Purple Cloth

Purple cloth from Biblical times found, according to Science (AAAS) News 29 January 2021, Times of Israel and PLoS ONE 28 January 2021 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245897. 

Archaeologists in Israel have found pieces of woollen cloth coloured with a distinctive purple dye made from murex sea snails.  This dye gives a rich vivid purple colour and was used in garments worn by kings and priests, and in hanging in the tabernacle and temple.  The pieces of fabric were found in Timna in southern Israel, the site of an ancient mining industry dated around 1,000BC.  This puts the cloth samples in the time of King David, making them the oldest samples of purple cloth found so far. 

Because of the dry conditions in the site remnants of artefacts such as textiles, ropes, cordage and baskets have been preserved.  Altogether the site has provided evidence of luxurious living conditions for some people at this time.  Naama Sukenik, one of the researchers who examined the textiles, commented “I suppose that if we were to peek into David and Solomon’s closet we’d see similar clothing — and perhaps even more true purple.”

Links: Science, Times of Israel, PLoS ONE

Editorial Comment: Purple cloth is first mentioned in the Bible in the instructions for furnishing the tabernacle and making the priestly garments by the Israelites who left Egypt at the Exodus, during the time of Moses, centuries before the times of David and Solomon.  (See exodus 25 – 39)  God filled our world with beautiful colours, so it is quite appropriate that places of worship have lovely colours to remind people of His creativity and generosity to us. 

Purple cloth also had an important role in the spread of the gospel into Europe.  In response to a vision calling him to Macedonia the Apostle Paul and his companions journeyed to Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia and a Roman colony.  There they were welcomed by a God-fearing Gentile woman named Lydia, who was a ‘dealer in purple’ cloth.  The Lord enabled her and household to receive the good news of salvation in Christ and she hosted Paul and his companions in her house.  (Acts 16:11-15)

Creation Research News 10 February 2021

Were you helped by this item? If so, consider making a donation so we can keep sending out our newsletters and add more items to this archive.  Donate here.