cloth made of black goats' hair, coarse, rough, and thick, used for sacks, and also worn by mourners (Ge 37:34; 42:25; 2Sa 3:31; Es 4:1-2; Ps 30:11, etc.), and as a sign of repentance (Mt 11:21). It was put upon animals by the people of Nineveh (Jon 3:8).
The sackcloth of OT was a coarse dark cloth made on the loom from the hair of goats and camels. In the extant literature it is almost always associated with mourning for the dead (Ge 37:34; 2Sa 3:31 and oft.): and especially with the public expression of humiliation and penitence in view of some national misfortune, present or impending (1Ki 21:27; Ne 9:1; Jon 3:5 etc.). For other tokens of grief and penitence, associated with the donning of sackcloth, such as ashes or dust on the head, and the rending of garments (this being a later substitute for their entire removal), see Mourning Customs. In such cases the person or persons concerned are generally said to 'gird' themselves with sackcloth, or to have sackcloth about their loins, from which it is evident that the sackcloth was worn in the form of a loincloth or waistcloth, tied in the ancient manner in a knot in front (cf. Isa 20:2 'loose the sackcloth,' lit. 'untie the knot'). It was worn by women as well as by men (Isa 32:11, Jdt 9:1). The putting of it upon cattle, however, as mentioned in Jon 3:8 and Jdt 4:10, and even upon an altar (Jdt 4:11), is, from the nature of the passages cited, rather a literary than a historical extravagance.
In this custom most modern scholars recognize an illustration of conservatism in religious practice. The waistcloth is known to have been the oldest article of dress among the Semites (see Dress,
A rough cloth made of hair, of which sacks and coarse clothing was made. When put on as a symbol of sorrow or repentance it was worn next the skin, and not taken off at night: it was often associated with ashes. 1Ki 21:27; 2Ki 6:30; Job 16:15; Joe 1:13; Re 6:12; etc.
cloth used in making sacks or bags, a coarse fabric, of a dark color, made of goat's hair,
end resembling the eilicium of the Romans. It, was used also for making the rough garments used by mourners, which were in extreme cases worn next the skin.
SACKCLOTH, a sort of mourning worn at the death of a friend or relation. In great calamities, in penitence, in trouble also, they wore sackcloth about their bodies: "Gird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn for Abner," 2Sa 3:31. "Let us gird ourselves with sackcloth; and let us go and implore the clemency of the king of Israel," 1Ki 20:31. Ahab rent his clothes, put on a shirt of haircloth next to his skin, fasted, and lay upon sackcloth, 1Ki 21:27. When Mordecai was informed of the destruction threatened to his nation, he put on sackcloth, and covered his head with ashes, Esther 4. On the contrary, in time of joy, or on hearing good news, those who were clad in sackcloth tore it from their bodies, and cast it from them, Ps 30:11. The prophets were often clothed in sackcloth, and generally in coarse clothing. The Lord bids Isaiah to put off the sackcloth from about his body, and to go naked, that is, without his upper garment, Isa 20:2. Zechariah says that false prophets shall no longer prophesy in sackcloth, to deceive the simple, Zec 13:4.