Jewish burial customs in the 1st Century and Shroud of Turin evidence

The intent of the following article is to dig a little bit deeper into Jewish burial customs of the 1st Century.

I realized that understanding these customs in a proper manner will also clarify our understanding of the reports of the Gospels. In addition, it will shed more light on the way Yeshua was buried.

The burial: a sacred duty in Jewish customs

The Old Testament abounds in examples proving that it was a sacred duty for Jewish people to bury their dead. We also know that, due to the Middle Eastern climate, people had to be taken to rest normally on the very day of their death, because corpses decomposed very rapidly.

It was also viewed as shameful for a family to leave one of their deceased members for days without burying him.

“Then the men of Y’huda came, and they anointed David king over the house of Y’hudah. They informed David that the men of Yavesg-Gil’ad were the ones who had buried Sha’ul. So David sent messengers to the men of Yevesh-Gil’ad with this message: “May you be blessed by Adonai because you showed this kindness to your Lord Sha’ul and buried him. Now may Adonai show kindness and truth to you; and I too will show you favor because you have done this.”

2 Samuel 2-4

How people were laid to rest

The Gospels teach us HOW people were laid to rest.

For instance John 11:44 and John 19:40 provide very clear details about the way people were dressed for a burial.

“The man who had died came out, and feet bound in his graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Yeshua told them: ” Unwrap him and let him go.” John 11:44

“They took the body of Yeshua and bound it in linen cloths with the spices as the burial customs of the Jews.” John 19:40

What we must consider about crucifixion

  • crucifixion is a curse, it is defined as such in the Torah…a man hanged on a tree is cursed.

The Torah gives precise indications about handling a crucified person’s burial:

” And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is 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 a hanged man is cursed by God.” Deuteronomy 21:22-23


In short, what do the verses of Deuteronomy mean regarding Yeshua’s crucifixion? They CLEARLY mean that Yeshua took the curse by God our Father for OUR sins.

  • crucified people would be mocked by Romans, who would often write some kind of sarcastic epitaph on their cross.
  • Pilate considered Yeshua to be innocent, otherwise he would have denied Joseph of Arimathea his demand. Without allies within the Sanhedrin, Yeshua’s dead body could have ended up in the common grave.

The story of 21 year old Yehohanan, who lived in the 1st Century will teach you a lot about crucifixion and crucifixion methods used by the Romans.

What the Shroud teaches us about Yeshua’s burial

               Yeshua’s burial cloths are composed of 2 parts

                                           part 2: Shroud of Turin

part 1: Sudarium of Oviedo ( napkin)

Scientific research has proven that the blood found on the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo belong to the same person, who wore a Crown of thorns ( or rather a helmet of thorns), suffered scourging and crucifixion as described in detail in the Gospels. The Face of the Shroud also confirms what we know from the Gospels: Yeshua was blindfolded and punched in his eyes.

“After blindfolding Him, they kept asking, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” Luke 22:64

Parts of Yeshua’s beard are missing, which is also fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy:

“I gave my back to those who strike me, and my cheeks to those who pluck out the beard: I did not cover my face from humiliation and spitting.” Isaiah 50:6

The Shroud of Turin gives testimony to the world that our Messiah Yeshua is our Passover lamb, whose body has been made a bread of affliction ( a matza) for our Salvation.

Only one person corresponds to this description: Yeshua our Messiah.

Funnily skeptics always base their attacks of the Shroud on the fact that it is one linen piece, willingly ignoring the existence of the Sudarium of Oviedo. The Shroud of Turin does NOT contradict the stories of the Gospels, it confirms the written testimony of the disciples in an astounding way.

The body of Yeshua: washed or unwashed?

Before even arguing if the Man of the Shroud was washed or unwashed we need to understand what Jewish burial customs in the 1st Century imply:

  1. If the person died a regular death, there is an obligation to wash and anoint the body with spices and perfumes before the person gets laid to rest.
  2. In the case of violent death ( which is the case for the Man of the Shroud), body will be laid to rest AS IS.

Again, detractors of the Shroud often speak by ignorance. 

