Sepulchre (קֶבֶר, kber, or קבוּרָה, keburah, a burying place or grave, as sometimes rendered; τάφος, a tomb, as elsewhere rendered; also μνῆμα or μνημεῖον, a monument, likewise rendered "grave" or "tomb"). Mankind in all ages have been careful, indeed of necessity, to provide suitable resting places for the dead. In treating of the Hebrew usages in this respect, we will adduce whatever elucidation modern research has contributed to them. SEE BURIAL.
I. General Principles of Sepulture. —
1. The Duty. The Jews uniformly disposed of the corpse by entombment where possible, and, failing that, by interment; extending this respect to the remains even of the slain enemy and malefactor (1Ki 11:15; De 21:23), in the latter case by express provision of law. Since this was the only case so guarded by Mosaic: precept it may be concluded that natural feeling was relied on as rendering any such general injunction superfluous. Similarly, to disturb remains was regarded as a barbarity, only justifiable in the case of those who had themselves outraged religion (2Ki 23:16-17; Jer 8:1-2). The rabbins quote the doctrine "dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" as a reason for preferring to entomb or inter their dead; but that preferential practice is older than the Mosaic record, as traceable in patriarchal examples, and continued unaltered by any Gentile influence; so Tacitus (Hist. 5, 5) notices that it was a point of Jewish custom potius corpora condere quam cremare. SEE CORPSE.
The precedent of Jacob's and Joseph's remains being returned to the land of Canaan was followed, in wish at least, by every pious Jew. Adopting a similar notion, some of the rabbins taught that only in that land could those who were buried obtain a share in the resurrection which was to usher in the Messiah's reign on earth. Thus that land was called by them "the land of the living," and the sepulchre itself "the house of the living." Some even feigned that the bodies of the righteous, wherever else buried, rolled back to Canaan underground, and found there only their appointed rest (Nicolaus, De Sepult. Heb. 13, 1). Tombs were, in popular belief, led by the same teaching, invested with traditions. Thus Machpelah is stated (Lightfoot, Centuria Chorographica, s.v. "Hebron") to have been the burial place not only of Abraham and Sarah, but also of Adam and Eve; and there was probably at the time of the New Test. a spot fixed upon by tradition as the site of the tomb of every prophet of note in the Old Test. To repair and adorn these was deemed a work of exalted piety (Mt 23:29). The scruples of the scribes extended even to the burial of the ass whose neck was broken (Ex 34:20), and of the first born of cattle (Maimon. De Primogen. 3, 4, quoted by Nicolaus, De Sepult. Heb. 16:3, 4). SEE GRAVE.
2. Rites. — On this subject we should remember that our impressions, as derived from the Old Test., are those of the burial of persons of rank or public eminence, while those gathered from the New Test. regard a private station. But in both cases "the manner of the Jews" included the use of spices where they could command the means. Thus Asa lay in a "bed of spices" (2Ch 16:14). A portion of these were burned in honor of the deceased, and to this use was probably destined part of the one hundred pounds' weight of "myrrh and aloes" in our Lord's case. On high state occasions the vessels, bed; and furniture used by the deceased were burned also. Such was probably the "great burning" made for Asa. If a king was unpopular or died disgraced (e.g. Jehoram, 2Ch 31:19; Josephus, Ant. 9, 5, 3), this was not observed. In no case, save that of Saul and his sons, were the bodies burned, nor in that case were they so burned as not to leave the "bones" easily concealed and transported, and the whole proceeding looks like a hasty precaution against hostile violence. Even then the bones were interred and re-exhumed for solemn entombment. The ambiguous word in Am 6:10, מסָרפוֹ, rendered in the A.V. "he that burneth him," possibly means "the burner of perfumes in his honor," i.e. his near relation, on whom such duties devolved; rather than, as most think, "the burner of the corpse." For a great mortality never causes men to burn corpses where it is not the custom of the country; nor did the custom vary among the Jews on such an occasion (Eze 39:12-14). It was the duty of the next of kin to perform and preside over the whole funereal office; but a company of public buriers, originating in an exceptional necessity (Ezekiel loc. cit.), had become, it seems, customary in the times of the New. Test. (Ac 5:6,10). The closing of the eyes, kissing, and washing the corpse (Ge 46:4; Ge 1:1; Ac 9:37) are customs common to all nations. Coffins were but seldom used, and, if used, were open; but fixed stone sarcophagi were common in tombs of rank. The bier, the word for which in the Old Test. is the same as that rendered bed, SEE BED, was borne by the nearest relatives, and followed by any who wished to do honor to the dead. The grave clothes (ὀθόνια, ἐντάφια) were probably of the fashion worn in life, but swathed and fastened with bandages, and the head was covered separately. Previously to this being done, spices were applied to the corpse in the form of ointment, or between the folds of the linen; hence our Lord's remark that the woman had anointed his body πρὸς τὸ ἐνταφιάζειν, "with a view to dressing it in these ἐντάφια;" not, as in the A.V., "for the burial." For the custom of mourners visiting the sepulchre, SEE MOURN; for other usages, SEE FUNERAL.
