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Linen - Ancient Jewish Bridal Attire

Updated on September 8, 2013
Marilynn Dawson profile image

Born-again Christian single mother of two grown kids. PC Tech, and Author of 18+ books in the non-fiction, personal/spiritual growth genres

Ancient Linen Linen Cloth recovered from the Dead Sea [ ]
Ancient Linen Linen Cloth recovered from the Dead Sea [ ]

Ancient Linen of Egypt

The phrase, "fine linen" is found 34 times in the KJV. By the time Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, fine linen from Egypt had clearly become a matter of boasting. Even today, run a search for "fine linen" and an ad for "Egyptian linens" comes up on my screen. Indeed the first recorded linen industry was in Egypt roughly 4,000 years ago. The Phoenician traders are known to trade in Egyptian Linen all over the then-known world, even establishing the craft in ancient Ireland. Roman nobles wrote about the incredible work of Egyptian weavers and marvelled at how fine, Egyptian Fine Linen was.

Diocletian's prices edict, one of 4 remaining fragments embedded in the medieval church of St. John Chrysostomos in Geraki, Greece. This close up shows the prices for 3 grades of linen (alpha, beta, gamma).
Diocletian's prices edict, one of 4 remaining fragments embedded in the medieval church of St. John Chrysostomos in Geraki, Greece. This close up shows the prices for 3 grades of linen (alpha, beta, gamma). | Source
Grey Woven Linen
Grey Woven Linen
Author wearing linen dress in July 2008
Author wearing linen dress in July 2008

Make-up and Characteristics

Linen is a fabric that, like cotton, comes from a plant. Unlike cotton, the process to get at the longer fibers of the flax plant takes a lot more work. Also unlike cotton, linen does not accept dyes very well, and resists dirt and staining. White linen is recorded as having been worn in Egypt because of the cooler nature of the cloth. Linen has been known down through the ages not merely for it's coolness in extreme heat, but also for it's strength. According to sources cited by wikipedia, it was used to help create shields in medieval days because of it's strength. However this strength is also it's weakness.

Linen that is repeatedly sharply bent, will eventually break.

This author has a linen dress from Spain. While this dress is very nice to wear in the summer heat, and while it has resisted most stains, the poor thing is aging. A chocolate stain never did come out, and a handful of small tomatoe stains appear faintly yellow on the front of the dress. The upper half of the back of the dress is now stained yellow because inspite of it's cooler nature, I still sweat! Lastly and most recently, the cloth around the leg slits have begun tearing away from the seams. It is the seams where the cloth has been repeatedly bent and sown into place, and after all these years, it is breaking and tearing away.

Linen is apparently strongest when it is wet, contrary to all other natural cloth material.

How to Spin Flax into Linen

GLO-41D3F6 Roman belt fitting 2
GLO-41D3F6 Roman belt fitting 2 | Source

Girded about with fine linen (new section)

God says in Ezekiel 16, that He girded Jerusalem with fine linen. The definition of "gird" according to Merriam-Webster is to bind or encircle as with a belt, to fasten such with a sword, to surround, provide, or equip. Another definition is to prepare for action or gather up one's resources.

Notice those various definitions. Two definitions should be noted in this discussion. The first is that of enclosing. Better described by as: "to surround; enclose; hem in."

The second is to bind as with a belt, to fasten, such a sword.

Paul's list of armour in Ephesians 6 references the Belt of Truth. The belt on the Roman Soldier was the most important piece of his armour! This belt not only held his sword, but was the piece that all other armour was in some way attached or fastened to. This belt held leather straps that hang down to cover the skirt of his tunic, so not only did it fasten the armour and hold the sword, but it served to protect his lower body as well.

In Ephesians 6, Truth is seen as that all-important piece that holds everything together, protecting sensitive parts and serving to hold the means of combat.

Linen Handkerchief
Linen Handkerchief

What does this mean to the Bride of Christ?

It is no wonder then, that linen was a requirement by God for the priestly garments in Temple service in Exodus, and why it is mentioned for the bridal outfit in Ezekiel. Course linen was and still is capable of being made, but finer linen takes more work and therefore was typically owned by the upper classes or priests. So for God to clothe Jerusalem in fine linen, shows the worth and beauty God saw.

The spiritual significance of fine linen for the Bride of Christ is represented by the fact that it resists dirt and stains so easily. As the Bride of Christ, we too, should resist the stain of sin on our lives. Sadly, like my dress, not all of us have resisted so well, and our robes are marked by things we never should have allowed ourselves to come into contact with. Our Robe of Righteousness is meant to be stain-resistant, sin-resistant.

Secondly, fine linen represents strength. Strength that doesn't come from ourselves, but from the One who gave the Bride of Christ her royal garments. Just like the linen, if we act on our own strength, we will eventually break. In our weakness, as the Scriptures say, God is strong. He knows what He's doing as He clothes His Bride. Scripture says that the Heavenly Bridegroom is clothed with strength. Scripture says that His strength is made perfect in weakness. So it is when we as the Bride of Christ, allow ourselves to become weak before Him, that He clothes us with His strength.

Thirdly, fine linen represents Truth that holds the entire outfit together. Jesus Christ said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by me". When we put on the Robe of Righteousness, we are putting on Christ, because Christ is Truth. There is no sinful stain on Truth. There is no dirt or soiling of the unadulterated Truth. It is from this place of Truth that the Bride of Christ can draw the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Today we covered Fine Linen

Specifically given as special outfit
broidered work
'badger''s skin'
fine linen

© 2013 Marilynn Dawson


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