The use of caskets goes back to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, where wood, cloth and paper were used to make burial boxes, i.e. caskets or coffins. We don’t find the use of caskets in the scriptures, but we do see much care being given to the bodies of those who died. When Abraham’s wife, Sarah, died at 127 years old, we have the whole chapter of Genesis 23 given to tell of Abraham’s negotiations to buy a cave as a burial plot for her. We read in Genesis 23:3-4, “And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” We then read in verse 19, “And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.” We later find in Genesis 25:10, that Abraham was buried with Sarah when he died.

When Jacob’s wife, Rachel died, we read in Genesis 35:19-20, “And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob SET A PILLAR UPON HER GRAVE: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.” We see from this that it was customary for graves to be marked with some sort of headstone. We read of King David’s grave in Acts 2:29. Peter was speaking and he said, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and HIS SEPULCHRE IS WITH US UNTO THIS DAY.” Some graves could be identified for generations.

The corruption of the body after death was well known among the people. The Lord told Adam in Genesis 3:19, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and UNTO DUST SHALT THOU RETURN.” Yet, there was still great care given to properly bury their dead. To be denied a proper burial was a shame. The Lord said to those who forsook Him and followed after false gods in Jeremiah 16:4, “They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; NEITHER SHALL THEY BE BURIED; BUT THEY SHALL BE AS DUNG UPON THE FACE OF THE EARTH: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.” Their sin was abominable before the Lord so he denied them the privilege of having proper burials.

In addition to proper burials, we also find particular care for the bodies of the deceased. We learn from Deuteronomy 21:23 that the deceased was buried the same day of their death. There was a period of mourning for the dead for about 30 days. In Luke 8, we read the account of the daughter of Jairus being sick and then dying. We read in verse 52, “And all wept, and bewailed her…” Of course, the Lord raised this little girl from the dead and sorrow was turned into joy. When one died, the body was washed, anointed with various oils and spices, and wrapped with special, white linen grave clothes that contained spices. We read of the burial of the Lord Jesus in John 19:40, “Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, AS THE MANNER OF THE JEWS IS TO BURY.”

So, although we do not read of the use of caskets in the scriptures, we do see meticulous care of the bodies of those who died. Why is it important to care for the body of one who is dead? When the Lord saves us, He saves us COMPLETELY…our spirit, soul, and body. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole SPIRIT and SOUL and BODY be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we die, the Lord is not through with our bodies. He will resurrect us one day and take our spirit, soul, and body to dwell with Himself for eternity. Job had a good understanding of that resurrection. He said in Job 19:25-27, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me! (NASB) (263.10)