Manners & Customs: Sandals
Sandals in the Ancient World
Sandal in Easton's Bible Dictionary
Mentioned only in Mark 6:9 and Acts 12:8. The sandal was
a sole, made of wood or palm-bark, fastened to the
leathern straps. Sandals were also made of seal-skin
16:10; lit. tahash, "leather;" A.V., "badger's skin;"
"sealskin," or marg., "porpoise-skin"). (See SHOE
Sandal in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
na'al. A sole attached to the foot by thongs, Greek hupodema
(Mark 6:9; Acts 12:8). Often ornamentally inlaid with gold,
silver, jewels, and silk (Song of Solomon 7:1). The
materials were leather, felt, cloth, or wood, occasionally
shod with iron. A shoe was delivered in token of
transferring property: "over Edom will I cast My shoe." i.e.
I will take possession of it, treading on its pride as it
had trodden Israel as an invader (Psalm 60:8; Psalm 60:12; 2
Samuel 8:14; Joshua 10:24). The custom, which existed among
the Indians and the ancient Germans, arose from the taking
possession of property by treading the soil (Genesis 13:17),
hence handing the shoe symbolized renunciation and transfer
of ownership (Deuteronomy 25:9; Rth 4:7-8). When a Bedouin
husband divorces a runaway wife, he says, "She was my
slipper, I have cast her off." (Burckhardt). In Matthew
3:11; Acts 13:25, the image is, one about to wash his feet
getting the slave to untie his shoe or else sandal.
Hengstenberg so explains Psalm 60:8, "Moab is My washing
tub; to Edom will I cast My shoe," namely, to "bear" as My
The latchet was the strap across the instep,
securing it on the foot, of small value (Genesis 14:23; Amos
2:6; Amos 8:6). "Buy the needy for a pair of shoes," i.e. by
oppression compel them to sell themselves to us as bondmen,
in order that our great women may have elaborately
ornamented sandals. Sandals were laid aside indoors, and
only put on in a journey or military expedition (Joshua 9:5;
Joshua 9:13; Isaiah 5:27; Ephesians 6:15). "Your feet shod
with the preparation (Psalm 10:17) of the gospel of peace,"
i.e. preparedness for the good warfare, produced by the
gospel, which brings peace within though there is conflict
outside with Satan and the world (Luke 1:79; Romans 10:15;
Isaiah 26:3; Philemon 4:7). The shoes and sandals were taken
off during meals (Luke 7:38; John 13:5-6); but the Jews wore
sandals on their feet at the Passover, as ready for the
journey (Exodus 12:11).
They put off sandals in reverence at a sacred place
(Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15). So the priests in the temple
officiated barefoot; so the Mahometans of Israel before
entering a mosque or the Kaaba at Mecca, and the
Mesopotamian Yezidis before entering the tomb of a patron
saint, and the Samaritans before treading Mount Gerizim. A
sign of mourning (2 Samuel 15:30; Ezekiel 24:17);
humiliation (Isaiah 20:2; Isaiah 20:4; Ezekiel 16:10), "I
shod thee with badgers' skins" or seal skins, and skins of
other marine animals of the Red Sea; the material of the
Hebrew shoes and of the tabernacle covering. (See BADGER.)
Matthew 10:10, "provide not shoes," but Mark 6:9, "be shod
with sandals"; Luke 10:4 harmonizes them, "carry not shoes,"
i.e., do not, as most travelers, carry an extra pair in case
the pair in use became worn out.
Sandal in Smiths Bible Dictionary
was the article ordinarily used by the Hebrews for protecting
the feet. It consisted simply of a sole attached to the foot
by thongs. We have express notice of the thong (Authorized
Version "shoe latchet") in several passages, notably Ge 14:23;
Isa 5:27; Mr 1:7 Sandals were worn by all classes of society
in Israel, even by the very poor; and both the sandal and the
thong or shoe-latchet were so cheap and common that they
passed into a proverb for the most insignificant thing. Ge
14:23 Ecclus. 46;13, They were dispensed with in-doors, and
were only put on by persons about to undertake some business
away from their homes. During mealtimes the feet were
uncovered. Lu 7:38; Joh 13:5,6 It was a mark of reverence to
cast off the shoes in approaching a place or person of eminent
sanctity. Ex 3:5; Jos 5:15 It was also an indication of
violent emotion, or of mourning, if a person appeared barefoot
in public. 2Sa 15:30 To carry or to unloose a person's sandal
was a menial office, betokening great inferiority on the part
of the person performing it. Mt 3:11
The shoes as worn by the majority in New Testament times were no doubt what we would call sandals. They consisted of a sole of either wood or leather, which was fastened to the foot by leather thongs. Some people wore that which was more like an Occidental shoe. With these, either the entire foot was covered, or the toes were left bare. Such shoes were probably considered to be a luxury, for the Bible references to footwear indicate the universal use of sandals.
The Old Testament often makes mention of the sandals. The prophet Amos said, ". . . because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes [sandals]" (Amos 2:6). And Abraham spoke of the sandal thongs (Genesis 14:23). The New Testament references to sandals are also numerous. The angel told Peter, "Gird thyself and bind on thy sandals" (Acts 12:8). And John the Baptist refers to the latchet (thong, Robertson) of Messiah's sandals (Mark 1:7).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Sandals Scripture - Acts 12:8
And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy
sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy
garment about thee, and follow me.
Sandals Scripture - Mark 6:9
But [be] shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.
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