Your Dead Body…….Smoking or Non-Smoking?


So, the topic came up on whether to be cremated or buried.

I’m told we should be buried because it is the church custom and history to do so.

Well, since I hang out here with all you non-church going heretics, I made a mental red flag on that statement and decided to find out more on my own…..

What is biblical?

There is probably a book out there somewhere that puts it all into perspective, but I don’t own it, but I do own a bible.

So there we shall go….

Incidents in the bible of death and burial (not a complete list, I’m sure)

In Joshua, Achan stoled some loot and was stoned and burned.

Jos 7:25 -Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

Amos 2:1 – Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of Moab and for four I will not revoke its {punishment,} Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.

2Kings 23:20 – All the priests of the high places who {were} there he slaughtered on the altars and burned human bones on them; then he returned to Jerusalem.

(Remember Saul had killed himself)

1 Samuel 31:12 all the valiant men rose and walked all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 They took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

International Standard bible Encyclopedia


kre-ma’-shun (compare saraph, Joshua 7:15, etc., “shall be burnt with fire”; kaio, 1 Corinthians 13:3, “If I give my body to be burned,” etc.):

Cremation, while the customary practice of the ancient Greeks, and not unknown among the Romans, was certainly not the ordinary mode of disposing of the dead among the Hebrews or other oriental peoples. Even among the Greeks, bodies were often buried without being burned (Thuc. i. 134,6; Plato Phaedo 115 E; Plut. Lyc. xxvii). Cicero thought that burial was the more ancient practice, though among the Romans both methods were in use in his day (De leg. ii.22,56). Lucian (De luctu xxi) expressly says that, while the Greeks burned their dead, the Persians buried them (see BURIAL, and compare 2 Samuel 21:12-14). In the case supposed by Amos 6:10, when it is predicted that Yahweh, in abhorrence of “the excellency of Jacob,” shall “deliver up the city,” and, “if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die,” and “a man’s kinsman (ARVm) shall take him up, even he that burneth him,” etc., the suggestion seems to be that of pestilence with accompanying infection, and that this, or the special judgment of Yahweh, is why burning is preferred. When Paul (1 Corinthians 13:3) speaks of giving his body to be burned, he is simply accommodating his language to the customs of Corinth. (But see Plutarch on Zarmanochegas, and C. Beard, The Universal Christ.)

How far religious, or sanitary, or practical reasons were influential in deciding between the different methods, it is impossible to say. That bodies were burned in times of pestilence in the Valley of Hinnom at Jerusalem is without support (see Ezekiel 39:11-16). The “very great burning” at the burial of Asa (2 Chronicles 16:14) is not a case of cremation, but of burning spices and furniture in the king’s honor (compare Jeremiah 34:5). Nor is 1 Kings 13:2 a case in point; it is simply a prophecy of a king who shall take the bones of men previously buried, and the priests of the high places that burn incense in false worship, and cause them to be burned on the defiled altar to further pollute it and render it abominable.

There is in the New Testament no instance of cremation, Jewish, heathen or Christian, and clearly the early Christians followed the Jewish practice of burying the dead (see Tert., Apol., xlii; Minuc. Felix, Octav., xxxix; Aug., De civ. Dei, i.12,13). Indeed, cremation has never been popular among Christians, owing largely, doubtless, to the natural influence of the example of the Jews, the indisputable fact that Christ was buried, the vivid hope of the resurrection and the more or less material views concerning it prevalent here and there at this time or that. While there is nothing anti-Christian in it, and much in sanitary considerations to call for it in an age of science, it is not likely that it will ever become the prevailing practice of Christendom.

George B. Eager

*In Genesis, Judah was going to burn Tamar for getting pregnant.

*In Leviticus, adultery is mentioned with the punishment of burning.

SIDENOTE: In The Law there is detailed info. on how to handle the dead, I’m not going there, but know God and Israelites thought it was icky and unclean.

So, by this small sampling, it looks as if burning was a judgement on people of God or otherwise. And not the common practice of any one race.


On to burial:

Abraham buried Sarah, Moses was buried, Abraham with Sarah and his descendents.

Jeremiah 22:18 Therefore thus says the LORD in regard to Jehoiakim R1037 the son of Josiah, king of Judah, “They will not lament for him: ‘Alas, my brother!’ or, ‘Alas, sister!’ They will not lament for him: ‘Alas for the master!’ or, ‘Alas for his splendor!’ 19 “He will be buried with a donkey’s burial, Dragged off and thrown out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.

A Donkeys burial?

Probable origin of burial….

Genesis 4:10 – He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.

Torrey’s Topical Textbook on burial

This is from International Standard Bible Encyclopdia on burial

This brings us to note two marked contrasts between customs in Israel and among other peoples.

