The word “linen” is used as an emblem of moral purity (Rev. 15:6). In Luke 16:19 it is mentioned as a mark of luxury.

Seven different Hebrew words are translated as linen in the Bible.

  1. Hebrew: pishet, pishtah—denotes “flax,” of which linen is made (Isaiah 19:9); wrought flax, i.e., “linen cloth”, Leviticus 13:47-48, 52, 59; Deuteronomy 22:11.

    Flax was early cultivated in Egypt (Exodus 9:31), and also in Israel (Joshua 2:6; Hos. 2:9). Various articles were made of it: garments (2 Samuel 6:14), girdles (Jeremiah 13:1), ropes and thread (Ezek. 40:3), napkins (Luke 24:12; John 20:7), turbans (Ezek. 44:18), and lamp-wicks (Isaiah 42:3).

  2. Hebrew: buts—“whiteness;” rendered “fine linen” in 1 Chronicles 4:21; 15:27; 2 Chronicles 2:14; 3:14; Esther 1:6; 8:15, and “white linen” (2 Chronicles 5:12)

    It is not certain whether this word means cotton or linen.

  3. Hebrew: bad—rendered “linen” (Exodus 28:42; 39:28; Leviticus 6:10; 16:4, 23, 32; 1 Samuel 2:18; 2 Samuel 6:14, etc.)

    It is uniformly used of the sacred vestments worn by the priests. The word is from a root signifying “separation.”

  4. Hebrew: shesh—rendered “fine linen” (Exodus 25:4; 26:1, 31, 36, etc.)

    In Proverbs 31:22 it is rendered in King James Version “silk,” and in Revised King James Version “fine linen.” The word denotes Egyptian linen of peculiar whiteness and fineness (byssus). The finest Indian linen, the finest now made, has in an inch [2.54 centimeters] one hundred threads of warp and eighty-four of woof; while the Egyptian had sometimes one hundred and forty in the warp and sixty-four in the woof. This was the usual dress of the Egyptian priest. Pharaoh arrayed Joseph in a dress of linen (Genesis 41:42).

  5. Hebrew: 'etunProverbs 7:16, “fine linen of Egypt;” in Revised King James Version, “the yarn of Egypt”

  6. Hebrew: sadinProverbs 31:24, “fine linen;” in Revised King James Version, “linen garments” (Judges 14:12-13; Isaiah 3:23)

    From this Hebrew word is probably derived the Greek word sindon, rendered “linen” in Mark 14:51-52; 15:46; Matthew 27:59.

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