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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]


The two passages in which wool is mentioned in the NT ( Hebrews 9:19,  Revelation 1:14) call for little comment. In  Hebrews 9:19 the writer alludes to the symbolic and ceremonial use of scarlet wool in the Mosaic ritual, while in  Revelation 1:14 the hair of the Son of Man in compared to white wool. White wool, here as elsewhere (cf.  Psalms 147:16,  Isaiah 1:18,  Daniel 7:9), is the emblem of purity. St. John clearly has in view the locus classicus,  Daniel 7:9, where, however, the white hair belongs to the Ancient of Days. The transference of the metaphor to the Son of Man is noteworthy, in view of the strict adherence to Daniel’s account in the Apocrypha (cf. Enoch, xlvi. 1).

Wool has always been an important article of commerce in Syria. In early days the sole measure of a man’s wealth was the number of flocks and herds in his possession. Among these the sheep was the most important and was valued especially for its wool. At a time when silk was unknown and flax was scarce and hardly obtainable out of Egypt, wool formed the principal material for clothing. The region of Gilead, Moab, and Ammon was pre-eminently the land of sheep-pasture as it is to-day.

Literature.-H. B. Tristram, Natural History of the Bible10, London, 1911, p. 133ff.; W. M. Thomson. The Land and the Book, new ed., do., 1910, p. 313; J. C. Geikie, The Holy Land and the Bible, do, 1903, pp. 12, 81-84; R. H. Charles, The Book of Enoch, Oxford, 1893, p. 127; B. F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews 2, London, 1892, p. 267 f.; H. B. Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John 2, do., 1907. p. 16; SDB , p. 977; HDB iv. 937; EBi iv. 5353.

P. S. P. Handcock.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

WOOL . Woollen stuffs were much used for clothes (  Leviticus 13:47 ff.,   Proverbs 31:13 etc.); mainly, however, for outer garments. For underwear, linen was preferred, as being cooler and cleaner. Wool, falling swiftly a prey to moths and larvæ (  Isaiah 51:8 etc.), was not used for wrapping the dead. A garment of mingled wool and linen might not he worn (  Leviticus 19:19 ,   Deuteronomy 22:11 ). Josephus says this was reserved exclusively for the priests ( Ant. IV. viii. 11). Dyed wool is referred to (  Hebrews 9:12 , cf.   Leviticus 14:4 f.), but its natural colour, white, makes it the criterion of whiteness and purity (  Psalms 147:16 ,   Isaiah 1:18 ,   Daniel 7:9 ,   Revelation 1:14 ). Wool was a valuable article of commerce (  Ezekiel 27:18 ), and it figures in the tribute paid by king Mesha (  2 Kings 3:4 ).

W. Ewing.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Wool. Wool was an article of the highest value among the Jews, as the staple material for the manufacture of clothing.  Leviticus 13:47;  Deuteronomy 22:11;  Job 31:20;  Proverbs 31:13;  Ezekiel 34:3;  Hosea 2:5.

The importance of wool is incidentally shown by the notice that Mesha's tribute was paid in a certain number of rams "with the wool."  2 Kings 3:1. The wool of Damascus was highly prized in the mart of Tyre.  Ezekiel 27:18.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [4]

1: Ἔριον (Strong'S #2053 — Noun Neuter — erion — er'-ee-on )

occurs in  Hebrews 9:19;  Revelation 1:14 .

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

The fleece of sheep and other animals. That of sheep was used for weaving into cloth, and is generally referred to as 'wool.' In the figurative language of  Isaiah 1:18 undyed wool represents the state resulting from the removal of sin by Jehovah from His people; the sin being compared to that which had been dyed crimson. The law forbade the wearing of a garment made of linen and wool: it was an unnatural mixture, figurative of the working of the Spirit and the flesh in a Christian.   Leviticus 19:19;  Deuteronomy 22:11 .

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(1): ( n.) The soft and curled, or crisped, species of hair which grows on sheep and some other animals, and which in fineness sometimes approaches to fur; - chiefly applied to the fleecy coat of the sheep, which constitutes a most essential material of clothing in all cold and temperate climates.

(2): ( n.) Short, thick hair, especially when crisped or curled.

(3): ( n.) A sort of pubescence, or a clothing of dense, curling hairs on the surface of certain plants.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [7]

Tsemer ("wool"), and Gez ("fleece") meaning "shearing". Mesha's tribute to Israel ( 2 Kings 3:4). A firstfruit to the priests ( Deuteronomy 18:4). Symbolizing purity and whiteness ( Isaiah 1:18, "shall be as wool" restored to its original undyed whiteness;  Daniel 7:9;  Revelation 1:14). Snow is compared to it ( Psalms 147:16).

