Scripture Backdrops - Relevant Historical Insights into Scripture

Sitting on the Ground

Isaiah 3:26 "Her gates shall lament and mourn, and she being desolate shall sit on the ground."

And she..."shall sit on the ground"

Jewish Symbol of Great Despair and Intense Grief.

When Isaiah gave this message by the Word of the Lord, it was during the last part of the 8th century BC. This was a time when the southern kingdom of Judah were about to follow in the ways of their brothers in the north, the ten tribes of Israel, who had been destroyed by the Assyrians and led captive to Assyria in 722 BC. 

Judah was warned continually that the same fate would fall upon them. In chapter 3 Isaiah vividly depicts the destruction of Jerusalem and mentions in verse 26 that Judah' gates would weep (the common meeting place for the husbands of the daughters of Israel, who had fallen in war) and Judah would become "desolate and sit upon the ground" 

Sitting upon the ground was an ancient Jewish way of displaying intense grief. Psalm 137:1 says that when they were destroyed and taken captive to Babylon "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." 

It is interesting to note that this is exactly how the Jews were depicted on Roman coins, commemorating the events after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The inscription on certain coins reads: Judaea capta, or devicta. 

Some coins (gold, silver, and brass) would show a woman sitting on the ground under a palm tree, usually with one hand on the head, leaning forward, and the other hand hanging over the knee, and some with the hands tied behind the back, with a Roman soldier standing in front of her. (see coins of Titus, Vespasian, and Domitian). 


Bibliography on Ancient Customs

The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008
 

Return to Ancient Customs

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