None of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing - The Hebrew for all this is only המים שלחו איש בגדינו פשטים אנחנו אין ein anachnu poshetim begadeynu ish shilcho hammayim ; which Montanus translates, Non nos exuentes vestes nostras, vir missile suum aquas; "We, not putting off our garments, a man his dart to the waters." Of this latter clause what sense can be made? Let us hear what the ancient versions say.
The Vulgate, Unusquisque tantum nudabatur ad baptismum, "Every one stripped himself for the bath."
The Septuagint omit the latter part of this clause, And there was none of us who put off his garments.
The Syriac, "None of us put off his clothes for a month each in his turn.
The Arabic, "Nor did we put off our clothes, but with our arms, at the end of a month."
There is a remarkable reading in one of De Rossi's MSS. המים משלחהעל בגדינו פשטים אנחנו אין , We did not lay aside our garments, but in order to send them to the washing. This is most likely the sense of the place.
It is curious to see how our old versions translate the place.
Coverdale: We put never of our clothes, so much as to wash ourselves. - 1535.
Becke: We put never of our clothes, so muche as to washe ourselves. - 1549.
Cardmarden: We put never of oure clothes no more than the other dyd theyr harnesse, save onely bycause of the water. - 1566.
This shows how all interpreters have been puzzled with this vexatious clause.
The reading from De Rossi's MS., given above, is the most likely to be the true one, because it gives a good sense, which cannot be found in the Hebrew text as it now stands. The general meaning is sufficiently evident; they worked nearly day and night, only had their hours by turns for repose; this did not permit them time sufficient to undress themselves in order to take regular sleep, therefore they only put off their clothes when they were obliged to get them washed.