First Kings 11:29-31 depicts the prophet Ahijah foretelling the dissolution of the Solomonic kingdom and the subsequent establishment of the northern kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam. The prophet engages in symbolic behavior to convey this message, tearing a new cloak into pieces and giving ten of them to Jeroboam, signifying the ten tribes that side with Jeroboam in the conflict. However, the ambiguity of the masculine singular pronouns in this passage makes it difficult to establish whose cloak Ahijah tears into pieces, Jeroboam’s or his own. In this note, I challenge previous syntactical arguments that Jeroboam is the owner of the cloak in 1 Kgs 11:29-30. Furthermore, previous analyses of this passage have not examined it in the context of biblical mourning ritual, specifically calamity mourning in anticipation of an imminent personal or collective disaster. In addition to arguments on the basis of syntax, this ritual analysis of the passage suggests that Ahijah rends his own cloak in an act of calamity mourning.

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