A flat sole of leather, wood, or other fibrous material strapped to the foot by laces that are usually leather thongs passing between the big toe and second toe, around the heel, and over the top of the foot. In some cases the strap may have gone as high as around the ankle.
Egyptian sandals usually turned up at the toe. Some Assyrian sandals consisted only of a casement for the heel and side of the foot, fastened over the foot by thongs and having no sole for the front part of the foot. The Romans wore sandals and are said also to have worn shoes similar to modern ones. The aristocracy and royalty of the Assyrians, Romans, and others wore more elaborate sandals or bootlike shoes. Some Bedouin around Mount Sinai wear sandals made of a species of dugong (a seallike sea animal). Jehovah speaks figuratively of shoeing Jerusalem with “sealskin” (Heb., taʹchash).—Eze 16:10.
The priests in Israel are said to have served at the tabernacle and the temple barefoot. (Compare Ex 3:5; Jos 5:15; Ac 7:33.) But to go about outdoors barefoot was a sign of grief or humiliation.—2Sa 15:30; Isa 20:2-5; contrast the command to Ezekiel (24:17, 23).
On a long journey it was a custom to carry an extra pair of sandals, as the soles might become worn out or the laces broken. Jesus, in sending out the apostles, and also 70 disciples, commanded them not to take two pairs but to rely on the hospitality of those who accepted the good news.—Mt 10:5, 9, 10; Mr 6:7-9; Lu 10:1, 4.
Figurative Use. Under the Law a widow took the sandal off one who refused to perform brother-in-law marriage with her, and his name was called, reproachfully, “The house of the one who had his sandal drawn off.” (De 25:9, 10) The transfer of property or of right of repurchase was represented by handing one’s sandal to another.—Ru 4:7-10; see BROTHER-IN-LAW MARRIAGE.
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.
David instructed Solomon to punish Joab, who had “put the blood of war . . . in his sandals” during peacetime—a figurative statement representing Joab’s bloodguilt for killing Generals Abner and Amasa. (1Ki 2:5, 6) This, together with the fact that one putting on his sandals was about to undertake some business away from his house (or wherever he was staying; compare Ac 12:8), illuminates the apostle Paul’s admonition to Christians that they have their feet “shod with the equipment of the good news of peace.”—Eph 6:14, 15.