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Need of Burial.

A body of a dead human being polluted not only those that touched it, but also the dwelling, its inmates, and all uncovered utensils (Num. xix. 14 et seq.). A person made unclean by a corpse was required to be sprinkled with water on the third and the seventh day thereafter, and to bathe and wash his clothes on the seventh day (Num. xix. 19). It was a sacred duty to bury a corpse; and even the priests, with the exception of the high priest, were permitted to defile themselves by the dead bodies of their nearest kin (Lev. xxi. 2, 3, 11). The Nazarites, however, were required to keep away from all corpses (Num. vi. 6). Yet the Nazarite Samson ate honey which he had taken out of the carcass of a lion (Judges xiv. 9), since only the human body could be the source of uncleanness in others (Num. xix. 22). During the forty years in the wilderness, those polluted by touching human corpses were put out of the camp (Num. v. 2), nor could they partake of the Passover sacrifice or any other offerings (ix. 6). Even those polluted in battle must be purified (xxxi. 19). Not to bury a corpse was considered the greatest disrespect that could be shown to the dead (Jer. viii. 2; Ps. lxxix. 2, 3), although in time of war this was necessarily a frequent circumstance. The law demanded the burial of a condemned person (Deut. xxi. 23), this applying even to the bones of those who had been executed in vengeance (II Sam. xxi. 13). The Egyptians were experts in embalming; but in Palestine, where little was known of the art, bodies were removed as quickly as possible from the houses (compare Amos vi. 10; see Burial). Places where human bones accumulated, such as Tophet in the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, were held to be especially polluted, and therefore horrible. "High places" were defiled by human bones more than by all else (II Kings xxiii. 14).

Bibliography:
  • E. Grüneisen, Der Ahnenkultus und die Urreligion Israels, p. 110, Halle, 1900.
E. G. H. S. Kr.
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