What is the cultural context of casting a shoe?

Psalm 60:8: Moab is My washpot;
Over Edom I will cast My shoe;
Philistia, shout in triumph because of Me.”


6 Answers 6


New King James Version Psalm 60:

8 Moab is My washpot; Over Edom I will cast My shoe; Philistia, shout in triumph because of Me.”

Can anyone shed light on the cultural context of casting a shoe?

Ellicott might be helpful:

Of the "shoe," as a figure of what is vilest and most common, Dr. J. G. Wetzstein quotes many Arabic proverbs. A covering for the feet would naturally draw to it such associations.

Arabs associated shoes with foul objects.

But the custom which Israel brought from Egypt (Exodus 3:3), of dropping the sandals outside the door of a temple, and even of an ordinary house, must have served still more to fasten on that article of dress, ideas of vileness and profanation.

Egyptians associated shoes with religious uncleanness.

Even today, when you visit a Japanese home, you take off your street shoes at the entrance and exchange them for indoor slippers.

The psalm was written by David. What was David trying to convey?

The same line is repeated in (NIV) Psalm 108:

9 Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

It is a symbol of conquest. David conquered Edom in 2 Samuel 8:

14 He placed garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites were subject to David. So the LORD made David victorious wherever he went.

Figuratively, the Edomites became David's servants and were responsible for cleaning his dirty sandal.


There is some debate as to what is meant. Here is the Word Biblical Commentary[1] translation and notes:

       Moab is my washpot;
       I will throw my shoe over Edom—
       Philistia, shout because of me!”

Moab is my washpot

The metaphor is one of humiliation and servitude. Washpots were often dirty, used for bathing, and even for toilet purposes. The haplography supposed by Gunkel and Kraus to yield מי מואב, “waters of Moab,” or ים מואב, “sea of Moab” (referring to the Dead Sea), is unnecessary. LXX, “Moab the bowl of any hope,” appears to be the result of understanding רחץ in its Aramaic sense of “to trust” (so J. Barr, Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968], 55).

I will throw my shoe over Edom

The translation depends on the meaning of this expression. The casting of the sandal or shoe may indicate the symbolic action of taking possession of Edom (cf. Deut 11:24; Ruth 4:7 is often cited, but is not really relevant). On the other hand, the metaphor may be one of domination; either in the sense of “the slave to whom the warrior flings his sandals to carry or to clean” (Kirkpatrick; in which case, it might be better to translate “at Edom”), or in the sense of a conqueror who puts his foot on a vanquished foe as a sign of victory (see Dahood, though his reading of the verb as “plant” is unacceptable). Buttenwieser’s interesting comments (75–76) need supplementing by C. M. Carmichael, “Ceremonial Crux,” JBL 96 (1977) 321–36. The Arabic custom cited of referring to a wedding day as “the day of putting on the shoe” goes back to a euphemism for sexual intercourse. However, an allusion to sexual activity does not seem probable here.

Philistia, shout because of me

The text in Ps 108:10 is much easier, עֲלֵי־פְלֶשֶׁת אֶתְרוֹעָע, “over Philistia I will shout (in victory).” LXX, “the Philistines have been subjected to me,” apparently reads hithpael of רעע, II (cf. Isa 24:19; Prov 18:24). The verb is usually derived from רוּעַ, “to raise a shout.” In its other usage in Pss 108:10 and 65:14, the hithpael indicates “shout of joy, triumph.” However, in its hiphil form the shout may be that of alarm or distress, which may be the meaning of the hithpael here. Dahood adopts the reading of התרעע as hithpael infinitive construct with 1st person singular suffix, with עלי as in 108:10: “over Philistia will be my cry of conquest” (note Delitzsch, 226). Kirkpatrick, 342: “Mighty Philistia must raise the shout of homage to its conqueror.” NJV: “acclaim me, O Philistia!”

The point here is that God is not only more powerful than Israel's neighbors, but that these neighbors are God's servants. If battles are lost or won, it is because God has decided the outcome. Thus the prayer ends with a plea for victory stemming only from God and not from human strength:

Psalm 60.11-12

Give us help against the adversary, for the help of humankind is futile. Through God we will do valiantly, and it is he who will tread down our enemies. [LEB]

[1] Tate, M. E. (1998). Psalms 51–100 (Vol. 20, p. 100). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.


what does it mean to cast a shoe?

I will make Edom my servant.

Psalm 60:8 NET

Moab is my washbasin.[a] I will make Edom serve me.[b] I will shout in triumph over Philistia.”[c]

Psalm 60:8 NASB

8 Moab is My washbowl; I will throw My sandal over Edom; Shout loud, Philistia, because of Me!”

Footnotes NET Bible

b/ Psalm 60:8 tn Heb “over Edom I will throw my sandal.” The point of the metaphor is not entirely clear. Some interpret this as idiomatic for “taking possession of,” i.e., “I will take possession of Edom.” Others translate עַל (ʿal) as “to” and understand this as referring to a master throwing his dirty sandal to a servant so that the latter might dust it off.

1 Chronicles 18:2 NASB

2 And he defeated Moab, and the Moabites became servants to David, bringing tribute

. 2 Samuel 8:14 NASW

14 He also put garrisons in Edom. In all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became servants to David. And the Lord helped David wherever he went.


Since the washpot and the sandal evoke the footwashing common to biblical lands --a job characteristically done by the most servile-- the passage (Ps. 60:8 [10]) seems to express that Moab and Edom will be in the relationship of servants to Israel. The last clause of the verse is difficult, but we should be able to assume that the action concerning Philistia is complementary to what is said of Moab and Edom. Derek Kidner suggests that the final clause should be understood as rendered in the parallel passage, Ps. 108:9 [10], the Hebrew of which, although similar to that of Ps. 60, reads here, "Over Philistia I shout" (i.e. in victory) [Derek Kidner, Plaslms 1-72 (Downers Grove: IVP, 1973) p. 218. See also Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the OT, Vol. 5, Psalms (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, reprint 1986) p. 174].

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What does it mean to cast a shoe?

The topic "Sandal" in the Insight on the Scriptures mentions the following:

By the expression “over Edom I shall throw my sandal” (Ps 60:8; 108:9) Jehovah may have meant that Edom would be brought under subjection. It possibly had reference to the custom of indicating the taking of possession by throwing one’s sandal on a piece of land. Or, it could have indicated contempt for Edom, since Moab is called “my washing pot” in the same text. In the Middle East today, throwing the sandal is a gesture of contempt.

[All scripture quotations from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)]


Looking at the simple flow of this Psalm, verse 7 affirms Israel's tribes as belonging to God, and verse 8 is a rejection of nations who are Israel's enemies. In middle eastern culture, throwing one's shoes at someone is a recognized gesture of disdain, loathing, disrespect.

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