From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

Fine linen. Shes, an Egyptian word. The unique dress of the Egyptian priests ( Genesis 41:42). Pharaoh arrayed Joseph in it as a dress of state; not cotton, nor silk (as margin). So  Ezekiel 27:7, Sheesh ;  Ezekiel 27:16, Buwts Bussos , Greek), the fine linen of Syria used for the hangings of Solomon's temple and David's "robe of fine linen" ( 1 Chronicles 15:27;  2 Chronicles 2:14). The Egyptian fine linen was equal to the best now made in general texture, and superior in evenness of threads without knot or break. In  Esther 1:6 for "green" translated, rather "(Persian) linen cloth," Karpas , Carbasus . The unstudied propriety of designation by the native names respectively of linen of Egypt, Syria, and Persia, is a strong mark of genuineness. In  Ezekiel 16:10 alone is "silk" probably meant ( Meshi , perhaps a Chinese word).

The flax for the tabernacle was spun by the women, and as thread given to Aholiab and his helpers to weave ( Exodus 25:4;  Exodus 35:25;  Exodus 35:35); he directed the work of the skilled weaver ("the cunning workman"), the embroiderer and the ordinary weaver. Βaad (from a root meaning "separate", referring to the distinctness of the threads in the texture) is the Hebrew for the linen breeches of Aaron and his sons in ministering:  Exodus 28:40-42, which compared with  Exodus 39:28, "linen ( Baad ) of fine turned linen" ( Sheesh ) identifies Baad with Sheesh , Sheesh being perhaps the spun threads, Baad the linen woven from them.

Βaad is exclusively applied to the holy linen garments, ephod, etc., of priests, etc. ( 1 Chronicles 15:27), and angels ( Ezekiel 9:2-3;  Ezekiel 9:11;  Ezekiel 10:2;  Ezekiel 10:6;  Daniel 10:5;  Daniel 12:6-7). Βuwts , Bussos , was the Levite choir's dress ( 2 Chronicles 5:12); kings wore it loosely over the close fitting tunic ( 1 Chronicles 15:27). The temple veil was of it, naturally as made by Tyrians ( 2 Chronicles 3:14;  2 Chronicles 2:14). Mordecai was arrayed in it ( Esther 8:15). The house of Ashbea, sprung from Shelah Judah's sou, wrought in it ( Buwts ) ( 1 Chronicles 4:21); tradition says they wrought priests' and kings' robes and the sanctuary hangings. The bride's "fine linen, the righteousness of saints," contrasts with the harlot Babylon's merchandise in "fine linen" ( Revelation 19:8;  Revelation 19:14;  Revelation 18:12).

So also the fine linen ( Sheesh ) which God put upon Israel ( Ezekiel 16:10); contrast the rich man's fine linen ( Bussos ) ( Luke 16:19).  Proverbs 7:16, "I have decked my bed with fine linen 'Etuwn , related to Greek Othonee of Egypt," i.e. ornamented the bed covering with threads of fine Egyptian flax. In  Judges 14:12-13, Sadin (Greek Sindon ) is Hebrew for the 30 linen garments which Samson promised. Made by women ( Proverbs 31:24); the good housewife "made fine linen and girdles"; her own clothing is "fine linen" ( Sheesh , not "silk,"  Proverbs 31:22).

Used for winding sheets and head napkins ( John 11:44;  John 20:5), and towels ( John 13:4-5). Ρishteh is the general term ( Joshua 2:6), "flax" ( Judges 15:14). Βussos is the finer linen; Linon is the general term. The mummies' cloth is found by microscopic examination to be linen: linen fibre is cylindrical, transparent, and jointed as a cane; cotton fibre appears as a flat riband with a hem at each edge. Solomon's merchants brought linen yarn ( Miquwreh ) out of Egypt ( 1 Kings 10:28;  2 Chronicles 1:16). But Gesenius, Keil, etc., translated "and (as for) the going out of horses from Egypt for Solomon, a company of king's merchants fetched (horses) at a definite price." This is against the accents; Septuagint and Vulgate translated "from Koa," a place for collecting customs on the Egyptian frontier.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

