The ancient art of using a needle to stitch threads or other materials of various colors or kinds into fabric of some sort or leather to produce raised ornamentation. Interweaving of patterns and figures in cloth by means of needlework is first mentioned Biblically in connection with Israel’s tabernacle. Jehovah filled the tabernacle workmen Bezalel and Oholiab with wisdom of heart to do, among other things, all the work of an embroiderer, distinguished from the work of a weaver.—Ex 35:30-35; 38:21-23.
In keeping with divine instructions, cherubs were skillfully embroidered on the tabernacle tent cloths, these figures being visible from within the Holy and the Most Holy. (Ex 26:1; 36:8) Cherubs were also embroidered on the curtain that separated these tabernacle compartments.—Ex 26:31-33; 36:35.
To make the ephod worn by the high priest, plates of gold were beaten into thin sheets, from which were cut threads “to work in among the blue thread and the wool dyed reddish purple and the coccus scarlet material and the fine linen, as the work of an embroiderer.” (Ex 39:2, 3; 28:6) Similarly, “workmanship of an embroiderer” went into making the high priest’s “breastpiece of judgment.”—Ex 28:15; 39:8.
The victory song of Barak and Deborah represents Sisera’s mother as expecting him to return from battling Israel with spoils that included embroidered garments. (Jg 5:1, 28, 30) In love, Jehovah had figuratively clothed Jerusalem with a costly “embroidered garment.” But her idolatrous inhabitants had evidently used literal embroidered garments to cover the images of a male with which she is represented as prostituting herself. (Eze 16:1, 2, 10, 13, 17, 18) Jehovah also foretold through Ezekiel that, at wealthy Tyre’s downfall at Babylonian hands, dethroned “chieftains of the sea” would “strip off their own embroidered garments.”—Eze 26:2, 7, 15, 16.