- Women In The Bible: What Did They Really Look Like
Women In The Bible: What Did They Really Look Like
Eva Etzioni-Halevy is professor
emeritus of political sociology at Bar-Ilan Univeristy, Israel, now
turned into a biblical novelist.
A child Holocaust survivor, she was born in Vienna, Austria. She managed to escape as a small child with her parents in 1939 and spent World War II in Italy, partly in an Italian concentration camp and partly in hiding. She moved to what was then Palestine in 1945.
She also spent time in the United States and Australia before returning to Israel and taking up her position at Bar-Ilan. Eva lives in Tel-Aviv with her husband; she has three grown children.
To find out more about Eva follow the following link: http://www.women-in-the-bible.comÂ
View all articles by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
What did the women of the Bible look like? Did they cover
their hair? Did they cover their faces with veils?
In many works of art they appear excessively modest, which conforms to the conception of the artists rather than to historical reality.
In truth, the only hint on women's apparel in the Bible itself comes from the story of Rebecca in Genesis. There the Scripture says that when she met Isaac, she "covered herself with a veil," which may be taken to mean that she did not wear a veil regularly.
If you check out my website: www.women-in-the-bible.com you will see an alternative version of what biblical women looked like.
As with all women, what biblical women wore was connected not only to modesty, but had a variety of symbolic meanings. According to the Bible, the color symbolizing wealth and elegance was scarlet. This was also the color that symbolized sin. This raises an interesting question: How were the two connected?
White, on the other hand symbolized purity, as it still does in the west today.
We know that cleanliness was of great importance in biblical times, as washing of feet and of the entire body appears many times in the Scripture, and also had religious/ritual significance.
The washing of a woman in particular is mentioned in the case of Ruth, who is prodded by her mother-in-law Naomi to wash and anoint herself before she goes out into the field to lie at Boaz's feet at night. It also appears with respect to Bathsheba who, in the course of washing herself on the roof, was spotted by King David and eventually became his wife.
But what did the women wash themselves with?
In the Torah, The Five Boks of Moses, washing with water only is mentioned. In the book of Jeremiah, there is a mention of washing with soap. So during the centuries that elapsed between the writing of the first and the second, soap must have come into existence and usage. This certainly shows welcome progress with respect to cleanliness in the course of biblical times!