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 (
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 (
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 desperate, the king stripped off his clothes and the people discerned the sackcloth under his regular garments (
In most cases, however, it was the chief article of clothing. Women as well as men wore it (e.g. Judith in the inter-testamental period,
The wearing of sackcloth was regarded as proper garb for serious and sober occasions. Since it was dark in texture, it was deemed fitting in times of grief and sadness. Jacob clothed himself in it at the report of the death of his favorite son Joseph (
There was reference to sackcloth in times of national calamity and danger, such as the receipt by King Hezekiah of the challenge of Rabshakeh of Assyria (
J. B. Paton, “Sackcloth,” IBD, VI (1885), 53; H. F. Lutz, Textiles and Costumes Among the People of the Ancient Near East (1933), 25, 26, 176, 177; J. D. Davis, “Sackcloth,” DDB (1954), 665.