As I was reading Exodus 3 chapter 5, this passage got my attention.

Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

Why it is considered as unholy? Even in churches they are said to remove your sandals and shoes. When considered this as unholy, what about other things as our clothes, etc.


7 Answers 7


It's not so much that sandals or slippers are considered to be unholy, it's that they're dirty, and removing them is a sign of respect similar to removing one's hat when entering a building, or perhaps removing a nose ring when entering a strict parent's house.

From the United church of God's article on the subject:

Taking off your sandals was like the old custom of a man taking off his hat when entering a building or greeting a lady—it was a token of respect.

The ground was holy because of God's presence. People were to approach God with solemnity and humility. Taking off their sandals expressed an inward reverence through an outward behavior in their worship. Showing such respect avoids anything casual, sloppy or rude.

Some Eastern religions today still require bare feet when entering their temples. Anciently the Greeks, in the worship of Diana and Jupiter, required worshippers to take off their shoes (Adam Clarke's Commentary, Exodus 3:5 ). A common custom in the Orient and for many in North America is to take off your shoes when entering a person's home. God Has a High Standard for Approaching Him

As to why...

From Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:

put off thy shoes—The direction was in conformity with a usage which was well known to Moses, for the Egyptian priests observed it in their temples, and it is observed in all Eastern countries where the people take off their shoes or sandals, as we do our hats. But the Eastern idea is not precisely the same as the Western. With us, the removal of the hat is an expression of reverence for the place we enter, or rather of Him who is worshipped there. With them the removal of the shoes is a confession of personal defilement and conscious unworthiness to stand in the presence of unspotted holiness.

Also, from the Pulpit Commentary (available at the link in the preceding section)

Rather, "thy sandals." Shoes were not worn commonly, even by the Egyptians, until a late period, and would certainly not be known in the land of Midian at this time. The practice of putting them off before entering a temple, a palace, or even the private apartments of a house, was, and is, universal in the East - the rationale of it being that the shoes or sandals have dust or dirt attaching to them.


emman: FYI from the NET Bible--

The removal of sandals was, and still is in the East, a sign of humility and reverence in the presence of the Holy One. It was a way of excluding the dust and dirt of the world. But it also took away personal comfort and convenience and brought the person more closely in contact with the earth. (Exo. 3:5, note 20)


As a Christian follower of Christ, therefore, according to my own understanding, I can explain that the removal of the sandals that God told Moses to do, is simply a very critical action that we need to do as Christians. It doesn't mean that it is literal but it is something that is contextual that we have to understand.

The "sandals" represent our sinfulness, we have to have reverence before God, he is the Almighty and ever living God, through him we will take our last breathe, to stand before God is kind of feeling that each individual experience, removing our sins is to meet God,, respect begins in this scripture. Thank you for reading, Almighty bless.


I think the removal of sandals in today's life is removing everything that may hinder you to be in the presence of God. John said in Matthew 3:11, "He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire," which means we have to change our ways of living and start to follow Jesus. He is the way to the Father.


It's not that Moses's sandals were unholy but that the holy ground was holier.

In the context of ritual purity (spec., refraining from intercourse three days before offering sacrifice; cf. Ex. 19:15 or 1 Sam. 21:5), St. Jerome writes in Adversus Jovinianum bk. 1 §20:

Moses who when he saw a great vision and heard an angel, or the Lord speaking in the bush, [Ex. 3:5] could not by any means approach to him without first loosing the latchet of his shoe, that is, putting off the bonds of marriage.


God has a thing about death even animal death; while he has killed animals for our benefit and clothing it was not his perfect will to do as such. We live in a New Covenant where such trivialities as leather shoes matter not because the Blood of Jesus has cleansed all things for us to kill and eat. However in the Old Covenant God prefered people to remove their leather sandals because they were a basic form of death. The Jews still keep this rite on High Holy Days like Yom Kippur.

  • What evidence do you have for this?
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 24, 2018 at 13:17

Moses was asked to take off his sandals, because they carried the dust of the land where he killed an Egyptian (Moses was unclean), so God wanted to cleanse his feet, same applies to the leprosy that appeared in his hands-he was being cleansed from all uncleanliness. That is why after that he carried the power of God and with his stuff he did wonderful miracles.

  • Hello and welcome to the site. Please edit this to explain how you know this.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 24, 2018 at 13:19

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