Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

“ And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man, sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment, and they were affrighted.”

These different sorts of tombs and sepulchres, with the very

walls likewise of the enclosures, are constantly kept clean, white washed and beautified; and by consequence, continue to this day to be an excellent comment upon

that expression of our Saviour's :a 6 Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwards, but are within full of dead men's bones and rottenness --Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous.”b It was in one of these chambers, or cupolas, which were built over the sepulchre, that the demoniacs, mentioned in the eighth chapter of Matthew, probably had their dwelling.

As the Jews did not make use of coffins, they placed their dead separately in niches, or little cells, cut into the sides of the caves, or rooms, which they had hewed out of the rock. This form of the Jewish sepulchre suggests an easy solution of a difficulty in the resurrection of La

The sacred historian states, that when our Lord cried with a loud voice, “ Lazarus come forth, he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes.". Upon this circumstance, the enemies of revelation seize with avidity, and demand with an air of triumph, How he should come out of a grave,

who bound hand and foot with grave-clothes ? But the answer is easy: the Evangelist does not mean that Lazarus walked out of the sepulchre, but only that he sat up, then putting his legs over the edge of his niche or cell, slid down and

zarus.

was

2 Mark xvi, 5. Shaw's Trav. vol. ii, p. 13-15. a Niebuhr's Trav. vol. i, p. 261.

• Matt. xxiii, 27, 29. e John xi, 44.

stood upright upon the floor ; all which he might easily do, notwithstanding his arms were bound close to his body, and his legs were tied strait together, by means of the shroud and rollers with which he was swathed. Hence, when he was come forth, Jesus ordered his relations to loose him and let him go; a circumstance plainly importing the historian's admission that Lazurus could not walk till he was unbound.

The Jewish tombs, like those of Macri, have entrances, which were originally closed with a large and broad stone rolled to the door, which it was not lawful, in the opinion of a Jew, to displace. They were adorned with inscriptions and emblematical devices, alluding to particular transactions in the lives of the persons that lay there entombed. Thus the place where the dust of Joshua reposed, was called Timnath-heres, because the image of the sun was engraved on his sepulchre, in memory of his arresting that luminary in his career, till he had gained a complete victory over the confederate kings. Such significant devices were common in the east. the tomb of Archimedes, was distinguished by the figure of a sphere and a cylinder."

The funeral ceremony of the Jews was finished by rolling the appointed stone to the door of the sepulchre ; after which the mourning and lamentations were renewed,

Cicero says,

d

[ocr errors]

Potter's Gr. Antiq. vol. ii, p. 224.-- In the neighbourhood of Mount Tabor Mr. Buckingham found many graves of a different form from any of those now described. These “ were cut down into the rock, exactly in the way in which our modern graves are dug in the earth.” They were vered with rude blocks of stone, sufficiently large to overlap the edge of the grave on all sides, and of a height or thickness equal to the depth of the grave itself, varying from two to four feet.” Trav. vol. ii, p. 311. He mentions similar graves in other parts of his travels, and he considers them as the work of a very early age.

The ancient Israelites, in imitation of the heathen, from whom they borrowed the practice, frequently cut themselves with knives and lancets, scratched their faces, or pricked certain parts of their bodies with needles. These superstitious practices were expressly forbidden in their law: “ Ye are the children of the Lord your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead." ?

The bereaved Greeks tore, cut off, and sometimes shaved their hair ;& they reckoned it a duty which they owed to the dead, to deprive their heads of the greatest part of their honours, or, in the language of Scripture, made a baldness between their eyes ; for in Euripides, Electrą finds fault with Helen for sparing her locks, and so defrauding her departed friends of their due respect.h Lewis and Clarke discovered some traces of this very ancient custom among

the
savage

tribes on the banks of the Missouri, who cut short their hair in the neck for the dead, and in deep mourning, over all the head.' Achilles, not more civilized than they, protested under the walls of Troy, that he would not bathe himself in water till he had placed his friend Patroclus upon the funeral pile, raised over his ashes a mound of earth, and cut off his own hair in honour of the deceased. When the pile was prepared, they laid the body of Patroclus upon it, and

f See also Morier's Trav. vol. i, p. 177...When the Persians celebrate the death of Hossein, the most violent of them walk about the streets almost naked, with only their loins covered, and their bodies streaming with blood by the voluntary cuts which they have given themselves, either as acts of love, anguish, or mortification.