3. The Site. — A natural cave enlarged and adapted by excavation, or an artificial imitation of one, was the standard type of sepulchre. This was what the structure of the Jewish soil supplied or suggested. A distinct and simple form of sepulture as contrasted with the complex and elaborate rites of Egypt clings to the region of Palestine, and varies but little with the great social changes between the periods of Abraham and the captivity. Jacob and Joseph, who both died in Egypt, are the only known instances of the Egyptian method applied to patriarchal remains. Sepulchres, when the owner's means permitted it, were commonly prepared beforehand, and stood often in gardens, by roadsides, or even adjoining houses. Kings and prophets alone were probably buried within towns (1Ki 2:10; 1Ki 16:6,28; 2Ki 10:35; 2Ki 13:9; 2Ch 16:14; 2Ch 28:27; 1Sa 25:1; 1Sa 28:3). Sarah's tomb and Rachel's seem to have been chosen merely from the accident of the place of death; but the successive interments at the former (Ge 49:31) are a chronicle of the strong family feeling among the Jews. It was the sole fixed spot in the unsettled patriarchal life; and its purchase and transfer, minutely detailed, are remarkable as the sole transaction of the kind, until repeated on a similar occasion at Shechem. Thus it was deemed a misfortune or an indignity, not only to be deprived of burial (Isa 14:20; Jeremiah passim; 2Ki 9:10), but, in a lesser degree, to be excluded from the family sepulchre (1Ki 13:22), as were Uzziah, the royal leper, and Manasseh (2Ch 26:23; 2Ch 33:20). Thus the remains of Saul and his sons were reclaimed to rest in his father's tomb. Similarly, it was a mark of a profound feeling towards a person not of one's family to wish to be buried with him (Ru 1:17; 1Ki 13:31), or to give him a place in one's own sepulchre (Ge 23:6; comp. 2Ch 24:16). The head of a family commonly provided space for more than one generation; and these galleries of kindred sepulchres are common in many Eastern branches of the human race. Cities soon became populous and demanded cemeteries (comp. πολυάνδριον, Sept. at Eze 39:15), which were placed without the walls; such a one seems intended by the expression in 2Ki 23:6, "the graves of the children of the people," situated in the valley of the Kedron or of Jehoshaphat. Jeremiah (7:32; 19:11) threatens that the eastern valley, called Tophet, the favorite haunt of idolatry, should be polluted by burying there (comp. 2Ki 23:16). Such was also the "potter's field" (Mt 27:7) which had, perhaps, been wrought by digging for clay into holes serviceable for graves., SEE CEMETERIES.
II. Explicit Information from Ancient Sources as to the Style of Sepulchres. —
1. From a Comparison with Early Heathen Nations. — It has been too much the fashion to look to Egypt for the prototype of every form of Jewish art. The Egyptian tombs at Thebes were extensive excavations in the barren, mountains which skirted the city on the west. In like manner, the magnificent tombs in the necropolis of Sela, in Arabia Petraea, were sculptured out of the sides of the rock surrounding the ancient city. SEE PETRA. The Edomites and the Egyptians seem to have regarded the habitations of the living merely as temporary resting places, while the tombs are regarded as permanent and eternal mansions; and, while not a vestige of a habitation is to be seen, the tombs remain monuments of splendor and magnificence, perhaps even more wonderful than the ruins of their temples. Funeral urns or vases are found in great numbers on the plains and mounds of Assyria and Mesopotamia containing human skeletons or fragments of bones which appear to have been calcined.
But in Jewish history there is a total diversity from these customs in the matter of tombs. From the burial of Sarah in the cave of Machpelah (Ge 23:19) to the funeral rites prepared for Dorcas (Ac 9:37) there: is no mention of any sarcophagus, or even coffin, in any Jewish burial. No pyramid was raised — no separate hypogeum of any individual king, and, what is most to be regretted by modern investigators, no inscription or painting which either recorded the name of the deceased or symbolized the religious feeling of the Jews towards the dead. It is true, of course, that Jacob, dying in Egypt, was embalmed (Ge 1:2), but it was only in order that he might be brought to be entombed in the cave at Hebron, and Joseph, as a naturalized Egyptian and a ruler in the land, was embalmed"; and it is also mentioned as something exceptional that he was put into a coffin, and was so brought by the Israelites out of the land and laid with his forefathers. But these, like the burning of the body of Saul, were clearly exceptional cases. SEE EMBALMING.
Still less were the rites of the Jews like those of the Pelasgi or Etruscans. With that people the graves of the dead were, or were intended to be, in every respect similar to the homes of the living. The lucumo lay in his robes, the warrior in his armor on the bed on which he had reposed in life, surrounded by the furniture, the vessels, and the ornaments which had adorned his dwelling when alive, as if he were to live again in a new world with the same wants and feelings as before. Besides this, no tall stele and no sepulchral mound has yet been found in the hills or plains of Judaea, nor have we any hint either in the Bible or Josephus of any such having existed which could be traced to a strictly Jewish origin. In very distinct contrast to all this, the sepulchral rites of the Jews were marked with the same simplicity that characterized all their religious observances. The body was washed and anointed (Mr 14:8; Mr 16:1; Joh 19:39, etc.), wrapped in a clean linen cloth, and borne without any funeral pomp to the grave, where it was laid without any ceremonial or form of prayer. In addition to this, with kings and great persons there seems to have been a "great burning" (2Ch 16:14; 2Ch 21:19; Jer 34:5), all these being measures more suggested by sanitary exigencies than by any hankering after ceremonial pomp.
