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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


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brich´iz , brēch´iz : A garment, extending from the waist to or just below the knee or to the ankle, and covering each leg separately. Breeches are not listed among the garments of an ordinary wardrobe, but the priests in later times (Exodus 20:26 ) wore a garment resembling modern trousers. These priestly linen breeches, מכנסי בד , mikhneṣē bhadh , were worn along with the linen coat, the linen girdle and the linen turban by Aaron on the Day of Atonement, when he entered the "holy place." (The word מכנסי , mikhneṣē is derived from a root, כנס , kānaṣ = גנז , gānaz , "to cover up," "hide.") Ordinary priests also wore them on sacrificial occasions (Exodus 28:42 ; Exodus 39:28 ; Leviticus 6:10 ; Ezekiel 44:18 ). Apart from the breeches just referred to, the only reference to a similar garment among the Israelites is found in Daniel 3:21 , where the סרבּל , ṣarbāl , the Revised Version (British and American) "hosen," is mentioned. (The King James Version translates "coats.") The rendering of the King James Version is the more likely, though the meaning of the Aramaic sarbāl is obscure (compare the thorough discussion in Ges., Thesaurus ). In Targum and Talmud (compare Levy, NHWB , under the word), and is so taken by the rabbinical commentators. Still, Aquila and Theodotion (σαράβαρα , sarábara ), Septuagint in Daniel 3:27 , Symmachus (anaxurides ), Peshitta, express the meaning "trousers" (of a looser kind than those worn by us), a garment known (from Herodotus and other sources) to have been worn by the ancient Scythians and Persians, and to have been called by them sarabara. The word, with the same connotation, was brought into the Arabic in the form sirwal . In both these senses the word may be originally Persian: in that of mantle, meaning properly (according to Andreas) a "head-covering" (sarabara ), for which in Persia the peasants often use their mantle; in that of "trousers," corresponding to the modern Persian shalwar , "under-breeches." Cook has pointed out that "mantles, long-flowing robes, and therefore extremely liable to catch the flames," are more likely to be especially mentioned in this chapter than trousers, or (Revised Version) "hosen."

The word פטישׁ , paṭı̄sh (Daniel 3:21 ), is also uncertain. The Septuagint and Theodotion render tiārai , "turbans"; Peshitta has the same word, which is variously taken by Syrian lexicographers as "tunic," "trousers," or a kind of "gaiter" (Payne Smith, Thes. Syriac ., col. 3098). (For further discussion of these words, compare commentaries on Dan of Jour. Phil ., XXVI , 307ff.)

In general, we must remember that a thorough discussion of Israelite "dress" is impossible, because of the limitations of our sources.

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Breeches'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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