While studying an aspect of the crucifixion of Jesus (the seamless garment that the soldiers cast lots for), I came across a sermon transcript that said the following as part of its argument (referring to Mark 14:63):

When people tore the garments it was a sign of grief and mourning and despair and hopelessness. But the priest was never to tear his garments because God is the God of hope. (http://www.trinitybaptistardmore.com/page/the_seamless_robe)

Was this actually the case? Were priests specifically prohibited from tearing their clothes? Was there at least some sort of reason why a show of such grief (false or otherwise) would have been unacceptable for a priest?

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    If you take out the NT reference, you have a good question for the Stackexchange Judaism site, Mi Yodea. The quick answer, I believe, is that the priests garments were not their own (at least not the ones they wore in the Temple), but belonged to the Temple. Therefore they had no right to rend someone else's property. When they left work and put on their own clothes they could certainly rend them at that time. Generally, today, in Orthodox circles, the rending of garments occurs just before burial. Dec 14, 2015 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar were specifically told not to rend their clothing in mourning for Nadab and Abihu when the Lord killed them for bringing profane fire to the Tabernacle:

"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." Lev 10:6

When the priests were in their holy garments, they were fully representative of God before the people and could not profane themselves or the garments they wore because the garments represented an extension of the man. They were not to be treated as common garments that you could tear or soil; they were holy.

Garments as expressive of a man or a man's character are an interesting study in the Scripture. I encourage you to delve into it a little more.


When Yeshua stood before Caiaphas (Matt 26:62-65) and Caiaphas tears his clothes-he is no longer high priest because now Yeshua is! Also Yeshua's robe could not be torn-it was woven in one piece! A beautiful picture of Messiah as our High Priest!

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