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [8]

 Leviticus 19:19 (c) We may use this as a type of human works mixed with divine provision. GOD condemns it. The garment described in this passage is quite typical of many religious professors. The linen represents the good works of man, for linen is made by men. The wool represents the divine work of GOD, for only GOD can make it. Man cannot cover himself with a religious garment, which is made partly of GOD's provision in Christ and partly of his own provision in character building. Salvation must be all of GOD, with no mixture of human merit whatever.

King James Dictionary [9]

WOOL, n. G., Gr., soft down L., to pull off.

1. That species of hair which grows on sheep and some other animals, which in fineness sometimes approaches to fur. The word generally signifies the fleecy coat of the sheep, which constitutes a most essential material of clothing in all cold and temperate climates. 2. Short thick hair. 3. In botany, a sort of pubescence, or a clothing o dense curling hairs on the surface of certain plants.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

 Leviticus 13:47,48,52,59 19:19 Deuteronomy 18:4 Deuteronomy 22:11 Ezekiel 27:18

Holman Bible Dictionary [11]

 Judges 6:35-40 Isaiah 1:18Clothing ClothSheep

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

wool ( צמר , cemer  ; ἔριον , érion ): Wool and flax were the fibers most used by the ancient weavers. Wool was used principally for the outside garments (  Leviticus 13:48 ff;   Proverbs 31:13;  Ezekiel 34:3;  Hosea 2:5 ,  Hosea 2:9 ). Syrian wool is found on the world's markets today, but it is not rated as first quality, partly because it is so contaminated with thorns, straw and other foreign matter which become entangled with the wool while the sheep are wandering over the barren, rocky mountain sides in search of food. Extensive pastures are almost unknown.

Two kinds of wool are sold: (1) That obtained by shearing. This is removed from the animal as far as possible in one piece or fleece usually without previous washing. The fleeces are gathered in bales and carried to a washing-place, which is usually one of the stony river beds, with but a small stream flowing through it during the summer. The river bed is chosen because the rocks are clean and free from little sticks or straw which would cling to the washed wool. The purchaser of this washed wool submits it to a further washing with soap, ishnan (alkali plant), "soapwort", or other cleansing agent (see Fuller ), and then cards it before spinning and weaving. The wool thus obtained is nearly snow white. (2) The second supply of wool is from the tanneries where the wool is removed from the skins with slaked lime (see Tanning ). This is washed in many changes of water and used for stuffing mattresses, quilts, etc., but not for weaving.

Gideon used a fleece of wool to seek an omen from God ( Judges 6:37 ). Mesha, king of Moab, sent a large quantity of wool as a tribute to the king of Israel ( 2 Kings 3:4 ).

Wool was forbidden to be woven with linen ( Deuteronomy 2:11; compare  Leviticus 19:19 ). Priests could not wear woolen garments ( Ezekiel 44:17 ). Wool dyed scarlet with the ḳermes was used in the blood-covenant ceremony ( Hebrews 9:19; compare Lev 14;  Numbers 19:6 ).

The whiteness of wool was used for comparison (1) with snow ( Psalm 147:16 ); (2) with sins forgiven ( Isaiah 1:18 ); (3) with hair ( Daniel 7:9;  Revelation 1:14 ).

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

(Gr. Ἔριον ,  Hebrews 9:19;  Revelation 1:4). The fleece of the sheep, as such, was properly called גֵז or גְּזָּה , while the material of which it was composed was called צֶמֶר ; hence גַזִּת הִצֶּמֶר , A Fleece Of Wool ( Judges 6:37). Wool was used by the Hebrews from an early period extensively for clothing ( Leviticus 13:47;  Deuteronomy 22:11;  Job 31:20;  Proverbs 31:13;  Ezekiel 34:3;  Hosea 2:5). The importance of wool is incidentally shown by the notice that Mesha's tribute was paid in a certain number of rams "with the wool" ( 2 Kings 3:4), as well as by its being specified among the first-fruits to be offered to the priests ( Deuteronomy 18:4). The wool of Damascus was highly prized in the mart of Tyre (Ezra 27:18), and is compared in the Sept. to the wool of Miletus ( Ἔρια Ἐκ Μιλήτου ), the fame of which was widely spread in the ancient world (Pliny 3:73; Virgil, Georg. 3:306; 4:334.) Wool is occasionally cited as an image of purity and brilliancy ( Isaiah 1:18;  Daniel 7:9;  Revelation 1:14), and the flakes of snow are appropriately likened to it ( Psalms 147:16). The art of dyeing it was understood by the Jews (Mishna, Shab. 1, § 6). (See Sheep); (See Woollen).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [14]