(1) Cremation:

With the Greeks it was customary to cremate the dead (see CREMATION); but there was nothing in Jewish practice exactly corresponding to this. Tacitus (Hist. v.5) expressly says, in noting the contrast with Roman custom, that it was a matter of piety with the Jews “to bury rather than to burn dead bodies.” The burning of the bodies of Saul and his sons by the men of Jabesh-Gilead (1 Samuel 31:11-13) seems to have been rather a case of emergency, than of conformity to any such custom, as the charred bones were buried by the same men under the tamarisk at Jabesh, and later, by David’s order, removed and laid to rest in the sepulcher of Kish (2 Samuel 21:12-14). According to the Mosaic law burning was reserved, either for the living who had been found guilty of unnatural sins (Leviticus 20:4; 21:9), or for those who died under a curse, as in the case of Achan and his family, who after they had been stoned to death were, with all their belongings, burned with fire (Joshua 7:25).

(2) Embalming:

As the burning practiced by the Greeks found no place in Jewish law and custom, so embalming, as practiced by the Egyptians, was unknown in Israel, the cases of Jacob and Joseph being clearly special, and in conformity to Egyptian custom under justifying circumstances. When Jacob died it was Joseph, the Egyptian official, who “commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father” (Genesis 50:2), and it was conventionally the fit thing that when Joseph himself died his body was embalmed and “put in a coffin (sarcophagus) in Egypt” (Genesis 50:26).


Smith Bible Dictionary

Easton’s Bible Dictionary


Greek, Buried

Strong’s Number: 4792 sugkomiðzw
Original Word Word Origin
sugkomiðzw from (4862) and (2865)
Transliterated Word Phonetic Spelling
Sugkomizo soong-kom-id’-zo
Parts of Speech TDNT
Verb None
to carry or bring together, to collect
to house crops, gather into granaries
to carry with others, help in carrying out, the dead to be buried or burned
(note, Greeks cremate their dead, see above)


Death in Burial and Belief here

Excerpt from here

”Death is still the final barrier and the way we treat our dead reflects on our society and its values. Wakes have long been a traditional way of sending the dead on their last journey and even today this custom is still held in rural areas of Ireland. There death is supposed to be heralded by the wailing of a banshee, a fairy woman. On the lonely Aran Islands each family has its own knitting patterns so that if disaster struck one of the fishing vessels the bodies could be recognised by the pattern of the jumper a drowned fisherman wears.

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland tried to stamp out the wake as being a pagan custom but this was perhaps, mainly because of the drinking that went on all night. Nonetheless there is no doubt that many families derived great comfort from the visits of friends and relatives who were willing to talk about the diseased and what he had meant in their lives. In fact having a wake is a way of celebrating a life.”

(I only note this because of the knitting and the Church ref.)

Burial & Burial Customs: How do the Bible and Religion Present Burial Customs?
From Austin Cline,
Your Guide to Agnosticism / Atheism.

(Please note this article is written from agnostic point of view)

Burial Customs and the Bible:

Proper burial was important in ancient religions, so it’s only natural that they receive attention throughout the Bible. Use of above-ground tombs in caves is prominent and several such tombs can still be found close to Jerusalem. An important story connected to Abraham was his insistence on finding a proper cave in which he could bury his wife, Sarah.

Care of the Body Before Burial:
Egyptians embalmed many of their dead while other Near Eastern cultures often cremated the bodies of the deceased. Zoroastrians left the dead to be consumed by vultures and later collected the bones. Jews, however, rejected all of this and insisted that the body be kept intact for burial, wrapped in linen and anointed with oil. Greeks often placed the dead in coffins, but the Jews only rarely did this, preferring instead to leave a body open on a stone slab.

What Was Secondary Burial?:
One thing which the Jews did share with the Zoroastrians was differential treatment of the body and the bones. A body left on an open stone slab in a tomb or cave will eventually decompose. The bones left over would either be placed in a common burial chamber further back in the cave when a new body is placed on the slab (the likely meaning of phrases like “to sleep with one’s ancestors”), or they would be collected into an ossuary for preservation by the family.

Burial Timing:
It was normal for burial to proceed as quickly as possible in the Near East, given what the heat and sun could do to a body. Jewish custom required that a body be buried the same day or, if it was the sabbath, immediately after the sabbath period was over.

So, to sum it all up.

I don’t a firm biblicial answer to my title question.

My hubby and I talked about cremation, I would like cremation.

But, my reasoning is not grounded in scripture.

I don’t like the idea of being buried in the ground, sorry, just don’t.

I don’t like the idea of so much land being taken up for burying people.

Yes, I realize we are just sojourners in this world, it is not our home, but in turn, we have to be good stewards of what God gave us, which is the earth.

I’m into recycling and reusing also.

When my grandchildren and future generations are born (if the Lord has not come and gathered us up) I would like to see them having a live-able world to grow and thrive in.

Comments? Does anyone have any good books on the subject or additional info?

Blessings on your day, Kristina

2 responses »

  1. My dad wants to be creamated and have his ashes spread over Jessica Simpson.

    I don’t have strong feelings either way myself. I figure my redhead or my kids will do whatever will help them at the time. They could sell my body to science and throw a cool party.

  2. Oh, then there’s this option: Get cremated and put my ashes into little cans with Campbell’s soup like labels: “Cream of Kevin” Then send them to all my friends.

    By the way…thanks for teaching me how to spell cremated. I caught it by my second comment.

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