« AnteriorContinuar »
§ 207. Note I. MAUNDRELL on sepulchres of Kings. 241
chres, those the farthest removed from the first entrance, were deeper than the others, and were approached by a flight of descending steps, 2 Chron. 32: 33. Ps. 88: 6. Is. 14: 15.
The entrance was closed, either by stone doors, or by a flat stone placed against the mouth of it, Ps. 5:9. John 11:38. 20: 5, 11. Matt. 28:2. Mark 16: 3, 4.
The doors of sepulchres, indeed the whole external surface, unless they were so conspicuous without it, as to be readily discovered and known, were painted white on the last month of every year, i. e. the month of Adar. The object of this practice, was, by a timely warning, to prevent those, who came to the feast of the Passover, from approaching them, and thus becoming contaminated, Matt. 23:27. Luke 11:44. In Egypt there are still found the remains of very splendid sepulchres, which, when we consider their antiquity, their costliness, and the consequent notice, which they attracted, account for the expressions in Job 3:14, and 17: 1.
NotE I. MAUNDRELL on THE SEPULCHREs of THE KINGs.
[“The next place we came to was those famous grots called the sepulchres of the kings; but for what reason they go by that name is hard to resolve : for it is certain none of the kings either of Israel or Judah, were buried here, the holy Scriptures assigning other places for their sepultures: unless it may be thought perhaps that Hezekiah was here interred, and that these were the sepulchres of the sons of David, mentioned 2 Chron. 32: 33. Whoever was buried here, this is certain, that the place itself discovers so great an expense both of labour and treasure, that we may well suppose it to have been the work of kings. You approach to it at the east side, through an entrance cut out of the natural rock, which admits you into an open court of about forty paces square, cut down into the rock with which it is encompassed instead of walls. On the south side of the court is a portico nine paces long and four broad, hewn likewise out of the natural rock. This has a kind of architrave running along its front, adorned with sculpture, of fruits or flowers, still discernible, but by time much defaced. At the end of the portico on the left hand you descend to the passage into the sepulchres. The door is now so obstructed
with stones and rubbish, that it is a thing of some difficulty to creep 242 5 207. Note il, on the white-washing of sepulchaes.
through it. But within you, arrive in a large fair room, about seven or eight yards square, cut out of the natural rock. Its sides and ceiling are so exactly square, and its angles so just, that no architect with levels and plummets could build a room more regular. And the whole is so firm and entire, that it may be called a chamber hollowed out of one piece of marble. From this room, you pass into, I think, six more, one within another, all of the same fabric with the first. Of these the two innermost are deeper than the rest, having a second descent of about six or seven * steps into them. “In every one of these rooms, except the first, were coffins of stone placed in niches in the sides of the chamber. They had been at first covered with handsome lids, and carved with garlands: but now most of them were broken to pieces by sacrilegious hands. The sides and ceiling of the rooms were always dropping with the moist damps condensing upon them. To remedy which nuisance, and to preserve these chambers of the dead polite and clean, there was in each room a small channel cut in the floor, which served to drain the drops that fall constantly into it,” Maundrell’s Travels, p. 76.]
NoTE II. HARMER on THE white-washing of SEPULCHRES.. "
[“The general meaning of a comparison used by our Lord is obvious, when he said, Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites 1 for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness, Matt. 23:27; but it will appear with greater life, if we suppose, that the Sepulchres about Jerusalem were just then white washed afresh, which I should suppose is extremely probable, as the present Eastern sepulchres are fresh done upon the approach of their Ramadan.
“Such is the account of Niebuhr, in the first volume of his Travels. Speaking there of Zebid, a city of Arabia, which had been the residence of a Mohammedan prince, and the most commercial city of all the country of that part of Arabia, but which had lost much of its ancient splendour in these respects, he adds, “ that however, Zebid makes yet, at a distance, the most beautiful appearance of all the cities of the Tehama, or low country, which is owing to their clergy, who have found means, insensibly,
§ 208. ARTICLEs BURIED with The DEAD. 243
to appropriate a very large part of the revenues of the city and
§ 208. ARTICLEs which were BURIED witH THE DEAD.
