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Clothing

The ordinary headdress of a Jew in our Lord’s day was a large, brightly colored handkerchief wound into a turban. This would be worn always in public and in the presence of betters. From the back of the turban sometimes hung a smaller handkerchief, protecting the back of the neck and shoulders from the sun. On the feet, the sandals generally worn in summer were sometimes replaced in winter by roughly made shoes. On the body next to the skin was worn a long shirt of linen or cotton (Mark 14:51). It was put on over the head, and there were either slits for the arms to pass through or, perhaps more commonly, loose, short sleeves. Over this was worn a coat or tunic, something like a dressing gown, reaching generally to the feet and fitting closely in the upper part (Matt. 5:40; Mark 14:63; John 19:23; 21:7). Sometimes, as in the case of our Lord, it was woven in a single piece from the top throughout. Outside this coat or tunic was worn a girdle, generally of leather, from which purse, pouch, or weapon hung. As the tunic, reaching below the knees, would interfere with active movement, it was drawn up under the girdle as an outward sign of being busy (“Let your loins be girded about”) or as a preliminary to energetic work, as when Elijah girded up his loins and ran before Ahab. Lastly, a square shawl, edged with a fringe and having tassels of five threads, four white and one blue, knotted together at each corner, was worn as a mantle or cloak (Matt. 5:40; Luke 6:29; 2 Tim. 4:13) and arranged so that it did not quite reach down to the bottom of the tunic.