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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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at first, were only soles tied to the feet with strings or thongs; afterward they were covered; and at last they called even shoes sandals. When Judith went to the camp of Holofernes, she put sandals on her feet; and her sandals ravished his eyes, Jdt_10:4; Jdt_16:9 . They were a magnificent kind of buskins proper only to ladies of condition, and such as dressed themselves for admiration. But there were sandals also belonging to men, and of mean value. We read, "If the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband's brother will not perform the duty of a husband's brother; then shall his brother's wife come unto him, in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face; and shall say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house. And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him who hath had his shoe loosed," Deuteronomy 25:7 . A late writer observes that the word rendered "shoe," usually means "sandal," that is, a mere sole fastened on the foot in a very simple manner; and that the primary and radical meaning of the word rendered face, is surface, the superfices of any thing. Hence he would submit, that the passage may be to the following purpose: The brother's wife shall loose the sandal from off the foot of her husband's brother; and shall spit upon its face or surface, (that is, of the shoe,) and shall say, &c. This ceremony is coincident with certain customs among the Turks. We are told that in a complaint against her own husband, for withholding himself from her intimacy, the wife when before the judge takes off her own shoe, and spits upon it; but in case of complaint against her husband's brother, she takes off his shoe and spits upon it.

The business of untying and carrying the sandals being that of a servant, the expressions of the Baptist, "whose shoes I am not worthy to bear," "whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to unloose," was an acknowledgment of his great inferiority to Christ, and that Christ was his Lord. To pull off the sandals on entering a sacred place, or the house of a person of distinction, was the usual mark of respect. They were taken care of by the attendant servant. At the doors of an Indian pagoda, there are as many sandals and slippers hung up, as there are hats in our places of worship.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Sandals'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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