Manners & Customs: Swaddling Clothes Swaddling clothes for infants in Bible times
Caring for Infants
CARE OF INFANT CHILD
For years the Orientals of Bible lands have cared for an infant child much as it was done when JESUS was born. Instead of allowing the young baby the free use of its limbs, it is bound hand and foot by swaddling bands, and thus made into a helpless bundle like a mummy. At birth the child is washed and rubbed with salt, and then with its legs together, and its arms at its side, it is wound around tightly with linen or cotton bandages, four to five inches wide, and five to six yards long. The band is also placed under the chin and over the forehead.4
The prophet Ezekiel indicated that these same customs at a child's birth were practiced in his day. "And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all" (Ezekiel 16:4). And we are all familiar with the words of Luke, as to how they cared for the baby JESUS: "Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Swaddle and Swaddling Band in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
swod'-'-l, swod'-ling-band (verb chathal, "enwrap,"
"swaddle" (Ezek 16:4), noun chathullah, "swaddling-band"
(Job 38:9); verb sparganoo, "to wrap in swaddling clothes"
(Lk 2:7,12), noun spargana (pl.), "swaddling clothes" (The
Wisdom of Solomon 7:4). the King James Version also has
"swaddle" (Lam 2:22) for Taphach, literally, "to extend."
But the word means "to carry on the outstretched palms of
the hands" (compare Tippuchim, "dandled in the hands," Lam
2:20), whence RV's "to dandle"): "To swaddle" and "to
swathe" are really the same word, both forms going back to
an AS form swethel, "a bandage," but "swaddle" has become
the technical term for the wrapping of an infant in the
Orient or elsewhere. The oriental swaddling-clothes consist
of a square of cloth and two or more bandages. The child is
laid on the cloth diagonally and the corners are folded over
the feet and body and under the head, the bandages then
being tied so as to hold the cloth in position. This device
forms the clothing of the child until it is about a year
old, and its omission (Ezek 16:4) would be a token that the
child had been abandoned. The mention of darkness as a
"swaddling-band" at the birth of the sea (Job 38:9) is only
a poetic way of saying that the sea, at its creation, was
covered with clouds and darkness, and to find any idea of
restraint involved is fanciful.