linen Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
linen in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(1.) Heb., pishet, pishtah, denotes "flax," of which linen is
made (Isa. 19:9); wrought flax, i.e., "linen cloth", Lev. 13:47,
48, 52, 59; Deut. 22:11.
Flax was early cultivated in Egypt (Ex. 9:31), and also in
Israel (Josh. 2:6; Hos. 2:9). Various articles were made of
it: garments (2 Sam. 6:14), girdles (Jer. 13:1), ropes and
thread (Ezek. 40:3), napkins (Luke 24:12; John 20:7), turbans
(Ezek. 44:18), and lamp-wicks (Isa. 42:3).
(2.) Heb. buts, "whiteness;" rendered "fine linen" in 1 Chr.
4:21; 15:27; 2 Chr. 2:14; 3:14; Esther 1:6; 8:15, and "white
linen" 2 Chr. 5:12. It is not certain whether this word means
cotton or linen.
(3.) Heb. bad; rendered "linen" Ex. 28:42; 39:28; Lev. 6:10;
16:4, 23, 32; 1 Sam. 2:18; 2 Sam. 6:14, etc. It is uniformly
used of the sacred vestments worn by the priests. The word is
from a root signifying "separation."
(4.) Heb. shesh; rendered "fine linen" Ex. 25:4; 26:1, 31, 36,
etc. In Prov. 31:22 it is rendered in Authorized Version "silk,"
and in Revised 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 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 (Gen. 41:42).
(5.) Heb. 'etun. Prov. 7:16, "fine linen of Egypt;" in Revised
Version, "the yarn of Egypt."
(6.) Heb. sadin. Prov. 31:24, "fine linen;" in Revised
Version, "linen garments" (Judg. 14:12, 13; Isa. 3:23). From
this Hebrew word is probably derived the Greek word sindon,
rendered "linen" in Mark 14:51, 52; 15:46; Matt. 27:59.
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.
linen in Smith's Bible Dictionary
cloth made from flax. Several different Hebrew words are rendered linen, which may denote different fabrics of linen or different modes of manufacture. Egypt was the great centre of the linen trade. Some linen, made form the Egyptian byssus, a flax that grew on the banks of the Nile, was exceedingly soft and of dazzling whiteness. This linen has been sold for twice its weight in gold. Sir J.G. Wilkinson says of it, "The quality of the fine linen fully justifies all the praises of antiquity, and excites equal admiration at the present day, being to the touch comparable to silk, and not inferior in texture to our finest cambric."
linen in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
LIN'EN , a cloth made of flax. It was much valued and used in ancient as it is in modern times. Fine white linen is in Scripture the emblem of innocence or moral purity. Rev 15:6, though it is also mentioned as a mark of luxury. Luke 16:19. The best linen was anciently made in Egypt, as that country afforded the finest flax. The dress of the Egyptian priests was made of linen, and so was the dress of state in which Pharaoh arrayed Joseph. Gen 41:42. Also the sheets in which mummies were wrapped, and which formerly were held to be some kind of cotton fabric, have been proved by microscopic examination to consist of linen. In the Hebrew text several different words are employed to denote linen. The exact distinction between these words has not been made out, but it is probable that they denote native fabrics in distinction from those imported from Egypt and Syria, or perhaps only different kinds of the same native product. For linen in general was highly valued and much used among the Jews. The temple veil, 2 Chr 3:14; 2 Chr 2:14, the holy garments of the priests, 1 Chr 15:27, and of the Levite choir, 2 Chr 5:12, the over-garment of the king, 1 Chr 15:27, etc., were made of it.
linen in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Fine linen. Shes, an Egyptian word. The unique dress of the Egyptian priests (Genesis 41:42). Pharaoh arrayed Joseph in it as a dress of state; not cotton, nor silk (as margin). So Ezekiel 27:7, sheesh; Ezekiel 27:16, buwts bussos, Greek), the fine linen of Syria used for the hangings of Solomon's temple and David's "robe of fine linen" (1 Chronicles 15:27; 2 Chronicles 2:14). The Egyptian fine linen was equal to the best now made in general texture, and superior in evenness of threads without knot or break. In Esther 1:6 for "green" translated, rather "(Persian) linen cloth," karpas, carbasus. The unstudied propriety of designation by the native names respectively of linen of Egypt, Syria, and Persia, is a strong mark of genuineness. In Ezekiel 16:10 alone is "silk" probably meant (meshi, perhaps a Chinese word).
The flax for the tabernacle was spun by the women, and as thread given to Aholiab and his helpers to weave (Exodus 25:4; Exodus 35:25; Exodus 35:35); he directed the work of the skilled weaver ("the cunning workman"), the embroiderer and the ordinary weaver. Baad (from a root meaning "separate", referring to the distinctness of the threads in the texture) is the Hebrew for the linen breeches of Aaron and his sons in ministering: Exodus 28:40-42, which compared with Exodus 39:28, "linen (baad) of fine turned linen" (sheesh) identifies baad with sheesh, sheesh being perhaps the spun threads, baad the linen woven from them.
Baad is exclusively applied to the holy linen garments, ephod, etc., of priests, etc. (1 Chronicles 15:27), and angels (Ezekiel 9:2-3; Ezekiel 9:11; Ezekiel 10:2; Ezekiel 10:6; Daniel 10:5; Daniel 12:6-7). Buwts, bussos, was the Levite choir's dress (2 Chronicles 5:12); kings wore it loosely over the close fitting tunic (1 Chronicles 15:27). The temple veil was of it, naturally as made by Tyrians (2 Chronicles 3:14; 2 Chronicles 2:14). Mordecai was arrayed in it (Esther 8:15). The house of Ashbea, sprung from Shelah Judah's sou, wrought in it (buwts) (1 Chronicles 4:21); tradition says they wrought priests' and kings' robes and the sanctuary hangings. The bride's "fine linen, the righteousness of saints," contrasts with the harlot Babylon's merchandise in "fine linen" (Revelation 19:8; Revelation 19:14; Revelation 18:12).
So also the fine linen (sheesh) which God put upon Israel (Ezekiel 16:10); contrast the rich man's fine linen (bussos) (Luke 16:19). Proverbs 7:16, "I have decked my bed with fine linen 'etuwn, related to Greek othonee of Egypt," i.e. ornamented the bed covering with threads of fine Egyptian flax. In Judges 14:12-13, sadin (Greek sindon) is Hebrew for the 30 linen garments which Samson promised. Made by women (Proverbs 31:24); the good housewife "made fine linen and girdles"; her own clothing is "fine linen" (sheesh, not "silk," Proverbs 31:22).
Used for winding sheets and head napkins (John 11:44; John 20:5), and towels (John 13:4-5). Pishteh is the general term (Joshua 2:6), "flax" (Judges 15:14). Bussos is the finer linen; linon is the general term. The mummies' cloth is found by microscopic examination to be linen: linen fibre is cylindrical, transparent, and jointed as a cane; cotton fibre appears as a flat riband with a hem at each edge. Solomon's merchants brought linen yarn (miquwreh) out of Egypt (1 Kings 10:28; 2 Chronicles 1:16). But Gesenius, Keil, etc., translated "and (as for) the going out of horses from Egypt for Solomon, a company of king's merchants fetched (horses) at a definite price." This is against the accents; Septuagint and Vulgate translated "from Koa," a place for collecting customs on the Egyptian frontier.