« PreviousContinue »
before Nadir Shah's general, the soldiers were ordered to spit in his face; which proves that the savage conduct of the Jews corresponded with a custom which had been long established over all the east.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE FROM THE HONOURS
SHEWN TO THE DEAD.
Duties belonging to the dead reckoned sacred. The parting kiss.--Closing
the eyes and binding up the face.- Washing the body.-Swathing it in linen.-Anointing it with oil. Wrapping it in the garments the dead had usually worn.- The body embalmed.-Laid out shrouded in its graveclothes.--Watched while thus exposed.-Vessel of water placed at the door.-Body laid in a coffin.--Carried out on a bier.Laid by the Isa raelites in the dust.-Ancients attached very great importance to burial. Desire of reposing in the sepulchres of our fathers.-Funeral procession. -Professional mourners.-
-Sorrow of relations testified by cutting their arms with daggers.-Bury their dead generally without the walls of their cities. Sepulchres of the Hebrews. Tombs of Telmissus. The søros, or sarcophagus. Tombs of Macri. Tombs of Tiberias. Tombs of Naplose.-Tombs of the common people. All of them kept clean and white. The Jews placed their dead in niches.-Jewish tombs closed with a large broad stone.- Tokens of sorrow among the bereaved Greeks, and others.Oriental mourners often proceeded to great excesses. Burning brimstone in the house of the deceased..Funeral obsequies concluded by a feast. Consequences of the death of a king of Persia..Relations return on the third or fourth day to condole with the bereaved. The oriental mourner distinguished by the slovenliness of his dress.-Time of mourning for the dead.-Jews accustomed to visit the sepulchres of their deceased friends three days. In some parts of Judea they went occasionally to weep at the graves.-Chambers built over them.--Oil burnt in honour of the dead.
Lacrymal urns.-Kings and princes often subjected to trial after their death. --In Egypt persons of every rank and condition subjected to trial.
The duties belonging to the dead, have been reckoned eminently sacred in every age, and among every people. The most barbarous nations have regarded the dust of their departed relatives, as sacred and inviolable. In Greece, to refuse the manes of their departed friends any part of their accustomed regard, or to neglect any the least duty to which they were thought entitled, was deemed a greater crime than to violate the temples, and plunder the shrines of their gods. They preserved their memories with religious care and reverence ; they went so far as to honour their remains with worship and adoration; at the grave
of an enemy, they relinquished for ever their hatred and envy, and stigmatised a disposition to speak evil of the dead as cruel and inhuman. To prosecute revenge beyond the grave, was classed with the foulest actions of which any man could be guilty; no provocations, no affronts from the deceased while alive, or from their children after their death, were deemed sufficient to warrant so nefarious a deed. To disturb the ashes of the dead, fixed a stain on the character of the perpetrator, which no length of time, nor change of circumstances could remove.
These sentiments, refined and directed by the dictates and influence of a purer faith, were deeply graven on the heart of a genuine Israelite. In mournful silence, he attended the dying bed of his friend or parent, to receive his last advice, and obtain his blessing. Persuaded that the souls of good men acquired a greater degree of vigour
• Potter's Grecian Antiq. vol. ii, p. 161.
and elevation, as they drew near the end of their course, and were favoured with a clearer and more extensive prospect of things to come, he reckoned it his duty and his privilege to catch every sentence from the lips of the dying, and especially to mark the solemn moment when the vital functions ceased, and the liberated soul took her flight into the world of spirits. As soon as the last breath had fled, the nearest relation, or the dearest friend, gave the lifeless body the parting kiss, the last farewell and sign of affection to the departed relative. This was a custom of immemorial antiquity; for the patriarch Jacob had no sooner yielded up his spirit, than his beloved Joseph, claiming for once the right of the first born, “ fell upon his face and kissed him.” It is probable he first closed his eyes, as God had promised he should do, (Jo. seph shall put his hands upon thine eyes), and then parted from his body with a kiss.' In these particulars the an. cient Greeks clearly imitated the Jews; when they saw their friends and relations at the point of resigning their lives, they came close to the bed where they lay, to bid them farewell, and catch their dying words, which they never repeated without reverence.
The want of opportunity to pay this compliment to Hector, his widowed spouse laments in these affecting strains :
Ou zjag fios Iunorwy 14X6WY experigas ogežus, &c. ' Il. lib. xxiv, 1. 743. “For when dying, thou hast not stretched out thy hand from the bed to me: thou hast not given ine sound advice, which I might still bear in sad remembrance, and with tears, repeat night and day.” They also took their last farewell, by kissing and embracing the dead body. Thus Ovid represents Niobe as kissing her deceased sons ;
• Æneid. lib. vi, 1. 684 ; and lib, ix, l. 487.
and Corrippus, Justin the younger, as falling upon Justinian, and kissing him with many tears.
The parting kiss being given, the company rent their clothes, which was a custom of great antiquity, and the highest expression of grief in the primitive ages. This ceremony was never omitted by the Hebrews when any mournful event happened, and was performed in the following manner; they took a knife, and holding the blade downwards, gave the upper garment a cut in the right side, and rent it an hand's breadth. For very near relations, all the garments are rent on the right side.
After closing the eyes, the next care was to bind up the face, which it was no more lawful to behold. The Greeks also were careful to close the eyes of their departed friends, and to cover their faces; both to prevent the horror which the pale and unyielding features, and particularly the eyes of the dead, are apt to excite, and for the satisfaction of the dying, who are usually desirous to spare, as much as possible, the feelings of their surviving relations, and to appear, even after death, as little as may be, the objects of disgust or aversion to those whom they still esteem and love. Hence the ghost of Agamemnon complained that his wife Clytemnestra had neglected
Xiger rat' opladers in sev, corte sopo spesetet Odyss. lib. xi, 1. 419. " to close with her hands his eyes and his mouth.” And in Euripides, when Hippolytus felt himself at the point of death, he called upon his father Theseus quickly to cover his face with a sheet : Κρυψον διμε σι0σωπον ώς ταχος πεπλοις. .
Hippolyto. v. 1458. The next care of surviving friends is to wash the body,
• Potter's Grecian Antiq. vol. ii, p. 175.
probably, that the ointments and perfumes with which it is to be wrapped up, may enter more easily into the pores, when they are opened by warm water. This ablution, which was always esteemed an act of great charity and devotion, is performed by women.. Thus the body of Dorcas was washed, and laid in an upper room, till the arrival of the apostle Peter, in the hope that his prayers might restore her to life. After the body is washed, it is shrouded, and swathed with a linen cloth, although in most places, they only put on a pair of drawers and a white shift; and the head is bound about with a napkin: such were the napkin and grave-clothes, in which the Saviour was buried.
The Greeks and Romans, after washing, anointed the body with oil, or some precious vintment. Homer frequently mentions the custom of anointing the dead, but takes notice of no other unguent but oil. Thus they anointed the body of Patroclus :
Και τοτε δη λεσανο, και ηλειψαν λιπ’ ελαιω. Il. lib. xviii, 1. 350.
" As soon as washed, they anointed him with oil.” After it was washed and anointed, they wrapped it in a garment, which seems to have been no other than the cloak of the deceased. Thus Misenus, being first washed and anointed, then (as the custom was), laid upon a bed, was wrapped in the garments he had usually worn:
“ Pars calidos latices et ahena undantia flammis
Æneid. lib. vi, l. 218, “ Some get ready warm water and caldrons bubbling from the flames, and wash and anoint his.cold limbs.
Potter's Gr. Antiq. vol. ii, p. 180. Adam's Rom. Antiq. p. 472.
Æneid. lib. vi, 1. 219.