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An introduction to the critical study and knowledge of the Holy ..., Volume 3 online

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with gums and spices, to preserve them ; which unction, it appears
from Gen. 1. 2, 3., was the proper embalming. The former circum-
stance explains the reason why the Egyptians mourned for Jacob
threescore and ten days; the latter explains the meaning of the forty
days, which were frLifilled for IsraeL*

In later times, where the deceased parties were persons of rank or
fortime, after washing the corpse, the Jews ^^ embalmed it, by laying
all around it a large quantity of costiy spices and aromatic drugs ^, in
order to imbibe and absoro the humours, and by their inherent
virtues to preserve it as long as possible from putrefaction and
decay. Thus we read that Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh
and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight, to perform the customary
office to the dear deceased. This embalming was usually repeated
for several days together, that the drugs and spices thus applied
might have all their efficacy in the exsiccation of the moisture and
the future conservation of tiie body.^ They then swathed the corpse

> Sopboclis Electra, Terse 1143. Yirga JEneid, lib. li. 218, 319.

* Herodotus, lib. ii cc. 86—88. torn. ii. pp. 131, 132. Oxon. 1809. Diodorus Siculius
fib. I cc. 91 — 93. edit BipoDt

* Paxton's lUiistrations, yoL iii p. 249. 2d edit

* Matt, xxri 12. For in that she hath pcwred this ointment on n^ body, the did itformp
fwntralt irphs rh irra^durai (am, to embalm me. The word does not properly signify to bary.
The note of Beza is accurate. Ad fanerandnm me, vp6s rh irra^daeu fu. Ynlg. et Eras-
mus, ad me sepeliendum, mal^ Nam aliud est dAwruy quam hfra^idC*» : nt Latinis
sepelire est sepulchro condere: funerare rero pollincire, cadaver sepulchro mandandum
prius curare. Beza ad Matt. xxri. 12. 'Erra^iio-cu est corpus ad fnnns componere, et or*
namentis sepnlchralibus omare. Wetstein, in loc.

* Habebat consoetado, at carisfiina capita, et quae plonmi fierent cadaTera, non semtl

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558 Treatment of the Dead.

in linen rollers or bandages, closely enfolding and wrapping it in tiiat
bed of aromatic drugs with which they had surround^ it Thus we
find that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus ti)ok the body of Jesus
and wrapt it in linen clothes with the spices^ as the manner cf the Jems
is to bury. (John xix. 40.) This custom we behold also in the Egyp*
tian miunmies (many of which may be seen in the British Museum),
round which, Thevenot inform us, the Egyptians have sometimes
used above a thousand ells of filleting, beside what was wrapped
about the head. Thus, when our Loid had cried with a loud voice,
* Lazarus^ come forth /' it is said, the dead came forth, bound hand and
foot in grave clothes. (John xi. 44.)' We learn from Scripture, also,
that about the head and face of the corpse was folded a napkin, which
was a separate thing, and did not conununicate with the other band-
ages in which the body was swathed. Thus we read, that the fiaoe of
Lazarus was bound about with a napkin (John xL 44.^ ; and when
our Lord was risen, Peter, who went into the sepulcnre, saw the
linen clothes lie, and the napkin that had been folded round his
head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wreathed U^ther in a
place by itself, lying at some distance from the rollers in which his
t>ody had been swathed, and folded up, exactly in the state it was
when first wrapped round his head." (tlohn xx. 7.)*

Besides the custom of embalming persons of distinction, the Jews
commonly used great burnings for their kings, composed of laige
quantities of all sorts of aromatics, of which they made a fire, as a
triumphant farewell to the deceased. In these they were wont to
bum their bowels, their clothes, armour, and other things belonging
to the deceased. Thus, it is said of Asa, that they made a very great
burning for him (2 Chron. xvi. 14.), which could not be meant of his
corpse in the fire, for in the same verse it is said, they buried him in
his own sepulchre. This was also done at the funeral of Zedekiah.
(Jer. xxxiv. 5.) And it was very probably one reason why, at the
death of Jehoram, the people made no burning for him like the
burning of his fathers (2 Chron. xxL 19.), because his boweb being
ulcerated by his sickness, they fell out, and to prevent the stench,
were immediately interr^ or otherwise disposed of; so that they
could not well be burnt in this pompous manner after his death ;
though as he was a wicked king, this ceremony might possibly hare
been omitted on that accoimt fJsa

