Monday, September 25, 2006

Burial and Afterlife in Yahwism, Part 2

I began this series on Friday (find part 1 here).

In this depiction of Sarah's burial, notice all the furnishings, vessels, and food stuffs brought into the cave tomb with Sarah's body. Such deposits, typical of Hebrew burials, show the concern of the living for the needs and comfort of the living-dead.

Unlike at surrounding cultures, such as at Ugarit, such grave deposits were not restocked or freshened in Hebrew practice. Rather, as the soul was more and more "gathered to the ancestors," the living let it slip away more and more into the company of the silent kin. Eventually, the bones of the deceased were unceremoniously swept into the tomb's repository.

African religions supply a parallel. The living-dead, over time, slip away from Sasa time, when they are remembered personally, by name, by living kin, and move into Zamani time, when they fully join the company of the silent kin.


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