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Criminal Burial

Just like there were Jewish laws regarding the burial of everything else in ancient times, there were also laws regarding the burial of criminals.

This is especially important for any study of the Jesus family tomb since Jesus was considered a criminal not just by the Romans, but also by mainstream Jews. Thus the Jewish establishment would not have missed the opportunity to treat Jesus as a criminal regarding burial laws, even though he was executed by the Romans.

Criminal burial was a subject on which there were major differences between the Romans and the Jews, and the Jewish people were horrified by the Romans leaving criminals on the cross for several days, as did the Roman practice of denying a criminal right to burial. According to Jewish law, even criminals were to be given a prompt burial:

    If there shall be against someone a crime judged worthy of death, and he be put to death and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree; but you shall bury him the same day, for cursed of God is the one hanged. - Deut 21:22-23
Unlike upstanding citizens, though, criminals in the eyes Jewish law would not be allowed to be buried in a family tomb. Instead they would be buried in a common burial place for the despised. Thus executed criminals would be given prompt burial, but not in a sacred place like the family tomb.

This is interesting, since Jesus was given burial in a family tomb, despite being considered a criminal by Jewish law.

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