The burning of dead bodies in funeral piles, it is well known.

tantam nngerentar, sed sepint, plnribiisqae continms diebas, donee exdecato, et abeorpto
Ti aromatum omni reliqno homore, immo tabefacti carne arida,et quasi mnck reddUA, din
•errari ponint Integra et immania a putrefactione. Lacas Bnigensis, in Biarc. xvi

* Af8«/i^of — Ktipiuf, Phavorinns explains Ktipla hj calling them ^.-iro^iM 9tjpm^
Bepulchnd bandages. Kupla arifudytt t& &x'^'^* ''^ itnApta. EtymoL

' He went into the sepulchre, and then he plainly saw the linen clothes, ^i^ro, alone, or
without the body, and ictlfitva lying, that is, undistarbed, and at full length, as when tba
body was in them. The CMp, or napkin, aUio, which had been upon our Lord's haad, lie
found separate, or at a little distance from the open coffin ; but hrrrrvXtyiUrvf^ folded op
in wreaths, in the form of a cap, as it had been upon our Lord's head. Dr. Benson*s Life
of Christ, p. 634. Wrapped together in a place by itself, as if the body had miracoloosly
slipt out of it, which indeed was the real fact. IJr. Ward's Dissertations, p. 149. Har-
wood's IntioducCion, toL uu pp. 185 — 137.

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Preparations far IntermetU. 559

a castom prevalent among the Greeks and Romans, as it is in India
to this day ^ upon which occasion they threw frankincense, myrrh,
cassia, and other fragrant articles into the fire: and this in such
abundance, that Pliny represents it as a piece of profaneness, to
bestow such heiqw of frankincense upon a dead body, when diey
offered it so sparingly to their gods. And though the Jews might
possibly learn from them the custom of burning the bowels, armour,
and other things belonging to their kings, in piles of odoriferous
spices, yet they very rarely, and only for particular reasons, burnt
ike dead bodies themselves. We are told, indeed, that the people of
Jabesh-GKlead took the bodies of Saul and his sons (from the place
where the Philistines had hung them up), and came to Jabesh, and
burnt them there (1 Sam. zxxi. 12.); but by this time their bodies
must have been in such a state, that they were not fit to be em-
balmed; or, perhaps, they were apprehensive that if they should
embalm them, and so bury them, the people of Bethshan might at
some future time dig them up, and fix them a second time against
their walls ; and, therefore, the people of Jabesh might think it more
advisable to recede from their common practice, and for greater
security to imitate the heathen in this particular. Amos also spenks
of the burning of bodies (vL 10.); but it is evident from the words
themselves, and fit)m the context, that this was in the time of a great
pestilence, not only when there were few to bury the dead, but when
it was unsafe to go abroad and perform the funeral rites by inter-
ment, in which case the burning was certainly the best expedient.

In some cases the rites of sepulture were not allowed ; and to this
it has been thought that there is an allusion in Job xxvii. 19. It
was the opinion of the pagan Arabs that, upon the death of any
person, a bird, by them called Manahy issued from the brain, which
haunted the sepulchre of the deceased, uttering a lamentable scream.
This notion, also, professor Carlyle thinks, is evidently alluded to in
Job xxi. 32., where the venerable patriarch, speaking of the fate of
the wicked, says: —

He shall be brought to the grave.

