Handkerchief(s) | Free Online Biblical Library

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HANDKERCHIEF(S) (σουδάριον, G5051, sweat rag, face cloth). Found in Acts 19:12, the word is a transliteration from the Lat. sudarium, a “face cloth for wiping perspiration.” These “sweat rags,” tied by Paul about his head while active as a leather worker, were brought to sick people in Ephesus for healing purposes. Used as a “face covering” for the dead (viz. Jesus and Lazarus), it is rendered “napkin” (KJV and RSV) in John 20:7 and both “napkin” (KJV) and “cloth” (RSV) in John 11:44. The wicked servant used a “napkin” (Luke 19:20, KJV and RSV) to lay away the nobleman’s pound. Papyrus marriage contracts of the 2nd and 3rd centuries include a σουδάριον, G5051, in the bride’s dowry.