Which garment was being referred to in Genesis 39 as being taken by Potiphar's wife whilst Joseph fled?


Your question cannot be answered from the biblical verses alone, as the nature of this garment is not specified, so we must turn to extra-biblical sources.

We know that all Egyptian men (besides for the king and his household) did not wear any clothing besides for a skirt, its length depending on the fashion of the specific period. See image below. This was because of the hot climate in Africa, which made too many cloths an impossibility as it would would have made them very uncomfortable working under the brutal sun. So the garment Potiphar's wife grabbed from Joseph was most probably his skirt, which may have left him naked (This would have reinforced her allegations against Joseph that he attempted to rape her. Smart lady!). However, we know that Egyptians wore loincloths underneath their skirts, so hopefully Joseph wore one as well and was left with something to cover his nakedness.

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  • Would the text be expected to vary if the garment taken was skirt or loincloth? – Samuel Russell Dec 26 '18 at 7:34
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    Samuel your question is difficult to answer, because the bible does not mention any loincloths as far as my knowledge extends, so the real question is, does that mean that there is no word for loincloth in Hebrew and is always referred to with the general term בגד which means garment, or is there such a word, which didn't make it into the bible. I don't know. But the word בגד used here is a very vague and general term, it means any type of garment, so it could possibly refer to a loincloth, but it is unlikely given the context. – Bach Dec 26 '18 at 14:25
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    Just take a look at Strong's definition of this word biblehub.com/str/hebrew/899.htm – Bach Dec 26 '18 at 14:25
  • My focus was less of beged versus other words, but context variations in surrounding text. (For example if they both believed in God, I would have expected the chastisement from Noah’s uncovering “and uncovered his nakedness” for example). But from the depth of response I can see that you’ve read for this in your answer. – Samuel Russell Dec 26 '18 at 23:35

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