And shall watch npon the raised op hei^*

The Jews showed a great regard for the burial of their dead. To be
deprived of it was thought to be one of the greatest dishonours that,
could be done to any man : and, therefore, in Scripture it is reckoned
one of the calamities that should befall the wicked. (Eccles. vi. 3.)
In all nations there was generally so mudi humanity as not to prevent
their enemies from burying their dead. The people of Gaza allowed
Samson's relations to come and take away his body (Judg. xvL 31.);
though one would have thought that this last slaughter which he
made among them might have provoked them to some acts of outrage
even upon nis dead body. But as he stood alone in what he did,
none of the Israelites joining with him in his enterprises, they might
possibly be apprehensive that, if they denied him burial, the Goa of

I Roberts's Oriental Blostrations, pp. 242, 243.

* Carljle's SpecimeDS of Arabian Poetry, p. 14. 2d edit

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560 Treatment of the Dead.

Israel, who had given him such extraordinary strength in his life-
time, would not &il to take vengeance on them in that case, and,
therefore, they were desirous, it may be, to get rid of his body (as
afterwards they were of the ark), and glad, perhaps, that any one
would remove such a formidable object out of dieir sight Jeremiah
prophesied of Jehoiakim that he should be buried with the burial of
an ass (Jer. xxiL 19.)9 meaning that he should not be buried at aU,
but be cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem, exposed to the air
and putrefaction above ground, as beasts are, which is more plainly
expressed afterwards, by telling us that hi$ body should be cast out in
the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost, (Jer. xxxvL 30.)
The author of that affecting elegy, the seventr-ninth psalm, when
enumerating the calamities which had befallen nis unhappy country*
men, particularly specifies the denial of the rites of sepulture, as en-
hancing their amictions. The dead bodies of thy servants have they
given to be meat unto the fowls of heaven; the flesh of thy samts unto
the beasts oftlve earth. (Psal. Ixxix. 2.)

IV. The Rites op Sepultube were various at different times,
and also according to the rank or station of the deceased.

1. Before the age of Moses, tiie funeral took ^ace a few days after
death. (Gen. xxiii. 19., xxv. 9., xxxv. 29.) In Egypt, a longer time
elapsed before the last offices were performed for Jacob and Joseph,
on account of the time which was requisite for the Egyptian process
of embalming, in order that the corpse might be preserved for a long
time. (Gen. xlix. 29., 1. 3. 24 — 26.) As it is probable that the
Israelites, when in Egypt, had been accustomed to keep tiieir dead
for a considerable period, the Mosaic laws, respecting tiie unclean-
ness which arose from a dead body, would compel them to a more
speedy interment. At length, after the return from the Babylonish
captivity, it became customary for the Jews to bury tiie dead on the
same day, and as soon as possible after the vital spark was extin-
guished. Jahn affirms (but without assigning any authority for his
assertion) that the Jews did this in imitation of the Persians ; but it
is more likely that the custom arose from a superstitious interpreta-
tion of Deut xxi. 22, 23., which law enjoined that the body of one
who had been hanged on a tree should be taken down before night
The burial of Tabitha was delayed, on account of the disciples send-
ing for the Aposde Peter. (Acts ix. 37.)

2. The poorer classes were carried forth to interment lying on an
open bier or couch, as is the universal practice in the East to wis day,
not screwed into a coffin. In this way the son of the widow of Nain
was borne to his grave without the city : and it should seem that the
bearers at that time moved with as much rapidity as they do at the
present time among the modem Jews.^ The rich, and persons of

* Not to detail the obsenrations of the earlier travellera, it may suffice to adduce three
instances from recent and intelligent English travellers. — At Cairo, sajrs Mr. Came, ** we
met an Arab fnneral: about twenty men, friends of the deceased, advanced under a row of
palm-trees, singing in a mournful tone, and bearing the body. The corpse was that of a
wonutn neatly dr^sed in white, and borne on an open bietj with a small awning of red silk
over it." (Letters fh>ra the East, p. 109.) At Baghtchisarai in the Crimea, Dr. Hendeiwua
•aw a corpse conveyed to the public cemetery of the Christiai^:. it ** was simply wrapped

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Futieral Rites. 561

rank, were carried forth on more costly biers. Josephus relates that
the body of Herod was carried on a golden bier, richly embroidered';
and we may presume, that the bier on which Abner was carried was
more costly than those used for ordinary persons. (2 Sam. iiL 31.)