2. Normal Style. — This simplicity of rite led to what may be called the distinguishing characteristic of Jewish sepulchres — the deep loculus — which, so far as is now known, is universal in all purely Jewish rock cut tombs, but hardly known elsewhere. Its form will be understood by referring to the annexed diagram, representing the forms of Jewish sepulture. In the apartment marked A, there are twelve such loculi about two feet in width by three feet high. On the ground floor these generally open on the level of the floor; when in the upper story, as at C, on a ledge or platform, on which the body might be laid to be anointed, and on which the stones might rest that closed the outer end of each loculus. The shallow loculus is shown in chamber B, but was apparently only used when sarcophagi were employed, and therefore, so far as we know, only during the Graeco-Roman period, when foreign customs came to be adopted. The shallow loculus would have been singularly inappropriate and inconvenient where an unembalmed body was laid out to decay, as there would evidently be no means of shutting it off from the rest of the catacomb. The deep loculus, on the other hand, was as strictly conformable with Jewish customs, and could easily be closed by a stone fitted to the end and luted into the groove which usually exists there. This fact is especially interesting, as it affords a key to much that is otherwise hard to be understood in certain passages in the New Test. Thus in Joh 11:39, Jesus says, "Take away the stone," and (ver. 40) "they took away the stone," without difficulty, apparently; which could hardly have been the case had it been such a rock as would be required to close the entrance of a cave. Also in 20:1 the same expression is used, "the stone is taken away;" and though the Greek word in the other three Evangelists certainly implies that it was rolled away, this would equally apply to the stone at the mouth of the loculus, into which the Marys must have then stooped down to look in. In fact, the whole narrative is infinitely more clear and intelligible if we assume that it was a stone closing the end of a rock cut grave than if we suppose it to have been a stone closing the entrance or door of a hypogeum. In the latter case the stone to close a door — say six feet by three feet — could hardly have weighed less than three or four tons, and could not have been moved without machinery. There is one catacomb — that known as the "Tombs of the Kings" (see below) — which is closed by a stone rolling across its entrance; but it is the only one, and the immense amount of contrivance and fitting which it has required is sufficient proof that such an arrangement was not applied to any other of the numerous rock tombs around Jerusalem, nor could the traces of it have been obliterated had it anywhere existed. From the nature of the openings where they are natural caverns, and the ornamental form of their doorways where they are architecturally adorned, it is evident, except in this one instance, that they could not have been closed by stones rolled across their entrances; and consequently it seems only to be to the closing of the loculi that these expressions can refer. But until a more careful and more scientific exploration of these tombs is made than has hitherto been given to the public, it is difficult to feel quite certain on this point.
Although, as we have seen, the Jews were singularly free from the pomps and vanities of funereal magnificence, they were at all stages of their independent existence an eminently burying people. From the time of their entrance into the Holy Land till their expulsion by the Romans they seem to have attached the greatest importance to the possession of an undisturbed resting place for the bodies of their dead, and in all ages seem to have shown the greatest respect, if not veneration, for the sepulchres of their ancestors. Few, however, could enjoy the luxury of a rock cut tomb. Taking all that are known, and all that are likely to be discovered, there are not probably 500, certainly not 1000, rock cut loculi in or about Jerusalem; and as that city must in the days of its prosperity have possessed a population of from 30,000 to 40,000 souls, it is evident that the bulk of the people must then, as now, have been content with graves dug in the earth, but situated as near the holy places as their means would allow their obtaining a place. The bodies of the kings were buried close to the Temple walls (Eze 43:7-9), and, however little they may have done in their life, the place of their burial is carefully recorded in the Chronicles of the Kings, and the cause why that place was chosen is generally pointed out, as if that record was not only the most important event, but the final judgment on the life of the king.
3. Talmudical Statements. — The Mishnic description of a sepulchre, complete according to Rabbinical notions, is somewhat as follows, and serves to illustrate the above plan: a cavern about six cubits square, or six by eight, from three sides of which are recessed longitudinally several vaults, called כוכים, each large enough for a corpse. On the fourth side the cavern is approached through a small open covered court or portico, חצר, of a size to receive the bier and bearers. In some such structures the demoniac may have housed. The entry from the court to the cavern was closed by a large stone, called גלל, as capable of being rolled, thus confirming the Evangelistic narrative. Sometimes several such caverns, each with its recesses, were entered from the several sides of the same portico (Mishna, Baba Bathra, 6, 8, quoted by J. Nicolaus, De Sepulchris Hebroeorum). Such a tomb is that described in Buckingham's Travels in Arabia (p. 158), and those known to tradition as the "Tombs of the Kings" (above referred to). But earlier sepulchres were doubtless more simple, and, to judge from 2Ki 13:21, did not prevent mutual contact of remains. Sepulchres were marked sometimes by pillars, as that of Rachel, or by pyramids, as those of the Asmonseans at Modin (Josephus, Ant. 13, 6, 7), and had places of higher and lower honor. Like temples, they were, from their assumed inviolability, sometimes made the depositories of treasures (De Saulcy, 2, 183). We find them also distinguished by a "title" (2Ki 23:17). Such as were not otherwise noticeable were scrupulously "whited" (Mt 23:27) once a year, after the rains before the Passover, to warn passers by of defilement (Hottinger, Cippi Hebr. p. 1034; Rossteusch, De Sepul. Calce Notat. in Ugolino, 33).
