From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [1]

In ancient Israel burial occurred soon after death. In a hot climate, internment took place as quickly as possible after a person had expired ( Deuteronomy 21:23 ). For this reason rules about dealing with corpses arose limiting what could take place ( Numbers 19:11-22;  21:1-4 ). The short period of time between death and burial also placed limitations on ancient Israelite funerals.

Some customs were forbidden, such as self-mutilation ( Leviticus 19:28;  21:5;  Deuteronomy 14:1 ). In the Baal epic, El cuts deep gashes in his chest because Baal is in death's domain (cf.  1 Kings 18:28 ). In the Bible the body is part of the image of God ( Genesis 9:6 ). No disfigured person could approach God because this was inconsistent with his holiness ( Leviticus 21:17-23 ).

Cremation was considered an outrage reserved for criminals ( Genesis 38:24;  Leviticus 20:14;  21:9 ). In  Amos 2:1 the cremation of the king of Edom is classed as a heinous war crime. The burning of the bodies of Saul and Jonathan may have been an unusual local custom (  1 Samuel 31:12 ).

Rites observed at the death of Abner ( 2 Samuel 3:31-36 ) included public mourning, tearing of clothes, and donning of sackcloth. There was a solemn procession followed by the king himself. At the grave there was a great deal of weeping and the king chanted a lament. On the same day all the people came "to console David with food" (v. 35, neb). David's refusal of this food is impressive.

In the Old Testament a funeral meal may have been served after burial, designed to console family members ( Jeremiah 16:5-9;  Amos 6:4-7 ). Amos denounces the lavish excesses of such feasting and the fact that the national demise has been ignored (6:6). Jeremiah is told by God that no consolation will be given to Judah ( Jeremiah 16:5-9 ). Perhaps the inappropriateness of such funerary gaiety is hinted at when the preacher states that it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting (Eccel 7:2).

In biblical days mourning was a fine art. One needed a teacher to learn such a profession ( Jeremiah 9:20 ). Funeral songs were frequently composed and published in collections ( 2 Samuel 1:19-27;  3:33-34;  2 Chronicles 35:25 ). Curiously, the only two dirges written for individuals are secular in content ( 2 Samuel 1:19-27;  3:33-34 ).

Biblical prophets borrowed this lament genre to add realism to their predictions of doom. They were so certain about them that they sang funeral songs in advance ( Jeremiah 9:9-11,16-21;  Ezekiel 19:1-14;  Amos 5:1-2 ). Amos predicted that in the ensuing judgment so much mourning would need to be done that laypeople would have to be enlisted to help the professionals ( Amos 5:16-17 ). At times the prophet reversed his style by forbidding mourning rites. Ezekiel was forbidden to carry out such practices for his own wife (24:16-19). This was done to show that God would have no compassion when Jerusalem fell.

The announcement that people would not have a proper burial served to emphasize the serious nature of their sins. For his opulence and lack of sensitivity to poor workers, Jehoiakim's body was to be thrown outside the gates like a donkey's ( Jeremiah 22:19 ). The seven months needed for burying of Gog and Magog ( Ezekiel 39:12 ) was a strong contrast to the usual speedy burial. In mocking parody to the funeral meal, vultures will feed on their corpses ( Ezekiel 39:4 ). In the New Testament an angel even appears to invite these creatures to this "funeral banquet" ( Revelation 19:17-18 ).

Jesus compared some in his audience to uncooperative, unresponsive children who will not join in a funeral game ( Matthew 11:17 ). He stopped the funeral procession at Nain by touching the bier. Thereby he showed that the uncleanness of death could not taint him. By restoring the son to his mother, he showed that the kingdom of God had broken through into human history ( Luke 7:11-16 ). In ejecting the mourners and musicians at the death of Jarius's daughter he prefigured a day when grief would be no more ( Matthew 9:23-25 ).

Paul Ferguson

See also Burial; Mortality Death

Bibliography . W. Coleman, Today's Handbook of Bible Times and Customs  ; R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, vol. 1; P. King, Amos, Hosea, Micah—An Archaeological Commentary  ; M. Pope, Ugarit in Retrospect .

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [2]

The Israelites had elaborate customs for funerals, burials and mourning. The body of the dead person was washed ( Acts 9:37), then anointed with oil or spices and wrapped in linen ( John 11:44;  John 19:40;  Acts 5:6). This was usually done by relatives or friends of the dead person ( Mark 16:1). The burial followed with a minimum of delay ( Acts 5:6;  Acts 5:10).

