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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Sandal, Shoe

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SANDAL, SHOE.—A covering for the feet was rendered necessary by the burning heat of the ground as well as by the presence of stones and thorns. Such protection was especially required by men on a journey, by shepherds on the hills, and by peasants when cutting wood or collecting thorns for fuel. An Oriental shepherd with bare feet and a crook-headed staff is one of the ignorant traditions of Western sacred art. The sandal consisted of a thick sole of leather attached to the foot by thongs of the same material. The transition to the shoe form was marked by a slipper-like cover and a supporting band behind the heel, which latter, however, the wearer often preferred to press down when walking.

In the East the foot can only be alluded to apologetically, and reference to the shoe is one of the commonest expressions of contempt. To be unworthy to unloose the latchet of His shoe was an intense repudiation of all thought of comparison with Christ (John 1:27). As the shoe was in immediate contact with the common ground, it was removed at the entrance to houses and sacred buildings. As socks are not usually worn in the East, dust is effectively removed either by taking off the shoe and beating it on a stone, or by projecting the foot with the toes bent upwards so that the dust may fall out from the open heel of the shoe (Matthew 10:14).

The Roman soldier, like the Eastern shepherd, had nails in the shoe to prevent slipping, and thus the missionary symbolism of Ephesians 6:15 meant determination as well as direction.

G. M. Mackie.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Sandal, Shoe'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/s/sandal-shoe.html. 1906-1918.

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