LINEN is cloth made from the prepared fibre of flax. In ancient Egypt great proficiency was attained in its manufacture (Pliny, HN vii. 56; Strabo, xxvii. 41; Herod. ii. 182), and a flourishing trade was carried on (  Proverbs 7:16 ,   Ezekiel 27:7 ). As material of wearing apparel it has always been esteemed in the East. In a hot climate it tends to greater freshness and cleanliness than cotton or wool. The Egyptian priests were obliged to wear linen (Herod. ii. 37; Wilk. Anc. Egyp . iii. 117). The ‘cotton garments’ mentioned on the Rosetta stone were probably worn over the linen, and left outside when the priests entered a temple. The embalmed bodies of men and animals were wrapped in strips of linen. No other material was used for this purpose (Wilk. ib . iii. 115, 116, 484). Perhaps we may trace Egyptian influence in the place given to linen in the hangings, etc., of the Tabernacle, and in the garments of the priests (  Exodus 25:4;   Exodus 26:1 etc.,   Exodus 28:15 etc.). It formed part of the usual clothing of royalty, and of the wealthy classes (  Genesis 41:42 ,   Esther 8:15 ,   Luke 16:19 ). It is the dress worn by persons engaged in religious service. The priests are those who ‘wear a linen ephod’ (  1 Samuel 22:18 ). The child Samuel in Shiloh (  1 Samuel 2:18 ), and David, bringing back the ark (  2 Samuel 6:14 etc.), also wear the linen ephod; cf.   Ezekiel 9:2;   Ezekiel 10:2 ,   Daniel 10:5 . It formed the garment of the Levite singers (  2 Chronicles 5:12 ). It was the fitting raiment of the Lamb’s wife, ‘the righteousness of the saints’ (  Revelation 19:3 ); presumptuously assumed by ‘the great city Babylon’ (  Revelation 18:16 ); in it are also arrayed ‘the armies that are in heaven’ (  Revelation 19:14 ).

No clear and uniform distinction can be drawn between several Heb. words tr. [Note: translate or translation.] ‘linen.’ bad appears to be always used of garments (  Genesis 41:42 etc.), while shçsh may perhaps mean the thread, as in the phrase ‘ bad of fine twined shçsh ’ (  Exodus 39:28 ), the cloth made from it (  Exodus 25:4;   Exodus 26:1 ,   Ezekiel 27:7 etc.), and also garments (  Exodus 28:5 etc.). We cannot, indeed, be certain that ‘linen’ is always intended (Guthe, Bib. Wörterbuch, s.v. ). The modern Arab. [Note: Arabic.] shash means ‘cotton gauze.’ bûts is a word of Aramæan origin, occurring only in later books (  Ezekiel 27:16 ,   1 Chronicles 4:21 ,   Esther 1:6 ), whence comes the Gr. byssos . which covered both bad and shçsh (Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . III. vi. 1f.). By later writers it was taken to represent cotton (Liddell and Scott, s.v .). pishtîm is a general term, denoting the flax, or anything made from it (  Joshua 2:5 ,   Judges 15:14 ,   Jeremiah 13:1 etc.). sâdîn was a sheet in which the whole body might be wrapped (  Judges 14:12 f.,   Proverbs 31:24 etc.). It probably corresponded to the sindôn ‘linen cloth’ of   Mark 14:51 , and the shroud of   Matthew 27:59 etc. ’çtûm (  Proverbs 7:16 ) is probably fine Egyptian thread, with which cloths and haogiogs were ornamented, othonç (  Acts 10:11 ) is a large sheet: othonia (  John 19:40 etc.) are strips for bandages, ômolinon ( Sir 40:4 ) was cloth of unbleached flax, sha‘atnçz (  Leviticus 19:19 ) was probably cloth composed of linen and cotton.

Linen yarn (  1 Kings 10:28 ,   2 Chronicles 1:15 , miqweh ) should almost certainly be rendered with RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘drove.’

