Q: #310. What was sackcloth?
A: Sackcloth was a course, rough, generally dark colored garment, that was made of animal hair (Rev 6:12)(usually goat, or sometimes camel). This type of material was usually used for making sacks (as the name “sack”cloth implies), but sometimes was made into clothing. This would be worn on certain solemn occasions such as: when mourning over someone who had died (Gen 37:34)(2 Sam 3:31), when in repentance (Mt 11:21)(Lk 10:13)(1 Kin 21:27)(1 Chr 21:16)(Jonah 3:4-10), or when in despair and sorrow (2 Kin 19:1-3)(Isa 37:1)(Es 4:1-4)(Jer 49:3)(Joel 1:8,13).
Sackcloth was worn next to the skin (1 Kin 21:27)(2 Kin 6:30)(Isa 32:11) and was very uncomfortable. Wearing it was a way to humble oneself before God, and some viewed it as a type of penance. Other acts were sometimes done in conjunction with wearing sackcloth such as: tearing one’s clothes (Gen 37:34)(2 Sam 3:31), fasting (1 Kin 21:27)(Dan 9:3)(Jonah 3:5,7), putting dust or ashes on one’s head (Lam 2:10) (Es 4:1)(Dan 9:3), or laying on ashes (Isa 58:5)(Jer 6:26)(Jonah 3:6).
Sackcloth will be worn by the “two witnesses” when they return during the future Tribulation upon the Earth (Rev 11:3).