sackcloth and ashes

extreme repentance or grief
After lying to the people, the mayor’s only hope for staying in office is to come out in sackcloth and ashes and give a full, heartfelt apology.

In biblical times, a person outwardly showed his sadness or shame by wearing clothing made from sackcloth—the rough material used for making sacks—and by pouring ashes on himself. One example of this comes in the book of Esther, which tells about some Jews living in Persia.

The king of Persia selected the Jewish Esther to be his queen, though he did not know she was a Jew. When Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, refused to kneel down before Haman, a high official in the government, Haman became angry. In order to get rid of Mordecai, Haman convinced the king to sign a decree calling on the people of Persia to kill the Jews on a certain day.

Now when Mordecai became aware of all that had been done, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth and ashes. He went out into the city, crying out in a loud and bitter voice. But he went no further than the king’s gate, for no one was permitted to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth. Throughout each and every province where the king’s edict and law were announced there was considerable mourning among the Jews, along with fasting, weeping, and sorrow. Sackcloth and ashes were characteristic of many. (Esther 4:1-3)

In the end, Esther appealed to the king, who decided to honor Mordecai and execute Haman. Then he sent out a new decree that allowed the Jews to defend themselves against those who wanted to kill them. Thus, with the help of the king’s officials, the Jews fought their enemies and defeated them.

Advertisements
Comments are closed.
  • All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://bible.org. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

    Scripture in brackets is from the King James Bible.

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed by Craig Thompson under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

    Any reproduction of this content using passages from the NET Bible must follow NET Bible's copyright policy for use of those passages.

    For information on creating translations of Putting Words in Our Mouths, please go here.

  • Visit My Blog: Clearing Customs

    Culture Stress, Home, and Space, the Final Frontier

    Traveling to far-away places and coping with new surroundings brings about lots of adjustments—adjustments in thought patterns and in ways of doing even mundane tasks. Few know this as dramatically as those who have lived aboard the International Space Station. But you don’t need to venture into outer space to be able to relate to […]

    “Wherever You Go, There You Are” and Other Such Words of Wisdom

    Somewhere, in one of the back rooms of the internet, sits a frazzle-haired, bespectacled gentleman thumbing through a box of yellowed index cards. On each card is typed out a well-known saying, often in multiple versions, and it’s the man’s job to assign to each one a source. He doesn’t track down the actual origin, […]

  • Advertisements