Old Testament Funerals

A sad procession would bury the dead outside the walls. First came the music maker, playing a mournful dirge on his reed-pipe, then the procession of mourners, the girls with veils over their faces and some of the boys dressed up in their father's coats, looking very serious. Already the hired minstrels had come to offer their services; they were playing their stringed instruments and singing the psalm dirges - a riot of noise and old custom. The hired mourners were already a little drunk. Their mourning was in true oriental fashion, with wailing and beating of the head and breast. The bodies of persons who were denied religious burial were burned. The dead were carried on a bier, followed by family and friends, and often by professional mourners.

As soon as possible after death the body was washed, then wrapped in a large cloth, or all its limbs wound with bands, between the folds of which aromatics were laid or sprinkled. The Talmud speaks of funeral processions with horns, in a long train, with loud weeping, and wailing. Female mourners were hired for the purpose, who prolonged the lamentation for several days. The burial was followed by a funeral meal. The garments of mourning were sackcloth and haircloth, and their color dark brown or black. As the prophets were penitents by profession, their common clothing was mourning. Widows wore black.

In later times the Jews left the internment to others, rather than family relations as earlier. Amos - Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! Alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skillful of lamentation to wailing. And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through you saith the Lord. [307, 325, 332, 377, 380, Amos]

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