But whatever the rank of the parties might be, the superintendence
and charge of the funeral were undertaken by the nearest relations
and friends of the deceased. Thus, Abraham interred Sarah in the
cave of Machpelah (Gen. xxiii. 19.) ; Isaac and Ishmael buried Abra-
ham (Gen. XXV. 9.); Esau and Jacob buried Isaac (Gen. xxxv.29.);
Moses buried Aaron on Mount Hor (Numb. xx. 29^ ; the old pro-
phet laid the disobedient prophet in his own grave (1 Kings xiii. 30.);
Joseph of Arimathea interred Jesus Christ in his own new tomb
fMatt. xxvii. 59, 60.); and the lisciples of John the Baptist per-
formed the last office for their n^aster. The sons and numerous rela-
tions of Herod followed his funeral procession.* Sometimes, however,
servants took the chtirge of interring their masters, as in the case of
Josiah king of Judah. (2 Kings xxiii. 30.) Devout men carried
Stephen to his buriaL (Acts viii. 2.) The funeral obsequies were
also attended by the friends of the deceased, both men and women,
who made loud lamentations for the deceased, and some of whom
were hired for the occasion. David and a large body of the Israelites
mourned before Abner. (2 Sam. iiL 31, 32.) Solomon mentions the
circumstance of mourners going about the streets (Eccles. xii. 5.) ;
who, most probably, were persons hired to attend the funeral obse-
quies, to wail and lament for the departed.^ From Jer. ix. 17. it
appears, that women were chiefly employed for this purpose ; and
Jerome, in his commentary on that passage, says that the practice was
continued in Judsea, down to his days, or the latter part of the fourth
century.' In Jer. xlviiL 36., the use of musical instruments by these
hired mourners is distinctly recognised; and Amos (v. 17.) alludes to
such mourning as a well known custom.

In the time of Jesus Christ and his apostles, the funeral dirges
sung by these hired mourners were accompanied by musical instru-
ments. ** The soft and plaintive melody of the flute was employed
to heighten these doleful lamentations and dirges. Thus we read,
that on the death of the daughter of Jairus, a company of mourners,
with players on the flute, according to the Jewish custom, attended
upon this sorrowful occasion. When Jesus entered the governor's
house, he saw the minstrels and the people wailing greatly. (Matt. ix.
23.) The custom of employing music to heighten public and private
grief was not in that age pecimar to the Jews. We find the flute

roand with a white cloth, laid upon a Iner or board, and borne by four men to the graye.
This mode of performing the funeral obsequies obtains equally among the Jews, Christians,
and Mohammedans in these parts, with the exception of the European families, who na-
turally conform to the rite of their ancestors.'" (Bibllical Researches, p. 304.) Mr. Hartley
observed a similar mode of interment in Greece. ** The corpse is always exhibited to fuU
yiew: it is placed upon a bier which is borne aloft upon the shoulders, and is dressed in tho
best and gayest garments possessed by the deceased.** (Researches in Greece, p. 118.)

' Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xrii. c 8. § 3. Bell. Jud. lib. i c 33. § 9.

' Uolden's translation of Ecclesiastes, p. 171.