W. Ewing.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [3]

The linen of the Hebrews seems to have been originally made from flax, called by them Phistah. ( Exodus 9:31) And it should seem also, that they had another sort of a kind of cotton, which they called Schesch. We meet with precepts in the Old Testament Scripture respecting apparel, that, taken in the literal sense, do not appear altogether accountable. That of restoring the poor man's pledge of raiment before the sun set, is plain enough, because the poor man might want it for covering. (See  Exodus 22:26-27) And perhaps of that precept, that the "woman should not wear the dress pertaining to a man, neither the man put on the woman's garment;"‘ (see  Deuteronomy 22:5) the reason doth not seem difficult to discover, For in this change of garments, in the first face of it, there is implied somewhat of deception; and when we consider the retirement of woman in those eastern nations, no man ever. Presuming to appear in the apartments of the women, there seems an evident propriety in this prohibition, lest men, under the garb of a woman's dress, might get in unperceived among them. But when a law of this kind is found, "thou shalt not let a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee." ( Leviticus 19:19) there is somewhat certainly mysterious in this, if considered only with an eye to the mere wearing of apparel. We might be prompted humbly to ask, why is it that the Lord hath so prohibited the wearing of linen and woollen together? Can it be an object of moment in itself? Since the fall our poor sinful bodies requires: covering, which in innocency, it should seem, was unnecessary either for warmth or decency; and as the fleecy garment is for warmth, and, the linen for cleanliness can it be offensive to our God, that his poor creatures should use both? Nay, it is, well known that we do use both, and do not consider it as any breach of this command. Have we not reason therefore to believe, that somewhat of an higher nature is implied than the mere dress of the body? May it not be intended as figurative respecting the covering, of the soul? Certain it is, that under the law almost every thing became a shadowy representation of the gospel; and not only sacrifices and washings, but numberless other appointments preached the Lord Jesus Christ. Under this view it hath been thought by some, that this precept of not mingling linen and woollen for covering, the body represented the still higher concern of not mingling the covering, for the soul, but that one garment, and one only, and that one found in Christ's perfect robe of righteousness, was the great object referred to: and if so, the precept is beautiful and interesting. The fine linen, we are told in Scripture (see  Revelation 19:8) "is the righteousness of the saints;" and this righteousness, the prophet saith, ( Isaiah 54:17) is of the Lord. Hence, therefore, if the conjecture be well founded, we not only behold a blessed appointment in the thing itself, but it may serve moreover to teach the church in what an exalted point of view the Lord considered, the righteousness of his dear Son as the alone covering of his people, since he caused it thus to be preached in type and figure so many ages before the Lord's coming. See the church's song of joy in the conscious covering of her Lord. ( Isaiah 61:10)

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [4]

(βύσσος, from בּרּץ, adj. βύσσινος, λίνον)

Linen was a characteristic product of Egypt, where the arts of spinning and weaving were carried to great perfection. Both in that land and in other lands to which it was imported it was the material used for priestly vestments. According to Herodotus (ii. 37), the Egyptian priests ‘wear linen garments, constantly fresh washed, and they pay particular attention to this.… The priests wear linen only.’ The Hebrew usage is indicated by the phrase ‘the linen garments, even the holy garments’ ( Leviticus 16:32); and Vergil ( aen . xii. 120) speaks of Roman priests as ‘Velati lino, et verbena tempora vincti.’ Linen-at least the best kind of it (βύσσος, or ‘fine linen’)-was too expensive for ordinary wear. It was the clothing of kings and their ministers ( Genesis 41:42), of women of quality ( Proverbs 31:22), of ideal Israel in her royal estate ( Ezekiel 16:10;  Ezekiel 16:13).

These facts explain the references to linen in the imagery of the Revelation. (1) The seven angelic messengers who come out of the heavenly temple are ‘arrayed in linen, pure and bright’ ( Revelation 15:6). In spite of good manuscriptauthority (AC) and the dubious parallel in  Ezekiel 28:13, the reading ‘arrayed with precious stones’ (Revised Version)-λίθον for λίνον-is extremely unlikely, and א has λίνους. It is true that λίνον was commonly applied to the flax-plant, but it was also used of linen cloth and garments ( Il . ix. 661, aesch. Supp . 121, 132). (2) Fine linen was part of the merchandise of Imperial Rome ( Revelation 18:12); the city was arrayed in it ( Revelation 18:16), the old republican simplicity having given place to a wide-spread luxury. (3) It is befitting that the bride of the Lamb arrays herself in fine linen, bright and pure ( Revelation 19:8). The added words, ‘for the fine linen is the righteous acts (δικαιώματα) of the saints’ is perhaps a gloss. It is a happy inspiration that makes ‘fine linen,’ the clothing of priests and princes, the uniform of the armies in heaven that follow Him who is the Faithful and True ( Revelation 19:14).

James Strahan.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [5]

 Leviticus 6:10 (c) This symbolizes the beautiful gift of righteousness given by GOD to those who come in simple faith and trust Him with their souls. It is the "robe" of righteousness, the "garment" of salvation. It is always pure white.

