Newly-hewn Tomb


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According to the Gospels (Matthew 27.60; Luke 23.53; John 19.41), the body of Jesus was laid in a newly-hewn tomb that belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. Tombs were cut out of the rocky mountain side and initially a simple chamber with three benches was created. Additional chambers with burial niches were added later on. A newly hewn and therefore unfinished tomb could be used for primary burial. Tomb entrances were usually low, as shown in this reconstruction drawing. This was also the case with the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid, as the disciples had to stoop to enter, as recorded in Luke 24.12; and John 20.5.
Closing stones were usually square, as only rich people could afford to have a roling closing stone. The tomb of Joseph of Arimathea had a rolling stone, confirming that he was a rich man (Matthew 27.57).