- mourning customs
- Death in the OT is not a private matter for the bereaved family. Job's calamities brought in friends and weeping neighbours for a whole week (Job 2:12–13) and Jeremiah assumes a corporate mourning ritual which includes cutting off hair and self-laceration (Jer. 16:6), though prohibited in the Law (Lev. 19:27–8). It was obviously contrary to custom that Ezekiel did not mourn for his dead wife (Ezek. 24:17). Professional singers sometimes sang dirges (2 Chron. 35:25). These rites might last for a week (Gen. 50:10) or three weeks (Dan. 10:2), but a precise period of time was not laid down. For a full year after the death of a parent the children avoided festive celebrations.Some of these customs are mentioned in the NT, although Paul discourages excessive grieving (1 Thess. 4:13); but there was certainly communal mourning round a synagogue (Mark 5:38), and Matt. (9:23) adds the detail that there were flute-players in attendance.
Dictionary of the Bible.
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