing elegant clothing as men of dress.

    Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [8]

    See Habits .

    Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [9]

    See Clothes.

    Morrish Bible Dictionary [10]


    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

    The subject of the costume of the ancient Hebrews is involved in much obscurity and doubt. The allusions to dress in the Scriptures form the only source of our positive information. They are often, indeed, obscure, and of uncertain interpretation; but they are invaluable in so far as they enable us to compare and verify the information derivable from other sources. These sources are—

    1. The costume of neighboring ancient nations, as represented in their monuments.

    2. The alleged costume of Jews as represented in the same monuments.

    3. The present costumes (which are known to be ancient) of Syria and Arabia.

    4. Tradition.

    Fig. 153—Short tunic

    1. The range of inquiry into monumental costume is very limited. Syria, Arabia, and Egypt, are the only countries where monuments would be likely to afford any useful information: but Arabia has left no monumental figures, and Syria none of sufficiently ancient date; and it is left for Egypt to supply all the information likely to be of use. The extent and value of this information, for the particular purpose, we believe to be far less than is usually represented. That we are not disposed to undervalue the information derivable from the Egyptian monuments for the purpose of illustrating Biblical history and antiquities, the pages of the present work will sufficiently evince; and its editor may indeed claim to have been the first in this country to work this mine of materials for Biblical illustration. But the rage for this kind of illustration has been carried to such preposterous lengths, that it may not be an unwholesome caution to remind our readers that the Egyptians and the Hebrews were an exceedingly different people—as different in every respect as can well be conceived; and that the climates which they inhabited were so very different as to necessitate a greater difference of food and dress than might be presupposed of countries so near to each other. It is true that the Jewish nation was cradled in Egypt: and this circumstance may have had some influence on ceremonial dresses, and the ornaments of women; but we do not find that nations circumstanced as the Jews were ready to adopt the costumes of other nations, especially when their residence in Egypt was always regarded by them as temporary, and when their raiment was of home manufacture—spun and woven by the women from the produce of their flocks . We find also that, immediately after leaving Egypt, the principal article of dress among the Hebrews was some ample woolen garment, fit to sleep in , to which nothing similar is to be seen among the costumes of Egypt.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

    Copyright StatementThese files are public domain. Bibliography InformationMcClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Dress'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/d/dress.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

    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. The Meaning of Terms

    2. The Materials

    3. The Outer Garments

    4. The Inner Garments

    5. The Headdress

    6. The Foot-Gear

    7. The Dress of Jesus and His Disciples

    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, ṣādhı̄n , simlāh , salmāh , and in the New Testament himátion ( Matthew 21:7;  Matthew 24:18;  Matthew 26:65;  Luke 8:27 ) and énduma ( Matthew 22:11 f; compare   Matthew 7:15 ), plural, though the oldest and most widely distributed article of human apparel was probably the "loin-cloth" (Hebrew 'ēzōr ), entirely different from "girdle" (Greek zō̇nē ). 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 ṣādhı̄n , a rather long "under garment" provided with sleeves; kethōneth (Greek chitō̇n ), a long-sleeved tunic worn over the ṣādhı̄n , likewise a shirt with sleeves (see Masterman, DCG , article "Dress"); and simlāh (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 zōnē  ; 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 simlāh (Greek himation ) signifies an "outer garment" (see below), a "mantle," or "cloak" (see lexicons). A kindred word in the Greek himatismós , (translated "raiment" in  Luke 9:29 , "garments" in  Matthew 27:35 , and "vesture" in  John 19:24 ) stands in antithesis to ηιματιον , himation ̌ . The Greek chitōn , Hebrew kethōneth , the "under garment," is translated "coat" in  Matthew 5:40 , "clothes" in  Mark 14:63 . The Hebrew word me‛ı̄l , Greek stolḗ , 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‛ı̄l and simlāh , 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 πορφύραν , porphúran , the "purple" ( Luke 16:19 ); the purple robe of Jesus is called himation in  John 19:2; léntion , "the towel" with which Jesus girded himself ( John 13:4 ,  John 13:5 ); then othónion , "linen cloth" ( Luke 24:12;  John 19:40 ); sindō̇n , "linen cloth" ( Matthew 27:59 ); and bússos , "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 ,  Ezekiel 16:13 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 chitōn ), let him have thy cloak ( himation ) also" ( Matthew 5:40 ). Here the "coat" (Hebrew kethōneth ) 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 ,  Matthew 9:21;  Matthew 14:36;  Matthew 21:7 ,  Matthew 21:8; but compare also  Matthew 9:16;  Matthew 17:2;  Matthew 24:18;  Matthew 26:65;  Matthew 27:31 ,  Matthew 27:35 ). 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, simlāh or salmāh ̌ . 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 endúmata , or garments "put on," but to the periblḗmata , 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 simlāh 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 Jewish 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 simlāh ̌ . 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 (Rth 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 'ēzōr ), 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,  Isaiah 20:2 , and Jeremiah,  Jeremiah 13:1 ). In later times it was displaced among the Hebrews by the "shirt" or "tunic" (see Tunic ). The universal "sign of mourning" was the girding of the waist with an 'ēzōr 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 'ēphōdh ( 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 kethōneth ) which, as we have seen, reappears as chitōn 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 kethōneth , or kuttōneth of the period, as worn in towns at least. Probably the kuttōneth 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 ḥālūḳ ). In this case the upper tunic, the kuttōneth 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 chitōn 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 cānı̄ph , 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 pétasos , 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 (σουδάριον , soudárion ) from Latin sudarium (a cloth for wiping off perspiration, sudor ) which is probably the "napkin" of  John 11:44;  John 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 Rth 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;  Genesis 38:14 ) was most likely a large "mantle" in which the whole body could be wrapped, like the ṣādhı̄n (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 ( ḥālūḳ ) 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 ( himátia , 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 ṭallı̄th and the 'arba‛ kanephōth (see DCG , article "Dress," col. 1). Jews who affect special sanctity, especially those living in the Holy Land, still wear the ṭallı̄th all day, as was the common custom in Christ's time. As the earliest mention of the 'arba‛kanephōth is in 1350 ad, it is clear that it cannot have existed in New Testament times.


    Nowack's and Benzinger's Hebrew Archäologie  ; 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 , Jewish Encyclopedia (by Nöldeke) in Encyclopedia Biblica (by Abrahams and Cook); Masterman, "Dress and Personal Adornment in Mod. Palestine," in Biblical World , 1902, etc.