What does the Bible
say about cremation?
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Question: What does the Bible say about cremation?
Answer: Before we see what the Bible says about cremation, let us first get a dictionary definition. Cremation is the act of reducing a dead body to ashes or consuming it with fire. The Bible does not have anything directly to say about the issue and, in general, on how to handle a dead body. God's word, however, does give two examples of the burning of dead bodies. At the very least, there certainly does not seem to be any text that condemns cremation.
The practice of the patriarchs in the Bible was not cremation but burial, such as Jacob’s burial with his ancestors in a cave that his grandfather Abraham had bought (Genesis 49:29-33). The burial of Jesus' body, wrapped with aromatic spices, took place in a tomb after His crucifixion (Luke 23:52-56; John 19:38-42). Interestingly, if a person accepted the Nazarite vow, that person was forbidden to touch any dead body, even one of a close family member:
"All the days that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body. He shall not make himself unclean even for his father or his mother, for his brother or his sister, when they die . . . " (Numbers 6:6-7, NKJV)
The Bible does give a few examples where dead bodies were burned like a cremation:
"Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, 'Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.' So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they BURNED THEM WITH FIRE . . . " (Joshua 7:24-25)
"Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and BURNED THEM THERE." (1Samuel 31:11-12)