Rending of Clothes
CLOTHES, RENDING OF. A symbolic act characteristic of the emotional expression of grief common among eastern peoples. The suggestion is that life is ended in the face of catastrophe, and the common appurtenances of life are no longer of interest or necessity. In Reuben’s case, upon the discovery of the empty cistern where Joseph had been incarcerated, the action was spontaneous (
In NT contexts the formality of the custom is clear. The high priest “rent his garments,” as the judge was required to do in the presence or sound of blasphemy. These garments were the two chitons (
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
See also MOURNING.