Friday, 6 July 2012

1 Kings 13:22

“You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers."

This is one of those lines from the Old Testament that leads me to think one or two things. On the one hand we have the clear negative aspect of being buried away from the patriarchal line of the family. This was clearly a society that liked to be buried with their fathers as opposed to their mothers and in the West we have followed this male line tradition. We find a repeated pattern of being ‘the son of’ and on and on into often remote history although I understand that the Icelanders may be more egalitarian in naming patterns.

On the other hand........ we have that repeated glimpse into the nature of a sometimes capricious God who takes his revenge in the small and the petty things whilst being sneakily away from the glare of public admonishment. What would the public really think of a God who takes revenge for eating and drinking in an inappropriate place? Oh dear, God has let himself down again and we have the evidence in writing.

The refusal of burial in a special place has been seen repeatedly as a concern for the living as they are moved away from ancestral cultic sites. We only have to think about the Stracey family who turned the parish Church of Rackheath into a funerary chapel to see the power of a special place for a family.

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