Could Jesus have received a proper burial by the Jews, rather than be tossed into an unmarked grave?


The Jewish perspective is influenced by the passage Deuteronomy 21:23, which is referenced by Paul in Galatians 3:13 and possibly in 2 Corinthians 5:21.  Here is the Deuteronomy 21:23 passage: (NIV) “If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.”
Paul quotes part of this passage in Gal 3:13.  “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  He alludes to the effect of the crucifixion in 2 Cor 5:21  “God made him who knew no sin to become sin for us on the cross.”
So, let us go back to the relevant passage in Deuteronomy.  Here we see that anyone who is executed in a way which involves being hung from a pole (exactly what that means is not completely clear) is cursed.  Yet, in this passage the Jews are told to take the body down that same day and bury it.  The curse on the Jews is not to bury the body, but to keep the body on display.  It seems to be a commandment to avoid the cruelty of putting a body on display, not a proscription against this form of execution.
My conclusion is that from the perspective of the Old Testament, a Jew who is hung on a tree (which the crucifixion seems to fall under), must be taken down the same day and must be buried.  Therefore, the response to your question is yes, Jesus could be given a proper burial after having been crucified.  I am imagining that you saw someone claiming that he could not have been given a proper burial according to Jewish sensibilities, and therefore drawing into question the gospel account.  Well, you can put this criticism aside, as it is a false accusation against the gospel account of what happened to Jesus’ body.
By the way, it might be possible that there is some evidence that, despite what Moses commanded the people in Deuteronomy, some Jews did in fact feel that those who are crucified could not be given a proper burial.  I do not know this to be true, but it is possible that someone somewhere found a reference to this.  However, even if this is so, if we allow the Bible to be the standard of what can and cannot be done, then the answer is clear.  Yes, Jesus could have been given a proper burial.  In fact, it was commanded that he should.
I hope this helps.
John Oakes

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