DRESS AND ORNAMENT, HEBREW.
In the Old Testament there is no description of
clothing and articles of adornment. The archeologist,
therefore, has to rely upon ancient Egyptian
and Babylonian-Assyrian portraiture and observation
of present customs.
1. The Apron or Girdle.
The most ancient article
of dress was the apron or girdle (ezor, ḥagor, saḳ),
a simple piece of cloth
(Jer. xiii. 1)
(Il Kings i. 8)
thrown about the loins.
In all periods it was the most usual
garment in Egypt, though of course
its form was often modified. In
Egyptian pictures it appears also as
the dress of the Bedouin; and it has been preserved
in the iḥrām worn by pilgrims in Mecca. The Old
Testament mentions the girdle as worn by Assyrian
(Isa. v. 27;
Ezek. xxiii: 15).
Israelites the girdle survived as the dress of those
consecrated to God
(II Kings i. 8;
Isa. xx. 2;
Jer. xiii. 1 sqq.)
and as the vestment of the high priest.
As saḳ it was worn for mourning (see
Mourning Customs, Hebrew
either alone or under another
(II Kings vi. 30).
Otherwise the kuttoneth,
or shirt, took the place of the girdle. In Assyrian art
this appears as a tight-fitting undergarment, sometimes reaching only to the knee, sometimes to the
ankle. It corresponded to the undergarment of
the fellah of to-day: a rough cotton tunic of a
faded blue color, open at the breast, with loose
sleeves and a girdle around the hips to hold the
garment out of the way in walking or working.
Such moat have been the Hebrew kuttoneth, though
it reached only to the knees. The longer coat,
with long sleeves, was especially for women, being
unusual for men
(Gen. xxxvii. 3;
II Sam. xiii. 18).
A still finer garment was the sadin, a linen shirt
that the well-to-do wore under the kuttoneth
(Judges xiv. 12;
Prov. xxxi. 24;
Isa. iii. 23).
was of Canaanitic origin and is mentioned in the
2. The Coat Cloak.
The simla, or overdress, had various forms.
Egyptian representations of Bedouins show it as a
loose wrap that leaves one shoulder and both arms
free. It was a heavy shawl, such as is still found
among Bedouins. The ancient Babylonians wore
a similar garment. Among the Hebrews this was
probably the mantle of the common people; later
it developed into the present abaye, the mantle of
the fellahs and Bedouin. This is a large quadrangular
piece of rough, heavy woolen material, crudely
sewed together so that holes are left for the arms.
Like the abaye
, the simla
worn at work
(Matt. xxiv. 18
or was similarly useful. All kinds of
articles could be carried in it, e.g. barley,
wood, grass, etc.
(Ex. xii. 34
Judges viii. 25
II Kings iv. 39
By day it was a protection
against rain and cold, by night it served as bed
(Ex. xxii. 26
Deut. xxiv. 12 sqq.
No respectable man went without this overdress
(Amos ii. 16
Isa. xx. 2-3
From this simple
garment was developed the richly ornamented
mantle of well-to-do Assyrians and Babylonians,
which reached from the neck to the knees and had
sleeves. Canaanites of the better classes
wore a strip of heavy fancy-colored cloth wrapped
around the body several times. This was em
broidered in colors and finished with fringe. The
Israelites, who had a taste for gorgeous colors
(Josh. vii. 21
Judges v. 30
II Sam. i. 24
adopted from the Canaanites certain overgarments
. The first was a costly
(I Sam. ii. 19, xviii 4, xxiv. 5, 11
according to the description of the priest's
, was similar to the sleeveless abaye
(Ex. xxviii. 31 sqq.
, III. vii. 4). The addereth
extra robe worn over the simla
(Mic. ii. 8
to the gorgeous Babylonian robe for which the same
name was employed
(Josh. vii. 21
Jonah iii. 6
The leather garment worn by the prophets was
called by the same name because of its width.
3. Women's Attire
A woman's dress evidently differed from that
of a man
(Deut. xxii. 5),
but consisted likewise of
simla and kuttoneth. Presumably these garments
had sleeves and were longer than those worn by
men, were also of finer material, of brighter colors,
and more richly ornamented. The sadin, the finer
linen underdress, was also worn by women
(Isa. iii. 23:
Prov. xxxi. 24).
Further, mention is made of
the miṭpaḥaṭh, a kind of veil or shawl
(Ruth iii. 15);
and the ma'aṭapha, a
wrap of unknown form
(Isa. iii. 22).
A very important article of female
attire was the veil. The use of the veil by the bride
(Gen. xxiv. 65)
and in other cases
(Gen. xxxviii. 14;
Ruth iii. 31
is traceable to the influence of the
Ishtar myth. The veil was the symbol of Ishtar,
who, on coming from the underworld, walked out
veiled to meet Tammuz, her bridegroom. Otherwise
it was not customary for women to go veiled
(Gen. xii. 14, xxiv. 15
sqq. ), contrary to present
custom in the Orient due to the influence of Islam.
