“Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed.” 2 Samuel 13:18
As some of you might imagine I have a particular fondness to the stories of Tamar in the Bible. There are three of them, Tamar the daughter of Judah and mother of Perez and Zerah (Genesis 38), Tamar the daughter of David and Tamar the daughter of Absalom the son of David. Two of these Tamars are mentioned in today’s Word of the Day. The eldest Tamar’s story… well, it isn’t that great to be honest. She has a horrid thing done to her; her own half-brother violates her and then casts her aside like yesterday’s garbage. And yet in the midst of telling us this story the narrator mentions her robe with long sleeves. And at first glance I’ve always just assumed he was mentioning it because she tore it in mourning. But today, reading it in a new translation, I noticed a footnote that blew my mind. The robe that she was wearing is described with the same words as Genesis 37:3.
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. *Footnote: a robe with long sleeves.”
I find this extremely intriguing. That the favorite son of the Father of the nation of Israel and the beloved daughter of king David, the man after God’s own heart BOTH wore robes of many colors that were characterized by their long sleeves. And what’s with the big deal that the sleeves were long?
Today’s Wednesday and I’m off work so I’ve got some time to actually dig into my research and WRITE, so I’m going to. I wanted to see if the same phrase was really used to describe both of these robes and what that phrase actually is. When I found it, I was not disappointed.
The phrase in Hebrew is transliterated as: “kethoneth pas”. Kethoneth is a tunic or under-garment; a long shirt-like garment usually of linen. It is from an unused root meaning to cover. OK, that makes sense, but when I looked up the meaning of pas I was in for a dramatic surprise. Expecting to see that pas mean color I was befuddled to see that it means, the flat (of the hand or foot), palm, sole; of the tunic reaching to palms and soles (figuratively). “Uhhhhh….. what???” I thought, “Where on earth do they get the translation that this special robe had many colors???” So I continued reading, by implication (plural) a long sleeved tunic (perhaps simply a wide one; from the original sense of the root, that is, of many breadths). OK, now I have this picture in my head of this beautiful virgin girl walking around in a robe that’s so long it covers her hands and feet when she walks and is so wide that it hides the curves of her body. Now THAT makes sense. Plus she’s a daughter of the King so you can imagine that this wasn’t any ordinary sheath dress with a simple fabric and no ornamentation, *pbbbft* NO WAY! I’m sure it was decked out with all kinds of fancy needlework and sequins and made of the finest linen or silk that money could buy, she was the daughter of the King after all. But, there was something that still just wasn’t lining up for me, what about the colors? There was a link to the root word and its definition, so I clicked on that to gain a little more insight. “Pasas: to disappear, vanish, cease, fail”. And BOOM like lightning it hit me what the significance of this robe is!
But you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what that is. 😉