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Sackcloth

SACKCLOTH (שַׂק, H8566; LXX σάκκος, G4884, sackcloth). Strong, rough cloth woven from the long, dark hair of the Oriental goat or the camel. Made into a large bag, it was used at times as a container for grain (Gen 42:25). On some occasions it was utilized for saddlebags (Josh 9:4) and provided a common bedding material (2 Sam 21:10). Its main use, however, was as an article of clothing and as such it was somewhat similar to the eilicium of the Romans. It appears that since it was made of cheap and durable material, it served the purpose of an ordinary item of garb. Palestinian shepherds wore it in the exercise of their pastoral task. At times it seems to have served as the distinctive garb of the prophets (Isa 20:2ff.; Zech 13:4), but gradually it came to bear a primarily symbolical meaning. On some occasions it was abbreviated in character, and, taking the form of a loincloth, it served as an undergarment. In the siege of Samaria, when the plight of the defenders became despera