Purple Silk Cloth
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Purple Silk ClothScarlet and Gold (Revelation 18.11-12a)

"The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore — cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth." (Revelation 18.11-12a)✞

Scarlet and Gold

Gold coinPurple silk cloth was produced by a very precious dye called "Tekhelet" which comes from a certain type of cuttlefish. Only a few drops was produced by each animal, and the shell had to be opened as soon as the shellfish died, for the purple came from a little vein which dried up soon after death. It was used in the clothing of the High Priest and the tassels on the corners of garments worn during prayer. A pound of double-dyed purple cloth cost almost $100, and a short purple coat more than $200. Pliny the Younger (61-113 AD) tells us that at this time there was in Rome "a frantic passion for purple." Scarlet, like purple cloth, was a much sought after dye, though "scarlet" could mean any color from orange to purple in Roman times.✞

Tiberias' Law

Scarlet ClothSilk cloth may now be fairly commonplace, but in the Rome of Revelation times, silk cloth was almost beyond price, for it had to be imported from China. Silk is a natural protein fiber woven into textiles. It is produced by moth caterpillars of the mulberry silkworm. The smooth silky appearance of the cloth is due to the prism like structure of the fiber which refracts the light. So costly was silk that a pound of cloth was sold for a pound weight of gold. The Tacitus Annals 2.23 tell us that under Emperor Tiberius (BC 42-37 AD), a law was passed against the use of solid gold vessels for the serving of meals and "against men disgracing themselves with silken garments."

"Purple Silk Cloth"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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