However, the fact that the Man of the Shroud’s body had been unwashed made me stumble upon an apparent issue: didn’t the Gospels of Mark, Luke and John mention the use of spices and perfumes?

What was that supposed to mean? I broke my head over this issue and asked my friend David Hines, the Shroud researcher, to come to rescue.

David shared his opinion ( that is based on forensic facts that have been proven by several pathologists and Shroud experts). 

David came to the conclusion that the body of the Man of the Shroud was washed to some degree. Is this contradictory? Not at all.

You will judge by yourself as I am sharing his words with you all. I do trust David, not only because of his expertise, but especially because he deeply loves our Lord. David spends much time with our Lord daily and also received some insights from Him.

Quoting David:

“First I do not believe Nicodemus purchased about a 100lb weight of myrrh and aloes to be used on a dead person. 

Meaning he DID NOT buy myrrh and aloes  to be used in a burial.  That was not his plan. 

But to use on a living Jesus.  I believe he purchased the myrrh and aloes to treat scourge wounds thinking Jesus would be scourged and released as would be routine procedure. 

A prisoner is NOT scourged and crucified.  One or the other, not both.  If what happened to the Man in the Shroud was routine procedure the Romans would have been nailing dead corpses to the crosses. 

Jesus/Yeshua is scourged and crucified.  That does not make sense.   

I believe Nicodemus knew how brutal the scourging was and perhaps even witnessed it and purchased the myrrh and aloes to treat scourge wounds.   Myrrh resin was used in war to cover battle wounds.   It is a antiseptic.   

It is not typically used in a Jewish burial that I know of.    Certainly not in that excess. 

Myrrh and aloes in a burial?  That does not make sense.  What makes sense it that it was purchased to treat scourge wounds.  That is exactly what one would purchase to treat scourge wounds.   Aloes for the skin and myrrh would be the perfect purchase to property heal from the brutal scourging. 

I believe Nicodemus having purchased the myrrh and aloes on his behalf brought them to the burial not thinking they would ever be used in a burial but ended up being used in the burial.  Since he bought them for Jesus may as well give them to him type thinking. 

Like Dr. Frederick Zugibe I believe the body was washed to some degree, meaning myrrh and aloes just poured over the body and nothing more.  As a act of purification.   Myrrh resin was used in purification rites. 

I honesty believe that, I can almost picture it,  myrrh and aloes being poured over the body. 

In doing this it did not wash all the blood off, but dirt and perhaps sweat.    So I believe to some degree, a minor degree the body was washed,   Myrrh and aloes poured over the body but not scrubbed down or blood removed.  

Myrrh resin is like tree sap,   it would preserve the blood on the linen.     And there is a thin coat of carbohydrates over the Shroud linen,   the chemcial properties of that carb layer match the chemical properties of myrrh and aleos. .I wrote a paper on it that I will send. 

Dr. Baima Bollone found myrrh and aloes in the blood by antibody antigen testing.  He is a very respected forensic pathologist and had blood samples from the Shroud and performed numerous tests over many years and wrote a book about it.   He also examined the blood from the Sudarium.

As for the women I believe they came with perfumes.  Nothing to wash the body.   Fragrance only. 

Myrrh by itself is not really a good fragrance. it is base for perfumes,.  when mixed with frankincense makes for a perfume.  

Women bought perfume because none was used at the burial. 

I spent a lot of time with the Lord on this.  I know I am right. 

How does one define the word “washed”  that is a very vague term.   For the most part I believe the blood stayed with the body,  with perhaps some loss of the blood when myrrh and aloes were poured over the body.  Bear in mind aloes are 90% water.”   

The following study proves that RULE Nr2 ( see above) was applied for the Man of the Shroud.

Not only is the second point still applied in contemporary Jewish burial customs, it also fully proves without a doubt that the Man of the Shroud is a Jewish person.

The sign of Jonas- why Yeshua probably wasn’t buried on a Friday: meaning of ” Erev Shabbat”

“But He answered them: ” An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to except the sign of the prophet Jonah” Matthew 12:39

Why is it important to know if Yeshua fulfilled the prophecy of the Sign of Jonas?