 Deuteronomy 22:11 (c) By this figure GOD reveals His displeasure at man's schemes and plans to make a different robe of righteousness from that which He has ordained. Linen is a man-made product. After the Lord Jesus saves us and makes us Christians, then we begin to live a life of righteous acts, deeds and godliness which is compared to a linen robe. Wool is a product of GOD's power and ingenuity. No man can make wool. The Lord is telling us that we must not mix GOD's provision for a garment with man's provision. The wool represents GOD's grace. It is altogether "of GOD." Linen represents man's works. By this picture GOD condemns the mixture of grace and works in the matter of making the robe to wear for eternity. We are not saved by grace, and then kept by works. We are not saved partly by grace, and partly by works. GOD expects us to wear all linen as regards living for His glory and honoring His Name. He expects us to be clothed altogether by wool when it is a matter of relationship to Him, and being saved by Him.

 Revelation 19:8 (b) The garment of the bride here is a type of her own righteous acts, accomplished because she was the bride, and not in order to be a bride. The garment mentioned in ps45 is made of gold, and that one was provided by the Lord Himself.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

As is well known, is made of the fine fibers of flax, and was much used by the ancients. Four different words in Hebrew are translated in our Bible, "Linen," "fine linen," and "silk:" PISHTAH,  Judges 15:14   Ezekiel 44:17,18; BAD, worn by the priests,  Exodus 28:42   39:28 , and by king David, etc.,  2 Samuel 6:14; SHESH, worn by Joseph when governor of Egypt,  Genesis 41:42 , and by the virtuous woman in  Proverbs 31:22 , (see Silk;) and BUTZ, of which the veil of the temple and David's outer mantle were made,

  1 Chronicles 15:27   2 Chronicles 2:14   3:14   5:12 . These words may indicate different qualities of linen, but are thought to mean in part cloth of different materials, particularly the last two. Some think BUTZ, in Latin byssus, denotes cotton cloth, and SHESH that made of hemp. See  Revelation 15:6   19:8 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

  • Heb. sadin.  Proverbs 31:24 , "fine linen;" in Revised Version, "linen garments" ( Judges 14:12,13;  Isaiah 3:23 ). From this Hebrew word is probably derived the Greek word sindon, rendered "linen" in  Mark 14:51,52;  15:46;  Matthew 27:59 .

    The word "linen" is used as an emblem of moral purity ( Revelation 15:6 ). In  Luke 16:19 it is mentioned as a mark of luxury.

    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 'Linen'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

    Various Hebrew and Greek words are translated 'linen,' and there can be no doubt that linen made of flax was known in ancient Egypt and to the Israelites; but cloths generally are called linen' whether made of cotton or flax, some being distinguished as 'fine linen,' such as was worn by the priests, kings, etc. The word shesh, often translated 'fine linen' and 'fine twined linen' (for the curtains of the tabernacle, etc.) signifies 'whiteness,' and is applicable to both fine linen and cotton.  Exodus 26:1,31 . Joseph was arrayed in 'vestures of fine linen.'  Genesis 41:42 . The wrappings on the ancient Egyptian mummies were for a long time judged to be cotton, but by the use of the microscope they have been discovered to be linen.

    People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

    Linen. A cloth made from flax.  Leviticus 13:47. Several Hebrew words are rendered linen. Egypt was the great centre of the linen trade.  Proverbs 7:16;  1 Kings 10:28, A. V., but the R. V. reads differently. Some linen made from the Egyptian byssus, a flax that grew on the banks of the Nile, was soft like silk and of dazzling whiteness. This linen has been sold for twice its weight in gold. Sir J. G. Wilkinson says of it: "The quality of the fine linen fully justifies all the praises of antiquity, and excites equal admiration at the present day, being to the touch comparable to silk, and not inferior in texture to our finest cambric."

    Smith's Bible Dictionary [10]

    Linen. Cloth made from flax. Several different Hebrew words are rendered linen, which may denote different fabrics of linen or different modes of manufacture. Egypt was the great centre of the linen trade. Some linen, made from the Egyptian byssus , a flax that grew on the banks of the Nile, was exceedingly soft and of dazzling whiteness. This linen has been sold for twice its weight in gold. Sir J.G. Wilkinson says of it, "The quality of the fine linen fully justifies all the praises of antiquity, and excites equal admiration at the present day, being to the touch comparable to silk, and not inferior in texture to our finest cambric."

    Webster's Dictionary [11]

    (1): ( n.) Underclothing, esp. the shirt, as being, in former times, chiefly made of linen.