III. Historical Notices of Hebrew Sepulchres, Illustrated from certain Antique Jewish Tombs still Extant.
1. Sepulchres of the Patriarchs and other Early Personages. — We find that one of the most striking events in the life of Abraham is the purchase of the field of Ephron the Hittite at Hebron, in which was the cave of Machpelah, in order that he might therein bury Sarah, his wife, and that it might be a sepulchre for himself and his children. His refusing to accept the privilege of burying there as a gift shows the importance Abraham attached to the transaction, and he insisted on purchasing and paying for it (Ge 23:20), in order that it might be "made sure unto him for the possession of a burying place." There he and his immediate descendants were laid 3700 years ago, and there they are believed to rest now; but no one in modern times has seen their remains, or been allowed to enter into the cave where they repose. A few years ago, Signor Pierotti says, he was allowed, in company with the pasha of Jerusalem, to descend the steps to the iron grating that closes the entrance and to look into the cave. What he seems to have seen was that it was a natural cavern, untouched by the chisel and unaltered by art in any way. Those who accompanied the prince of Wales in his visit to the mosque were not permitted to see even this entrance. All they saw was the round hole in the floor of the mosque which admits light and air to the cave below. The same round opening exists at Neby Samwil in the roof of the reputed sepulchre of the prophet Samuel, and at Jerusalem there is a similar opening into the tomb under the dome of the rock. In the former it is used by pious votaries to drop petitions and prayers into the tombs of patriarchs and prophets. The latter having lost the tradition of its having been a burying place, the opening now only serves to admit light into the cave below. Unfortunately, none of those who have visited Hebron have had sufficient architectural knowledge to be able to say when the church or mosque which now stands above the cave was erected; but there is no great reason for doubting that it is a Byzantine church erected there between the age of Constantine and that of Justinian. From such indications as can be gathered, it seems of the later period. On its floor are sarcophagi purporting to be those of the patriarchs; but, as is usual in Eastern tombs, they are only cenotaphs representing those that stand below, and which are esteemed too sacred for the vulgar to approach. Though it is much more easy of access, it is almost as difficult to ascertain the age of the wall that encloses the sacred precincts of these tombs. From the account of Josephus (War, 4, 7), it does not seem to have existed in his day, or he surely would have mentioned it; and such a citadel could hardly fail to have been of warlike importance in those troublous times. Besides this, we do not know of any such enclosure encircling any tombs or sacred place in Jewish times, nor can we conceive any motive for so secluding these graves. There are not any architectural moldings about this wall which would enable an archaeologist to approximate its date; and if the beveling is assumed to be a Jewish arrangement (which is very far from being exclusively the case), on the other hand it may be contended that no buttressed wall of Jewish masonry exists anywhere. There is, in fact, nothing known with sufficient exactness to decide the question, but the probabilities certainly tend towards a Christian or Saracenic origin for the whole structure, both internally and externally. SEE MACHPELAH.
For Joseph's Tomb and Rache's Tomb, see those articles respectively.
Aaron died on the summit of Mount Hor (Nu 20:28; Nu 33:39), and we are led to infer he was buried there, though it is not so stated; and we have no details of his tomb which would lead us to suppose that anything existed there earlier than the Mohammedan Kubr that now crowns the hill overlooking Petra, and it is, at the same time, extremely doubtful whether that is the Mount Hor where the high priest died. SEE HOR.
Moses died in the plains of Moab (De 34:6), and was buried there, "but no man knoweth his sepulchre to this day," which is a singular utterance, as being the only instance in the Old Test. of a sepulchre being concealed, or of one being admitted to be unknown. SEE NEBO.
Joshua was buried in his own inheritance in Timnathserah (Jos 24:30), and Samuel in his own house at Ramah (1Sa 25:1), an expression which we may probably interpret as meaning in the garden attached to his house, as it is scarcely probable it would be the dwelling itself. We know, however, so little of the feelings of the Jews of that age on the subject that it is by no means improbable that it may have been in a chamber or loculus attached to the dwelling, and which, if closed by a stone carefully cemented into its place, would have prevented any annoyance from the circumstance. Joab (1Ki 2:34) was also buried "in his own house in the wilderness." In fact, it appears that from the time when Abraham established the burying place of his family at Hebron till the time when David fixed that of his family in the city which bore his name, the Jewish rulers had no fixed or favorite place of sepulture. Each was buried on his own property, or where he died, without much caring either for the sanctity or convenience of the place chosen.
2. Sepulchre of David. — Of the twenty-two kings of Judah who reigned at Jerusalem from 1048 to 590 B.C., eleven, or exactly one half, were buried in one hypogeum in the "city of David." The names of the kings so lying together were David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijab, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Ahaziah, Amaziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah, together with the good priest Jehoiada. Of all these it is merely said that they were buried in "the sepulchres of their fathers" or "of the kings" in the city of David, except of two — Asa and Hezekiah. Of the first it is said (2Ch 16:14), "they buried him in his own sepulchres which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed [loculus?], which was filled with sweet odors, and divers spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they made a very great burning for him." It is not quite clear, however. whether this applies to a new chamber attached to the older sepulchre, or to one entirely distinct, though in the same neighborhood.. Of Hezekiah it is said (2Ch 32:33), they buried him in "the chiefest [or highest] of the sepulchres of the sons of David," as if there were several apartments in the hypogeum, though it may merely be that they excavated for him a chamber above the others, as we find frequently done in Jewish sepulchres. Two more of these kings (Jehoram and Joash) were buried also in the city of David, "but not in the sepulchres of the kings;" the first because of the sore diseases of which he died (2Ch 21:20); the second apparently in consequence of his disastrous end (2Ch 24:25); and one king, Uzziah (2Ch 26:23), was buried with his fathers in the "field of the burial of the kings," because he was a leper. All this evinces the extreme care the Jews took in the selection of the burying places of their kings, and the importance they attached to the record. It should also be borne in mind that the highest honor which could be bestowed on the good priest Jehoiada (2Ch 24:16) was that "they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both towards God and towards his house." The passage in Ne 3:16, and in Eze 43:7,9, together with the reiterated assertion of the books of Kings and Chronicles, that these sepulchres were situated in the city of David, leave no doubt that they were on Zion (q.v.). It is quite clear, however, that the spot was well known during the whole of the Jewish period, inasmuch as the sepulchres were again and again opened as each king died; and from the tradition that Hyrcanus and Herod opened these sepulchres (Ant. 13, 8, 4; 16, 7, 1). The accounts of these last openings are, it must be confessed, somewhat apocryphal, resting only on the authority of Josephus; but they prove at least that he considered there could be no difficulty in finding the place. It was a secret transaction, if it took place, regarding which rumor might fashion what' wondrous tales it pleased, and no one could contradict them; but there having been built a marble stele (Ant. 16, 7, 1) in front of the tomb may have been a fact within the cognizance of Josephus, and would, at all events; serve to indicate that the sepulchre was rock cut, and its site well known. So far as we can judge from this and other indications, it seems probable there was originally a natural cavern in the rock in this locality, which may afterwards have been improved by art, and in the sides of which loculi were sunk, where the bodies of the eleven kings and of the good high priest were laid, without sarcophagi or coffins, but "wound in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury" (Joh 19:40).
