International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
loinz (chalats, Aramaic charats, mothen, kecel, yarekh; osphus): This variety of Hebrew synonyms seems to be used rather promiscuously for the loins, though there is no little difference in the secondary meanings of these words. They represent various modes of expressing the loins as the seat of strength and vigor (Job 40:16, Hebrew mothen, here used of Behemoth), the center of procreative power, the portion of the body which is girded about, and is considered as specially needful of covering, even under primitive conditions of life (Job 31:20), and where painful disease most effectually unfits a man for work and warfare.
Jacob receives the Divine promise that "kings shall come out of (his) loins" (chalats, Genesis 35:11), and we read of 66 souls "that came out of his loins" (yarekh) which went into Egypt (Genesis 46:26). The Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the Levites as having come out of the loins of Abraham (Hebrews 7:5).
As the seat of strength (compare LEG; THIGH), the loins are girded with belts of leather (2 Kings 1:8 Matthew 3:4), or cloth, often beautifully embroidered (Exodus 28:39), or of costly material (Exodus 39:29 Jeremiah 13:1 f). Girded loins are a sign of readiness for service or endeavor (Exodus 12:11 1 Kings 18:46 2 Kings 4:29 Job 38:3 Proverbs 31:17 Luke 12:35 1 Peter 1:13). Of God it is said that "he looseth the bond of kings, and bindeth their loins with a girdle," i.e. strengthens them (Job 12:18). On the loins the sword is worn (2 Samuel 20:8). It is a sign of mourning to gird the loins with sackcloth (1 Kings 20:32 Isaiah 32:11 Jeremiah 48:37 Amos 8:10; see also the First Papyrus of Elephantine, l. 20). A man whose strength is in his attachment to truth, in other words is faithful, is spoken of as having his loins girt about with truth (Ephesians 6:14). Thus, the Messiah is described: "Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins" (Isaiah 11:5). One of the most primitive modes of clothing consisted of a fleece tied around the loins (Job 31:20).
The condition of unfitness for service is described in that the loins (kecel) are filled with a burning (Psalm 38:7, the King James Version "loathsome disease"), or that "a sore burden" is laid upon the "loins" (mothen, Psalm 66:11). Thus the loins are made "continually to shake" (Psalm 69:23), "the joints of (the) loins" (charats) are loosed (Daniel 5:6), the "loins are filled with anguish" (Isaiah 21:3). It is very likely that originally a disabling lumbago or the painful affections of the gall or the bladder (calculus, etc.) are meant, but very soon the expression becomes merely metaphorical to express personal helplessness, especially that which can but rely upon assistance and help from God.
H. L. E. Luering