Thursday, June 09, 2016

New garments

The giving of new garments also has a legal significance. The donning of clean garments was the final ceremony in trials such as judicial ordeal, and served as an indication of acquittal and legal purity (Frymer-Kensky 1977: 110). It was a general Near Eastern custom for somebody declared clear by the trial to wash oneself and put on clean clothes. In Zechariah 3:4 the angel of God gives Joshua the High Priest clean garments for his office. The Sumerian hymn Enlil in the E-kur associates clean garments with righteousness (lines 29-31): “the city which is endowed with truth, which makes righteousness and justice endure forever, where clean garments are put on at the quay” (Frymer-Kensky 1977: 111). As in the Mesopotamian witchcraft literature and medical incantations, the quay is here a symbol for detainment and redemption, a place associated with liminality.— The Overturned Boat, page 86

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