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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(only in the plur. מַסְּפָּחוֹת, mispachoth', so called from being spread out; Sept. ἐπιβόλαια v.r. περιβόλαια, Symmachus ὑπαυχένια, Vulg. cervicalia), an article of apparel or ornament that occurs only in Ezekiel 13:18; Ezekiel 13:21, where it is spoken of as something applied to the head by the idolatrous women of Israel, but the meaning of which it is difficult to discover. Some of the ancient versions (e.g. Symmachus, the Vulgate, etc.) understand pillows or cushions for the head, as in the parallel member (so Rosenmiuller, Gesenius, etc.); others (e.g. the Sept., Syriac, etc.) think that mantles or coverings for the head are intended. Hitzig understands the talith or long cloth worn by Jewish worshippers. (See FRINGE). The derivation of the Hebrew word, and the fact that the article might be torn (Ezekiel 13:21), shows: that it was long, loose, and flexible, like the shawl with which Oriental women envelop themselves (Ruth 3:15; Isaiah 3:22); and the statement that they were adapted to be placed "upon the head of every stature" (כָּלאּקוֹמָה עֵל רוֹשׁ, i.e. persons of whatever height), confirms this view. Kimchi says it was a rich upper garment. It was probably a long and elegant veil or head-dress, perhaps denoting by its shape or ornament the character of those who wore them. (See VEIL). The false prophetesses alluded to practiced divinations, and pretended to deliver oracles which contradicted the divine prophecies. (See Havernick, Comment. ad loc.). Schroeder (De vest. mul. Hebr. p. 266, 269) well interprets " veils such as those with which in the East women cover the entire head, especially the face" (comp. Ruth 3:15; Isaiah 3:22). The Eastern women bind on their other ornaments with a rich embroidered handkerchief, which is described by some travellers as completing the headdress, and falling without order upon the hair behind. (See HEAD- DRESS). This, if of costly and splendid material, would be a not unapt decoration for the meretricious purpose in question. (See HANDKERCHIEF).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Kerchief'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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