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Sandals are a simple form of footwear consisting of a sole to protect the bottom of the foot, and straps, or thongs, to keep the soles in place (sole originally meant a sandal, not the underside of a foot). Although the classic King James Bible translates the original Hebrew word, pronounced naw-al-ah, as shoe (shoes were commonly worn in England in 1611, when and where the King James Bible was translated, whereas sandals where much less common due to culture and climate - all Bible translations are a product of their own place and time to some degree), the original word obviously meant sandal, since, as they are described in the Scriptures, shoes don't have thongs.


Priest Sandals were known very early in Bible History, for example, by Abraham who lived about 2000 BC:

"But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have sworn to The Lord God Most High, maker of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal-thong or anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich.'" (Genesis 14:22-23 RSV)

On the night of the Passover, the Israelites were instructed to remain fully dressed and prepared for the start of their journey:

"In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is The Lord's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am The Lord." (Exodus 12:11-12 RSV)

During the Wilderness Journey in the 40 years between the Exodus and the entry into the Promised Land (a journey that was originally intended to have taken only weeks, see A Journey Without A Destination), their clothing and sandals miraculously did not wear out:

"I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes have not worn out upon you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet" (Deuteronomy 29:5 RSV)

The priests (shown in illustration, see also Levites) were to wash their hands and (always dusty from wearing open sandals) feet before entering The Tabernacle In The Wilderness:

"The Lord said to Moses, "You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing. And you shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet." (Exodus 30:17-19 RSV)

Sandals were sometimes used as proof of legal exchange:

"Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel." (Ruth 4:7 RSV)

Jesus Christ instructed that those who labored for Him were worthy of their wages:

"Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food." (Matthew 10:9-10 RSV)

Fact Finder: Did John The Baptist say that Jesus Christ wore sandals?
Matthew 3:11

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