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Shoe; Shoe-Latchet

SHOE; SHOE-LATCHET

shoo, shoo'-lach-et (na`al, literally, "that which is fastened," with denominative verb na`al, "to provide with shoes" (2 Chronicles 28:15; Ezekiel 16:10); hupodema (Sirach 46:19; Matthew 3:11, etc.), from the verb hupodeo (Mark 6:9; Ephesians 6:15), "to bind under," sandalion, "sandal" (Judith 10:4; 16:9; Mark 6:9; Acts 12:8); the King James Version, the Revised Version margin also have "shoe" for min`al, "bar" (so the Revised Version (British and American) text) in Deuteronomy 33:25; the "latchet" is either serokh, "twisted thing" (Genesis 14:23; Isaiah 5:27), or himas, "leather thong" (Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27)):

The na`al was a simple piece of leather tied on the foot with the serokh, so easy of construction that its low cost was proverbial (Amos 2:6; 8:6; Sirach 46:19; compare Genesis 14:23), and to be without it was a sign of extreme poverty (2 Chronicles 28:15; Isaiah 20:2). Women, however, might have ornamental sandals (Song of Solomon 7:1; Judith 16:9), and Ezekiel names "sealskin" (16:10) as a particularly luxurious material, but the omission of sandals from the list of Isaiah 3:18-23 shows that they were not commonly made articles of great expense. The hupodema was likewise properly a sandal, but the word was also used to denote a shoe that covered the foot. The contrast between hupodema in Matthew 10:10 and sandalion in Mark 6:9 seems to show that this meaning is not unknown in the New Testament, the "shoe" being regarded as an article of luxury (compare Luke 15:22). But in Matthew 3:11 and parallel's, only the sandal can be meant.

Sandals were not worn indoors, so that putting them on was a sign of readiness for activity (Exodus 12:11; Acts 12:8; Ephesians 6:15), the more wealthy having them brought (Matthew 3:11) and fastened (Mark 1:7 and parallel's) by slaves. When one entered a house they were removed; all the more, naturally, on entering a sanctuary (Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15; Acts 7:33). Mourners, however, did not wear them even out of doors, as a sign of grief (Ezekiel 24:17,23), perhaps for the same reason that other duties of the toilet were neglected (2 Samuel 12:20, etc.). A single long journey wore out a pair of sandals (Joshua 9:5,13), and the preservation of "the latchet of their shoes" from being broken (Isaiah 5:27) would require almost miraculous help.

Ruth 4:7 f states as a "custom in former times in Israel," that when any bargain was closed "a man drew off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor." This was of course simply a special form of earnest-money, used in all transactions. In Deuteronomy 25:9 f the custom appears in a different light. If a man refused to perform his duty to his deceased brother's wife, the elders of the city were to remove his shoe and disgrace him publicly, "And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed." The removal of the shoe is apparently connected with the rite in Ruth 4:7 as a renunciation of the man's privilege. But the general custom seems to have become obsolete, for the removal of the shoe is now a reproach.

The meaning of Psalms 60:8 parallel 108:9, "Upon (margin "unto") Edom will I cast my shoe," is uncertain. `al, may mean either "upon" or "unto." If the former, some (otherwise unsubstantiated) custom of asserting ownership of land may be meant. If the latter, the meaning is "Edom I will treat as a slave," to whom the shoes are cast on entering a house.

Burton Scott Easton


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'SHOE; SHOE-LATCHET'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.