The custom prevailed among many ancient nations of throwing pieces of gold and silver, also other precious articles, into the sepulchres of those, who were buried. The Hebrews did not think proper to adopt “this custom, but retained those precious gifts for the use of the living, which other nations chose to bestow upon the dead. There was this exception, however, in the case of the Hebrews, that they sometimes buried with their departed monarchs the appropriate ensigns of their authority, and sometimes deposited in the tomb of their lifeless warriours the armour, which they had worn while living, Ezek. 32: 27.
Herod, when he opened and examined the tomb of David, found within it the ensigns of royal authority. Josephus, (Antiq.
*Ramadan is a kind of Mohammedan Lent, followed by a festival, as Lent, in the Engliish Church, is followed by Easter.
244 § 209. SEPulchral Monuments.
XVI. 1, 11,) states, that John Hyrcanus found a treasure in the sepulchre of David. If this were the fact, the treasure in question could have been no other, than that, which was deposited there by Antiochus Epiphanes.
Mention is made of such monuments in various instances from the time of Abraham down to the time of Christ, Gen. 19:26. 35. 20. 2 Kgs. 23: 16, 17. 1 Macc. 13: 25–30. Matt. 23: 29. The ancient Arabians erected a heap of stones over the body of the dead, Job 21: 32. Among the Hebrews, such a heap was an indication, that the person was stoned, and was of course a mark of ignominy, Jos. 7:26. 8:27, 29. 2 Sam. 18: 17. In progress of time, one stone only, instead of a heap, was selected, and raised up as a monument. It was, as might be expected, a large one, and, at a subsequent period still, it was customary to hew it, and ornament it with inscriptions. Sepulchral stones of this kind are very ancient, and are common to this day in the East. The Egyptians, like the Arabians, were in the habit of throwing together heaps of stones in honour of the dead. After the practice had once commenced, they gradually increased the heap to a very great size. Till at length they exerted their ingenuity and their power, in the erection of those mountains of stone, as they may be termed, the pyramids. Anciently monuments of another kind, resembling small obelisks or columns a of large size, were likewise erected, and some of them are standing at the present day in Syria. The inhabitants of the East of the present age are in the habit of erecting over the burial places of those Mohammedans, who have been distinguished for the sanctity of their life, small houses, supported on four columns, and displaying an arched roof. These edifices are repaired and ornamented by the great, who desire to obtain the popular favour, in much the same way, that those of the prophets were in the time of Christ, Matt. 23:29. The monument, erected in honour of the Maccabees at Modin, is described in the first Book of Maccabees, 13:27. It was raised of square stones, and was very high. In the front of it were seven pyramids, and round about many columns, upon the tops of which
§ 210. BURNING of The corpse. 245
were placed large stones, extending from one to the other. The delineation of some parts of this monument is still seen upon ancient coins. As far as we can judge from the representation of it, given upon these coins, one would conclude, that it resembled in some degree the monuments of those Mohammedans, who had gained a celebrity for their piety.
§ 210. BURNING of THE Corpse.
The ancient Hebrews considered burning the body a matter of very great reproach, and rarely did it, except when they wished, together with the greatest punishment, to inflict the greatest ignominy, Gen. 38:24. The body of Saul, which had been suspended by the Philistines on the walls of Bethshan, was burnt by the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead from necessity, not to inflict, but to preserve it from further disgrace, 1 Sam. 31: 12.
The sentiment in respect to the burning of bodies seems at a later period to have been changed. An hundred and forty years after Saul, king Asa was burnt with many aromatick substances, not as an indication of disgrace, but as an honour. This ceremony in the case of Asa is not spoken of, as if it were a new thing, and it had probably been introduced, at least some little time previously. After the time of Asa, the revolution of sentiment in regard to burning was so complete, that, while burning was considered the most distinguished honour, not to be burnt was regarded a most signal disgrace, 2 Chron. 16: 14.21: 19. Amos, 6: 10. Jer. 34: 5.
Another change of sentiment eventually took place. After the captivity, the Jews conceived a great hatred to this rite. The Talmudists in consequence of this endeavoured to pervert the passages respecting it, and to induce a belief, that the aromatick substances alone, and not the body, were burnt.
§ 211. OF Mourning.
The grief of the Orientals formerly, on an occasion of death, was, as it is to this day in the East, very extreme. As soon as a person dies, the females in the family with a loud voice set up a sorrowful cry. They continue it as long as they can, without