Modern tradition has assigned the name of the Tomb of David (also of Solomon) to a structure still standing on Mount Zion outside the present city walls, otherwise called the Caenaculum, from the tradition that it was likewise the building in which the Lord's supper was instituted. From the time of the notice by the apostle Peter (Ac 2:29), which shows that the true site was then well known, the royal tombs appear to have been forgotten, or at least they are not mentioned till the close of the 11th century, when Raymond d'Agiles, one of the historians of the first crusade, says regarding the Coenaculum, "There are also in that church...the sepulchres of king David and Solomon, and of the holy protomartyr Stephen" (Gesta Dei per Francos, p. 174). In the next century Benjamin of Tudela visited the holy city, and wrote the following singular story, which has perhaps some foundation in fact: "On Mount Zion are the sepulchres of the house of David, and those of the kings who reigned after him. In consequence of the following circumstance, this place is hardly to be recognized. Fifteen years ago one of the walls of the church on Zion (the Coenaculum) fell down, and the patriarch commanded the priest to repair it. He ordered stones to be taken from the original wall of Zion for that purpose, and twenty workmen were hired at stated wages, who broke stones taken from the very foundation of the wall of Zion. Two laborers thus employed found a stone which covered the mouth of a cave. This they entered in search of treasures, and proceeded until they reached a large hall, supported by pillars of marble, encrusted with gold and silver, and before which stood a table with a golden scepter and crown. This was the sepulchre of David; to the left they saw that of Solomon in a similar state; and so on the sepulchres of the other kings buried there. They saw chests locked up, and were on the point of entering when a blast of wind like a storm issued from the mouth of the cave with such force that it threw them lifeless on the ground. They lay there until evening, when they heard a voice commanding them to go forth from the place. They immediately rushed out and communicated the strange tale to the patriarch, who summoned a learned rabbi, and heard from him that this was indeed the tomb of the great king of Israel. The patriarch ordered the tomb to be walled up so as to hide it effectually." The narrator closes by the statement, "The above mentioned rabbi told me all this." About the middle of the 15th century the tombs are mentioned by several travelers, and one (Tucher of Nuremberg, A.D. 1479) says that the Moslems had converted the crypt, or lower story of the Coenaculum, into a mosque, within which were shown the tombs of David, Solomon, and the other kings. In the following century, Firer, a German traveler, professes to have visited the tombs, and gives a brief description. "On the left of the Coenaculum, under the choir, is a large vaulted cave; from it we come by a narrow passage, shut in by wooden rails, to an arch on the left, in which is a very long and lofty monument cut entirely out of the rock, with carving admirably executed. Under this are buried David, Solomon, and the other kings of Judah." This account also partakes of the marvelous, and must be received with caution. It is a fact, however, that Jews, Christians, and Moslems have now for more than four centuries agreed in regarding the Coenaculum as the spot beneath which the dust of the kings of Judah lies. Numbers of Jews maybe often seen standing close to the venerable building, looking with affectionate sadness towards the spot. In 1839 Sir Moses Montefiore and his party were admitted to the mosque. They were led to a trellised doorway, through which they saw the tomb, but they were not permitted to enter. A few years ago an American lady, daughter of Dr. Barclay, was enabled, through the kindness of a Mohammedan lady friend, to enter and sketch the sacred chamber. She says, "The room is insignificant in its dimensions, but is furnished very gorgeously. The tomb is apparently an immense sarcophagus of rough stone, and is covered by green' satin tapestry richly embroidered with gold. A satin canopy of red, blue, green, and yellow stripes hangs over the tomb; and another piece of black velvet tapestry embroidered in silver covers a door in one end of the room, which, they said, leads to a cave underneath. Two tall silver candlesticks stand before this door, and a little lamp hangs in a window near it, which is kept constantly burning" (City of the Great King, p. 212). The real tomb, if it be in this place, must be in the cave below. The structure covered with satin and described by Miss Barclay is merely a cenotaph, like those in the mosque at Hebron. When both mosque and cave are thrown open, and full opportunity given for the search, then, and not till then, can it be satisfactorily established that the royal tombs are or are not in this place (Porter, Handbook for Palestine, p. 181 sq.).
Besides the kings above enumerated, Manasseh was, according to the book of Chronicles (2Ch 33:20) buried in his own house, which the bo6k of Kings (2Ki 21:18) explains as the "garden of his own house, the garden of Uzza," where his son Amon was buried, also, it is said, in his own sepulchre (ver. 26); but we have nothing that would enable us to indicate where this was; and Ahaz, the wicked king, was, according to the book of Chronicles (2Ch 28:27), "buried in the city, even in Jerusalem, and they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel." The fact of these last three kings having been idolaters, though one reformed, and their having all three been buried apparently in the city, proves what importance the Jews attached to the locality of the sepulchre, but also tends to show that burial within the city, or the enclosure of a dwelling, was not so repulsive to their feelings as is generally supposed. It is just possible that the rock cut sepulchre under the western wall of the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre may be the remains of such a cemetery as that in which the wicked kings were buried.