' Dr Blayuey*s translation of Jeremiah, p. 270. Sya edit


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562 Treatment of the Dead.

abo employed at the funeral solemmties of the Greeks and Romans,
in dieir lamentations for the deceased, as appears from nnmerous testi-
monies of classic authors.'^} The same custom still obtains among
the Moors in Africa, Ihe Turks in Palestine, the Hindoos *, the Egyp-
tians ', and the modem Greeks. ^^ At all their principal entertain-
ments," says Dr. I^iaw, ^ and to show mirth and gladness upon other
occasions, the women welcome the arrival of each guest, by squalling
out for several times together. Loo I Loo I Loo I^ At Uieu- funerals,
also, and upon other melancholy occasions, Ihey repeat the same noise,
only they make it more deep and hollow, and end each period with
some ventriloquous sighs. The oKcCKa^vras iroXXo, or waihnff greatly
^as our version expresses it, Mark v. 38.^, upon the death of Jairus's
daughter, was, probably, performed in tms manner. For there are
several women, hired to act upon these lugubrious occasions, who,
like the pr(Bfic(By or mourning women of old, are skUfulin lameniation
(Amos V. 16.), and great mistresses of these melancholy expressions :
and, indeed, wey perform their parts with such proper sounds, ves-
tures, and commotions, that they rarely fiul to work up the asseinbly
into some extraordinary pitch of thoughtfiilness and sorrow. The
British factory has often been very sensibly touched with these
lamentations, whenever they were made in the neighbouring houses."'
The Key. William Jowett, during his travels in Palestine, arrived at
the town of Napolose, which stands on the site of the ancient Sie-
chem, immediately after the death of the governor. ^* On ccMning
within sight of the gate," he relates, ^' we perceived a numerous com-
pany of females, who were singing in a Kind of redtative &r frcMn
melancholy, and beating time wiu their hands. On our reaching
the gate, it was suddenly exchanged for most hideous plaints and
shrieks ; which, with tlie feeling tnat we were entering a city at no
time celebrated for its hospitality, struck a very dismal impression
upon my mind. They accompanied us a few paces, but it soon ap-
peared that the gate was their station ; to which, having received
nothing from us, they returned. We learned in the course of the
evening, that these were only a small detachment of a very numerous
body 01 cunning women^ who were filling the whole city with their
cries, — takiiig up a waUing with the design, as of old, to make the
eyes of all the inhabitants run down with tears, and their eyelids push
out with waters. (Jer. ix. 17, 18.) For this good service they would,
the next morning, wait upon the government and principal persons,
to receive some trifling fee."^ The Bev. John Hartiey, during his

* Harwood*8 Introduction, vol iL pp. 1S2. 134., whsxt Tarioos paangeB of dassie uidion
are cited.

' Boberts'B Oriental mostratfons, pp. 248—249.

' Lane's Manners and Costoms of the Modem Egyptians, vol. iL pp. 28S, 287.

* Dr. Shaw conceires this word to be a cormption of Hallelujah. He remarks, AAaA^,
a word of the like sound, was used bj an army either before they gaye the onset, or when
they had obtained the victory. The Turks to this day call out, Allah I Allah ! Allahl
upon the like occasion. Travels, voL L p. 435. note*. (Sya edit.)

* Ibid. pp. 436, 436.

* Jowett^s Christian Besearchee in Syria, p 194. The moumine of the Montenegrioa
bears a great resemblance to that of the oriental nationa On the death of any one,
nothing is heard but tears, cries, and groans from the whole family: the women, in par-

Digitized by


Funeral Bites. 563

travels in Greece, relates that, one morning, while taking a solitary
walk in .^E^ina, l^e most plaintive accents fell upon his ear which he
had ever heard. He followed in the direction from which the sounds
proceeded, and they conducted him to die newly-made grave of a
young man, cut down in the bloom of life, over which a woman,
hired for the occasion, was pouring forth lamentation and mourning
and woe, with such doleful strains and feelings, as could scarcely have
been supposed other than rancere.^