The veil of the ordinary woman's wardrobe was
a neckcloth. According to ancient statuary, it
reached from the forehead, down across the back of
the head to the hips or still lower, and was not
unlike the neckerchief of the peasant woman in
modern Palestine. It is not known how the various
kinds of veils mentioned in the Old Testament
differed from one another
(Gen. xxiv. 65;
Cant. iv. 3;
Isa. iii. 19 sqq., xlvii. 2).
The increasing luxury
of women in the matter of dress is shown by the
enumeration of the articles of a woman's toilet in
Isa. iii. 18-23.
4. The Head-dress.
As regards head-dress, some representations
show Jews and Syrians bareheaded, others show
them wearing merely a band to hold the hair
together. This last is still occasionally seen in Arabia.
The usual head-covering of the Bedouin of to-day
is the keffiye
, a large square piece of woolen cloth
folded diagonally, then thrown over
the head in such a way that the loose
corners of the triangle protect the
back of the head and neck, while the
other two corners are tied under the chin and then
thrown across the shoulders. A strong wool cord
holds the cloth securely on the head. Hebrew
peasants undoubtedly wore a similar head-dress.
The better classes, both men and women, wore a
kind of turban, i.e., a cloth wound about the head.
The shape of this varied greatly, depending upon
the way it was adjusted, just as the head-dress of
to-day varies in different localities. The turban of
the high priest, the miẓnepheth
, had a special form
(Ex. xxviii. 40
as did that of the priest, the
(Ex. xxviii. 40, xxxix. 28
was afterward worn by men and women of the
(Isa. iii. 20
Ezek. xxiv. 17
by the bridegroom on the wedding day
(Isa. lxi. 10
The high conical turbans seen in
pictures of Assyrian kings and priests may be
regarded as good examples of this variety of head
The use of sandals among the Egyptians became
common in the middle kingdom, universal in the
new kingdom. On Babylonian and Assyrian
monuments even kings appear barefooted. Other
representations show sandals with a strap stretched
across the foot from the side, and often with a
leather strap between the toes and drawn across the
foot longitudinally. Later Assyrian soldiers wore a
kind of leather boot, made of pieces of leather tied
about the foot and reaching above the
ankle. By soldiers of to-day pointed
shoes are worn over the sandals,
affording protection to the toes in
mountainous districts. Among the Israelites the common
man usually went barefooted, as does the fellah of
to-day, though he sometimes had sandals
(Amos ii. 6, viii. 6).
These were of leather or wood, with
(Gen. xiv. 23;
Isa. v. 27).
were not worn in the house nor in the sanctuary
(Ex. iii. 5, xii. 11;
Josh. v. 15).
performed their duties barefooted. In mourning, also,
it was customary to go barefooted
(II Sam. xv. 30;
Ezek. xxiv. 17, 23).
Jewelry was much worn in
the ancient Orient, as it is to-day, A cane and a
signet-ring belonged to the equipment of a
Babylonian, and were usual articles of personal
adornment (cf. Herodotus, i. 195, and Strabo, xvi. 746).
The cane was often a necessity, as in the case of the
shepherd; otherwise it was a valuable weapon.
In modern times it is not used as a support in
walkingâ€”it being too short for that purposeâ€”but
is carried thrown across the shoulder.
6. Signets and Seals.
The signet-ring (ḥotham) , is quite ancient and is
supposed to have been worn even by the patriarchs.
The impression of such a ring serves in place of the
written signature, hence its importance and the
universality of its use. At first these rings were
not worn on the finger, but were carried on a cord
tied around the neck
as still is often
the case. The Egyptians wore the signet on the
(Gen. xli. 42
and later the Israelites wore it on a finger of the right
(Jer. xxii. 24
Besides the signet-ring
set with a cut stone, the signet took
the form of a cylinder. This kind of seal was common
in Babylon, and, as excavations have shown,
was in use in Palestine. From remotest antiquity
Babylonia was distinguished for gem-cutting, an
art which reached there a high degree of excellence
shown by the exquisitely carved cylinders that have
been preserved. This art was introduced into
Syria. A seal-cylinder found at Taanach shows
Babylonian and Egyptian characters, thus betraying
its Western origin. It is not known to what
extent such things were made in Israel, or whether
they were not bought through the Phenicians. At
all events, in decorative art and in the manner of
execution Babylonian influence was always dominant.
The handsomest seal extant by a Hebrew
hand is one that was discovered in Megiddo by the
excavations of the Deutscher Palästina-Verein. It
is the seal of Shemai, the minister of state (ebed
of Jeroboam II., made of Jasper, oval in form, 3.7 by
2.7 centimeters, and with a splendidly carved lion,
resembling closely the lion figures of Babylonian-Assyrian
art (cf. Mittheilungen und Nachrichten des
, 1904, pp. 1 sqq.).
A jewel was at the same time an amulet. According
to the ancient Oriental view, metals and
precious stones belonged to certain gods of the mineral
world, and possessed, therefore, a mysterious
magic power. Aside from this, any
trinket that diverts attention from the
wearer to itself still serves as a protection
against the evil eye. For this reason every
one in the Orient wears an abundance of jewelry.
