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In the Old Testament, the English word "sackcloth" is used to translate the Hebrew word (pronounced) sawk, which is curiously (but not coincidentally) similar to the English word sack. The Hebrew word means mesh; burlap is a prime example of such a coarsely-woven material. In the New Testament, sackcloth is used to translate the Greek word (pronounced) sak-kos, which is derived from the Old Testament Hebrew word sawk.

Although the modern-day idea of "wearing sackcloth" is often that of someone dressed in a burlap grain bag with head and arm holes cut in it, during Bible History its appearance was quite different. Sackcloth was most often made of coarse, black goat's hair. As its name indicates, it was used for sacks, but was also customarily worn by mourners (in some countries, the ancient custom is still faintly seen today when mourners wear black arm bands at funerals), or as a sign of deep repentance and humility. Ashes were often included as a further symbol of personal abhorrence and chagrin. Also, sackcloth was, and will be (in some contemporary form), in the case of the two witnesses, worn by some Prophets.

Sackcloth In Bible History and Prophecy

Sackcloth was a sign of mourning.


"And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son [i.e. Joseph; see Coat Of Many Colors and Potiphar] many days." (Genesis 37:34 KJV)

"And David [see King David] said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier." (2 Samuel 3:31 KJV)

"When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; And came even before the king's gate: for none might enter into the king's gate clothed with sackcloth." (Esther 4:1-2 KJV) (see Haman)

Sackcloth was worn by those whose repentance was dire:

"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! [see Chorazin and Bethsaida] for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes." (Matthew 11:20-21 KJV)

"So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of The Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey ... But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands." (Jonah 3:3,8 KJV)

Sackcloth, in some modern-day form, will be worn by the end-time two witnesses:

"And I will give power unto my two witnesses [see Preparing The Way For Christ's Coming], and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." (Revelation 11:3-6 KJV)

Fact Finder: During the great events prior to The Return Of Jesus Christ, will the "sun become black as sackcloth"?
Revelation 6:12
See also Signs In The Heavens

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