It is a detail of the HIGHEST IMPORTANCE because this is the sign Yeshua promised to His generation, so we would recognize that He is the Messiah.

If Yeshua actually died on a Friday and was resurrected on a Sunday morning, we have bad maths here, that’s two nights and a half inside of the tomb, not three days and three nights, in the same way the prophet Jonas remained in the fish’s belly.

A lot of people think that the term ” erev Shabbat”, the eve of Shabbat only refers to Friday evening. Rather the contrary is true. Not only is “Shabbat” used to describe the resting day, it is ALSO used to describe any feast for Adonai such as Pesakh or Sukkot.

Nowhere in the Gospels, it is specified that Yeshua actually died on a Friday. Yeshua died before Shabbat, but this Shabbat could have been any day of the week.

The following study will help you understand the right timing in Yeshua’s death and resurrection.

May the Spirit of Adonai help you understand the importance of Yeshua’s words and the fulfillement of His prophecies.

May you understand that, if after 2000 years, the piece of linen that we call “Shroud of Turin” is still there, its purpose is not for you to worship it, but it truly testifies of the Resurrection of our Lord.

The details of our Lord’s suffering are encrypted for you to remember the HIGH PRICE Yeshua paid for your sins.

May you come to repentance and be saved in His powerful Name. Amen.


Copyright© by Isabelle Esling


The episode of the Resurrection revisited with brand new eyes

“The eyes are useless when the mind is blind”

“May Yeshua our Messiah, the righteous King, open our eyes to the texts of the Gospels that we have probably read blindly a thousand times. May He lift up the veil of blindness in us, may He open our eyes to seemingly ordinary words, so we will be fully able to catch the meaning of the Good News in context. In Yeshua’s Name I pray. Amen.” 

He saw and he believed. What did John see in Yeshua’s tomb?

“On the first day of the week as it turned toward morning, while it was still dark, Myriam haMagdalit came to the tomb and saw that the stone was removed from the tomb. She ran and came to Shim’on Petros and to the other disciple whom Yeshua loved, and said to them, ” they have taken the Master from His tomb and we don’t know where they have put Him!”

Petros left along with the other disciple and they went to the tomb. Both of them ran together, but the other disciple ran faster, passed Petros, and came to the tomb first.

He peered inside and saw the burial garments lying there, but he did not enter. Shim’on Petros came after him. He entered the tomb and saw the burial garments lying there. The scarf that had been on His head was not lying beside the burial garments, instead it was folded up by itself in a separate place. The other disciple who came to the tomb first also entered. He saw and believed.

Gospel of John, Chapter 20, verses 1 to 8, Franz Delitzsch translation into English

My friends,

I’ve read the Gospels so many times. But did I really READ them? A recent research about tefillins, burial rituals within the Jewish community in the 1st Century, the types of tombs really made me aware of my ignorance of many customs and specific context.

So I made the firm decision to stop relying only on translations and popular interpretations of the Gospels.

One major difficulty of the Gospels is that we base our interpretations on a text that was translated in to Ancient Greek by Hebrew thinking minds.

I also became conscious of the importance of studying archeological findings, as they are very much of help to catch the customs and context of the 1st Century in Israel.

Each single word and each single detail we probably fail to pay attention to actually DO matter.

What seemingly appears as secondary is often of higher importance.

We must always bear in mind that the Gospels refer to Jewish custom and speak of a Israeli rabbi named Yeshua ( born in Israel, raised as a Jew, thinking in Hebrew and Aramaic who is teaching and discussing the Torah). Keeping these details in mind will help us do away with very simplistic and out of context interpretations of the Scriptures.

The Gospels are the fulfilling of the Tanakh. They make sense when confronted and put together with Torah, prophets and other Old Testament writings.

This being said, I’d like to invite you for a deeper exploration of the Gospel accounts about Yeshua’s Resurrection.

Before we can proceed, there are several details we need to speak about, especially the aspect of the tombs in the 1st Century.

Jewish tombs in the first Century

The following, very detailed study about the structure of Jewish tombs really helped me understand the way tombs were conceived.

