What Did Jewish People Wear in Jesus’ Time?

Ian Scott/CC-BY 2.0

The main dress worn by Jewish men and women during the first century was the tunic, with a woman’s tunic made longer than a man’s. Each Jew wore three primary garments at the time. A wool or linen undergarment was worn under the tunic, with a fabric sash, rope or leather belt used to tie the dress. A mantle was placed over a shoulder over the tunic’s voluminous sleeve.

During Jesus’ time, the cloak or mantle worn by the Jews was not only used as a topcoat, but also served as a bedroll or a blanket. Blue tassels were included on the garment to comply with Jewish law.

All Jewish people wore sandals, which were either crafted with wood or camel hide.

Women during the period wore a veil with ends that fell to the floor. A veil also covered a woman’s face when she ventured away from her home. The only time women displayed their hair in public was on their wedding day.

While Jewish people during New Testament times basically wore the same form of dress, the populace followed as many as two dozen competing systems of belief. Followers included the Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots and Sadducees. Other groups included the followers of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. Jewish practices, such as kashrut, which placed certain restrictions on the Jewish diet, brought the groups together as a whole.