    (2): ( n.) Thread or cloth made of flax or (rarely) of hemp; - used in a general sense to include cambric, shirting, sheeting, towels, tablecloths, etc.

    (3): ( n.) Resembling linen cloth; white; pale.

    (4): ( n.) Made of linen; as, linen cloth; a linen stocking.

    King James Dictionary [12]

    LIN'EN, n. L. linun, flax, Gr. The sense is probably long, extended or smooth. In the latter sense, it would accord with L. linio, lenio.

    1. Cloth made of flax or hemp. 2. An under garment.

    LIN'EN, a. L. lineus.

    1. Made of flax or hemp as linen cloth a linen stocking. 2. Resembling linen cloth white pale.

    Fossil-linen, a kind of amianth, with soft, parallel, flexible fibers.

    Holman Bible Dictionary [13]

     Exodus 26:1 Exodus 28:6

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

    has been made in the A. Version or elsewhere the representative of a considerable number of Hebrew and Greek terms, to most of which it more or less nearly corresponds. The material designated by them in general is no doubt principally, and perhaps by some of them exclusively, the product of the flax-plant; but there is another plant which, as being a probable rival to it, may be most conveniently considered here, namely, HEMP (See Hemp) . (See Silk); (See Wool).

    Hemp is a plant which 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. Its European names are no doubt derived from the Arabic kinnab, which is supposed to be connected with the Sanscrit shanapee. There is no doubt therefore, 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 smockfrocks and tunics; and Russia sheeting and Russia duck are well known. Cannabis is mentioned in the works of Hippocrates on account of its medical properties. 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, and the similarity of the word husheesh to the Arabic shesh would lead to a belief that they were acquainted with it, especially as in a language like the Hebrew it is more probable that different names were applied to totally different things, than that the same thing had two or three different names. 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.

    1. PISHTEH ´ ( פַּשְׁתֶּה , or, rather, according to Gesenius, פֶּשֶׁת , Pe'Sheth, from פָּשִׁשׁ , to Card) is rendered "linen" in  Leviticus 13:47-48;  Leviticus 13:52;  Leviticus 13:59;  Deuteronomy 22:11;  Jeremiah 13:1;  Ezekiel 44:17-18; and "flax" in  Joshua 2:6;  Judges 15:14;  Proverbs 31:13;  Isaiah 19:9;  Ezekiel 40:3,  Hosea 2:5;  Hosea 2:9. It signifies

    (1.) Flax. i.e., the material of linen,  Isaiah 19:9;  Deuteronomy 22:11;  Proverbs 31:13, where its manufacture is spoken of; also a line or rope made of it,  Ezekiel 40:3;  Judges 14:4; so "stalks of flax," i.e., woody flax,  Joshua 2:6 (where the Sept. has Λινοκαλάμη , Vulg. stipulae lini. but the Arabic Vers. stalks of Cotton); and

    (2.) wrought flax. i.e., Linen cloth, as made into garments. e.g. generally,  Leviticus 13:47-48;  Leviticus 13:52;  Leviticus 13:59;  Deuteronomy 22:11;  Ezekiel 44:17; a girdle,  Jeremiah 13:1. a mitre a pair of drawers worn by the priests,  Ezekiel 44:18. A cognate term is פַּשְׁתָּה , Pistah', the plant "flax" as growing,  Exodus 9:31; spec. a Wick, made of linen, i.e., of "flax,"  Isaiah 42:3, or "tow,"  Isaiah 43:17. To this exactly corresponds the Greek Λίνον (whence English Linen), which, indeed, stands for Pishteh or Pishtah in the Sept. (at  Exodus 9:31;  Isaiah 19:9;  Isaiah 43:3). It signifies properly the flax-plant (Xenophon, Ath. 2:11, 12), but in the N.T. is only used of Linen raiment ( Revelation 15:6; comp. Homer, Il. 9:661; Od. 13:73), also the wick of a lamp, as being composed of a strip or ravelings of linen ( Matthew 12:20), where the half-expiring flame is made the symbol of an almost despairing heart, which will be cheered instead of having its religious hopes extinguished by the Redeemer. In  John 13:4-5 occurs the Latin term linteum, in its Greek form Λέντιον , literally a Linen cloth, hence a "towel" or Apron (comp. Galen, Comp. Med. 9; Suetonius, Calig. 26).

