Bible History Online
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
em-broid'-er-i (riqrnah; the King James Version Needlework):
Riqmah was applied to any kind of cloth which showed designs in variegated colors. The method of manufacture is unknown. The designs may have been woven into cloth or drawn in by a needle or hook (Jdg 5:30; Ps 45:14; Ezek 16:10,13,18; 26:16; 27:7,16,24).
Ma`aseh raqam is translated "the work of the embroiderer" in the Revised Version (British and American) instead of "needlework" (Ex 26:36; 27:16; 28:39; 36:37; 38:18; 39:29; Jdg 5:30; Ps 45:14).
Raqam, "embroiderer," occurs in Ex 35:35; 38:23. The fact that this word is used instead of `aragh, "weaver," would lead us to suppose that the embroiderers' work was either different from that of the weaver or that a "raqam" was especially skilled in fine weaving. Another word, choshebh, is used to describe a skillful weaver. "Cunning work" in the King James Version of Ex 26:1,31; 28:6,15; 35:33,15; 36:8,35; 39:3,1 is rendered in the American Standard Revised Version "work of the skillful workmen." The passage has been freely rendered "designers."
In the Revised Version (British and American) of Ex 28:39 shabhats is translated "weave."
In Ex 28:4 occurs the word tashbets, which is translated "broidered" in the King James Version and "checker work" in the Revised Version (British and American). If this kind of work is what it is supposed to be, it is more truly "needlework" than the embroidery. This work is still done in some of the Syrian cities and towns, especially in Damascus. Small caps for men to wear under their ordinary headdress and loose outer garments or dressing-gowns are the forms in which it is commonly seen. The checker-work effect is obtained by sewing in a cotton string between two pieces of cloth, so as to form designs. The patterns Usually run to straight lines such as zigzags or squares. The effect is striking, and we can well imagine would have made an impressive priest's robe, especially if costly materials were used.
See also CRAFTS.
James A. Patch
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'embroidery'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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