Mark 6:9. The ordinary oriental sandal is a mere sole, of leather or wood, fastened to the bottom of the foot by thongs, one passing around the great toe and over the fore part of the foot, and the other around the ankle. The sole was sometimes plaited of some vegetable fibre, or cut from a fresh undressed skin; and the "shoelatchet" or thong, and indeed the whole sandal, was often of very little value, Genesis 14:23 Amos 2:6 8:6. Sandals are usually intended where "shoes" are spoken of in resembling our slipper, and sometimes a wooden shoe with a high heel. The Bedaween wears only a sandal.
The sandals of females were frequently much ornamented, Song of Solomon 7:1, and probably resembled the slippers or light shoes of modern orientals, which cover the upper part of the foot, and are often made of morocco, or of embroidered work wrought with silk, silver, and gold, Ezekiel 16:10. See BADGER’S SKINS.
It is not customary in the East to wear shoes or sandals in the houses; they are always taken off on entering a house, and especially temples and all consecrated places. Hence the phrase, "to loose one’s shoes from off one’s feet," Exodus 3:5 Deuteronomy 25:9 Joshua 5:15. Visitors of the highest rank leave their slippers at the door; and on entering a Mohammedan mosque each worshipper adds his slippers to the pile in charge of the doorkeeper, unless attended by a servant. On the summit of Mount Gerizim, the Samaritans who accompanied Dr. Robinson took off their shoes as they approached the site of their ruined temple. To bind on the sandals denoted preparation for a journey, Exodus 12:11 Acts 12:8. To bind on the sandals, to stoop down and unloose them, or to carry them until again needed, was the business of the lowest servants; a slave, newly bought, commenced his service by loosing the sandals of his new master, and carrying them a certain distance. Disciples sometimes performed this office for their master, and accounted it an honor; hence the expression of John the Baptist, that he was not worthy to loose or to carry the sandals of Jesus, Matthew 3:11 Mark 1:7. See also FOOT, with reference to washing the feet. The poor of course often went barefoot but this was not customary among the rich, except as a sign of mourning,
2 Samuel 15:30 Isaiah 20:2-4 Ezekiel 24:17,23. In the primitive days of the Israelitish commonwealth the custom, in transferring real estate, was, that the seller drew off his shoes and gave it to the buyer before witnesses, in confirmation of the bargain, Ruth 4:7-11. The loosing of a shoe of one who refused to marry the widow of his deceased brother, and spitting upon the owner’s face, was a ceremony prescribed in the Jewish law, Deuteronomy 25:7-10.