9014Re: [ANE-2] Re: High Priest sarcophagus/Caiphas
- Oct 9, 2008Jim West wrote
I'd like to hear more about this pagan custom (coins in the mouth after death) and its place in Jewish practice.
I've never seen any research on this topic however from time to time we would find small coins in Jewish tombs and in one occasion (Jericho/ Smith-Hachlili) inside the cranium. The latter case received quite a bit of unwarranted attention by the pro-Turin Shroud folks as they claimed that they could see coins from none other than Pontius Pilatus on the shroud and 'as by custom they were placed on the eyes of the decease prior to burial.' This was never a Jewish custom in antiquity and placing the coins of the person responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus sounds more like Monty Python than anything else. They were not amused.
When coins were found in Jewish tombs we always, prior to this find' believed that they simply fell out of someone's pocket in times of burial however these two specific cases, one in particular stuck to the palate of the woman, argue for a folk belief amongst some Jews that when death comes it just may not hurt to place a coin in the mouth of the deceased to help him/her to pay the boatman in order to cross the river Styx. I wouldn't call it a custom, more like abherent folk behavior in times of death.
> There were two ossuaries with the family name Caiphas, one Joseph son
> of ....and the second bearing only the family name Caiphas
> Unfortunately, religious fanatics were stoning us during the
> excavation and we were eventually forced to abandon the excavation,
> though we were fortunate to take the ossuaries to the museum for
> examination. One interesting fact though glossed over by many is that
> I, working alongside Ronnie Reich the excavator, found a coin in
> situ in the palate of one of the woman in an ossuary. Seems she was
> 'covering all her bets' with this Pagan custom and in retrospect this
> seems to have been for me personally, one of the more hypocritical
> customs observed due to the fact that this was the family of the High
> Priest. Little bit of back sliding it seems. Later I spoke to David
> Flusser about this and he asked if it was male of female, when I told
> him it was an adult female, he simply shrugged as if to say, I'm not
> all that surprised.
Jim West, ThD
http://jwest. wordpress. com - Blog
http://sites. google.com/ site/biblicalstu diesresources/ - Biblical Studies Resources
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