FOOT A part of the human and animal body used for walking. In Scripture “foot” refers mainly to the human foot (Exodus 12:11; Acts 14:8). It may also be used of the feet of animals (Ezekiel 1:7) or, anthropomorphically, of God's feet (Isaiah 60:13). The “foot” as a measure of length does not appear in Hebrew or Greek, but some English versions give the equivalent in feet (Genesis 6:15, NIV; KJV “cubits”).
In the ancient world with unpaved roads, feet easily became dirty and had to be washed often. From earliest times, hosts offered to wash their guests' feet (Genesis 18:4), usually done by the lowest servant (John 13:3-14). High honor was paid by anointing another's feet (Deuteronomy 33:24; Luke 7:46; John 12:3).
Because it was so easy to soil one's feet, to remove the shoes was a sign of getting rid of dirt and so indicated holiness in worship (Exodus 3:5). To shake the dust off one's feet meant total rejection of that place (Acts 13:51). For both the Israelites and the Romans, punishment might include binding the feet in stocks (Job 13:27; Acts 16:24). Often “feet” symbolize the whole person, since it is hard to act without using the feet (“refrained my feet from every evil way” means “kept myself from evil,” Psalms 119:101; compare Luke 1:79; Acts 5:9; Romans 3:15).
A verse frequently quoted in the New Testament is Psalms 110:1: “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Mark 12:36; Hebrew, “stool for your feet”). Early Christians took this to be a prophecy of Christ's ultimate dominion over all who would acknowledge Him (Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43; Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 1:13).
Several biblical expressions contain “feet.” “Put your feet upon the necks of these” suggested total victory over someone (Joshua 10:24). This was also implied by the phrase to put someone “under your feet” (Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 15:25). “To fall at someone's feet” showed humble submission, often when one had a request (1 Samuel 25:24; Luke 17:16). “To cover one's feet” was a euphemism for relieving oneself (1 Samuel 24:3). For one's foot “to slip” or “to be taken in a snare” meant calamity (Psalms 9:15; Psalms 66:9). “The feet of him that bringeth good tidings” meant their coming (Isaiah 52:7). To sit “at the feet” meant to be a listener or disciple of someone (Acts 22:3) “Laid them down” at someone's feet suggested that the thing was a gift (Acts 4:35).
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.