Traces of this superstition are found in the Old
Isa. iii. 20
a piece of woman's jewelry
is designated as an amulet (cf.
Gen. xxxv. 4);
and it is evident that the ornaments on the
camels of the Midianites were charms
(Judges viii. 21).
In design and execution the various articles
of jewelry resemble Babylonian and Egyptian
8. Earrings and Nose-rings.
Earrings were the principal article of jewelry for
(Gen. xxxv. 4),
and were sometimes worn
(Ex. xxxii. 2).
They were also worn
by men, e.g., by the Midianites
(Judges viii. 24 sqq.),
and Pliny claims that they were worn by all Orientals
(Pliny, xi. 136). It is impossible
to distinguish the various kinds of
earrings mentioned; still, the excavations
at Gezer, Megiddo, and Taanach
have brought to light several characteristic
forms (cf. PEF, Quarterly Statement, 1903,
p. 202). Nose-rings were also quite popular
(Gen. xxiv. 22, 47;
Isa. iii. 21),
finger-rings were less
usual. Finally, the toes were also ornamented
9. Ornaments for Head and Neck.
The forehead and hair were beautified by bands
of gold or silver ornaments
(Isa. iii. 18);
of various kinds were worn, also strings of
rings, pearls, small glass cylinders, bone buttons,
metal pendants, etc., were worn around the neck.
Excavations have revealed a great variety of
such articles. Particularly popular as amulet and
bangle were the scarabs, imitations of
the sacred dor-beetle which originated
in Egypt. They spread all over the
Orient; and excavations in the South
(e.g., at Gezer) have brought numbers
of them to light. Bracelets were
simply pieces of wire bent around the arms, and
the ends were not fastened together
(Gen. xxiv. 22;
Ezek. xvi. 13, xxiii. 42).
There were also anklets
of corresponding form, to which were sometimes
attached small chains
(Isa. iii. 18).
This kind of
jewelry for women is peculiar to the Orient, both
ancient and modern.
10. The Hair.
As to the care of the hair, the custom of shaving
the head, wide-spread in ancient Egypt and still
common, was prohibited in Israel
(Lev. xix. 27;
Deut. xiv. 1)
because it often had a religious significance.
However, as a sign of mourning
this custom, perhaps universal
in the oldest period, was preserved
despite the prohibition
(Ezek. vii. 18;
Amos viii. 10;
Mic. i. 16).
Priests were commanded
to keep their hair cut properly, and not to allow it
to grow unrestrained
(Ezek. xliv. 20);
but no shears
were to touch the head of the Nazirite
(Num. vi. 18;
Judges xiii. 5;
I Sam. i. 11).
The Egyptian way
of dressing the hair with wigs and other artificial
accessories was never imitated in anterior Asia.
According to ancient Egyptian representations, the
Syrian wore his hair rather long. The front hair
was brushed down over the forehead; otherwise
the hair was caught up in tufts behind, which stood
out from the head. Assyrian monuments show
long hair worn in plaits hanging about the neck
as the prevailing style, and suggest that the better
classes paid much attention to the dressing of the
hair and beard. For a woman long hair was essential
(Cant. iv. 1,
and often); and a
bald head was the greatest affliction
(Isa. iii. 24).
To let the hair down and allow it to hang in disorder
denoted extreme humility
(Num. v. 18;
Luke vii. 38).
The arts employed by women to beautify
the hair are derided by Isaiah
(Isa. iii. 24).
11. The Beard.
For the Egyptians a beard was something too
repulsive to be allowed, accordingly they kept themselves
shaved; but the "barbarians" allowed their
beards to grow. In Egyptian pictures the Syrians
have round beards, the Bedouins
pointed beards. Assyrian representations
testify to the custom of wearing
a mustache. To cut off any one's
beard was a grave insult
(II Sam. x. 4),
a humiliation to which prisoners of war were subjected
(Isa. vii. 20);
and often, in deep mourning, this mutilation
(Isa. xv. 2).
To cut out the
corners of the beard was forbidden in Israel, as
being the custom of a strange cult.
H. Weiss, Kostümkunde, part i., Die Völker
des Ostens, Stuttgart, 1860; B. Ugolini, Thesaurus antiquitatum
sacarum, vol. xxix., 34 vols., Venice 1744-69;
A. T. Hartmann, Die Hebräerin am Putztisch und als
Braul, Amsterdam, 1809; W. M. Thompson, The Land
and the Book, 3 vols., New York, 1880-86; I. Benzinger,
Hebräische Archäologie, § § 16-17, Tübingen, 1907; W.
Nowack, HebrÃ¤ische ArchÃ¤ologie, Â§Â§ 20-21, Freiberg, 1894:
H. B. Tristram, Eastern Customs in Bible Lands
155-176, London, 1894; DB
, i. 623-629: EB
, i. 1135 sqq.