(5.) Heb hesheb, the "curious girdle" (Ex 28:8; R.V., "cunningly woven band") was attached to the ephod, and was made of the same material.
The common girdle was made of leather (2Ki 1:8; Mt 3:4); a finer sort of linen (Jer 13:1; Eze 16:10; Da 10:5). Girdles of sackcloth were worn in token of sorrow (Isa 3:24; 22:12). They were variously fastened to the wearer (Mr 1:6; Jer 13:1; Eze 16:10).
Worn by men and women. The meezach was worn by men alone (Job 12:21, margin). The common girdle was of leather, as the Bedouins now wear a red leather girdle with a long crooked knife and a pistol stuck in. The finer girdle was of linen (Jer 13:1), often embroidered with gold (Da 10:5; Re 1:13). Girded up, so as to confine the otherwise flowing robes, when active exertion was needed; from whence "gird up the hands" means "be in readiness for action" (Lu 12:35; 1Pe 1:13; Eph 6:14). Fastened by a clasp, or tied in a knot, so that the ends hung in front. A costly present (1Sa 18:4). One end being folded back made a purse (Mt 10:9).
The abneeyt was the priest's girdle of linen embroidered with wool; the high priest's girdle on the day of atonement was of white linen only. The "needlework" on it was figuring on one side only, "cunning work" on two sides (Ex 28:39; the Mishna); or the "needlework" had the figures on both sides the same girdle, the "cunning work" different (Jarchi). Ex 26:31, "needlework" was of the embroiderer, "cunning work" of the skilled weaver. The "curious girdle" was made, as the ephod, of "gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen" (Ex 28:8), it was the band for fastening the ephod, which is upon it, and of the same work, of one piece with it.
An article of dress always worn in the East, both by the rich and the poor, and needed there because of their flowing robes. For the poor they were of the plainest material, but for the rich they were more or less costly, and were highly ornamented. They were thus suitable articles for presents. 1Sa 18:4; 2Sa 18:11. John the Baptist wore a leathern girdle, or one of skin. Mt 3:4; Mr 1:6: cf. 2Ki 1:8. In the Revelation the Lord has on a golden girdle, and the seven angels who come out of the temple have the same. Re 1:13; 15:6. The priests wore girdles, and one for Aaron was a 'linen' girdle, Le 16:4, and with the breastplate was the CURIOUS (i.e. embroidered) GIRDLE of the ephod, made of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine-twined linen. Ex 28:8.
The girdle is typical of strength, and 'girding up the loins' denotes active service. When the Gentiles are gathered by God to discipline Israel, the girdle of their loins shall not be loosed. Isa 5:27. Of the Lord when He comes to reign it is said, "Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins." Isa 11:5. In the present warfare the Christian is exhorted to have his loins 'girt about' with truth, Eph 6:14
an essential article of dress in the East, and worn by both men and women. The common girdle was made of leather,
like that worn by the Bedouins of the present day. A finer girdle was made of linen,
embroidered with silk, and sometimes with gold and silver thread,
and frequently studded with gold and precious stones or pearls. The military girdle was worn about the waist; the sword or dagger was suspended from it.
Hence girding up the loins denotes preparation for battle or for active exertion. Girdles were used as pockets, as they still are among the Arabs, and as purses, one end of the girdle being folded back for the purpose.
GIRDLE. The girdle is an indispensable article in the dress of an oriental: it has various uses; but the principal one is to tuck up their long flowing vestments, that they may not incommode them in their work, or on a journey. The Jews, according to some writers, wore a double girdle, one of greater breadth, with which they girded their tunic when they prepared for active exertions: the other they wore under their shirt, around their loins. This under girdle they reckon necessary to distinguish between the heart and the less honourable parts of the human frame. The upper girdle was sometimes made of leather, the material of which the girdle of John the Baptist was made; but it was more commonly fabricated of worsted, often very artfully woven into a variety of figures, and made to fold several times about the body; one end of which being doubled back, and sewn along the edges, serves them for a purse, agreeably to the acceptation of ????, in the Scriptures, which is translated purse, in several places of the New Testament, Mt 10:9; Mr 6:8. The ancient Romans, in this, as in many other things, imitated the orientals; for their soldiers, and probably all classes of the citizens, used to carry their money in their girdles. Whence, in Horace, qui zonam perdidit, means one who had lost his purse; and in Aulus Gellius, C. Gracthus is introduced, saying, "Those girdles which I carried out full of money when I went from Rome, I have, at my return from the province, brought again empty." The Turks make a farther use of these girdles, by fixing their knives and poinards in them; while the writers and secretaries suspend in them their ink-horns; a custom as old as the Prophet Ezekiel, who mentions "a person clothed in white linen, with an ink-horn upon his loins," Eze 9:2. That part of the ink-holder which passes between the girdle and the tunic, and receives their pens, is long and flat; but the vessel for the ink, which rests upon the girdle, is square, with a lid to clasp over it.
2. To loose the girdle and give it to another was, among the orientals, a token of great confidence and affection. Thus, to ratify the covenant which Jonathan made with David, and to express his cordial regard for his friend, among other things, he gave him his girdle. A girdle curiously and richly wrought was among the ancient Hebrews a mark of honour, and sometimes bestowed as a reward of merit: for this was the recompense which Joab declared he meant to bestow on the man who put Absalom to death: "Why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle," 2Sa 18:11. The reward was certainly meant to correspond with the importance of the service which he expected him to perform, and the dignity of his own station as commander in chief: we may, therefore, suppose that the girdle promised was not a common one of leather, or plain worsted, but of costly materials and richly adorned; for people of rank and fashion in the east wear very broad girdles, all of silk, and superbly ornamented with gold and silver, and precious stones, of which they are extremely proud, regarding them as the tokens of their superior station and the proof of their riches. "To gird up the loins" is to bring the flowing robe within the girdle, and so to prepare for a journey, or for some vigorous exercise.