    This well-known plant was early cultivated in Egypt ( Exodus 9:31;  Isaiah 19:9; comp. Pliny, 19:2; Herod. 2:105; Iasselquist, Trav. page 500), namely, in the Delta around Pelusium ("linum Pelusiacum," Sil. Ital. 3:25, 375; "linteum Pelusium," Phaedr. 2:6, 12); but also in Palestine ( Joshua 2:6,  Hosea 2:7; compare Pococke. East, 1:260), the stalk attaining a height of several feet (see  Joshua 2:6; compare Hartmann, Hebr. 1:116). Linen or tow was employed by the Hebrews, especially as a branch of female domestic manufacture ( Proverbs 31:13), for garments ( 2 Samuel 6:14;  Ezekiel 44:17;  Leviticus 13:47;  Revelation 15:6; comp. Philo, 2:225), girdles ( Jeremiah 31:1), thread and ropes ( Ezekiel 40:3;  Judges 15:13), napkins ( Luke 24:12;  John 19:40), turbans ( Ezekiel 44:18), and lamp-wick ( Isaiah 40:3;  Isaiah 43:17;  Matthew 12:20). For clothing they used the "fine linen" ( בִּד , Ὀθόνη ,  1 Chronicles 15:27, where the Sept. has Βύσσινος : see Hartmann, 3:38; compare  Leviticus 16:4;  Leviticus 16:23;  Ezekiel 44:17), perhaps the Pelusiac linen of Egypt (see Mishna, Joma, 3:7), of remarkable whiteness (comp.  Daniel 12:6;  Revelation 15:6; see Plutarch, Isis, c. 4), with which the fine Babylon linen manufactured at Borsippa doubtless corresponded (Strabo, 16:739), being the material of the splendid robes of the Persian monarchs (Strabo, 14:719; Curt. 8:9), doubtless the Karpas, כִּרְפִּס , of  Esther 1:6 (see Gesenius, Thesaur. Heb. page 715). Very poor persons wore garments of unbleached flax (Ὠμόλινον , linum crudum, i.q. Tow-Cloth,  Sirach 40:4). The refuse of flax or Tow is called in Heb. נַעֹרֵת , nesoreth ( Judges 16:9; Isaiah 31). (See, generally, Celsius, Hierobot. 2:28 sq. See FLAX.

    2. BUTS ( בּוּוֹ , from a root signifying Whiteness) occurs in  1 Chronicles 4:21;  1 Chronicles 15:27;  2 Chronicles 2:14;  2 Chronicles 3:14;  2 Chronicles 5:12;  Esther 1:6;  Esther 8:15;  Ezekiel 27:16, in all which passages the A.V. renders it "fine linen," except in  2 Chronicles 5:12, where it translates "white linen." The word is of Aramean origin, being found in substantially the same form in all the cognate dialects. It is spoken of the finest and most precious stuffs, as worn by kings ( 1 Chronicles 15:27), by priests ( 2 Chronicles 5:12), and by other persons of high rank or honor ( Esther 1:6;  Esther 1:8;  Esther 1:15). It is used of the Syrian Byssus ( Ezekiel 27:16), which seems there to be distinguished from the Egyptian Byssus or שֵׁשׁ , shesh ( Ezekiel 27:7). Elsewhere it seems not to differ from this last, and is often put for it in late Hebrew (e.g.  1 Chronicles 4:21;  2 Chronicles 3:14; comp.  Exodus 26:31; so the Syr. and Chald. equivalents of Buts occur in the O. and N.T. for the Heb. שֵׁשׁ and Gr. Βύσσος ). That the Heb. garments made of this material were White May not only be certainly concluded from the etymology (which that of שֵׁשׁ confirms), but from the express language of  Revelation 19:4, where the white and shining raiment of the saints is emblematical of their purity. Yet we should not rashly reject the testimony of Pausanias (5:5), who states that the Hebrew Byssus was Yellow, for cotton of this color is found as well in Guinea and India (Gossypium Religiosum) as in Greece at this day (comp. Vossius, Ad. Virg. Geo. 2:220), although white was doubtless the prevailing color, as of linen with us. J.E. Faber (in Harmar, Observ. 2:382 sq.) suspects that the Buts was a cotton-plant common in Syria, and different from the Shesh or tree-cotton. It has long been disputed whether the cloths of Byssus were of linen or cotton (see Celsius, Hierobot. 2:167 sq.; Forster, De bysso antiquor. London, 1776), and recent microscopic experiments upon the mummy-cloths brought to London from Egypt have been claimed as determining the controversy by discovering that the threads of these are linen (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 3:115).

