The motif of the torn garment is linked to political changes in Israel as well. When Saul was rejected as king, he tore the hem of Samuel’s garment just before hearing “the LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors” (1 Sam 15:27-28; also read 28:17). Later when David’s son Solomon harbored sins that were not appropriate
If we tear our clothing, it is generally by accident unless we are tearing up an old garment for rags. This was not true in the culture of Bible times where the tearing of one’s garment was an external sign of one’s internal pain. The average person of the era did not have multiple changes of clothing like we do in our closets and dressers; consequently, they took great care to prevent accident tearing of their clothing (Exod 28:32; Matt 9:16; Mark 2:21). But there was “a time to tear and a time to mend” (Eccles 3:7); the time to intentionally tear was a time of intense grief that might have included repentance.
Garments are used as biblical symbols in almost as many ways as there are styles of clothing. Clothes are used as expression of socioeconomics status, spiritual well-being, and emotional state. They can protect, conceal, or display an inner reality of the wearer. They can last for a long time or wear out quickly (Neh 9:21; Matt 6:19). They can consist of leaves (Gen 3:7), animal skin (Gen 3:21; Matt 3:4), rags (Isa 64:6), pure white linen (Dan 7:9; Rev 19:14), or anything in between. They can be literal or figurative. Yet despite al this variety, the use of clothing as a symbol falls into a few set patterns that yield a wealth of insight. Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (CLOTHING)→