an essential article of dress in the East, and worn both by men and women. The corresponding Hebrew and Greek words are:
1. חֲגוֹר, chagor', or חֲגוֹרָה (fem.), chagorah', girder (Pr 31:24; Eze 23:15; Ge 3:7; 2Sa 18:11; Isa 32:11), which is the general term for a girdle of any kind, whether worn by soldiers (1Sa 18:4; 2Sa 20:8; 1Ki 2:5; 2Ki 3:21), or by women (Isa 3:24).
2. אֵזוֹר, ezor', something bound (Isa 11:5), especially used of the girdles worn by men; whether by prophets (2Ki 1:8; Jer 13:1), soldiers (Isa 5:27; Eze 23:15), or kings in their military capacity (Job 12:18).
3. מֵזִח, mezach', or מָזַיחִ, mazi'ach, a band (" strength," Job 12:21), used of the girdle worn by men alone (Ps 109:19; Isa 23:10).
4. These, as well as the general term ζὼνη, a belt, Mt 3:4; Mt 10:9; Mr 1:6; Mr 6:8; Ac 21:11; Re 1:13; Re 15:6, require no special elucidation. Besides these were the following peculiar terms:
5. אִבנֵט, abnet' (from the Sanscrit bandha, a band), the girdle of sacerdotal and state officers (Ex 28:4; Ex 39; Ex 40; Ex 29:9; Ex 39:29; Le 8:7,13; Le 16:4; Isa 22:21). SEE PRIEST. It was especially worn by the priests about the close-fitting tunic (Ex 28:39; Ex 39:29), and is described by Josephus (Ant. 3:7, 2) as made of linen so fine of texture as to look like the slough of a snake, and embroidered with flowers of scarlet, purple, blue, and fine linen. It was of about four fingers' breadth, and was wrapped several times round the priest's body, the ends hanging down to the feet. When engaged in sacrifice, the priest threw the ends over his left shoulder. According to Maimonides (De Vas. Sanct. c. 8), the girdle worn both by the high-priest and the common priests was of white linen embroidered with wool; but that worn by the high-priest on the day of atonement was entirely of white linen. The length of it was thirty-two cubits, and the breadth about three fingers. It was worn just below the arm-pits to avoid perspiration (comp. Eze 44:18). Jerome (Ep. ad Fabiolam, de Vest. Sac.) follows Josephus. With regard to the manner in which the girdle was embroidered, the "needlework" (רֹקֵם מִעֲשֵׂה, Ex 28:39) is distinguished in the Mishna from the "cunning- work" (מִעֲשֵׂה חשֵׁב, Ex 26:31) as being worked by the needle with figures on one side only, whereas the latter was woven-work with figures on both sides (Cod. Yoma. c. 8). So also Maimonides (De Vas. Sanct. 8:15). But Jarchi, on Ex 26:31,36, explains the difference as consisting in this, that in the former case the figures on the two sides are the same, whereas in the latter they are different. SEE EMBROIDER. This abnet may be considered as fairly represented by those girdles which we observe on such persons in the Egyptian paintings. In all passages, except Isa 22:21, אִבנֵט is used of the girdle of the priests only, but in that instance it appears to have been worn by Shebna, the treasurer, as part of the insignia of his office; unless it be supposed that he was of priestly rank, and wore it in his priestly capacity. He is called "high-priest" in the Chronicos Paschale, page 115 a, and in the Jewish tradition quoted by Jarchi ad loc.
6. The "curious girdle" (חֵשֶׁב, che'sheb, something requiring inventive art, Ex 28:8) attached to the ephod was made of the same materials and colors as the ephod, that is, of "gold. blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linens." Josephus describes it as sewed to the breastplate. After passing once round it was tied in front upon the seam, the ends hanging down (Ant. 3:7, 5). According to Maimaonides, it was of woven work. SEE EPHOD.
7. In addition to these. פּתַיגַיל, pethigil, a covering or festive mantle ("stomacher," Isa 3:24), is a costly girdle worn by women. The Vulgate renders it fascia pectoralis. It would thus seem to correspond with the Latin stroaphium, a belt worn by women about the breast. In the Sept., however, it is translated χιτὼν μεσοπόρφυρος, "a tunic shot with purple," and Gesenius has "buntes Feyerkleid" (compare Schroeder, De Vest. Mul. pages 137, 404).