In proportion to the rank of the deceased, and the estimation in
which his memory was held, was the number of persons who assisted
at his funeral obsequies, agreeably to the very ancient custom of the
East. Thus, at the fimeral of Jacob, there were present not only
Joseph and the rest of his family, but also the servants and elders (or
superintendents of Pharaoh's house) and the principal Egyptians, wno
attended to do honour to his memory, and who accompanied the pro-
cesfflon into the land of Canaan. (Gen. L 7 — 10.) At the bum! of
Abner, David commanded Joab and all the people that were with him
to rend their garments, and gird themselves with sackcloth, and to
mourn before Abner, or make lamentations in honour of that general ;
and the king himself followed ihe bier. (2 Sam. iiL 31.) Au Judah
and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did honour to Hezekiah at his death,
(2 Chron. zzziL 33.) Much people of the city foere with the widow of
Nain, who was following her only son to ike grave. (Luke vii 12.)
Josephus informs us that Herod was attended to Herodium (a journey
of twen^-five da;^s), where he had commanded that he should be in*
terred, mrst, by ms sons and his numerous relations ; next, by his
guards, and after them by llie whole army, in the same order as when
tiiey marched out to war ; and that these were followed by five hun-
dred of his domestics, carrying spices.*

ticalar, beat themselves in a fri^^itAil maimer, phick off th^ hair and tear their fiuxs and
bosoms. The deceased person is laid out for twen^-four boon, in the boose where be
expires, with the fitoe uncoyered; and is perftuned with essences, and strewed with flowers
and aromatic leaves^ after the costom of the ancients. The lamentations are renewed
erery moment, particolarfy on the arriTal of a fresh person, and especiallr of the priest
Just before the defunct is carried ont of the bonse, his relations whisper m bis ear, and
give him commissions for the other world, to their departed reUtiyes or friends. After
these singular addresses, a pall or winding-sheet is thrown over the dead person, whose
face continues uncovered, and be is carried to church: v^le on the road thidier, women,
hired for the purpose, chant his praises, amid their tears. Previously to depositing him in
the ground, the next of kin tie a piece of cake to his neck, and put a piece of money in
his hand, after the manner of the ancient Greeks. During this ceremony, as also while
they are carrying him to the burial-ground, a yariety of apostrophes is addressed to the
defunct, wtadi are interrupted only by mournftal sobs, asking him why he quitted them ?
why he abandoned bis family? — he, whose poor wifo loved him so tenderly, and pro-
vided eyery thing for him to eat I whose children obeyed him with such respect, while
bis friends succoured him wheneyer be wanted assistance ; who possessed sncn bcAutiftil
flocks, and all whose undertakings were blessed by heaven I When the funeral rites are
performed, the curate and mourners return home, and partake of a grand entertainment,
which is frequently interrupted by jovial songs, intermixed with prayers in honour of the
deceased. One of the guests is commissioned to chant a ** lament " impromptu, which
usually draws tears from the whole company ; the performer is accompanied by three or
four monocbordfl, whose harsh discord excites both laughter and tears at the same time
Voyi^ Historique et Politique k Montenegro, par M. le Colonel Vialla de Sommidres
tom. t pp. 275 — 278. Paris, lS2a 8va

■ Hartley's Besearchcs in Qreece, pp. 119, 120.

' Josephus, Ant Jud. lib. xvii c. 8. § 3.

oo 2

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564 Treatment qf the Dead.

Further, it was usual to honour the memory of distinguished indir
viduals by a funeral oration or poem : thus David pronounced an
eulogy over the grave of Abner. (2 Sam. iii. 33, 34.) Upon the death
of any of their princes, who had distinguished themselves in arms, or
who, by any religious actions, or by the promotion of civil arts, had
merited well of their country, they used to make lamentations or
mournful songs for them. From an expression in 2 Chron. xxxv. 25.
Behold they are written in the Lamentations^ we may infer that they
had certain collections of this kind of composition. The author of the
book of Samuel has preserved the exquisitely beautiful and affectang
elegy which David composed on occasion of the death of Saul and

Online LibraryThomas Hartwell HorneAn introduction to the critical study and knowledge of the Holy ..., Volume 3 → online text (page 80 of 114)