Click to donate today!
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
Embroidery and Needlework
EMBROIDERY AND NEEDLEWORK . Embroidery is the art of working patterns or figures on textile fabrics with woollen, linen, silk, or gold thread by means of a needle. The process was exactly described by the Romans as painting with a needle ( acu pingere ).
The Hebrew word for embroidery ( riqmah ) is rendered by AV [Note: Authorized Version.] in Judges 5:30 and Psalms 45:14 by ‘ needlework ,’ for which RV [Note: Revised Version.] substitutes ‘embroidery,’ in the former passage, however, render ‘a piece of embroidery or two’ for ‘embroidery on both sides,’ and in Ezekiel 16:10; Ezekiel 16:13; Ezekiel 16:18; Ezekiel 27:7; Ezekiel 27:16; Ezekiel 27:24 by ‘ broidered work’ or ‘broidered garments,’ which RV [Note: Revised Version.] retains. Similarly in connexion with certain fabrics of the Tabernacle and the high priest’s girdle, for ‘wrought with needlework’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] has the more literal rendering ‘the work of the embroiderer ’ ( Exodus 26:36; Exodus 27:16; Exodus 28:39 etc.), whom AV [Note: Authorized Version.] also introduces in Exodus 35:35 , Exodus 38:23 .
An entirely different word, the real significance of which is uncertain, is also rendered in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] by ‘embroider.’ ‘thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen’ (Exodus 28:39 ), for which RV [Note: Revised Version.] has: ‘thou shalt weave the coat in chequer work ’ (for which see Spinning and Weaving). So for a ‘broidered coat’ ( Exodus 28:4 ) RV [Note: Revised Version.] has ‘a coat of chequer work.’
The art of embroidery was an invention of the Babylonians, from whom it passed, through the medium of the Phrygians, to the Greeks and the other nations of the West. Mummy cloths are still preserved showing that the art was also practised in Egypt. No actual specimens of Babylonian embroidery have survived, but the sculptures of Assyrian palaces, notably a sculptured figure of Ashurnazirpal. show the royal robes ornamented with borders of the most elaborate embroidery. The various designs are discussed, with illustrations, by Perrot and Chipiez, Hist. of Art in ChaldÅ“a and Assyria , ii. 363 ff.
If, as is generally believed, the Priests’ Code was compiled in Babylonia, we may trace the influence of the latter in the embroideries introduced into the Tabernacle screens and elsewhere (reff. above). In the passages in question the work of ‘the embroiderer’ ( rÃ´qÃ§m ) is distinguished from, and mentioned after, the work of ‘the cunning workman’ ( chÃ´shÃ§b , lit. ‘designer,’ in PhÅ“nician ‘weaver’), who appears to have woven his designs into the fabric after the manner of tapestry (see Spinning and Weaving). The materials used by both artists were the same, linen thread dyed ‘blue, purple, and scarlet,’ and fine gold thread, the preparation of which is minutely described, Exodus 39:3 .
An illustration in colours of the sails which Tyre imported from Egypt, ‘of fine linen with broidered work’ (Ezekiel 27:7 ), may be seen in the frontispiece to Wilkinson’s Ancient Egyptians , vol. ii.
A. R. S. Kennedy.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Embroidery and Needlework'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/e/embroidery-and-needlework.html. 1909.