Burying Their Own Dead -- By: Bob Boyd

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 05:4 (Autumn 1992)
Article: Burying Their Own Dead
Author: Bob Boyd

Burying Their Own Dead

Bob Boyd

I read with great interest Gordon Franz’s article “Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead” in the Spring, 1992, issue of Archaeology and Biblical Research. It was a well-documented treatise on a very important Biblical custom. The spiritual application regarding the Jewish custom of the decomposition of the flesh making atonement for sin and Christ’s blood was very enlightening (p. 57).

I would like to present another view about “burying their own dead” that has rich spiritual overtones.

As a staff member on an archaeological

dig at the Old Testament site of Dothan with the late Dr. Joseph P. Free of Wheaton College, I became very friendly with Abed, our Jordanian pickman. He had been educated in British schools and could speak English fluently. One day he invited me to his home in the little village of Arrabah to have supper with his family. On our two mile hike over I questioned him about his family, parents and brothers and sisters, who, he said, were all in good health.

Since he was such an educated young man I asked if he ever thought of coming to America and getting a job. He replied, “I would love to, but I have to stay at home and bury my father.” Immediately I thought of the man in Luke 9:57–59 who said he would follow Jesus, but first wanted to go back home and bury his father. When I reminded Abad that he told me his father was alive and well, he explained that he was the first-born son and as heir to all his father possessed, it was his responsibility to stay home until his father passed away and then to bury him. I reminded Abad of this incident in Luke, saying that if the man went home and had to wait for a number of years before his father died, he would never follow Jesus. Abad replied that since it was his duty to “bury his father” when he died, he may never get to America.

I then asked my young Jordanian friend why he couldn’t have his brothers and sisters assume this responsibility of burying his father. “They are dead,” he said. Again I reminded him that he had told me they were all hale and hearty. And again I thought of Luke 9:60 where Jesus told the man, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” I asked Abad how he could say his siblings were “dead.” His answer was, “They are dead to this relationship I have with my father as the first born son—the heir.”

He then told me of a way his “dead” brothers and sisters could help assume that responsibility. All of the children were descended from the parents by physical birth, and were lov...

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