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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Weaving is too necessary an art not to have existed in the early periods of the world. It appears, indeed, to have in all nations come into existence with the first dawning of civilization. The Egyptians had, as might be expected, already made considerable progress therein when the Israelites tarried among them; and in this as well as in many other of the arts of life, they became the instructors of that people. Textures of cotton and of flax were woven by them; whence we read of the 'vestures of fine linen' with which Pharaoh arrayed Joseph (); terms which show that the art of fabricating cloth had been successfully cultivated. Indeed Egypt was celebrated among the Hebrews for its manufacturing skill. Thus Isaiah () speaks of 'them that work in fine flax, and them that weave networks.' That these fabrics displayed taste as well as skill may be inferred from , 'Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt.' So in , 'I have decked my couch with coverings of tapestry, with fine linen of Egypt.' If, however, the Hebrews learned the art of weaving in Egypt, they appear to have made progress therein from their own resources, even before they entered Palestine; for having before them the prospect of a national establishment in that land, they would naturally turn their attention to the arts of life, and had leisure as well as occasion, during their sojourn of forty years in the wilderness, for practicing those arts; and certainly we cannot but understand the words of Moses to imply that the skill spoken of in , sq., came from a Hebrew and not a foreign impulse. Among the Israelites weaving, together with spinning, was for the most part in the hands of females (; ); nor did persons of rank and distinction consider the occupation mean (; ). But as in Egypt males exclusively, so in Palestine men conjointly with women, wove (). From it may be inferred that there were in Israel a class of master-manufacturers. The loom, as was generally the case in the ancient world, was high, requiring the weaver to stand at his employment.

Connected with the loom are,

the shuttle ();

the weaver's beam (; );

a weaver's pin ().

The degree of skill to which the Hebrews attained it is difficult to measure. The stuffs which they wove were of linen, flax, and wool. Among the latter must be reckoned those of camels' and goats' hair, which were used by the poor for clothing and for mourning (;; ). Garments woven in one piece throughout, so as to need no making, were held in high repute; whence the Jews have a tradition that no needle was employed on the clothing of the high priest, each piece of which was of one continued texture. This notion throws light on the language used by —'the coat was without seam'—words that are explained by those which follow, and which Wetstein regards as a gloss—'woven from the top throughout.' This seamless coat, which has lately given occasion to the great religious reformatory movement begun by the priest Ronge, would seem to indicate that our Lord, knowing that His time was now come, had arrayed Himself in vestments suitable to the dignity of His Messianic office.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Weaving'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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