    But this is not decisive, as there may have existed religious reasons for employing linen for this particular purpose, and the cloths used for bandaging the bodies are not clearly stated to have been of byssus. On the contrary, the characteristics ascribed to this latter are such as much better agree with the qualities of cotton (see Forster, De bysqo, ut sup.). "The corresponding Greek word Βύσσος occurs in  Luke 16:19, where the rich man is described as being clothed in purple and fine Linen, and also in  Revelation 18:12;  Revelation 18:16;  Revelation 19:8;  Revelation 19:14, among the merchandise the loss of which would be mourned for by the merchants trading with the mystical Babylon. But it is by many authors still considered uncertain whether this byssus was of fax or cotton; for, as Rosenm Ü ller says, 'The Heb. word shesh, which occurs thirty times in the two first books of the Pentateuch (see Celsius, 2:259), is in these places, as well as in  Proverbs 31:22, by the Greek Alexandrian translators interpreted Byssus, which denotes Egyptian cotton, and also the cotton cloth made from it. In the later writings of the O.T., as, for example, in the Chronicles, the book of Esther, and Ezekiel, Buts is commonly used instead of Shesh as An expression for cotton cloth.' This, however, seems to be inferred rather than proved, and it is just as likely that improved civilization may have introduced a substance, such as cotton, which was unknown at the times when shesh was spoken of and employed, in the same manner as we know that in Europe woolen, hempen, linen, and cotton clothes have at one period of society been more extensively worn than at another."

    Cotton is the product of a plant apparently cultivated in the earliest ages not only in India, Cyprus, and other well-known localities, but also in Egypt (Pliny, 19:2; comp. Descript. de l'Egypte, 17:104 sq.), and even in Syria ( Ezekiel 27:16) and Palestine ( 1 Chronicles 4:21; Pausan. 5:5, 2; Pococke, East, 2:88; Arvieux, 1:306). Two kinds of cotton are usually distinguished, the plant (Gossypium herbaceum) and the tree (Gossyp. arboreum), although the latest investigations appear to make them essentially one. The former, which in Western Asia is found growing in fields (Olearius, Travels, page 297; Korte, Reis. page 437), is an annual shrub two or three feet high, but when cultivated (Olivier, Trav. 2:461) it becomes a bush from three to five feet in height. The stalks are reddish at the bottom, the branches short, furry, and speckled with black spots; the leaves are dark green, large, five-lobed, and weak. The flowers spring from the junction of the leaves with the stem; they are bell-shaped, pale yellow, but purplish beneath. They are succeeded by oval capsules of the size of a hazel-nut, which swell to the size of a walnut, and (in October) burst spontaneously. They contain a little ball of white filaments, which in warm situations attains the size of an apple. Imbedded in this are seven little egg- shaped, woolly seeds, of a brown or black-gray color, which contain an oily kernel. The Gossypium arboreunr ( Δένδρον Ἐπιοφόριον of Theophrastus) was anciently (see Theoph. Plant. 4:9, page 144, ed. Schneider), and still is indigenous in Asia (i.e., India), and attains a height of about twelve feet, but differs very little as to the leaves, blossoms, or fruit from the herbaceous cotton. See generally Belon, in Paulus's Samml. 1:214 sq.; Kurrer, in the Hall. Encykl. 8:209 sq., Oken, Lehrb. d. Neaturgesch. II, 2:1262 sq.; Ainslie, Mater. Ind. page 282 sq.; Ritter, Erdk. 7:1058 sq.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [15]

    lin´en ( בּד , badh , "white linen," used chiefly for priestly robes, בּוּץ , būc , "byssus," a fine white Egyptian linen, called in the earlier writings שׁשׁ , shēsh  ; פּשׁת , pesheth , "flax," סדין , ṣādhı̄n  ; βύσσος , bússos , ὀθόνιον , othónion , λίνον , lı́non , σινδών , sindṓn ): Thread or cloth made of flax.

