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plaster of lime, as has been imagined. The plaster or mortar might be commanded, because it is made extremely strong and durable, for some works, in those countries, a circumstance which both’ Maillett and Shaw have remarked; whereas clay, or some such mouldering material, might be thought sufficient for the cementing the stones of common buildings. Nay, their monuments were often heaps of stones, unconnected by any cement whatever." I am not ignorant, that the very learned Dr. Kennicott supposes, that the whole stone was covered with this plaster, excepting the letters, the stones being, he imagines, naturally black. Travellers must decide of what colour the great stones of that district usually are; but most probably these stones were only cemented in this case to keep them in their proper place,
Cofins anciently used for Persons of Distinction.
But previous to these sepulchral honours, there were some methods of honouring the dead, which demand our attention; the being put into a coffin has been, in particular, considered as a mark of distinction.
Maillet, Lett. xii. p. 192, 193. Shaw, p. 206. a See Gen. xxxi. 46.
b 2d Dissertation on the state of the printed Heb. Text. Note, p. 77.
With us, the poorest people have their coffins, if the relations cannot afford them, the parish is at the expense. In the East, on the contrary, they are not at all made use of in our times: Turks and Christians, Thevenot assures us, cree in this. The ancient Jews probably burici their dead in the same manner: neither was the body of our Lord, it seems, put into a coffin: nor that of Elisha, whose bones were touched by the corpse that was let down a little after into his sepulchre, 2 Kings xiii. 21. That they, however, were anciently made use of in Egypt all agree, and antique coffins of stone, and of sycamore wood, are still to be seen in that country; not to mention those said to be made of a kind of pasteboard, formed by folding and glewing cloth together a great number of times, which were curiously plastered, and then painted with hieroglyphics." Its being an ancient Egyptian custom, and its not being used in the neighbouring countries, were doubtless the cause that the sacred historian expressly observes of Joseph, that he was not only embalmed, but that he was put into a coffin too, Gen. 1. 26, both lg managements peculiar in a manner to the Egyptians.
Bishop Patrick, in his commentary on this pässage, takes notice of these Egyptian coffins of scamore-wood and of pasteboard, but he does not mention the contrary usage of the neighbouring countries, which was requisite, • Part 1, p. 58.
of Thefenot, part 1, p. 137.
in order fully to illustrate the place: but even this perhaps would not have conveyed the whole thought of the sacred author. Maillet apprehends, that all were not inclosed in coffins that were laid in the Egyptian repositories of the dead, but that it was an honour appropriated to persons of figure; for after having given an account of several niches that are found in those chambers of death, he adds, “ But it must not be imagined that the bodies deposited in these gloomy apartments, were all inclosed in chests, and placed in niches. The greatest part were simply embalmed and swathed after that manner that every one hath some notion of; after which they laid them one by the side of another, without
any ceremony. Some were even put into these tombs without any embalming at all; or such a slight one, that there remains nothing of them in the linen in which they were wrapped but the bones, and those half rotten.-It is probable that each considerable family had one of these burialplaces to themselves; that the niches were designed for the bodies of the heads of the family, and that those of their domestics and slaves had no care taken of them, than the - laying them in the ground, after having been embalmed, or even without that. Which, without doubt, was also all that was done, even to the heads of families of less distinc
After which he gave an account of a way of burial, practised anciently in that
· Lett. 7, p. 281.
country, which had been but lately discovered, and which consisted in placing bodies, after they were swathed up, on a layer of charcoal, and covering them with a mat, under a depth of sand of seven or eight feet.
Coffins then were not universally used in Egypt, that is undoubted from these accounts; and probably they were persons only of distinction that were buried in them. It is also reasonable to believe, that in times so remote as those of Joseph, they might be much less common than afterwards, and consequently that Joseph's being put into a coffin in Egypt, might be mentioned with a design to express the great honours the Egyptians did him in death, as well as in life; being treated after the most sumptuous manner of the Egyptians, embalmed, and put into a coffin.
Agreeably to this, the Septuagint version (which was made for Egyptians) seems to represent coffins as
a mark of grandeur, Job xxi. 32,
It is no objection to this account, that the widow of Nain's son is represented as carried forth to be buried in a Eogos or bier, for the present inhabitants of the Levant, who are well known to lay their dead in the earth uninclosed, carry them frequently out to burial in a kind of coffin : so Russell in particular describes the bier used by the Turks at Aleppo as a kind of coffin, much in the form of ours, paly the lid rises with a ledge in the middle.
Vol. i. p. 306.
Christians, indeed, that same author tells us, are carried to the grave in an open bier ;' bụt as the most common kind of bier there
very much resembles our coffins, that used by the people of Nain might very possibly be of the same kind, in which case the word Logos was very proper
Of Embalming among the Asiatics.
If the use of a coffin in burial was doing a particular honour to the dead, the embalming them also certainly was: and the dissertations of the late Dr. Ward, published soon after his death, have given occasion to the annexing this Observation to the rest of this chapter. The Doctor supposes the Jewish method of embalming was very different from the Egyptian, and that this appears by several passages of the New Testament. Both, he thinks, swathed up their dead; but instead of the Egyptian embowelling, he supposes the Jews contented themselves with an external unction; instead of myrrh and cassia, they made use of myrrh and aloes; to which he adds the supposition, that St. John might mention the circumstance of our Lord's embalming, the better to obviate the false report that then prevailed among the Jews, that the body of our LORD
i Vol. ij. p. 56.