(אָרִג, arag) is an art which appears to be coeval with the, first dawning of civilization. In what country or by whom it was invented, we know not; but we find it practiced with great skill by the Egyptians at a very early period, and hence the invention was not unnaturally attributed to them (Pliny, 7:57). The "vestures of fine linen" such as Joseph wore (Ge 41:42) were the product of Egyptian looms, and their quality, as attested by existing specimens, is pronounced to be not inferior to the finest cambric of modern times (Wilkinson, 2, 75). The Israelites were probably acquainted with the process before their sojourn in Egypt; but it was undoubtedly there that they attained the proficiency which enabled them to execute the hangings of the Tabernacle (Ex 35:35; 1Ch 4:21) and other artistic textures. At a later period the Egyptians were still famed for their manufactures of "fine" (hackled) flax and of chorn, חֹרַר, rendered in the A.V. "networks," but more probably a white material either of linen or cotton (Isa 19:9; comp. Pr 7:16). From them the Tyrians procured the "fine linen with broidered work" for the sails of their vessels (Eze 27:7), the handsome character of which may be inferred from the representations of similar sails in the Egyptian paintings (Wilkinson, 2, 131, 167). Weaving was carried on in Egypt generally, but not universally, by men (Herod. 2, 35; comp. Wilkinson, 2, 84). ''his was the case also among the Jews about the time of the Exode (1Ch 4:21): but in later times it usually fell to the lot of the females to supply the household with clothing (1Sa 2:19; 2Ki 23:7), and an industrious housewife would produce a surplus, for sale to others (Pr 31:13,19,24).
The character of the loom and the process of weaving can only be inferred from incidental notices. The Egyptian loom was usually upright, and: the weaver stood at his work. The cloth was fixed sometimes at the top, sometimes' at the bottom, so that the remark of Herodottus (2, 85) that the Egyptians, contrary to the usual practice, pressed the woof downwards must be received with reservation (Wilkinson, 2, 85). That a similar variety of usage prevailed among the Jews may be inferred from the remark of John (Joh 19:23) that the seamless coat was woven "from the top" (ἐκ τῶν ἄνωθεν). Tunics of this kind were designated by the Romans rectae, implying that they were made at an upright loom at Which the weaver stood to his work, thrusting the woof upwards (Pliny, 8:74). The modern Arabs use a procumbent loom, raised above the ground by short legs (Burckhardt, Notes, 1, 67). The Bible does not notice the loom itself, but speaks of the beam (מָנוֹר so called from its resemblance to a ploughman's yoke) to which the warp was attached (1Sa 17:7; 2Sa 21:19); and of the pin (מִסֶּכֶת, a term otherwise understood of the warp, as in the Sept. and the Vulg. [Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 890]) to which the cloth was fixed, and on which it was rolled (Jg 16:14). We have also notice of the shuttle (אֶרֶג denoting both the web and the shuttle), which is described by a term significant of the act of weaving (Job 7:6); the thrum (דִּלָּה) or threads which attached the web to the beam (Isa 38:12, marg.); and the web itself (Jg 16:14; A. V. "beam"). Whether the two terms in Le 13:48, rendered "warp" (שׁתַי) and "woof" (עֵרֶב), really mean these admits of doubt, inasmuch as it is not easy to see how the one could be affected with leprosy without the other: perhaps the terms refer to certain kinds of texture (Knobel, ad loc.). The shuttle is occasionally dispensed with, the woof being passed through with the hand (Robinson, Bibl. Res. 1, 169). The speed with which the weaver used his shuttle, and the decisive manner in which he separated the web from the thrum. when his work was done, supplied vivid images the former of the rapid passage of life (Job 7:6), the latter of sudden death (Isa 38:12).
The textures produced by the Jewish weavers were very various. The coarser kinds, such as tent-cloth, sackcloth, and the "hairy garments" of the poor, were made of goat's or camel's hair (Ex 26:7; Mt 3:4). Wool was extensively used for ordinary clothing (Le 13:47; Pr 27:26; Pr 31:13; Eze 27:18); while for finer work flax was used, varying in quality, and producing the different textures described in the Bible as "linen" and "fine linen." The mixture of wool and flax in cloth intended for a garment was interdicted (Le 19:19; De 32:11). With regard to the ornamental kinds of work, the "needlework" and "the work of the cunning workman" have already been discussed under the head of NEEDLEWORK to the effect that both kinds were produced in the loom, and that the distinction between them lay in the addition of a device or pattern in the latter, the rikmah consisting simply of a variegated stuff without a pattern. We may further notice the terms
(1) shabats (שָׁבִוֹ) and tashbets (תִּשׁבֵּוֹ ), applied to the robes of the priest (Ex 28:4,39), and signifying tesselated (A. V. "broidered"), i.e. with depressions probably of a square shape worked in it, similar to the texture described by the Romans under the term scutulautus (Pliny, 8:73; Juvenal, 2, 97); this was produced in the loom, as it is expressly said to be the work of the weaver (Ex 39:27);
(2) moshar (מָשׁזָר) (A. V. "twined"), applied to the fine linen out of which the curtains of the tabernacle and the sacerdotal vestments were made (Ex 26:1; Ex 28:6, etc.); in this texture each thread consisted of several finer threads twisted together, as is described to have been the case with the famed corselet of Amasis (Herod. 3, 47);
(3) mishbetsdth zahab (מַשׁבּצוֹת זָהָב ) (A. V. "of wrought gold"), textures in which gold-thread was interwoven (Ps 45:13). The Babylonians were particularly skilful in this branch of weaving, and embroidered groups of men or animals on the robes (Pliny, 8:74; Layard, Nineveh, 2, 413). The "goodly Babylonish garment" secreted by Achan was probably of this character (Jos 7:21). The sacerdotal vestments arc said to have been woven in one piece without the intervention of any needlework to join the seams (Josephus, Ant. 3, 7, 4). The "coat without seam" χιτών ἄῤῥαφος), worn by Jesus at the time of his crucifixion (Joh 19:23), was probably of a sacerdotal character in this respect, but made of a less costly material (Carpzov, Appar. p. 72). SEE WEB.