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Why was the king of Israel wearing sackcloth under his clothes and what does it signify?


2 Kings 1:1 - 18

ESV - 1 After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel. 2 Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them, "Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.

Clarify Share Report Asked February 25 2019 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
In my opinion, the question is asking about either 1 Kings 21:27, or 2 Kings 6:30, rather than the passage cited in the question (2 Kings 1:1-18). 

The wearing of sackcloth (a coarsely-woven, uncomfortable fabric made of goat's hair) instead of normal clothing in the Bible was a gesture of self-humiliation, and was generally done as a sign of repentance in order that God might alleviate or prevent an adverse action that He had sent or was planning to send as a judgment against sin that had been committed.

In 1 Kings 21:27, King Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and fasted (all indicative of repentance for sin) after the prophet Elijah confronted him and told him that God was going to judge him because of the evil acts that he had committed, and the idolatry into which Ahab and his wife (Jezebel) had led Israel. Because of Ahab's display of repentance, God told Elijah that He would spare Ahab, and instead bring judgment upon Ahab's son (Ahaziah) after Ahab had died, and Ahaziah had succeeded him as king.

In 2 Kings 6:30, King Jehoram of Israel (the brother and successor of Ahaziah) is also described as wearing sackcloth (as his father Ahab had done, but apparently without Ahab's accompanying repentance) in the hope that God would alleviate the famine that was occurring in Samaria (the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel) as a result of the city being besieged by Benhadad, the king of Syria. (Jehoram apparently blamed the prophet Elisha (the successor to Elijah) as God's representative for causing the famine, although the siege was actually a judgment against Ahaziah's own sin.) Nevertheless, God in mercy alleviated the famine and caused the Syrians to abandon their siege, as described in 2 Kings 7.

February 25 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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