Ancient woman wearing caul.
Text: Isiah 3:18 
"In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon." 

In Hebrew, the word for Cauls is "Shabiys". It is a seldom-used word and means to "interweave" as in netting. Or in this case, a hairnet. The Septuagint explains it as a net-works or caps of net-works worn on the head. 

But a Caul was no ordinary hairnet. 

Since ancient times, hair nets have been a popular fashion accessory for women.  Egyptian and Assyrian monuments show figures of women with ornamented netting draped over the head. Some of these early hairnets have been recovered and are 
displayed in museums where they are marveled over for the beauty and intricacy.

And what does an ancient hairnet look like?

A caul was a woven strap or girdle, about four inches long, and placed on top of the head so that it extended from ear to ear and rested on the brow. It may or may not have more netting attached that enclosed or held up the hair itself. Engravings show both.

From Rev. Joseph Roberts:  (Description of a Caul that he viewed.) "It was made of gold and with many joints (in the netting) and it contained 45 rubies and 9 pearls all knotted into the netting. (Oriental Illustrations of the Sacred Scriptures" (London 1844.)

So why is the caul of particular interest?

Along the edge of a caul, numerous spangles, balls or small sun-like shapes of hammered metal were attached by threads or ribbons and allowed to dangle down over the eyes. Sometimes coins were also attached. As a woman moved, the ornaments of her caul caught the sunlight, glistened and tinkled. 

1 Peter 3 indicates that caul wearing was still in practice in the first century AD. However, by that time, the sun symbols, jewels and other ornaments were also being braided down the length of the hair itself.

Ornaments attached to the tires draped around the necks or across the foreheads of camels.

In Hebrew, the word for tires is "saharon" and means a round pendent that is shaped like a crescent or half-moon and hung about the neck.  

In ancient times, tires were made of gold or silver and fastened around the neck by means of a ribbon, strap, or thinly crafted metal. While only women wore cauls, both men and women wore tires. Camels also wore tires. 

A poor person might have a single tire draping down between the breasts, but wealthy women were known for wearing elaborate tires that covered most of their chests. Sometimes, several tires were worn at once.

So what do ancient tires look like?

These moon-shaped ornaments could be plain metal or highly decorated with precious stones. Some contained inscriptions or engravings that gave an indication as to their purpose. Such a practice was especially common to the later Arabs,

What was the purpose of cauls and tires?

A number of meanings were associated with the wearing of the cauls and tires depending on the culture and the era a caul might be worn to show wealth, as an indication of one's position in society or away to call attention to or enhance one's beauty.

Later Arabs used cauls and tires to prevent the "evil eye".
Camels draped with tires were thought to keep the caravan safe during travel or trade. The continual tinkling noise of the moon-shaped ornaments was believed to ward off evil spirits. 

However, discs and crescents were also well-recognized symbols of the popular sun and moon cults. And these cults were especially appealing to the vain.  By New Testament times, the wearing of Cauls and Tires, with their representations of the sun and moon, had become a common and accepted way to show one's spiritual leanings or allegiance to the worship of these heavenly bodies.

*The introductory text is rich with symbolism and descriptive contrast. Usually, Isaiah did not delve into minute particulars of a subject; this case being women’s adornment. But in his third chapter, he stepped out of character. With great determination of meaning, he specifically listed those ornament that were considered vulgar public displays of wealth, status, glory and  idolatry to describe Jerusalem and Judah in the time of Uzziah-Jotham. In words understandable to his audience, Isaiah is saying that God's holy people have degenerated into a vain,  self-serving,  haughty, high-minded, proud, self-centered, self-flattering and idolatrous people. They have ceased to love God. They love themselves more. 

The point of Isaiah's address (Chapter 3) is ) God's universal judgment against those who are self-absorbed and practice false glory.

*From Commentarius de vestitu mulierum Hebraearum ad Jes. Isa.3:16-24, Ludg. '
Batav 1745 (a quarto volume), and in that of Ant. Theod. Hartmann, consisting of 
three octavo volumes, and entitled Die Hebräerin am Putztische und als Braut    (The Jewess at the Toilet-table, and as Bride, 1809-10). 

Copyright by Ancient Bible History - Eden Games Inc.



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