Fasting for the dead


But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan; and they came to Jabesh and burnt them there. And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted seven days. (1 Samuel 31:11-13)

Then David took hold of his clothes, and rent them; and so did all the men who were with him; and they mourned and wept **and fasted until evening **for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. (2 Samuel 1:11-12)

Why did they fast? When they fasted, did they fast to benefit the dead, similar to how Judas Maccabeus and his men prayed and took up a collection for a sin offering for their fallen comrades in 2 Maccabees 12:42-45 and how Catholics now pray and fast for the souls in Purgatory, or did they fast for the living, as an expression of their own repentance so that further divine punishment for their sins might be averted? or did they fast for both the living and the dead?


Fasting was a natural part of mourning.


I’m not sure. When David’s own son became ill, David fasted that God might spare his son but when David learned of his son’s death he ended his fast:
15 And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became sick. 16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in and lay all night upon the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. … David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord, and worshiped; he then went to his own house; and when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Sam 12:15-23)

So, David fasted for Saul and Jonathan after their death but David did not fast for his own son after his death, which doesn’t make sense if fasting was a normal part of mourning. David’s fasting for Saul and Jonathan but not fasting for his own son, however, would make sense if his fasting was done to benefit the dead, to atone for the sins of the dead, as Saul and Jonathan probably had some sins that needed atoning for, whereas David’s son, who is described as a child, if he had not yet reached the age of reason, would not have had any sins that needed atoning for.


David’s fasting for Saul and Jonathan but his not fasting for his own child, would also make sense if the death of Saul and Jonathan was regarded as divine punishment for the sins of Israel in general and the fasting was done for the living, as an expression of their repentance so that further divine punishment for Israel’s sins might be averted. I get the impression that the death of David’s son was not divine punishment for Israel’s sins but only for David’s sin and further punishment for this sin was not expected:
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.” (2 Samuel 12:13-14)


As a SACRIFICE which is a path to grace; in this case offered for the dead [Purgatory]

Why do Catholic FAST? Same reason; as a chanel of God’s grace



In the modern day Judaism they believe that - praying for dead? - yes, but there is no practice of fasting for the dead.

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