‘Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead’

I have argued a great many times, and in many forums, articles and books that the Bible can not be understood and interpreted at all well unless you understand the context, the culture and historical setting, and most especialy the Hebraic Mindset involved.

The Hebraic Mindset is seriously at odds with the Hellenistic Mindset that the Christian church has used to arrive at a great many doctrines that are more pagan than Biblical.

On my main website circumcisedheart.info you will find a number of articles on the Hebraic Mindset and an article ‘Understanding the Bible 101’ that argues for a more appropriate methodology for approaching Bible study than the way most Christians approach it from their churches Hellenistic leanings.

While I have worked at this for some 20+ years now, only today I found a great example that highlights so vividly the need for a cultural (Hebraic) understanding, and it is the passage in Matthew 8:21-22 where we have the statement by Yeshua ‘Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead’.

This statement has troubled Bible scholars for many years and I have not seen any really satisfactory interpretations of it until now. And the solution is found in understanding the tradition of a second burial that existed in Israel in the first century CE.

Without a good grasp of this tradition, I would argue that a deep study and reflection on this statement by Yeshua will not lead to a coherent and fully satisfying resolution.

I have raised this specific quote to highlight the value of an Hebraic approach to Bible study, but if you are interested in this specific issue then please check out “’Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead’: Secondary Burial and Matt 8:21-22’ by Byron R. McCane (https://www.jstor.org/stable/1509931).

Once you understand the second burial issue and that this disciple may have needed to wait some weeks and even up to 11 months to perform this traditional practice for his father, you might also appreciate that Yeshua saw a real urgency to preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God and if this man was really serious, then there was no time to waste. This also seems to imply that Yeshua, at this stage of his ministry, expected the Kingdom of God to dawn in the very near future (as did the Apostle Paul after Yeshua’s death and resurrection). Sadly, we are still waiting, praying and waiting! Come Yeshua ben David, come quickly!!

So a possible paraphrase of Yeshua’s call is:

“Now, as we have no time to waste, instead of waiting for the flesh of your father to decompose, and then reburying his bones with his ancestors, come and preach the Kingdom of God! Let the bones of your dead father’s ancestors gather his bones and place them in an ossuary. You follow me!” 


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