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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).

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Dress'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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