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What is the significance of tearing one's clothes in the Bible?

And Elisha saw it and he cried, "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.  II Kings 2:11-12

I also read other verses related to tearing off clothes.. what does it mean in the bible?

Esther 4:1

ESV - 1 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry.

Clarify Share Report Asked October 17 2014 Mini Ruffa Felicilda

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84924d6f 9be5 4261 9e07 ab5f6a8c5842 Lena Wms Student @Christ Gospel Church, S.S.Teacher, Observer
The rending of ones clothing (KJV) signified great grief or mourning. Since the pagan practice of cutting oneself was expressly forbidden by God, (Lev. 19:28) this was an outward demonstration of the intense grief a person felt. 

The High Priest were not allowed to tear his clothes in grief, as demonstrated when Aaron lost two sons in one day due to their gross disobedience. (Lev. 10:6) Another gross sin of Caiaphas, the High Priest of Jesus Christ day as he tore the High Priest garments. (Mat 26:65)

We must remember too, that in Biblical days they wore many layers of clothing. Therefore, when a person tore their garment, it was not to the bare skin, but to the next article of cloth. 

Today, we mourn and grieve much differently. Some have even returned to the forbidden practice of cutting themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ is named in Isa 9:6 as the Prince of Peace who will give comfort to those that mourn and grieve. Bless His Holy Name!

Be Blessed

October 18 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
Good question, Ruffa! 

"Mordecai tore his garments (Es 4:1) when there was a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews. His love and devotion to the welfare of his people moved him to some actions which tearing his garments symbolically initiated." -Tearing of clothes: A study of an ancient practice in the Old Testament

It was a show of anguish, Ruffa. Then it led to his action of advising Esther concerning the plot and urging her to use her royal office to help deliver the Jews from genocide. This, in turn, brought forth Uncle Mordecai's famous advice to his niece, Esther:

"If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
Esther 4:14 NLT

There was MOURNING for calamities and other sorrows: Rending the garments, Gen. 37:29, 34; 44:13; Num. 14:6; Judg. 11:35; 2 Sam. 1:2, 11; 3:31; 13:19, 31; 15:32; 2 Kin. 2:12; 5:8; 6:30; 11:14; 19:1; 22:11, 19; Ezra 9:3, 5; Job 1:20; 2:12; Isa. 37:1; Jer. 41:5; Matt. 26:65; Acts 14:14. --Nave's Topical Bible

And Ruffa, "since most people of this time period owned very few sets of clothes, this action took on great significance. This seems to have been the most commonly practiced form of visible mourning in the ancient Near East. See Job 1:20." 
--Faithlife Study Bible

March 23 2024 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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