8. The קַשּׁוּרַים kishshurim', closely-tied articles, mentioned in Isa 3:20 (head-bands"); Jer 2:32 ("attire"), were probably girdles, although both Kimchi and Jarchi consider them as fillets for the hair. Is the latter passage the Vulgate has again fascia pectoralis, and the Sept. στηθοδεσμίς, an appropriate bridal ornament. See each of the above renderings in their place.
The common girdle was made of leather (2Ki 1:8; Mt 3:4), like that worn by the Bedouins of the present day, whom Curzon describes as "armed with a long crooked knife, and a pistol or two stuck in a red leathern girdle" (Monast. of the Levant, page 7). In the time of Chardin the nobles of Mingrelia wore girdles of leather, four fingers broad, and embossed with silver. A finer girdle was made of linen (Jer 13:1; Eze 16:10), embroidered with silk, and sometimes with gold and silver thread (Da 10:5; Re 1:13; Re 15:6), and frequently studded with gold and precious stones or pearls (Le Bruyn, Trav. 4:170; comp.Virgil, AEneid, 9:359). Morier (Second Journey, page 150), describing the dress of the Armenian women, says, "They wear a silver girdle which rests on the hips, and is generally curiously wrought." The manufacture of girdles formed part of the employment of women (Pr 31:24).
The girdle was fastened by a clasp or buckle (2Ki 1:8; Mt 3:4; Mr 1:4) of gold or silver, or tied in a knot (Jer 13:1; Ezekiel xvi, 10), so that the ends hung down in front, as in the figures on the ruins of Persepolis. It was worn by men about the loins, hence the expressions "girdle of the loins" or "of the reins" (אֵזוֹר מָתנִיַם, Isa 6:5; אֵזוֹר חֲלָצַים Isa 5:27). The girdle of women was generally looser than that of the men, and was worn about the hips, except when they were actively engaged (Pr 31:17). Curzon (page 58), describing the dress of the Egyptian women, says, "Not round the waist, but round the hips a large and heavy Cashmere shawl is worn over the yelek, and the whole gracefulness of an Egyptian dress consists in the way in which this is put on." The military girdle was worn about the waist; the sword or dagger was suspended from it (Jg 3:16; 2Sa 20:8; Ps 45:3). In the Nineveh sculptures the soldiers are represented with broad girdles, to which the sword is attached, and through which two or even three daggers in a sheath are passed (comp. Q. Curtius, 3:3). Hence girding up the loins denotes preparation for battle or for active exertion (1Ki 18:46; 2Ki 4:29; Job 38:3; Pr 31:17; Jer 1:17; Lu 12:35; 1Pe 1:13); and to "loose the girdle" was to give way to repose and indolence (Isa 5:27). To loose the girdle and give it to another was a token of great confidence and affection (1Sa 18:4). In times of mourning, girdles of sackcloth were worn as marks of humiliation and sorrow (Isa 3:24; Isa 22:12).
In consequence of the costly materials of which girdles were made, they were frequently given as presents (1Sa 18:4; 2Sa 18:11), or in token of honor (Re 1:15), as is still the custom in Persia (comp. Morier, page 93). Villages were given to the queens of Persia to supply them with girdles (Xenoph. Anab. 1:4, 9; Plato, Alc. 1:123).
They were used as pockets, as among the Arabs still (Niebuhr, Descr. page 56), and as purses, one end of the girdle being folded back for the purpose (Mt 10:9; Mr 6:8). Hence "zonaeperdere," "to lose one's purse" (Hor. Epist. 2:2, 40; compare Jum. 14:297). Isnkhorns were also carried in the girdle (Eze 9:2).
"Girdle" is often mused figuratively in the Scriptures (see Ps 109:19; compare 1Sa 2:4; Ps 30:11; Ps 65:12; Eph 6:14). The girdle was a symbol of strength, activity, and power (Job 12:18,21; Job 30:11; Isa 23:10; Isa 45:15; Isa 11:5;; 22:21; 1Ki 20:11). The perfect adherence of the people of God to his service is figuratively illustrated by the "cleaving of the girdle to a man's loins" (Jer 13:11). In the same view, "righteousness and faithfulness" are called the girdle of the Messiah (Isa 11:5). SEE ATTIRE.