Research Query: Ḥizkuni on Prompt Burial of the Dead

Jacob Adler's picture

Dear Colleagues,


In Book 2, Chapter 26 of Nishmat Ḥayyim, Menasseh ben Israel writes:


Anyone who leaves his dead relative unburied overnight, unless it be for his honor, transgresses a negative commandment. . . .  And even though Rabbenu Baḥya and the Ḥizkuni assert that this prohibition applies only in the Land of Israel, Maimonides is of the opinion that even outside the Land of Israel, one who allows his dead to remain unburied overnight transgresses both a positive and a negative commandment. 


Baḥya ben Asher (in his commentary on Deuteronomy 21:23) does indeed say that the prohibition applies only in the Land of Israel, but I have not been able to find anything to that effect in Ḥizkuni. Can someone provide a reference to a place where Ḥizkuni says this?  Or is it possible that Menasseh is mistaken?


Many thanks in advance.


Jacob Adler
University of Arkansas
Philosophy Department
Fayetteville, Arkansas



Dear Jacob,

Concerning נֹתֵן לְךָ נַחֲלָה in Deut. 21:23, Ḥizkuni comments:

דין זה אינו נוהג אלא בארץ שבעה עממים
Thus, Ḥizkuni indeed refers to the Land of Israel in discussing the prompt burial of the dead. On the phrase בארץ שבעה עממים see the discussion in Mekhilta de-Rabbi Yishma'el, Tractate Pisḥa, ch. XVII (commentary on Ex. 13:5).
Liran Yadgar (Monterey, CA)