As the funeral procession moved to the burial place, it was accompanied by mourning and wailing ( Amos 5:16;  Matthew 9:23-24;  Luke 7:12-14;  Luke 7:32). The mourners tore their clothes and put on sackcloth as a sign of their sorrow ( 2 Samuel 3:31; see Sackcloth ), but they were forbidden to follow superstitious heathen customs such as cutting themselves or making offerings for the dead ( Leviticus 19:28;  Deuteronomy 14:1;  Deuteronomy 26:14).

The body may have been buried in a specially prepared private tomb ( Matthew 27:60), a family tomb ( Genesis 23:19;  Genesis 25:9;  Genesis 49:31-32;  Judges 8:32;  Judges 16:31), or a public burial ground ( 2 Kings 23:6;  Matthew 27:7). The Israelites did not usually burn the bodies of the dead, though there were exceptions. These included cases of execution of the wicked ( Genesis 38:24;  Leviticus 20:14;  Leviticus 21:9;  Joshua 7:15;  Joshua 7:25) and cases where a body was badly damaged, decaying, or a danger to public health ( 1 Samuel 31:12-13;  Amos 6:10).

Funerals were usually conducted in a way that gave honour to the person who had died ( 2 Chronicles 16:14;  Ecclesiastes 8:10). To leave a body unburied was therefore a mark of supreme disgrace ( 1 Samuel 17:46;  Ecclesiastes 6:3;  Jeremiah 16:6;  Jeremiah 22:18-19;  Jeremiah 36:30). A song may have been composed in praise of the one who had died ( 2 Samuel 1:17-27;  2 Samuel 3:32-34;  2 Chronicles 35:25), though in the case of an enemy a song may have been composed to disgrace him ( Isaiah 14:4-21).

Another way in which Israelites showed their respect for those who had died was by adding decorations to their tombs ( Matthew 23:29). Often they whitewashed tombs so that people could see them at night; for anyone who touched a tomb, accidentally or otherwise, became ceremonially unclean ( Matthew 23:27; cf.  Numbers 19:11;  Numbers 19:16).

This association of death with uncleanness reflects the truth that death leads to decay and corruption. The physical body eventually returns to the dust from which it was made ( Genesis 3:19;  Ecclesiastes 3:20;  John 11:39). But regardless of how the body returns to dust, whether through being buried, burnt or entombed, Christians are assured that Jesus will return to conquer death and raise them to new life. Their bodies will be changed into glorious spiritual bodies, suited to life in the age to come ( 1 Corinthians 15:42-51;  Philippians 3:20;  1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; see Death ; Resurrection ).

Easton's Bible Dictionary [3]

 Genesis 23:19 25:9 35:8,9

The first traces of burning the dead are found in  1 Samuel 31:12 . The burning of the body was affixed by the law of Moses as a penalty to certain crimes ( Leviticus 20:14;  21:9 ).

To leave the dead unburied was regarded with horror ( 1 Kings 13:22;  14:11;  16:4;  21:24 , etc.).

In the earliest times of which we have record kinsmen carried their dead to the grave ( Genesis 25:9;  35:29;  Judges 16:31 ), but in later times this was done by others ( Amos 6:16 ).

Immediately after decease the body was washed, and then wrapped in a large cloth ( Acts 9:37;  Matthew 27:59;  Mark 15:46 ). In the case of persons of distinction, aromatics were laid on the folds of the cloth ( John 19:39; Compare  John 12:7 ).

As a rule the burial (q.v.) took place on the very day of the death ( Acts 5:6,10 ), and the body was removed to the grave in an open coffin or on a bier ( Luke 7:14 ). After the burial a funeral meal was usually given ( 2 Samuel 3:35;  Jeremiah 16:5,7;  Hosea 9:4 ).

Webster's Dictionary [4]

(1): ( n.) A funeral sermon; - usually in the plural.

(2): ( n.) The solemn rites used in the disposition of a dead human body, whether such disposition be by interment, burning, or otherwise; esp., the ceremony or solemnization of interment; obsequies; burial; - formerly used in the plural.

(3): ( n.) The procession attending the burial of the dead; the show and accompaniments of an interment.

(4): ( n.) Per. taining to a funeral; used at the interment of the dead; as, funeral rites, honors, or ceremonies.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

See Burial and Sepulchre .

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [6]

FUNERAL. —See Burial, and Tomb.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [7]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Funeral'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.