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Cloak and Tunic

Our knowledge of the clothing worn by people in The Bible comes primarily from the Scriptures themselves, as well as from illustrations on various monuments, seals and plaques that have been found. Findings in grave and tomb remains by archaeologists have also provided direct evidence.

Ruth In Boaz' Field Although there was a general similarity, in appearance and what the items were called, there were always easily-detectable differences in men and women's clothing. The Lord (see Rock Of Ages) had commanded that male and female Israelites were to wear different forms of clothing, and made it very clear how He felt about those who did otherwise: "A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to The Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 22:5 RSV).

Generally, Biblical clothing consisted of:

For Men

  • The Inner Tunic - a long piece of plain cotton or linen cloth as an undergarment for the upper body, but sometimes reaching all the way down to the ankles. It was usually not worn when the weather was very warm.

  • The Tunic-coat, or Ketonet - a shirt-like garment worn over the inner tunic in cool weather, or next to the body without the inner tunic when warm. It usually had long sleeves and extended down to the ankles.

  • The Belt, or Girdle - made of leather, from 2 to 6 inches wide, sometimes with a shoulder strap when heavier articles were being carried from it.

  • The Cloak, or Mantle - a robe worn over all of the other items of clothing as an outer garment for warmth and appearance.

  • The Headdress - worn chiefly as a protection against the sun. The Hebrew version could, depending upon circumstances, be a cap, a turban, or a head scarf.

  • Shoes or Sandals - shoes were made from soft leather, sandals from harder leather.

For Women

  • The Inner Tunic - a long garment reaching all the way down to the ankles. It was usually of a finer quality cotton, linen or silk.

  • The Outer Tunic - a full-length garment, again of finer quality than the men's version, and almost always enhanced with fine needlework and/or multicolor threads.

  • The Belt, or Girdle - made of colorful silk or wool, sometimes with a fringe from the waist nearly to the ankles.

  • The Cloak - warm and durable for protection against cool weather, and usually more intricate.

  • The Headdress - a lighter and finer quality than the men's version, and always more colorful. Women also usually had elaborate plaiting or other arrangement of their hair, which tended to be long.

  • Shoes or Sandals - shoes were made from soft leather, sandals from harder leather.

Fact Finder: What happened to the clothing that Jesus Christ had been wearing The Fateful Night before His Crucifixion?
John 19:23-24
See also Roman Legions

This Week's Bible Quiz

True or false?

1. Abraham was originally named Abram.

2. Lot was Abraham's nephew.

3. Terah was Abraham's father.

4. Nahor and Haran were Abraham's brothers.

5. Abraham was born in Ur of the Chaldeans.

6. Abraham married Sarai.

7. Abraham had hundreds of servants.

8. Abraham was the father of Isaac.

9. Abraham was the father of Ishmael.

10. Abraham witnessed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

For the answers to this July 10 2001 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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