Why Do We Read Of “Tearing One’s Robe” In The Bible?

The tearing of one’s clothes when I first started studying the Bible seems very strange to me at first. What an odd practice if it were in today’s society! Could you imagine? Was it a tantrum?

In the Old Testament there are a few scriptures that show this behavior;

Read Job 1: 20-21 (NASB)

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Read 2 Kings 19:1 (NASB)

And when King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the Lord.

Read Jeremiah 36:24

24 Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments.

The tearing of clothes was an outward sign of grief, like all scriptures writing of this, are associated with immense pain. In the Talmud an exception was made for High Priests who had witnessed blasphemies, in fact, it was forbidden.

Read Leviticus 10:6 (NASB)

6 Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which the Lord has brought about.

In contrast read Matthew 26: 64-68 (NASB)

Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless, I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 66 what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”
67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him,68 and said, “Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?”

Caiaphas’ grief was as disingenuous as the accusation of blasphemy against Jesus Christ. He was acting pompous as he thought he found something to hinge his charges on.

Hopefully, this sheds some light on the scripture?

God Bless

Brian Mason