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Special Feature

What on Earth are Swaddling Clothes?
January 2, 2019
Special Feature
What on Earth are Swaddling Clothes?
Author BYU Studies Staff,

What on Earth are Swaddling Clothes? By John W. Welch, from BYU New Testament Commentary
John Welch explains the significance of Luke’s mention of swaddling clothes that Mary used to wrap her newborn son. “While we may not know for sure exactly what kinds of clothes were used or how they may have looked in Jesus’ case, it seems highly likely that all infants in the ancient Mediterranean world were tightly wrapped in long bands of cloth. So these bands were not “clothes,” like a shirt or pants or pajamas, and they were not just a diaper, but long strips of cloth wrapped all around the baby.”

Swaddling clothes “represent maternal care and concern, being wanted and owned, received and embraced, and when accompanied with some sign or token they could presage a portentous future. But most of all, these bands signal the helpless state of the newborn infant, within the bounds and conditions of earthly mortality.”