Ashes

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

To sprinkle with or sit in ashes, marked humiliation, grief, and penitence (Gen. 18:2727And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: (Genesis 18:27); 2 Sam. 13:1919And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying. (2 Samuel 13:19); Esth. 4:33And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. (Esther 4:3); Job 2:88And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. (Job 2:8); Jer. 6:2626O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us. (Jeremiah 6:26); Lam. 3:1616He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. (Lamentations 3:16); Matt. 11:2121Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Matthew 11:21)). The altar ashes, when a red heifer was sacrificed, were watered and used for purifying the unclean (Num. 19:17-2217And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: 18And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave: 19And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even. 20But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the Lord: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean. 21And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even. 22And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even. (Numbers 19:17‑22)).

Concise Bible Dictionary:

Ashes, mostly from burnt wood, were used as a sign of sorrow or mourning, either put on the head (2 Sam. 13:1919And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying. (2 Samuel 13:19)), or on the body with sackcloth (Esther 4:11When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; (Esther 4:1); Jer. 6:2626O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us. (Jeremiah 6:26); Lam. 3:1616He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. (Lamentations 3:16); Matt. 11:2121Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Matthew 11:21); Luke 10:1313Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. (Luke 10:13)); or strewn on a couch on which to lie (Esther 4:33And in every province, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. (Esther 4:3); Isa. 58:55Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? (Isaiah 58:5); Jonah 3:66For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. (Jonah 3:6)). To eat ashes expresses great sorrow (Psa. 102:99For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, (Psalm 102:9)); and to be reduced to them is a figure of complete destruction (Ezek. 28:1818Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. (Ezekiel 28:18); Mal. 4:33And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:3)); to feed on them tells of the vanities with which the soul may be occupied (Isa. 44:2020He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand? (Isaiah 44:20)). “Dust and ashes” was the figure Abraham used of himself before Jehovah (Gen. 18:2727And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: (Genesis 18:27)); and Job said he had become like them by the hand of God (Job 30:1919He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes. (Job 30:19)). For the ashes of the Red Heifer see HEIFER.

Strong’s Dictionary of Greek Words:

Greek:
σποδός
Transliteration:
spodos
Phonic:
spod-os’
Meaning:
of uncertain derivation; ashes
KJV Usage:
ashes

From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

“When the [East Indian] magicians pronounce an imprecation on an individual, a village, or a country, they take ashes of cow-dung, or those from a common fire, and throw them in the air, saying to the objects of their displeasure, Such a sickness or such a curse shall surely come upon you.” (Roberts, Oriental Illustrations, p. 65).