For the sepulchres of the Maccabees, see MODIN. For the modern or traditionary "Tombs of the Kings" near Jerusalem, see below.
3. The "Tombs of the Prophets." — The neighborhood of Jerusalem is thickly studded with tombs, many of them of great antiquity. A succinct but valuable account of them is given in Porter's Handbook (p. 143 sq.); but it is only necessary in this article to refer to two or three of the most celebrated. The only important hypogeum which is wholly Jewish in its arrangements, and may consequently belong to an earlier, or to any epoch, is that known as the Tombs of the Prophets in the western flank of the Mount of Olives. SEE OLIVET. "Through a long descending gallery, the first part of which is winding, we enter a circular chamber about twenty- four feet in diameter and ten high, having a hole in its roof. From this chamber two parallel galleries, ten feet high and five wide, are carried southwards through the rock for about sixty feet; a third diverges southeast, extending forty feet. They are connected by two cross galleries in concentric curves, one at their extreme end, the other in the middle. The outer one is 115 feet long and has a range of thirty niches on the level of its floor, radiating outwards. Two small chambers with similar niches also open into it." This tomb, or series of tombs, has every appearance of having originally been a natural cavern improved by art, and with an external gallery some 140 feet in extent, into which twenty-seven deep or Jewish loculi open. Other chambers and loculi have been commenced in other parts, and in' the passages there are spaces where many other graves could have been located, all which would tend to show that it had been disused before completed, and consequently was very modern. But, be this as it may, it has no architectural moldings, no sarcophagi or shallow loculi, nothing to indicate a foreign origin, and may therefore be considered, if not an early, at least as the most essentially Jewish of the sepulchral excavations in this locality — every other important sepulchral excavation being adorned with architectural features and details betraying most unmistakably their Greek or Roman origin, and fixing their date, consequently, as subsequent to that of the Maccabees; or, in other words, like every other detail of pre-Christian architecture in Jerusalem, they belong to the 140 years that elapsed from the advent of Pompey till the destruction of the city by Titus.
4. The "Tombs of the Kings." — The most important of the great groups in the vicinity of Jerusalem is that known as Kebur es-Sultan, or the Royal Caverns, so called because of their magnificence, and also because that name is applied to them by Josephus, who, in describing the third wall, mentions them (σπήλαια βασιλικά [War, 5, 4, 2]). By some, however, they are identified with the Monument of Herod (ibid. 3, 2; 12, 2); by others, as Robinson and Porter, with the tomb of Helena, the widowed queen of Monobazus, king of Adiabene. She became a proselyte to Judaism, and fixed her residence at Jerusalem, where she relieved many of the poor during the famine predicted by Agabus in the days of Claudius Caesar (Ac 11:28), and built for herself a tomb, as we learn from Josephus (Ant. 20, 2, 1 sq.; 4, 3; War, 5, 2, 2; 4, 2; Pausan. 8, 16, 5; Euseb. ii, 12; Jerome, Epit. Paulae). SEE JERUSALEM. Into the question of the origin of these tombs it is, however, unnecessary to enter; but their structure claims our attention. They are excavated out of the rock. The traveler passes through a low arched doorway into a court ninety-two feet long by eighty-seven wide. On the western side is a vestibule or porch thirty-nine feet wide. The open front was supported by two columns in the middle. Along the front extend a deep frieze and cornice, the former richly ornamented. At the southern side of the vestibule is the entrance to the tomb. The architecture exhibits the same ill-understood Roman-Doric arrangements as are found in all these tombs, mixed with bunches of grapes, which first appear on Maccabaean coins, and foliage which is local and peculiar, and, so far as anything is known elsewhere, might be of any age. Its connection, however, with that of the tombs of Jehoshaphat and the Judges fixes it to the same epoch. The entrance doorway of this tomb is below the level of the ground, and concealed, so far as anything can be said to be which is so architecturally adorned; and it is remarkable as the only instance of this quasi-concealment at Jerusalem. It is closed by a very curious and elaborate contrivance of a rolling stone, often described, but very clumsily answering its purpose. This, also, is characteristic of its age, as we know from Pausanias that the structural marble monument of queen Helena of Adiabene was remarkable for a similar piece of misplaced ingenuity. Within, the tomb consists of a vestibule or entrance hall about twenty feet square, from which three other square apartments open, each surrounded by deep loculi. These again possess a peculiarity not known in any other tomb about Jerusalem, of having a square apartment either beyond the head of the loculus or on one side: as, for instance, A A have their inner chambers, A' A', within, but B and B, at B' B', on one side. What the purpose of these was it is difficult to guess, but, at all events, it is not Jewish. But perhaps the most remarkable peculiarity of the hypogeum is the sarcophagus chamber D, in which two sarcophagi were found, one of which was brought home by De Saulcy, and is now in the Louvre.
5. The "Tombs of the Judges." — The hypogeum now known by this name is one of the most remarkable of the catacombs around Jerusalem, containing about sixty deep loculi, arranged in three stories; the upper stories with ledges in front to give convenient access, and to support the stones that closed them; the lower flush with the ground: the whole, consequently, so essentially Jewish that it might be of any age if it were not for its distance from the town, and its architectural character. The latter, as before stated, is identical with that of the Tomb of Jehoshaphat, and has nothing Jewish about it. It might, of course, be difficult to prove this, as we know so little of what Jewish architecture really is; but we do know that the pediment is more essentially a Greek invention than any other part of their architecture, and was introduced at least not previously to the age of the Cypselidae, and this peculiar form not till long afterwards, and this particular example not till after an age when the debased Roman of the Tomb of Absalom had become possible.
