(triches kamelou): In Mt 3:4 and Mr 1:6 the description of John's raiment is explicit to the extent of telling the kind of hair of which his raiment was made. It is probable that his garment was made of a tawed camel skin, for the more expensive woven camel's hair garment would not be in keeping with the rest of the description. It is still common among the poor in some parts of Syria, when a camel or other animal dies, to remove its skin and, after treating the inner surface to stop decomposition, to make it up into various domestic articles. The writer once saw a peasant dragging a skin along the road which proved to be that of a donkey which had just died on the route. His intention was probably to make it up into a cloak. Some believe that Elijah's mantle was of camel's hair (2Ki 1:8; compare Zec 13:4). Of that we cannot be sure, for in the East today the hairy garment is usually goat's hair or wool either woven or still clinging to the skin. It was much more likely to have been one of these latter. See SHEEP. Camel's hair, when woven into fabrics, as in rugs, makes an article of even softer and more glossy texture than wool.
James A. Patch