occurs in the Auth.Ver. twice (Jg 5:30; Ps 45:14) as a translation of the Heb. רַקמָה rikmah', properly variegated work (elsewhere "broidered work"); and also of the cognate רֹקֵם, rokem' (Ex 26:36; Ex 27:16; Ex 28:39; Ex 36:37; Ex 38:18), properly an embroiderer (as elsewhere rendered). In Exodus the embroiderer is contrasted with the "cunning workman," chosheb' (חשֵׁב); and the consideration of one of these terms involves that of the other. Various explanations have been offered as to the distinction between them, but most of these overlook the distinction marked in the Bible itself, viz., that the rokem wove simply a variegated texture, without gold thread or figures, and that the chosaheb interwove gold thread or figures into the variegated texture. We conceive that the use of the gold thread was for delineating figures, as is implied in the description of the corslet of Amasis (Herod. 3:47), and that the notices of gold thread in some instances and of figures in others were but different methods of describing the same thing. It follows, then, that the application of the term "embroiderer" to rokem is false; if it belong to either it is to chosheb, or the "cunning workman," who added the figures. But if "embroidery" be strictly confined to the work of the needle, we doubt whether it can be applied to either, for the simple addition of gold thread, or of a figure, does not involve the use of the needle. The patterns may have been worked' into the stuff by the loom, as appears to have been the case in Egypt (Wilkinson, 3:128; comp. Her. 1.c.), where the Hebrews learned the art, and as is stated by Josephus (ἄνθη ἐνύφανται, Ant. 3:7, 2). The distinction, as given by the Talmudists, and which has been adopted by Gesenius (Thesaur. page 1311) and Bahr (Symbolik, 1:266), is this, that rikmah, or "needlework," was where a pattern was attached to the stuff by being sewn to it on one side, and the work of the chosheb when the pattern was worked into the stuff by the loom, and so appeared on both sides. This view appears to be entirely inconsistent with the statements of the Bible, and with the sense of the word rikmah elsewhere. The absence of the figure or the gold thread in the one, and its presence in the other, constitutes the essence of the distinction. In support of this view we call attention to the passages in which the expressions are contrasted. Rikmah consisted of the following materials, "blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen" (Ex 26:36; Ex 27:16; Ex 36:37; Ex 38:18; Ex 39:28). The work of the chosheb was either " fine twined linen, blue, purple, and scarlet, with cherubims" (Ex 26:1,31; Ex 36:8,35), or "gold, blue, purple, scarlet. and fine twined linen" (Ex 28:6,8,15; Ex 39:2,5,8). Again, looking at the general sense of the words, we shall find that chosheb involves the idea of invention, or designing patterns; rikmah, the idea of texture as well as variegated color. The former is applied to other arts which demanded the exercise of inventive genius, as in the construction of engines of war (2Ch 26:15); the latter is applied to other substances, the texture of which is remarkable, as the human body (Ps 139:15). Further than this, rikmah involves the idea of a regular disposition of colors, which demanded no inventive genius. Beyond the instances already adduced, it is applied to tessellated pavement (1Ch 29:2), to the eagle's, plumage (Eze 17:3), and, in the Targums, to the leopard's spotted skin (Jer 13:23). In the same sense it is applied to the colored sails of the Egyptian vessels (Eze 27:16), which were either checkered or worked according to a regularly recurring pattern (Wilkinson, 3, 211). Gesenius considers this passage as conclusive for his view of the distinction, but it is hardly conceivable that the patterns were on one side of the sail only, nor does there appear any ground to infer a departure from the usual custom of working the colors by the loom. The ancient versions do not contribute much to the elucidation of the point. The Sept. varies between ποικιλτής and ῥαφιδευτής, as representing rokem, and ποικιλτής and ὑφαντής for chosheb, combining the two terms in each case for the work itself — ') ἡ ποικιλία τοῦ ῥαφιδευτοῦ for the first, ἔργον ὑφαντὸν ποικιλτόν for the second. The distinction, as far as it is observed, consisted in the one being needle-work and the other loom-work. The Vulgate gives generally plumarius for the first, and

polymitarius for the second; but in Ex 26:1,31 plumarius is used for the second. The first of these terms (plumarius) is well chosen to express rokem, but polymitarius, i.e., a weaver who works together threads of divers colors, is as applicable to one as to the other. The rendering in Eze 27:16, scutulata, i.e., "checkered," correctly describes one of the productions of the rokem. We have lastly to notice the incorrect rendering of the word שָׁבִוֹ in the A.V. "broider," "embroider" (Ex 28:4,39). It means stuff worked in a tessellated manner, i.e., with square cavities such as stones might be set in (comp. verse 20). The art of embroidery by the loom was extensively practiced among the nations of antiquity. In addition to the Egyptians, the Babylonians were celebrated for it, but embroidery in the proper sense of the term, i.e., with the needle, was a Phrygian invention of later date (Pliny, 8:48). There are three words for "weaver" employed in the descriptions of textures used in the tabernacle and the garments of the priest: 1. אֹרֵג, oreg, the simpler weaver, who wrought in one color, even though that color were blue (Jg 16:13; Isa 59:5; Ex 28:32; Ex 39:22,27); 2. רֹקֵם, rokem, the color-weaver, who wrought in textures of at least three colors, as he wove cloth made of blue, purple, and scarlet threads, and twined linen (Ex 26:36; Ex 27:16; Ex 28:39; Ex 39:29); 3. חשֵׁב, chosheb, the embroiderer, who wrought in the same colors and materials as the color- weaver or rokem, but always with an additional thread, producing figures (Ex 26:1,31; Ex 28:6,8,15; Ex 29:3) (Paine, Temple of Solomon, page 12). See Art of Needlework from the Earliest Ages, by the countess of Wilton (Lond. 1840). SEE EMBROIDER; SEE WEAVE.

Bible concordance for NEEDLEWORK.

Definition of needlework

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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