Did Jews strongly feel all corpses should be buried for the corpse's sake?

“Yes, after all…
  • Jews felt pre-nightfall burial was required

      Jews felt obligated to ensure pre-nightfall burial of any corpse
      • …In fact, even crucified corpses were to buried before nightfall.
      • …It was seen as a common decency commanded by God.1

      1. Josephus (Against Apion 2.211): “However, there are other things which our legislator ordained for us beforehand, which of necessity we ought to do in common to all men; as to afford fire, and water, and food to such as want it; to show them the roads; and not to let anyone lie unburied.”
  • All cultures felt burial was required

      All contemporaries, even Gentiles, deemed burial a necessary thing.1
      • …Diodorus Siculus 20.84.3
      • …Diogenes Laertius Lives of Eminent Philosophers 6.2.52
      • …Chariton Chaereas and Callirhoe 4.1.3
      • …Pausanius Description of Greece 1.32.5
      • …Philostratus Heroikos 3333
      • …Plutarch Nicias 6.5-6
      • …Sophicles Antigone 43-48
      • …Cf. Pint. Solon 21.1
      • …Most contemporaries in general felt this way.2

      1. Craig Keener (Historical Jesus & NT Scholar; professor): “Burial was an essential duty for ... most Gentiles” [The Historical Jesus of the Gospels (Eerdmans, 2009), 326.] Keener cites, “E.g., Hom. Il. 23.65-71; Od. 11.71-76; 21.363-64; 22.476; Eurip. Ch. Her. 588-90; Hec. 47-50; Ph. M. 1447-50; Suppliants, passim; Diod. Sic. 15.35.1; Philostratus Hrk. 19.7; it was necessary to enter the netherworld (Hom. Il. 23.71; Virg. Aen. 6.365-66; Heliod. Ethiop. 6.15).”
  • Jews felt nonburial was a horror

      Jews felt non-burial was not just bad, but an absolute horror.
      • …Philo’s Joseph 22-27 says, “nothing has ever happened more intolerable than this”1
      • …Hebrew Bible: Ecclesiastes 6:3 • …Midrash Rabbah: Ecclesiastes Rabbah (Kohelet Rabbah) 3:2 • …Josephus Jewish Wars 5:514
      • …Jubilees 23:23
      • …Sibylline Oracles 3.643
      • …It was regarded as a curse from God.2
      • …Cf.Semahot 13:13

      1. Philo (Joseph 22-27): “But when their father heard... a falsehood that he was dead, and that he had been slain by wild beasts... they brought to him his son’s coat rent and torn and defiled with quantities of blood... he lay for a long time without speaking, not being able even to lift up his head, the calamity overwhelming and completely prostrating him; (23) then suddenly pouring forth as it were a stream of tears with bitter lamentations, he bedewed his cheeks, and his chin, and his breast, and all the garments on his chest, saying at the same time such words as these, “It is not thy death that grieves me, O my son, but such a tomb as has fallen to your lot; for if you had been buried in your own land I should have been comforted; I would have cherished you, I would have tended you in sickness if you had died before me, I would have given you my last embrace, I would have closed your eyes, I would have wept over your dead body lying before me, I would have buried you sumptuously, I would have omitted none of the customary observances... (25) but if it was necessary that he should die violently and by treachery, it would have been a lighter evil to me for him to have been slain by men, who would have laid out his corpse, and have pitied him so far as to scatter dust over him, and at least to have concealed his body; and even if they had been the most merciless of all people, what more could they have done than have thrown him out unburied, and so got rid of him? And then, perhaps, some one of the passers by on the road, standing by, and beholding him, and conceiving pity for our common nature, would have thought him worthy of some care, and of burial; but now, as the saying is, O my son, thou has become a feast, and a banquet for savage and carnivorous wild beasts, who will eat and devour thy bowels; (26)... nothing has ever happened more intolerable than this misfortune which has now befallen me; which has consumed and destroyed all the vigour of my soul; (27) for what can be a greater or more pitiable calamity? ... he has been wholly and entirely destroyed and devoured, not being able even to receive burial;” [Trans. by C. Yonge]1
      2. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels: “To be refused burial, to be left exposed as refuse for birds and beasts—this fate is understood as a divine curse (e.g., Deut 28:26; Jer 8:1–2; 16:1–4; Ezek 29:5).” [Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, I. Howard Marshall (InterVarsity, 1992) 89.]
      3. Semahot 13:1 -- “A person engage in ossilegium or in guarding the bones is exempt from reciting the Shema, from the Tefillah, from Tefilin, and from all the commandments written in the Torah. Should he wish to exact more of himself, he may not do so, because of the honor due to the bones of the dead.”
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