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sometimes read of burnings. Several other nations commonly burned dead bodies ; but this was not the usual practice among the Jews. In the burnings just mentioned the clothes, armour, and other things belonging to the deceased were burned, as well as some parts of the inside of the bodies, which were removed to make room for the spices. At the death of Jehoram, 2 Chron. xxi. 19, the "people made no burning for him.” He was a wicked king, and probably was accounted unworthy of such an honour. The bodies of Saul and his sons were burned : probably they were so mangled, or in such a state that they could not be embalmed. Amos vi. 10, mentions the burning of dead bodies ; but that appears to have been in the time of pestilence, when it was impossible to attend to the usual rites of interment.
To be deprived of burial was thought to be a great dishonour and calamity : see Eccl. vi. 3. The casting forth of Jehoiakim’s body, Jer. xxii. 19, is spoken of in this manner; and, in Psalm lxxix., the dead bodies of the Israelites having been left unburied, is mentioned as increasing the calamities of the nation. The bodies of criminals were cast out and stones heaped over them, as Achan, Josh. vii. 26 ; Absalom, 2 Sam. xviii. 17.
The ancients did not follow the unwholesome custom of burying their dead in the midst of towns and cities : they buried in gardens, as the tomb where our Lord was laid, John xix. 41, in fields, or in caves, mostly in unfrequented places. Many of the tombs were large, and contained several recesses, or small rooms, which sometimes afforded shelter to the weary traveller, or became lurking-places for robbers. The demoniac at Gadara, Mark v. 2, dwelt among the tombs. These buildings often covered a large space of ground. The tombs sometimes were attached to their houses, as that of Samuel, 1 Sam. xxv. 1; Joab, 1 Kings ii. 34. At a place on Lebanon, Jowett saw such a structure for the family of the host in a garden, like a small house without door or window, but usually they have the latter.
In Egypt, the tombs of the kings were very magnificent and beautiful. Belzoni, a few years since, by digging away some rubbish at the side of a hill, discovered a most remarkable tomb, containing a number of rooms and passages. The walls were sculptured and painted with beautiful figures. Among them were some which, from their countenances and dress, evidently represented Jews. From
the hieroglyphic inscriptions and other circumstances, Belzoni had no doubt but that it was the tomb of Psammis, a king of Egypt, the son of Necho, 2 Chron. xxxv. 20; or that it was erected by Psammis for the remains of his father Necho, who conquered Judæa, in battle with whom Josiah was slain. The sarcophagus, or coffin of alabaster, was brought to England, and is now in London; it is sculptured with
several hundred figures.
Robinson describes Petra and its beautiful excavations and structures, remarking, that of those that now remain, most were for the dead.
At Rome, Naples, Thebes, and some other places, there are vast excavations underground, wherein dead bodies were interred. These are called catacombs, and the spaces
and passages are so numerous and intricate, that strangers would be lost in them without guides. There are little recesses on the sides as described, Ezek. xxxii. 23, “in the sides of the pit.” The mummy pits at Gournou have been described by several travellers. They are so intricate that it is dangerous to go far into them. The half-savage natives who inhabit the entrances, have broken up vast numbers of the coffins, and destroyed the contents.
In some sepulchres, there were buildings on which much expense was bestowed.
To these our Lord alludes, when he speaks of the Pharisees as whited sepulchres, Matt. xxiii. 27. They were usually whitened every year, to
warn passengers not to approach so as to be defiled. Some-
This represents a rock-tomb in the “sides ”of the valley of Jehoshaphat. They usually have an ante or entrance room, with side chambers. Carne says travellers often rest in them.
After the burial, there was usually a feast : this probably is alluded to, 2 Sam. iii. 35; Jer. xvi. 7, 8; and Hosea ix. 4. It is the custom among many nations now, even among the Greenlanders ; where the property left for a poor
widow is often consumed in this manner. The feastings at funerals, so common in Ireland, and called wakes, are similar.
Mourning, as to apparel, 2 Sam. xiv. 2, was not a black dress, as in Europe, or the wearing any particular colour, but was shown by ragged and neglected clothing; it did not last for so long a time as is customary amongst us.
It was usual to make elegies or mournful songs on persons of rank, particularly when there were any especial reasons for lamenting. Jeremiah wrote a book of Lamentations for Josiah, see 2 Chron. xxxv. 25, but it has not been preserved. The book of Lamentations, at the end of the prophecy of Jeremiah, was written upon the destruction of Jerusalem. The lamentation, or elegy, composed by David, on the death of Saul and Jonathan, is in 2 Sam. i. 17—27. But the Jews and patriarchs sorrowed not as those without hope. They believed in the RESURRECTION from the dead, as is plainly pointed out in Job xix 25 ; Hosea xiii. 14 ; and many other passages. It is enough to refer to the words of our Lord, Luke xx, 37, 38, “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living ; for all live unto him.” And remember, that Christ is “risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” 1 Cor. xv. 20—22.
The reader is again intreated to examine such of the passages referred to as he does not distinctly recollect, and, by the Divine blessing, some benefit may be derived from these pages. In reading the Bible or any works relating to it, we must bear in mind that the Scriptures were written for our instruction : not as mere matters of history, but for the good of our souls. A blessing should always be sought upon our studies; above all, upon the study of the Holy SCRIPTURES.
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