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were not confined to the lower orders; they were also in great esteem among persons of superior station, and are particularly valued in Scripture, as the emblem of knowledge and purity, gladness and victory, grace and glory. The priests of Baal were habited in black ; a colour which appears to have been peculiar to themselves, and which few others in those countries, except mourners, would choose to wear. Blue was a sky colour in great esteem among the Jews, and other oriental nations. The robe of the ephod, in the gorgeous dress of the high priest, was made all of blue ; it was a prominent colour in the sumptuous hangings of the tabernacle ; and the whole people of Israel were required to put a fringe of blue upon the border of their garments, and on the fringe a ribband of the same colour. The palace of Ahasuerus, the king of Persia, was furnished with curtains of this colour, on a pavement of red, and blue, and white marble; a proof it was not less esteemed in Persia, than on the Jordan. And from Ezekiel we learn, that the Assyrian nobles were habited in robes of this colour : “ She doated on the Assyrians her neighbours, which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men.” It is one of the most remarkable vicissitudes.in the customs of the east, that this beautiful colour, for many ages associated in their minds with every thing splendid, elegant, and rich, should have gradually sunk in public estimation, till it became connected with the ideas of meanness and vulgarity, and confined to the dress of the
poor and the needy. In modern times, the whole dress of an Arabian female of low station, consists of drawers, and a very large shift, both of blue linen, ornamented with some needle-work of a different colour. And if credit may be given to Thevenot, the Arabs between Egypt and mount Sinai, who lead a most wretched life, are clothed in a long blue shirt. To solve this difficulty, Mr. Harmer supposes that “ the art of dyeing blue, was discovered in countries more to the east or south than Tyre; and that the dye was by no means become common in the days of Ezekiel, though some that were employed in the construction of the tabernacle, and some of the Tyrians in the time of Solomon, seem to have possessed the art of dyeing with blue. These blue cloths were manufactured in remote countries; and to them that wore scarcely any thing but woollens and linens of the natural colour, these blue calicoes formed very magnificent vestments. It does not appear, however, that the Jews ever wore garments wholly of this colour; and perhaps they abstained from it as sacred and mysterious, than which none was more used about the tabernacle and the temple, in the curtains, veils and vestments belonging to these sacred edifices."
The Jewish nobles and courtiers, upon great and solemn occasions, appeared in scarlet robes, dyed, not as at present with madder, with cochineal, or with any modern tincture, but with a shrub, whose red berries give an orient tinge to the cloth. Crimson or vermilion, a colour as the name imports, from the blood of the worm, was used in the temple of Solomon, and by many persons of the first quality ; sometimes they wore purple, the most sublime of all earthly colours, says Mr. Harmer, having the gaudiness of red, of which it retains a shade, softened with the gravity of blue. This was chiefly dyed at Tyre, and was supposed to take the tincture from the liquor of a shell-fish, anciently found in the adjacent sea; though Mr. Bruce in his Travels, inclines to the opinion, that the murex, or purple fish at Tyre, was only a concealment of their knowledge of cochineal, as, if the whole city of Tyre had applied to nothing else but fishing, they would not have coloured twenty yards of cloth in a year. The children of wealthy and noble families, were dressed in vestments of different colours. This mark of distinction may be traced to the patriarchal age; for Joseph was arrayed by his indulgent and imprudent father, in a coat of many colours. A robe of divers colours, was anciently reserved for the king's daughters who were virgins; and in one of these was Tamar, the virgin daughter of David, arrayed, when she was deflowered by her own brother.
c Trav. part i, p. 173. See also Niebuhr's Description, &c. p. 57.
1 Harmer's Observ. vol. iv, p. 449, 450, 451.
In these parts of the world, the fashion is in a state of almost daily fluctuation, and different fashions are not unfrequently seen contending for the superiority; but in the east, where the people are by no means given to change, the form of their garments continues nearly the same from one age to another. The greater part of their clothes are long and flowing, loosely cast about the body, consisting only of a large piece of cloth, in the cutting and sewing of which very little art or industry is employed. They have more dignity and gracefulness than ours, and are better adapted to the burning climates of Asia. From the simplicity of their form, and their loose adaptation to the body, the same clothes might be worn with equal ease and convenience, by many different persons. The clothes of those Philistines whom Samson slew at Ashkelon, required no altering to fit his companions ; nor the robe of Jonathan to answer his friend. The arts of weaving and fulling, seemed to have been distinct occupations in Israel, from a very remote period, in consequence of the various and skilful operations which were necessary to bring their stuffs to a suitable degree of perfection ; but when the weaver and the fuller had finished their part, the labour was nearly at an end ; no distinct artizan was necessary to make them into clothes; every family seems to have made their own. Sometimes, however, this part of the work was performed in the loom ; for they had the art of weaving robes with sleeves all of one piece; of this kind was the coat which our Saviour wore during his abode with men. These loose dresses, when the arm is lifted up, expose its whole length: To this circumstance, the prophet Isaiah refers: “ To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed”_uncovered_Who observes that he is about to exert the arm of his power ? 6
e Introduction to his Travels, p. 59, 4to edition. f Shaw's Trav. vol. i, p. 411. Harmer's Observ. vol. ii, p. 398.
The chosen people were not allowed to wear clothes of any materials or form they chose; they were forbidden by their law, to wear à garment of woollen and linen. This law did not prevent them from wearing many different substances together, but only these two; nor did the prohibition extend to the wool of camels and goats (for the hair of these animals they called by the same name), but only to that of sheep. It was lawful for any man, who saw an Israelite dressed in such a garment, to fall upon him and put him to death. The design of Moses, according to some writers, was to preserve the chosen and holy people from the horrid confusion, by incestuous and unnatural mixtures, which prevailed among the heathen. But, in the opinion of Maimonides, it was principally in
& Taylor's Calmet, vol. üi. Shaw's Trav. vol. i, p. 409.
tended as a preservative from idolatry; for the heathen priests of those times, wore such mixed garments of woollen and linen, in the superstitious hope, it was imagined, of having the beneficial influence of some lucky conjunction of the planets or stars, to bring down a blessing upon their sheep and their flax,
The second restraint referred to the sexes, of which one was not to wear the dress appropriated to the other. This practice is said to be an abomination to the Lord; which plainly intimates, that the law refers to some idolatrous custom, of which Moses and the prophets always spoke in terms of the utmost abhorrence. Nothing, indeed, was more common among the heathen, in the worship of some of their false deities, than for the males to assist in women's clothes, and the females in the dress appropriated to men ; in the worship of Venus, in particular, the women appeared before her in armour, and the men in women's apparel; and thus the words literally run in the original Scriptures,“ Women shall not put on the armour of a man, nor a man the stole of a woman.” Maimonides says, he found this precept in an old magical book, “ That men ought to stand before the star of Venus in the flowered garments of women, and women to put on the armour of men before the star of Mars.” But whatever
be in these observations, it is certain, if there were no distinction of sexes made by their habits, it would be in danger of involving mankind in all manner of licentiousness and impurity.
The ancient Jews very seldom wore any covering upon their head, except when they were in mourning, or worshipping in the temple, or in the synagogue. To pray with the head covered, was, in their estimation, a higher