6. Tombs in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. — There are three conspicuous sepulchres here, which we briefly describe in the order in which they occur, beginning at the south. SEE JEHOSHAPHAT, VALLEY OF.
(1.) The so called "Tomb of Zechariah," said to have been constructed in honor of Zechariah, who was slain "between the temple and the altar" Joash (2 Chronicles in the reign of 24:21; Mt 23:35), is held in great veneration by the Jews. It is doubtful, however, whether it be a tomb at all, and the style of architecture can scarcely be earlier than our era. It bears a considerable resemblance to the so called Tomb of Absalom, the northernmost of the three. It consists of a square solid basement, measuring eighteen feet six inches each way, and twenty feet high to the top of the cornice. On each face are four engaged Ionic columns between antae, and these are surmounted, not by an Egyptian cornice, as is usually asserted, but by one of purely Assyrian type, such as is found at Khorsabad.
As the Ionic or voluted order came also from Assyria, this example is, in fact, a purer specimen of the Ionic order than any found in Europe, where it was always used by the Greeks with a quasi-Doric cornice. Notwithstanding this, in the form of the volutes — the egg-and-dart molding beneath, and every detail — it is so distinctly Roman that it is impossible to assume that it belongs to an earlier age than that of their influence. Above the cornice is a pyramid rising at rather a sharp angle, and hewn, like all the rest, out of the solid rock. It may further be remarked that only the outward face, or that fronting Jerusalem, is completely finished, the other three being only blocked out (De Saulcy, 2, 303), a circumstance that would lead us to suspect that the works may have been interrupted by the fall of Jerusalem, or some such catastrophe; and this may possibly also account for there being no sepulchre on its rear, if such be really the case. To call this building a tomb is evidently a misnomer, as it is absolutely solid hewn out of the living rock by cutting a passage around it. It has no external chambers, nor even the semblance of a doorway. From what is known of the explorations carried on by M. Rénan about Byblus, we should expect that the tomb, properly so called, would be an excavation in the passage behind the monolith — but none such has been found (probably it was never looked for) — and that this monolith is the stele or indicator of that fact. If it be so, it is very singular, though very Jewish, that any one should take the trouble to carve out such a monument without putting an inscription or symbol on it to mark its destination or to tell in whose honor it was erected.
(2.) The middle tomb of this group, called that of St. James, is of a very different character. It consists of a veranda with two Doric pillars in antis, which may be characterized as belonging to a very late Greek order rather than a Roman example. Behind this screen are several apartments, which in another locality we might be justified in calling a rock cut monastery appropriate to sepulchral purposes, but in Jerusalem we know so little that it is necessary to pause before applying any such designation. In the rear of all is an apartment, apparently unfinished, with three shallow loculi, meant for the reception of sarcophagi, and so indicating a post-Jewish date for the whole, or at least for that part, of the excavation.
(3.) The remaining or so called Tomb of Absalom is somewhat larger, the base being about twenty-one feet square in plan, and probably twenty-three or twenty-four to the top of the cornice. Like the other, it is of the Roman- Ionic order, surmounted by a cornice of Ionic type; but between the pillars and the cornice a frieze, unmistakably of the Roman-Doric order, is introduced, so Roman as to be in itself quite sufficient to fix its epoch. It is by no means clear whether it had originally a pyramidical top like its neighbor. The existence of a square blocking above the cornice would lead us to suspect it had not; at all events, either at the time of its excavation or subsequently this was removed, and the present very peculiar termination erected, raising its height to over sixty feet. At the time this was done a chamber was excavated in the base, we must assume for sepulchral purposes, though how a body could be introduced through the narrow hole above the cornice is by no means clear, nor, if inserted, how disposed of in the two very narrow loculi that exist. The great interest of this excavation is, that immediately in rear of the monolith we do find just such a sepulchral cavern as we should expect. It is called the Tomb of Jehoshaphat, with about the same amount of discrimination as governed the nomenclature of the others, but is now closed by the rubbish and stones thrown by the pious at the Tomb of the Undutiful Son, and consequently its internal arrangements are unknown; but externally it is crowned by a pediment of considerable beauty, and in the same style as that of the Tombs of the Judges, mentioned above — showing that these two, at least, are of the same age, and that this one, certainly, must have been subsequent to the excavation of the monolith; so that we may feel perfectly certain that the two groups are of one age, even if it should not be thought quite clear what that age may be. SEE ABSALOMS PILLAR.
7. Other Graeco-Roman Tombs. — Besides the tombs above enumerated, there are around Jerusalem, in the valleys of Hinnom and Jehoshaphat, and on the plateau to the north, a number of remarkable rock cut sepulchres, with more or less architectural decoration, sufficient to enable us to ascertain that they are all of nearly the same age, and to assert with very tolerable confidence that the epoch to which they belong must be between the introduction of Roman influence and the destruction of the city by Titus. The proof of this would be easy if it were not that, like everything Jewish. there is a remarkable absence of inscriptions which can be assumed to be original. The excavations in the Valley of Hinnom with Greek inscriptions are comparatively modern, the inscriptions being all of Christian import, and of such a nature as to render it extremely doubtful whether the chambers were sepulchral at all, and not rather the dwellings of ascetics, and originally intended to be used for this purpose. These, however, are neither the most important nor the most architectural — indeed, none of those in that valley are so remarkable as those in the other localities just enumerated. The most important of those in the Valley of Hinnom is that known as the "Retreat place of the Apostles." It is an unfinished excavation of extremely late date, and many of the others look much more like dwellings for the living than resting places of the dead.
