apparel in the Bible

also known as: clothes, clothing

Also see: Dress and Clothing in Biblical times

In Old Testament times, the distinction between male and female attire was often not very great. The Hebrew statute forbidding men to wear female apparel (Deuteronomy 22:5) referred especially to ornaments and head-dresses. Both men and women wore:

  1. UNDER GARMENT or tunic, which was bound by a girdle

    One who had only this tunic on was spoken of as “naked” (1 Samuel 19:24; Job 24:10; Isaiah 20:2).

    People with high positions sometimes wore two tunics, the outer one was called the “upper garment” (1 Samuel 15:27; 18:4; 24:5; Job 1:20).

  2. OVER GARMENT—Both men and women wore an over-garment (“mantle,” Isaiah 3:22; 1 Kings 19:13; 2 Kings 2:13), a loose and flowing robe. The folds of this upper garment could be formed into a lap (Ruth 3:15; Psalm 79:12; Proverbs 17:23; Luke 6:38).

  3. BED—The only material for bedclothes (coverings for a bed) is mentioned in 1 Samuel 19:13—“a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster”. Sleeping in the open air was not uncommon, the sleeper wrapping himself in his outer garment (Exodus 22:26-27; Deuteronomy 24:12-13).