Closing the eyes of the dead

In my last post on Translation thoughts I left off the last phrase of verse four, “Joseph will lay his hand on your eyes.”  How God understands our fears and speaks to them. Here he gently reassures a frail elderly Jacob. ( He was after all a hundred and thirty, and joined the women and small children to ride to Egypt in a wagon.)

His son Joseph will be there at his death bed and be there afterward –  to close his eyes, to see to his funeral arrangements, and to take his remains back to be buried in the family plot in Canaan.

I wondered if “closing the eyes of the dead” was another Hebraic idiom borrowed into English.  The first English Bible translations tended to translate idioms quite literally and many have become comfortably ensconced in our consciousness .  We would be loath to give them up.

In this case, closing the eyes of the dead,  pre-dates Christianity, back to earlier fears of ghosts that haunt.  In checking out the roots of the expression I found a fascinating article, The Primitive Ghost and his Relations, by James G. Frazer- published in the Popular Science Journal in 1885. Closing the eyes of the dead, and much more.

And No! No! No, No!  I am not going to write about Halloween this year.


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