In the village of Siloam there is a monolithic cell of singularly Egyptian aspect, which De Saulcy (Voyage autour de la Mer Morte, 2, 306) assumes to be a chapel of Solomon's Egyptian wife. It is probably of very much more modern date, and is more Assyrian than Egyptian in character; but as he is probably quite correct in stating that it is not sepulchral, it is only necessary to mention it here in order that it may not be confounded with those that are so. It is the more worthy of remark, as one of the great difficulties of the subject arises from travelers too readily assuming that every cutting in the rock must be sepulchral. It may be so in Egypt, but it certainly was riot so at Cyrene or Petra, where many of the excavations were either temples or monastic establishments; and it certainly was not universally the case at Jerusalem, though our information is frequently too scanty to enable us always to discriminate exactly to which class the cutting in the rock may belong.
The same remarks as are above made respecting the "Tombs of the Judges" apply to the tomb without a name, and merely called "a Jewish tomb," in their neighborhood, with beveled facets over its facade, but with late Roman-Doric details at its angles, sufficient to indicate its epoch; but there is nothing else about these tombs requiring especial mention (see Thomson, Land and Book, 2, 492).
The comparative lateness of the so called sepulchre of Gamaliel and other rabbins at Meiron is proved by the presence of sarcophagi still within them (Thomson, Land and Book, 1, 433).
Since the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, none of the native inhabitants have been in a position to indulge in much sepulchral magnificence, or perhaps had any taste for this class of display; and we in consequence find no rock cut hypogea, and no structural monuments that arrest attention in modern times.
IV. Comparison with Modern Oriental Tombs. — The style of the public cemeteries around the cities of ancient Palestine in all probability resembled that of the present burying places of the East, of which Dr. Shaw gives the following description: "They occupy a large space, a great extent of ground being allotted for the purpose. Each family has a portion of it walled in like a garden, where the bones of its ancestors have remained undisturbed for many generations. For in these enclosures the graves are all distinct and separate; each of them having a stone placed upright, both at the head and feet, inscribed with the name or title of the deceased; while the intermediate space is either planted with flowers, bordered round with stone, or paved with tiles." Examples of these tombs are given in the accompanying cuts. By these it is seen that, as among people in good circumstances, the monumental stones are placed upon quadrangular tombs, in the center of which evergreen or flowering shrubs are often planted, and tended with much care. There were other sepulchres which were private property, erected at the expense and for the use of several families in a neighborhood, or provided by individuals as a separate burying place for themselves. These were situated either in some conspicuous place, as Rachel's on the highway to Bethlehem (Ge 35:19), or in some lonely and sequestered spot, under a wide-spreading tree (ver. 8) in a field or a garden. Over such garden tombs, especially when the tomb is that of some holy person, lamps are sometimes hung and occasionally lighted. The graves of the most eminent Mohammedan saints are each covered with a stone or brick edifice called wely. It has a dome or cupola over it, varying in height from eight to ten feet. Within lamps are often hung, and the grave proper is covered with carpet and strings of beads. Sometimes more costly ornamentation is used. In common cases, sepulchres were formed by digging a small depth into the ground. Over these, which were considered an humble kind of tomb, the wealthy and great often erected small stone buildings, in the form of a house or cupola, to serve as their family sepulchre. These are usually open at the sides. Sometimes, however, these interesting monuments are built up on all sides, so that the walls are required to be taken down, and a breach made, to a certain extent, on each successive interment. "This custom," says Carne, "which is of great antiquity, and particularly prevails in the lonely parts of Lebanon, may serve to explain some passages of Scripture. The prophet Samuel was buried in his own house at Ramah, and Joab was buried in his house in the wilderness. These, it is evident, were not their dwelling houses, but mansions for the dead, or family vaults which they had built within their own precincts." Not unfrequently, however, those who had large establishments, and whose fortunes enabled them to command the assistance of human art and labor, purchased, like Abraham, some of the natural caverns with which Palestine abounded, and converted them by some suitable alterations into family sepulchres; while others, with vast pains and expense, made excavations in the solid rock (Mt 27:60). These, the entrance to which was either horizontal or by: a flight of steps, had their roofs, which were arched with the native stone, so high as to admit persons standing upright, and were very spacious, sometimes being divided into several distinct apartments; in which case the remoter or innermost chambers were dug a little deeper than those that were nearer the entrance, the approach into their darker solitudes being made by another descending stair. Many sepulchres of this description are still found in Palestine; but the descent into them is so choked up with the rubbish of ages that they are nearly inaccessible, and have been explored only by a few indefatigable hunters after antiquities. Along the sides of those vast caverns niches were cut, or sometimes shelves ranged one above another, on which were deposited the bodies of the dead, while in others the ground-floor of the tomb was raised so as to make different compartments, the lowest place in the family vaults being reserved for the servants. Some of those found near Tyre, and at Alexandria, are of the round form shown in Fig. 1, but these seem exceptions; for the tombs at Jerusalem, in Asia Minor, and generally in Egypt and the East, offer the arrangements shown in Fig. 2.
On modern Oriental usages, see Hackett, Illustrations of Scripture, p. 97- 100; De Saulcy, Dead Sea, 2, 103-165, 170;. Thomson, Land and Book, 1, 148 sq.; Van Lennep, Bible Lands, p. 579 sq.; Lane, Modern Egyptians, 1, 267, 359, etc.; and on ancient sepulture, the monographs cited by Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 49, 66, 67; and Hase, Leben Jesu, p. 217; and those referred to under FUNERAL SEE FUNERAL .