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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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—Biblical Data:

In the warm countries of the East shoes are not such an indispensable part of clothing as in the colder northern countries. Still, people do not go barefoot in mountainous Palestine, especially during the damp winter, as frequently as they do in Egypt. The same was probably the case in ancient times. Although on Assyrian monuments warriors are often represented barefoot, passages like Amos 2:6 and 8:6 indicate that in the period of which they treat even the poor man generally possessed shoes. This, however, does not exclude the assumption that the poor and common people usually went barefoot, wearing sandals on special occasions only, e.g., in traveling (Exodus 12:11; Joshua 9:5). The custom of going barefoot while in mourning, followed even by the nobles, points to the justice of such an assumption (2 Samuel 15:30; Ezekiel 24:17,23).

Sandals probably came into general use, however, in the course of time, as culture became more general. They were at all times the only foot-wear of the Hebrews, being simple soles fastened to the feet by means of straps. Many illustrations of Egyptian as well as of Assyrian sandals are extant. Sandals differed as regards material, being made of leather, woven-work, papyrus, or linen, as well as regards form, consisting of a simple sole which is bent in front or has a heel-piece. All these different kinds of sandals, as well as those worn by the Bedouins today, are adjusted by means of two straps crossing from the back over the instep. A third, narrower strap, fastened in front, passes between the great and second toe and is tied to the instep-straps. Men and women apparently wore the same kind of sandal. In ancient times no shoes were worn in a room (comp. Exodus 12:11 as an exception), and in the Orient they are still removed before the wearer crosses a threshold. Similarly the sanctuary was always entered barefoot (Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15). On the symbolic action of removing the shoes see ḤALIẒAH.

I. Be.

—In Rabbinical Literature:

Originally the term "sandal" in Talmudic literature designated a sole fastened to the foot either by means of straps or by a piece of leather, usually sewed to its upper part so that the sandal might be put on like a slipper. Sandals were made either with or without heels and generally of thick leather, but sometimes of wood, either uncovered, or covered with leather. When made of uncovered wood the sandal, like a heelless sandal, was unfit for ḤALIẒAH (Yer. Yeb. 12:1-2; Shulḥan 'Aruk, Eben ha-'Ezer, 169, 21). Wooden sandals had the leathern pieces fastened to them with nails; and such sandals could be put on from either end. Owing to a disaster resulting from the use of nailed sandals on Sabbath, the Rabbis decreed that they should not be worn on that day (Shab. 60a).

There are mentioned in Kelim (26:1) a "sandal 'amaḳi" (which, according to Maimonides, means "a deep-bottomed sandal," but which, according to Bertinoro, means "a sandal made at a village called 'Amaḳi") and a "sandal of Laodicea." Both kinds were secured by means of draw-strings, like a purse, and therefore were liable to become unclean. The wearer could make them clean again by loosening the strings, without sending them to the sandal-maker. Lime-workers ('Eduy. 2:8), according to Bertinoro, wore sandals of wood, since lime burned those made of leather. The putting on of a sandal for the first time is considered in Talmudic law as the completing act of its manufacture, and must therefore be avoided on the Sabbath (Yer. Shab. 6:8a). Sandals were worn in the summer only, while in the winter shoes were used. Accordingly the bed of a Talmudic scholar is characterized as having nothing under it but sandals in the summer and shoes in the winter (B. B. 58a; comp. RaSHBaM ad loc.).

In regard to duties of the priesthood, sandals are considered as shoes in that the priests must not wear them when they mount the DUKAN for the purpose of blessing the people. This prohibition is one of the nine "taḳḳanot" of Johanan b. Zakkai (Alfasi, "Halakot," Meg. 375b, and R. Nissim ad loc.). On Yom Kippur, when the wearing of shoes is prohibited, one may wear wooden sandals not covered with leather (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 614, 2). The judge and the teacher used to strike with the sandal: the former, the person who would not obey his judgment; and the latter, his pupils (Sanh. 7b; see, however, Rashi ad loc.). There was a common proverb: "Step on the thorns while thou hast thy sandals on thy feet" (Pesiḳ. 11:99b; Gen. R. ). The term "sandal" designates also a horseshoe (Shab. 59a), the pedestal of an idol (Yeb. 103b; comp. Rashi ad loc.), and the piece of wood placed under a short leg of a child's bed to cause the bed to stand firm (Oh. 12:4). Owing to its shape, the sandal gave its name to the fish (Yer. Niddah 50d) which in English is called "sole" (comp. also Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 305, 22).

  • Kohut, Aruch Completum, s. ;
  • Lampronti, Paḥad Yiẓḥaḳ, s. ;
  • Levy, Neuhebr. Wörterb s. .
W. B.
M. Sel.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Sandals'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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