Shoe (נִעִל naal, so called from fastening on the foot, everywhere so rendered, except once [Isa 11:15], "dryshod" but in De 33:25 מַנעָל, minal, which probably means a bolt, as elsewhere ["lock," Ne 3:3,6,13-15; Song 5:5]; ὑπόδημα), properly a sandal. It does not seem probable that the foot coverings of the Hebrews differed much from those used in Egypt, excepting, perhaps, that from the greater roughness of their country they were usually of more substantial make and materials. The Egyptian sandals varied slightly in form: those worn by the upper classes, and by women, were usually pointed and turned up at the end like our skates and many of the Eastern slippers at the present day. They were made of a sort of woven or interlaced work of palm leaves and papyrus stalks or other similar materials, and sometimes of leather; and were frequently lined with cloth on which the figure of a captive was painted, that humiliating position being, considered suited to the enemies of their country, whom they hated and despised. It is not likely that the Jews adopted this practice; but the idea which it expressed, of treading their enemies under their feet, was familiar to them (Jos 10:24). Those of the middle classes who were in the habit of wearing sandals often preferred walking barefooted. Shoes, or low boots, are sometimes found at Thebes; but these are believed by Sir J.G. Wilkinson to have been of late date and to have belonged to Greeks, since no persons are represented in the paintings as wearing them except foreigners. They were of leather, generally of a green color, laced in front by thongs, which passed through small loops on either side, and were principally used, as in Greece and Etruria, by women (Wilkinson, 3, 374- 367). The Assyrian monuments represent shoes of a similar character, but worn by natives, especially princes.
The use of shoes was by no means universal among the Greeks and Romans. The Homeric heroes are represented without shoes when armed for battle. Socrates, Phocioni, and Cato frequently went barefoot. The Roman slaves had no shoes. The covering of the feet was removed before reclining at meals. People in grief (as, for instance, at funerals) frequently went barefooted. The Roman shoes may be divided into those in which the mere sole of a shoe was attached to the sole of the foot by ties or bands, or by a covering for the toes or the instep (solea, crepida, soccus), and those which ascended higher and higher, according as they covered the ankles, the calf, or the whole of the leg. To calceamenta of the; latter kind, i.e. to shoes and boots as distinguished from, sandals and slippers, the term calceus was applied in its proper and restricted sense. There were also other varieties of the calceus, according to its adaptation to, particular professions or modes of life. Thus the caliga, was principally worn by soldiers, the pero by laborers and rustics, and the cothurnus by tragedians, hunters, and horsemen. The calcei probably did not much differ from our shoes, and are exemplified in a painting at Herculaneum, which represents a female wearing bracelets, a wreath of ivy, and a panther's skin, while she is in the attitude of dancing and playing on the cymbals. On the other hand, a marble foot in the British Museum exhibits the form of a man's shoe.
Both the sole and the upper leather are thick and strong. The toes are uncovered, and a thong passes between the great and the second toe as a sandal. The form and color of the calceus indicated rank and office. Roman senators wore high shoes, like buskins, fastened in front with four black thongs, and adorned with a small crescent. Among the calcei worn by senators, those called mullei, from their resemblance to the scales of the red mullet, were particularly admired, as Well as others called alutoe, because the leather was softened by the use of alum. See Smith, Dict. of Greek and Roman Antiq. s.v.
Certain scriptural usages connected with shoes deserve especial notice. In transferring a possession or domain it was customary to deliver a sandal (Ru 4:7), as in our Middle Ages a glove. Hence the action of throwing down a shoe upon a region or territory was a symbol of occupancy. So Ps 60:10, "Upon the land of Edom do I cast my sandal," i.e. I possess, occupy it, claim it as my own. In Ruth, as above, the delivering of a sandal signified that the next of kin transferred to another a sacred obligation, and he was hence called "sandal loosed." A sandal thong (Ge 14:23), or even sandals themselves (Am 2:6; Am 8:6), are put for any thing worthless or of little value; which is perfectly intelligible to those who have witnessed the extemporaneous manner in which a man will shape two pieces of hide and fasten them with thongs to the soles of his feet, thus fabricating in a few minutes a pair of sandals which would be dear at a penny. It was undoubtedly the custom to take off the sandals on holy ground, in the act of worship, and in the presence of a superior. Hence the command to take the sandals from the feet under such circumstances (Ex 3:5; Jos 5:15). This is still the well known custom of the East — Oriental taking off his shoe in cases in which a European would remove his hat (see Hackett. Illustrations of Script. p. 66). The shoes of the modern Orientals are, however, made to slip off easily, which was not the case with sandals, that required to be unbound with some trouble. This operation was usually performed by servants; and hence the act of unloosing the sandals of another became a familiar symbol of servitude (Mr 1:7; Lu 3:16; Joh 1:27; Ac 13:25). So, also, when a man's sandals had been removed, they were usually left in charge of a servant. In some of the Egyptian paintings servants are represented with their master's sandals on their arm: it thus became another conventional mark of a servile condition to bear the sandals of another (Mt 3:11). The terms ordinarily applied to the removal of the shoe (חָלִוֹ, De 25:10; Isa 20:2; and שָׁלִŠ, Ru 4:7) imply that the thongs were either so numerous or so broad as almost to cover the top of the foot. It is worthy of observation, however, that the term used for "putting off" the shoes on sacred occasions is peculiar (נָשִׁל), and conveys the notion of violence and haste. See Byneous, De Calceis Hebrceorumn (Dord. 1715); Kitto, Pict. Bible, note at Ru 4:8. SEE SANDAL.