Because of the significance it holds for Christians, Jews, Israelis, and the world, the tomb of Jesus commands a lot of intrigues. The tomb is visited by many pilgrims every year, and it is believed that the tomb belonged to a man called Joseph of Arimathea. So, how big was Jesus’ tomb?
The tomb of Jesus had three main sections, and He was laid in the innermost sepulcher, which measured 7 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 7.5 feet high. Seeing as He was buried according to Jewish tradition, He was laid on a bench that had a ‘pillow’ carved into it. The pillow was where the deceased’s head was laid.
So, what does the Bible say about Jesus’ tomb? What did it look like, how old was it, and how big was the stone used to seal it? Read along to find the answers to these questions and more.
Throughout the accounts of Jesus’ burial in the Gospels and various Epistles written by Paul, there is no mention of what the size of Jesus’ tomb could have been. The tomb was, however, discovered and preserved as a holy site. Upon its discovery, archaeologists mapped it, and its layout and measurements were made available to the public.
However, even though the Bible does not mention the size of Jesus’ tomb, it does mention that it belonged to a wealthy man and had been hewn into a stone. Most tombs belonging to the wealthy at the time had similar (even if not duplicate) layouts and nearly similar measurements, especially where they were hewn for families.
The tomb of Jesus was hewn into a large rock and had three main sections. The top level comprised the entryway, which was pretty small, mostly because it was only used during burials. It measured about 3 feet high by 2.5 feet wide.
In larger tombs, the entryway led to an open section called the antechamber. It was also referred to as a weeping room, and loved ones used it to mourn the dead. The antechamber was the largest section of the tomb. Typically, large tombs had two low rock walls separating the antechamber from the rest of the tomb. There also would be a low threshold that led to the burial chamber. Jesus’ tomb was smaller than usual, and it had a bench right opposite the entrance.
Since the tomb had not been used before, it is believed to have some incomplete sections. For instance, there is no record of a complete loculus that served as a secondary burial site for a body one year after its primary burial. Also, the fact that the bench was right opposite the entrance was why the Apostles could see the burial site from the entrance right after the resurrection.
The entrance had an approximate measurement of 2.5 to 3 feet high and 2 to 2.5 feet wide. As mentioned, it was almost always made small because it was only used for burial purposes. In addition, because a large stone was used to seal the tomb, a smaller entrance made it a lot easier to seal.
The fact that it was also carved from solid stone made it almost unnecessary to make it overly large, as that would have meant more time and labor to create the entrance.
The stone covering the tomb of Jesus is believed to have been 4.5 feet in diameter (approximately 1.4 meters) and one foot thick (approximately 0.3 meters). With such dimensions, the stone would have weighed at least a few hundred kilograms. To make sure that the stone would not easily be rolled away after burial, tombstones were made to be pretty heavy.
Certain schools of thought believe the tombstone could have been square-shaped as opposed to round, mostly because, of all the tombs studied in Jerusalem (more than 1,000), only 4 were found to have had a round tombstone. These 4 belonged to exceptionally wealthy people and royalty.
The body of Jesus was laid on a bench opposite the entrance of the tomb. Typically, tombs had a loculus (or several). They were a little sloped and had pillow-like contraptions curved out of stone where the dead’s head would be laid. At the foot of the loculus, there was a 90° angle that made sure the feet were secured in place.
The fact that the tomb where Jesus was buried had no complete loculi meant that He had to be buried on the said bench.
While the Bible does not give an actual age of the tomb, it mentions that it was new and had never been used before. John 19: 41 – 42 reads, ‘At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden, a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.’
In recent studies, archaeologists discovered that the tomb of Jesus is consistent with descriptions from the Bible. The tomb is thought to have been incomplete because there are sections that were not present. As mentioned, tombs had loculi that were used as secondary burial sites. They would be used one year after a body was buried, as decomposition would be complete at this time.
Jesus’ tomb does not have recorded loculi which is an indication that they were yet to be hewn from the tomb’s walls.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.