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The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary


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The embalming the bodies of the dead was a very ancient custom, both with the Hebrews and the Egyptians. Hence we read of Joseph giving directions to the physicians to embalm the body of his father. (Genesis 1:2) This is the earliest account of embalming that we have in Scripture. And it should seem, therefore, to have taken its rise in Egypt. Some have said, that necessity first taught the Egyptians the art of embalming, for when the river Nile overflowed, sometimes the inundation continued for near two months; during which time the bodies of the dead not only remained unburied, but remained unavoidably in the tents. To avoid the dreadful effects arising from putrefaction, gave rise to the idea of embalming; which was done by taking away the entrails, and anointing the body with oil and a composition of spices, which formed a kind of transparent coating, preserving from corruption, and keeping the body entire. I beg the reader to remark, that the custom, thus probably borrowed from the Egyptians, became the custom also of the Hebrews, even to the days of our Saviour. For we read, that there was an intention of embalming the Lord of life and glory. But if the reader will consult all the evangelists, he will find that the thing was not done, but prevented by our Lord's resurrection. The pious women resting the Sabbath day became, by the Lord's providence, the overruling cause to this effect. The Almighty Redeemer could need no embalming. His holy body saw no corruption. Sweet thought to the believer! And the dust of his saints, in like manner, is embalmed in him. Infinitely more valuable than the golden dust of the goldsmith. Hence the Psalmist saith, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Psalms 116:15)

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Embalm'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. London. 1828.

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Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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