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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

Dress

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The subject of the costume of the ancient Hebrews is involved in much obscurity and doubt. The allusions to dress in the Scriptures form the only source of our positive information. They are often, indeed, obscure, and of uncertain interpretation; but they are invaluable in so far as they enable us to compare and verify the information derivable from other sources. These sources are—

1. The costume of neighboring ancient nations, as represented in their monuments.

2. The alleged costume of Jews as represented in the same monuments.

3. The present costumes (which are known to be ancient) of Syria and Arabia.

4. Tradition.

[image]

Fig. 153—Short tunic

1. The range of inquiry into monumental costume is very limited. Syria, Arabia, and Egypt, are the only countries where monuments would be likely to afford any useful information: but Arabia has left no monumental figures, and Syria none of sufficiently ancient date; and it is left for Egypt to supply all the information likely to be of use. The extent and value of this information, for the particular purpose, we believe to be far less than is usually represented. That we are not disposed to undervalue the information derivable from the Egyptian monuments for the purpose of illustrating Biblical history and antiquities, the pages of the present work will sufficiently evince; and its editor may indeed claim to have been the first in this country to work this mine of materials for Biblical illustration. But the rage for this kind of illustration has been carried to such preposterous lengths, that it may not be an unwholesome caution to remind our readers that the Egyptians and the Hebrews were an exceedingly different people—as different in every respect as can well be conceived; and that the climates which they inhabited were so very different as to necessitate a greater difference of food and dress than might be presupposed of countries so near to each other. It is true that the Jewish nation was cradled in Egypt: and this circumstance may have had some influence on ceremonial dresses, and the ornaments of women; but we do not find that nations circumstanced as the Jews were ready to adopt the costumes of other nations, especially when their residence in Egypt was always regarded by them as temporary, and when their raiment was of home manufacture—spun and woven by the women from the produce of their flocks (). We find also that, immediately after leaving Egypt, the principal article of dress among the Hebrews was some ample woolen garment, fit to sleep in (), to which nothing similar is to be seen among the costumes of Egypt.

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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Dress'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/d/dress.html.

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