In Exodus 3:5 KJV God tells Moses to remove his shoes:

And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

There is no doubt that God deserves and should be given every respect we can offer.

I can find no information as to why Moses was to remove his shoes at the burning bush, other than as a form of respect.

While I understand that the ground was Holy because of the presence of God, I have wondered if removing our shoes in the presence of God shows a higher form of respect.

  • You may want to ask this in Judaism.SE to see what the culture was. Feb 10 '14 at 20:01
  • @Caleb Thanks for the edit, I should have known better.
    – BYE
    Feb 10 '14 at 20:11

Regarding the importance of shoes:

Taking off your shoe and giving it to someone was a sign of redeeming and changing in the ancient world.

You can find more in

Ruth 4:7 KJV

Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.

Regarding being barefoot:

Being barefoot actually had a lot of different meaning in ancient times.

As a sign of mourning:

2 Samuel 15:30 KJV

And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up , and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up .

As a sign of humility:

Isaiah 20 KJV

In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it; At the same time spake the Lord by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.And the Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory. And the inhabitant of this isle shall say in that day, Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria: and how shall we escape?

Please consider reading this regarding The Role of the Shoe in the Bible.


There's a sense in which the (natural?) way God made things is better (or, at least preferred by God) than any way that humans have added to or modified his creation.

Altars and Monuments

Not all altars were made of stone (notably the bronze altar in the tabernacle), but most probably were.

Exodus 20:25 (NASB)
"If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it."

(Also: De 27:5, Joshua 8:31)

The people who built Solomon's temple employed this strategy. (1 Ki 6:7)

The monument set up when the Israelites crossed the Jordan to enter Canaan consisted of 12 stones taken from the river that were not worked or shaped in any way. (Josh 4)


The people were not to attempt to make/fashion idols that resembled God. Why? Perhaps the fact that people imaged God far more/better than anything humans could craft is part of the reason behind prohibiting these images. What God made and did is best for this purpose.


Rather than being about shoes, I posit that being barefoot (as God made mankind) is a manner better suited to standing (closer) in his presence, which Moses did at the burning bush.

For the priests (Ex 28, Lv 16:4), there is a list of special clothes they are to wear when performing their duties, and footwear is absent from the list. Jewish tradition (Babylonian Talmud 2,1) said that nothing should come between the priest's body and the floor, so the priests always offer(ed) their service barefoot.

  • not meaning to be crude or inflammatory, but if that were the case why did not God have him be naked since that is the way God created man? I have voted your answer up, because you obviously did some deductive reasoning and research in answering. As far as the special clothing goes it had to do with the Holiness of the clothing in relation to the task being performed as is told us in Leviticus.
    – BYE
    Feb 12 '14 at 13:49
  • @CecilBeckum If there weren't inherent shame (due to the fall) in being naked in public, it's conceivable that God would have wanted this. The things I've listed are all starting with things as God made them, and humans are no longer as God originally made them.
    – mojo
    Feb 12 '14 at 14:17
  • Naturally, what I'm offering is speculation. It's a story that (I think) fits the facts, but I can offer no proof of its validity.
    – mojo
    Feb 12 '14 at 14:18
  • I understand and do appreciate you answering my question, but since as you said it is speculation and not backed up by fact I cannot accept it as my approved answer.
    – BYE
    Feb 12 '14 at 14:51
  • 1
    Not meaning to be critical, but if you will click on the link "the role od the shoe in the Bible" in the answer by freemason you will find that taking off one's shoes was a sign of humility in that society. It shows that God could have been demanding that Moses humble himself in the presence of God, and that makes sense to me, and is a very good reason God would have Moses remove is shoes. I understand your logic, but the latter appears to be a more acceptable answer. That by no means degrades your answer.
    – BYE
    Feb 12 '14 at 16:19

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