8 Iliad. lib. xviii, 1. 25 ; et lib. xxii, 1. 46. Odyssey, lib. iv, 1. 198.

h Potter's Grecian Antiq. vol. ii, p. 197. See also Adam's Rom. Antiq. p. 486, 487.

i Travels in Louisiana, vol. i, p. 121. j Iliad. lib. xxiii, l. 45, 151.

cutting off their locks, covered it from head to foot with their hair.k

Sometimes the hair was cast into the funeral pile, to be consumed with the dead body, and sometimes it was laid upon the grave; for Canace, in Ovid, bewails her misfortune, because she was debarrrd from performing this ceremony to her beloved Macareus :

Non mihi te licuit lacrimis perfundere justis,

In tua non tonsus ferre sepulchra comas." I Hence, to cut off the hair for the dead, was either a part of heathen superstition, or intimately connected with the undue honours which they paid to their departed friends. This idea is confirmed by the Scholiast upon Sophocles, who says, it was used partly to render the ghost of the deceased person propitious, which seems to be the reason they threw the hair into the fire to burn with him, or laid it on his body; partly that they might appear disfigured and careless of their beauty ; for long hair was looked upon as very becoming, and the Greeks prided themselves in it, on account of which they are so frequently honoured by Homer with the epithet of (roqnx opeowules) well haired.m

The same custom prevailed among the ancient Persians and the neighbouring states." On the death of Cæsar Germanicus, some barbarous nations, at war among themselves, and with the Romans, agreed to a cessation of hostilities, as if their grief had been of a domestic nature, and on an occasion which alike concerned them both. Some princes, it was reported, cut off their beards, and shaved the heads of their wives, as an expression of their profound grief." The Jews, and other nations of Syria,

* Il. lib. xxiii, 1. 135. n Potter's Gr. Antiq. vol. ii, p. 198, 199. 1 Ibid. l. 140.

Sueton, lib. iv, sec. 5. m See Potter's Gr. Antiq. vol. ii, p. 192.

[ocr errors]

expressed their sorrow for the loss of their friends in the same manner. When the patriarch Job was informed of the death of his children, and the destruction of his property, he arose and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground and worshipped; and in the prophecies of Jeremiah, we read of eighty men who were going to lament the desolations of Jerusalem, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves (in direct violation of the divine law), with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the Lord.° Shaving, however, was, on some occasians, a sign of joy; and to let the hair grow long, the practice of mourners, or persons in affliction. Joseph shaved himself before he went into the palace ;p and Mephibosheth let his hair grow during the time David was banished from Jerusalem, but shaved himself on his return. This practice was not unknown among the surrounding nations ; for mariners were accustomed to shave themselves upon their deliverance from shipwreck; to which Juvenal makes this allusion:

“ gaudent ibi vertice raso Garrula securi narrare pericula nautæ.”q

" And then shorn sailors boast what they endured.” Hence Pliny, in one of his epistles, interprets his dream of cutting off his hair, to be a token of his deliverance from some imminent danger. This difference is to be accounted for by the fashions of several nations : for where it was usual to wear long hair, there mourners shaved themselves; but where short hair was in fashion, there the length of hair was a token of mourning.

In ordinary sorrows they only neglected their hair, or suffered it to hang down loose upon their shoulders ; in • Jer. xli, 5. p Gen. xli, 14.

9 Sat. xii, v. 82.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »