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The Hebrew people did not regularly embalm the dead. However in the Bible we do have a couple of incidences of this. Genesis 50:2,3 "Then Joseph ordered the doctors in his service to enbalm his father. The doctors embalmed Israel, and it took them forty days..." Genesis 50:12 "His sons did what he had ordered them to do for him." Genesis 50:26"Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten; he was embalmed and laid in a coffin in Egypt." These patriarchs were later carried back to The promised land and entombed. Embalming was necessary you might say. 2Chronicles 16:14 we come to As a."He was laid in the burial chamber which he had ordered to be cut for him in the City of David. He was laid in the burial chamber which was filled with perfume blended with oils and a great funeral fire was made for him." Not embalmed. Not a cremation, but a celebration of his burial as a King, the spices were burned. John 19:39,40 "Nicodemus came as well...and he brought a mixture of myrrh and allows...vs 41 They took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices following the Jewish burial custom." The Jewish custom is to wash the body, the spices were added not to enable I understand this was a purification act, and an act of love. The shroud, called the TACHRICHIM (death) had no pockets, as when we come into the world we have nothing, and when we leave, we take nothing. We are spirit and God will judge each one on his merits and deeds. Custom today also dictates for the Jew, no public viewing. You should not look upon someone who can not look back at you.The casket, coffin, is usually a simple wooden vessel, with no metal. Of course it is up to the family. I presume this has to do with: Genesis 2:7 "YAHWEH God shaped man from the soil of the ground..." Genesis 3:19 "By the sweat of your face will you earn your food, until you return to the ground, as you were taken from it. For dust you are and to dust you shall return." Genesis 18:27 "...It is presumptuous of me to speak to the Lord, I who am dust and ashes." Job 30:19 "...I am no more than dust and ashes." Ecclesiastes 12:7 "the dust returns to the earth from which it came, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." Very healthy for the environment. I think the saying, ashes to ashes and dust to dust is thought to come from the Bible. However it does not really. It comes from the Book of Common Prayer. Burial rite 1, page 485; and burial rite 2, page 501. It is also in the apocryphal in the book of Ecclesiasticus/Sirach chapter 10:9. As Christians we know that our spirits will be forever with God. One day our mind, body and spirit will be reunited in the Kingdom to never be separated again. Embalming seems to be a modern day common practice. I would say probably more than likely pagan in its beginnings. God will take care of His own and not loose even a freckle or an eyelash!
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