However, the English translation of Franz Delitzsch’s gospels added and interesting, new element of comprehension about entering Jewish tombs in the 1st Century.

In most versions of the Gospel of John, you would find “he bent over” while the Delitzsch version would render the same verse by ” he peered inside”. To peer means to look intently, searchingly, or with difficulty. While peering probably combines all three elements together, the second picture certainly puts an emphasis on the difficulty that is linked with penetrating inside of the tomb.

Jewish tomb model

peering inside of a first Century tomb, this gives you an idea about how the disciples entered…

The Garden Tomb from the outside ( soil from the Garden Tomb has been found on the Shroud of Turin)

Inside the Garden Tomb

Burial cloths in Hebrew= Shroud

“Hatakhrikhim munakhim” =התכיריכין מֻנחים = Shroud

התכיריכין מֻנחים: I tested the Hebrew expression for burial cloths in a Hebrew to English translator and it is rendered by Shroud-not burial cloths, but Shroud!

Here we have concrete proof that the Gospel report is talking about Yeshua’s burial Shroud also known as the Shroud of Turin.

John saw and believed. But what did John see?

                                         UVB light emission from the Shroud of Turin

By reading the Gospel of John, many people assume that John just saw the folded burial cloth and believed. However the great majority of people tend to forget what an event like the Resurrection really implies. In my opinion, John saw much more than just the folded piece of linen and the head cloth lying apart. Shroud experts say that the Resurrection was an event of the magnitude of an earthquake and that it implied the emission of laser-light light.

My friend David Hines, who dedicates a lot of his time to Shroud research, has brought evidence forward  in his two latest videos, that the Shroud image was formed by UVB light.

Of course , the absence of Yeshua’s body fully pointed at His Resurrection. But it is said of the disciples ” for they did not yet understand what was written, that He would surely rise among the dead.” As far as I am concerned, the disciples needed to see evidence. This evidence was brought to them through the contemplation of the shiny Shroud image that probably reflected the image of the Master in a very shiny way ( we are probably unable to imagine how powerful the light emission was a few hours after Yeshua’s Resurrection.)

Why is it important that Yeshua was put into the tomb of a rich man?

As much as our Messiah was hated by many corporate religious men, He also had some powerful and rich allies such as Joseph of Arimathea who was courageous enough to reclaim our Savior’s body to Pilate.

This is not a minor fact. First and foremost, it fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 53.9:

” And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” Isaiah 53:9

The religious establisment of the 1st Century rejected the story of Yeshua’s Resurrection.

Let us examine the verses 11 to 15 of Matthew, Chapter 28, in the orthodox Jewish version ( you will understand why I made this choice):

“Now while they were on their way, hinei! Some of the shomrim ( guards, patrols) came into the Rashei Hakohanim ( to the Chief Priests) all the things that had happened. And when they had assembled with the Zekenim ( the Elders) and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, you are to say, His talmidim ( disciples) came by night and stole Him while we were asleep. And this would come to the Governor’s ears, we will will him over and keep you out of trouble. And the ones who took the kesef ( money) did as they had been instructed and the story was widely spread among the Yehudim ( the Jews) to this day.” Matthew 28: 11-15

Now I choose this orthodox Jewish version on purpose for any Gentile reader to understand that it is really the Jewish religious establishment that hated Yeshua, not the simple Jew. Many people in Israel loved rabbi Yeshua, especially Galileans, but also simple folks from Jerusalem. It is the corporate and corrupt establishment that plotted against Yeshua, because He represented a BIG THREAT as the King Messiah.

We know that the disciples were hiding, because they were very much afraid of persecution, especially after the death of their Master. We also know that at least 7 men with a strong body would have been needed to remove the stone that was placed at the entry of Yeshua’s tomb.

In addition, we know from the Gospels that the tomb was being guarded by Roman soldiers.

So, WHO removed the stone?

This is the question one of my acquaintances from an evangelical church asked herself when she first visited the Garden Tomb in Israel, back in the 90’s.

This is how she came to faith in Yeshua our Messiah.

WHO do you think removed the stone?

WHO do you say YESHUA is?

Copyright© by Isabelle Esling