    1. History:

    Ancient Egypt was noted for its fine linen ( Genesis 41:42;  Isaiah 19:9 ). From it a large export trade was carried on with surrounding nations, including the Hebrews, who early learned the art of spinning from the Egyptians ( Exodus 35:25 ) and continued to rely on them for the finest linen ( Proverbs 7:16;  Ezekiel 27:7 ). The culture of flax in Palestine probably antedated the conquest, for in  Joshua 2:6 we read of the stalks of flax which Rahab had laid in order upon the roof. Among the Hebrews, as apparently among the Canaanites, the spinning and weaving of linen were carried on by the women (  Proverbs 31:13 ,  Proverbs 31:19 ), among whom skill in this work was considered highly praiseworthy ( Exodus 35:25 ). One family, the house of Ashbea, attained eminence as workers in linen ( 1 Chronicles 4:21;  2 Chronicles 2:14 ).

    2. General Uses:

    Linen was used, not only in the making of garments of the finer kinds and for priests, but also for shrouds, hangings, and possibly for other purposes in which the most highly prized cloth of antiquity would naturally be desired.

    3. Priestly Garments:

    The robes of the Hebrew priests consisted of 4 linen garments, in addition to which the high priest wore garments of other stuffs ( Exodus 28;  39;  Leviticus 6:10;  Leviticus 16:4;  1 Samuel 22:18;  Ezekiel 44:17 ,  Ezekiel 44:18 ). Egyptian priests are said to have worn linen robes (Herod. ii. 37). In religious services by others than priests, white linen was also preferred, as in the case of the infant Samuel ( 1 Samuel 2:18 ), the Levite singers in the temple ( 2 Chronicles 5:12 ), and even royal personages ( 2 Samuel 6:14;  1 Chronicles 15:27 ). Accordingly, it was ascribed to angels ( Ezekiel 9:2 ,  Ezekiel 9:3 ,  Ezekiel 9:11;  Ezekiel 10:2 ,  Ezekiel 10:6 ,  Ezekiel 10:7;  Daniel 10:5;  Daniel 12:6 ,  Daniel 12:7 ). Fine linen, white and pure, is the raiment assigned to the armies which are in heaven following Him who is called Faithful and True ( Revelation 19:14 ). It is deemed a fitting symbol of the righteousness and purity of the saints ( Revelation 19:8 ).

    4. Other Garments:

    Garments of distinction were generally made of the same material: e.g. those which Pharaoh gave Joseph ( Genesis 41:42 ), and those which Mordecai wore ( Esther 8:15; compare also  Luke 16:19 ). Even a girdle of fine linen could be used by a prophet as a means of attracting attention to his message ( Jeremiah 13:1 ). It is probable that linen wrappers of a coarser quality were used by men ( Judges 14:12 ,  Judges 14:13 ) and women ( Proverbs 31:22 ). The use of linen, however, for ordinary purposes probably suggested unbecoming luxury ( Isaiah 3:23;  Ezekiel 16:10 ,  Ezekiel 16:13; compare also  Revelation 18:12 ,  Revelation 18:16 ). The poorer classes probably wore wrappers made either of unbleached flax or hemp (Ecclesiasticus 40:4;  Mark 14:51 ). The use of a mixture called sha‛aṭnēz , which is defined ( Deuteronomy 22:11 ) as linen and wool together, was forbidden in garments.

    5. Shrouds:

    The Egyptians used linen exclusively in wrapping their mummies (Herod. ii. 86). As many as one hundred yards were used in one bandage. Likewise, the Hebrews seem to have preferred this material for winding-sheets for the dead, at least in the days of the New Testament ( Matthew 27:59;  Mark 15:46;  Luke 23:53;  John 19:40;  John 20:5 ff) and the Talmud (Jerusalem Killayim 9:32b).

    6. Hangings:

    The use of twisted linen ( shēsh moshzār ) for fine hangings dates back to an early period. It was used in the tabernacle (  Exodus 26:1;  Exodus 27:9; 35; 36; 38; Josephus, Ant. , III, vi, 2), in the temple ( 2 Chronicles 3:14 ), and no doubt in other places ( Mishna , Yoma' , iii. 4). Linen cords for hangings are mentioned in the description of the palace of Ahasuerus at Shushan ( Esther 1:6 ).

    7. Other Uses:

    Other uses are suggested, such as for sails, in the imaginary ship to which Tyre is compared ( Ezekiel 27:7 ), but judging from the extravagance of the other materials in the ship, it is doubtful whether we may infer that such valuable material as linen was ever actually used for this purpose. It is more likely, however, that it was used for coverings or tapestry ( Proverbs 7:16 ), and possibly in other instances where an even, durable material was needed, as in making measuring lines ( Ezekiel 40:3 ).