From: Mary Pendergraft (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Oct 06 1999 - 15:45:35 EDT
Linen was frequently used in Rome for clothing and other things (sails, some
collections of documents): a quick look at Lewis and Short under _linum_ ("linen")
shows citations from Horace, Ovid, Seneca, and other writers from the 1st century c.e.
To judge from the garment care labels I have reason to read, flax is becoming less rare
as a component in woven fabrics today, fabrics that apparently need to be dry cleaned.
Bart Ehrman wrote:
> I'd like to thank people for their various responses so far. Let me
> make one comment: I'm principally interested in what the text meant to
> readers of the LXX in the first century (or early 2nd century) CE, not
> about what, if anything, "actually" happened hundreds of years earlier.
> I.e., my question is about what 1 Clement might have in mind, not about
> social practices in Iron Age Palestine (these might be the same thing or
> they might be radically different). Having said that, a question: does E.
> W. Barber have any evidence to support her reading of Joshua, or is her
> reading of Joshua the evidence? More important, does she give any
> indication of the use of LINOKALAMHN for the purpose of weaving in first
> century Rome?
> Again, many thanks,
> -- Bart Ehrman
> University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
> On Wed, 6 Oct 1999, Christopher Hutson wrote:
> > Jim West suggests "roofing thatch," wile Margaret Wilkins argues that Rahab
> > was preparing flax for spinning and weaving into cloth.
> > Margaret's explanation sounds more plausible to me. Jim, do we have
> > archaeological evidence for thatched roofs in early Iron Age Palestine? Is
> > there any archaeological or literary evidence that flax in particular was
> > used this way? As far as I know, houses were typically built with flat
> > roofs made of poles covered with mud and plaster. I never heard of a
> > thatched roof in ancient Palestine. But what do I know? Can anyone cite
> > evidence for thatched roofing?
> > In support of Margaret, I cite here the comments of another spinner and
> > weaver, Elizabeth Wayland Barber, who wrote the fascinating book _Women's
> > Work, The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times_ (NY
> > & London: Norton, 1994). Here is an excerpt from page 190, part of a
> > chapter on linen production in Egypt:
> > "To obtain the fibers from the dried flax, one has to keep it wet or damp
> > just long enough to rot the fleshy part of the stem away from the tough,
> > usable fibers. Although we have no depictions in Egypt of this necessary
> > process, called retting, women in nearby Palestine spread their flax out in
> > great quantity on the fields or flat rooftops and retted it from the
> > dampness of the nightly dew, as we learn from a cloak-and-dagger scene in
> > the Old Testament: 'But she [Rahab] had brought [the fugitives] up to the
> > roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid
> > in order upon the roof."
> > Barber also points out that Exodus 35-39 contains several references to the
> > production of linen cloth from spun flax.
> > So it appears to me that Margaret is on the right track with LINOKALAMHN in
> > the Rahab story.
> > XPIC
> > ------------------------------------
> > Christopher R. Hutson
> > Hood Theological Seminary
> > Salisbury, NC 28144
> > firstname.lastname@example.org
> > ------------------------------------
> > ----------
> > >From: "Margaret Wilkins" <M.Z.Wilkins@zoo.co.uk>
> > >To: Biblical Greek <email@example.com>
> > >Subject: Re: LINOKALAMHN
> > >Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 14:38:47 +0100
> > >
> > >As a spinner I'm going to dare to take issue with Jim West over Rahab's
> > >LINOKALAMHN. What she hid the spies under were stalks of the flax plant
> > >laid out on her roof (EPI TOU DWMATOS, as the LXX says), perhaps to dry
> > >after they had been soaked to remove the outer layer of the stalk to reveal
> > >and soften the spinnable fibres inside.
> > >
> > >Not many people today spin flax for pleasure (I think I've only ever met
> > one
> > >person who's tried it) as the plants are messy to prepare and the fibres
> > are
> > >hard on the hands. But it does make very strong and durable cloth. Apart
> > >from her day job, so to speak, Rahab probably helped to support the family
> > >whose safety she was so concerned for, and my guess would be that like the
> > >woman in Proverbs 31 she spun and wove her flax to make clothes for them
> > and
> > >perhaps to sell too.
> > >
> > >Margaret Wilkins
> > >Walsall, UK
> > ---
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