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The Jewish Afterlife?


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Abraham's Bosom, Paradise, Sheol, and whatever else.

 

Also, Jesus mentions "hell" when he talked about the guy who begged Abraham to directly warn his brothers, and Abraham said "if Moses and the prophets aren't enough..."

 

So WTF? What did the Israelites believe then and what do Jews believe now?

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Some Jews don't believe in an afterlife; they think the "prize" the "goal" the "gift" is this life and that God gives us this one time gift to be lived fully here this one time.

 

Other Jews, do believe in an afterlife, but they think eventually everyone goes to heaven including athesits. That there is a judgement day and that it is based on what people do in this life good and bad. The penalties for doing bad is more like a prison sentence or remedial training....you're corrected for the bad and set "right" with god again.

 

They don't believe in hell but know that that is a pagan concept.

 

 

They don't evangelize or try to convert people because for them being Jewish is a cultural thing here on earth, a certain way God wants them to live their lives here (as an example I guess), and since everyone eventually ends up in heaven anyway there's no need to convert people to "save" them from some eternal torment.

 

 

In all the years I was a Christian I never bothered to find out what Jews believe. I didn't even think to ask until after my deconversion.

 

 

I only tried to convert a Jew one time in my life...and he was a Jewish atheist. I thought I'd start with a little brown nosing so I started with the "Jews are God's chosen people thing". Evidently he saw what was coming, so instead of converting him he left me with a "brain zinger" I'll never forget. -- Anyway, when I said that he replied, "You want me to tell you why Jews are God's chosen people?" Naturally I said yes....and he said, "Jews are God's chosen people because my ancient Jewish ancestors wrote the bible; if your ancestors had written the bible it would have said white anglo saxon protestants were God's chosen people". --- It was so obvious and so true and yet I'd never even thought of that. I tried to forget it, bury it, but it just kept rising to the surface of my mind for years.

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I echo what Natural Selection said. I conferred with my sister-in-law who is Jewish, and she said that in mystical Judaism (Kaballah) once you die, you come before the deity and give an account of your life. Then for sin there is suffering for a time, after which you come back to try again (reincarnation). But in the scripture, there is nothing about damnation or burning, just the grave (sheol). A burning underworld was a concept adopted from the other religions of the area including the Greeks and Romans. The reason no one disputed hell in the accounts within the New Testament is that it is not an accurate portrayal of events or of Jewish culture and thought, but rather the writings of a 1st century cult. I foresee a similar future for Mormonism, since it shows no real signs of waning.

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I've heard the term "Abraham's Bosom" and "Paradise" used in Jewish writings. Are those the same things?

 

Also, doesn't the Catholic church equate "purgatory" with the Jewish Paradise? There was also the whole thing that Jesus, while he was dead, went and took the "righteous dead" from Paradise and took them to Heaven. So it seemed like Paradise was an intermediate place between earth and Heaven.

 

Also, what's Paradise supposed to be like? I bet it's not as nice as Paradise is for Islamic suicide bombers. :lmao:

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest goodfaith

How I see it:

 

Christianity and the bible are syncretic- a mix of beliefs and ideas from the various cultures they touched as they evolved.

 

The Jews believed that their names would be excluded from the book of life if they did not keep their faith, Sheol is death, rather than the honour of their descendents;

the Greeks believed in a world where the dead went...Hades.

The words Jesus uses and all the references to fire refer to 'Gehenneh', a refuse pit outside the walls of Jerusalem where refuse- and the bodies of those deemed unfit for sacred rituals and burial- would be burned in the first century.

and the early christ followers believed Jesus had already appeared to them from the dead and it was only a matter of time before he came back again from what the Greeks wrote down as Ouranos- the planet Uranus, or more globally, the cosmos.

 

The demons in the bible clearly refer to manifestations of mental illness or distress.

 

Various versions of the word 'hell' existed from the dark ages in Europe, it means to hide or cover; burial was the most common form of disposal of the dead throughout Europe at that time.

 

Dante's Divine Comedy in the 13 th century is where the renaissance images of hell come from, pulling the whole concept together.

 

By the time KJV bible is published at the beginning of the 16 th century the meanings have taken culture hold as signifying a place of endless punishment for perceived misdeeds- which is a good way to manipulate and control people, through fear!

 

'The Devil', originally an angel who accuses people, becomes the keeper of this ungodly spectacle and symbol of evil, maybe because people aren't going to follow a god for long who organises eternal torture because he loves them!!

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Guest sinderella60

This reminded me of something my boyfriend and I experienced a little bit ago. We were attending a Baptist meet up every Thursday or so where every week there was a different subject, things like: do all roads lead to god, do you believe once saved always saved, Calvinism vs covenant and what is the place of the Jews in heaven. Well, the night of what happens to the Jews in heaven was interesting to say the least. The Baptist were discussing their belief that when the Jews die they will go to heaven because after all they are the chosen people. However, since the Jews did not accept jc as the son of god then the Jews….get ready…will be the servants to the Baptist in heaven. The Jews will be forced to wait on the Baptist. This had me and my boyfriend practically rolling on the floor. :lmao:

 

Oh, by the way we were attending to help us be more tolerant and non-judgmental of others and their beliefs with albeit an ulterior motive. However, we did like to debate with them, we tried to open up other thought processes hoping that some would maybe start to really look into their religion and see it for what it is, mass brain washing resulting in living a delusional existence of slavery and oppression.

 

Whenever they wanted to know our opinion on something they would start with…so what do you people believe? And I would say well us heathen think blah, blah. :wicked:

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and the early christ followers believed Jesus had already appeared to them from the dead and it was only a matter of time before he came back again from what the Greeks wrote down as Ouranos- the planet Uranus, or more globally, the cosmos.

The ancients knew nothing of the planet Uranus. The planets, to them, were the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (yes, the sun and moon were considered planets). Ouranos was the sky or heavens and only quite some time later was assigned to the name of a planet.

 

The point is no one thought that anyone ascended to any planet. They simply thought he went up into the sky (considering one version, as I recall, says "into a cloud").

 

Other than all this... :welcome:

 

mwc

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Guest goodfaith

The ancients knew nothing of the planet Uranus. The planets, to them, were the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (yes, the sun and moon were considered planets). Ouranos was the sky or heavens and only quite some time later was assigned to the name of a planet.

 

The point is no one thought that anyone ascended to any planet. They simply thought he went up into the sky (considering one version, as I recall, says "into a cloud").

 

Other than all this... :welcome:

 

mwc

 

Thank you mwc.

 

ouranos is translated heaven yes. Uranus is visible from earth by eye- it was always known to be there but considered an unimportant star rather than a planet. I don't think it was even given the name until the 18 th century, and it is the only planet named for greek mythology, ouranos was the first greek ruler of the universe. The greeks thought the Gods were involved with the planets and stars and natural things...and that has filtered through to our belief systems.

 

A lot of what we are taught or accept on some level as knowledge comes from mythology, though in my experience a lot of apologeticists are enraged or offended by the word!

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This reminded me of something my boyfriend and I experienced a little bit ago. We were attending a Baptist meet up every Thursday or so where every week there was a different subject, things like: do all roads lead to god, do you believe once saved always saved, Calvinism vs covenant and what is the place of the Jews in heaven. Well, the night of what happens to the Jews in heaven was interesting to say the least. The Baptist were discussing their belief that when the Jews die they will go to heaven because after all they are the chosen people. However, since the Jews did not accept jc as the son of god then the Jews….get ready…will be the servants to the Baptist in heaven. The Jews will be forced to wait on the Baptist. This had me and my boyfriend practically rolling on the floor. :lmao:

 

Gotta love the Baptist. :rolleyes: They can be the most 'righteous' of servants according to them sometimes.

 

Guess they missed this section.

 

 

Rev 3:9

9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

(KJV)

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The Baptist were discussing their belief that when the Jews die they will go to heaven because after all they are the chosen people. However, since the Jews did not accept jc as the son of god then the Jews….get ready…will be the servants to the Baptist in heaven. The Jews will be forced to wait on the Baptist.

 

Frankly, this is not the typical Baptist doctrine. I know. I was one (unfortunately). Most Baptists believe that no one (Jew, Muslim, etc) can get into heaven apart from accepting Jesus. So, according to this teaching, a Jew that does not accept Jesus would go to hell. They believe the "chosen people" status had nothing to do with heaven or hell, but with their place as a nation. To them, this would explain why both god-fearing Jews and those that did not fear god were a part of the nation and still a part of the chosen.

 

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program ;) :

 

Today's Jews, for the most part, do not believe in an afterlife or, depending on the group, do not make a big deal out of it. It is hard to lump all Jews in one pot because, like Christians, they have denominations, too (Reformed, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox, etc). Belief systems will vary between them and, in some cases, even within the same "denomination."

 

In ancient times the teaching of Abraham's Bosom was fairly common. Josephus, an ancient Jewish historian, wrote a short dissertation on the common belief about it (Josephus' Discourse Concerning Hades). The basic concept was that there were two compartments in the heart of the earth. One was a place of comfort for those souls that god placed there to await the day of his kingdom. This was known as Abaraham's Bosom. The other part was a place of torment or a place where the constant threat of torment was there. The souls placed there were considered to be in a holding place awaiting the day of their judgment.

 

So, the Jewish belief in the afterlife has changed over the ages.

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So the ancient Jews did have some kind of hell where you would go if you were a shitty person?

 

Some Jews, would have been after the Babylonian exile. I don't think there is anything that connects afterlife in OT times for the Jews, other than saying they must have believed 'something', but not specifically. As Moses, Elijah, etc taken up in whirlwinds; seeing the army of God in the sky etc. But, that's about it I think, other than post-exile Jews a few hundred years before Christ, and continuing.

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Guest goodfaith

"Today's Jews, for the most part, do not believe in an afterlife or, depending on the group, do not make a big deal out of it. It is hard to lump all Jews in one pot because, like Christians, they have denominations, too (Reformed, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox, etc). Belief systems will vary between them and, in some cases, even within the same "denomination." "

 

yes, this seems to be the case for all religion, each religion absorbs important local or national cultural ideas.

 

There is no pure religion or 'one true religion' or 'pure religion'; that's one of the problems for rational people trying to join a church where some of the leaders or members are adamant they found the holy grail...and where people try to return to religious purity it usually has more to do with controlling others than making a better religion.

 

 

"So the ancient Jews did have some kind of hell where you would go if you were a shitty person?"

 

I truly don't think anyone believed in the biblical hell we've come to contrast with heaven until much much later than the early christians.

Ancient Jews seem to have believed that their God was angry with them for not being monotheistic but I can't see anything about afterlife of torment in any of the writings I know, and I tend to think people just wonder 'why bother' if good people and bad people get the same deal...which makes it easy to believe there's retribution coming later for the evil people.

 

Jesus words about gaining the world and losing the world ( eg Matt 16 26 ) would seem to me consistent with the idea of Book of Life celebration/eternal remembrance in modern times ( eg for Rosh Hashanah ) but in that same bible chapter he is addressing Peter as Satan. I think the people then conversed more in concepts and metaphors than we have done since with their words.

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Ancient Jews seem to have believed that their God was angry with them for not being monotheistic but I can't see anything about afterlife of torment in any of the writings I know...

 

There is very little (if anything) about the afterlife in the Old Testament. However, there is one verse in the book of Daniel that has been, from time to time, seen to imply a afterlife in which the good are rewarded and the bad punished. Here is the verse:

 

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt. - Daniel 12:2

 

According to that passage, we have the concepts of "eternity" via the word "everlasting" combined with "life" on the one hand and "shame" and "contempt" on the other. So there is a possibility this was in the mind of the writer of Daniel.

 

I don't have a lot of knowledge in this area, but aren't there more references to the afterlife in the apocryphal books? If I remember correctly the Catholic idea of purgatory comes mainly from there and these works are also Jewish and pre-Christian.

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I don't have a lot of knowledge in this area, but aren't there more references to the afterlife in the apocryphal books? If I remember correctly the Catholic idea of purgatory comes mainly from there and these works are also Jewish and pre-Christian.

 

Maccabees, I think.

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Anybody happen to know an expert in Ancient Judaism?

 

I may not be an expert in ancient Judaism, but that was my main field of study as a Christian. That is why I brought up Josephus' Discourse Concerning Hades. I had to read that for some research I was doing. As a Christian, I was concerned about the historical roots of the religion and its connection to Judaism. As a result, I would study 1st century Judaism and on backward. I would read books by Maimonides (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maimonides) who, while having lived many centuries later, wrote a lot about Judaism in the times of the Temple. I would study about the inter-testamental period (that period of time between the Old and New Testaments) and such. And, having lived in Israel, I have talked to many people there involved in religion and archaeology.

 

So, while my life was not dedicated to this field of study alone (and, thus, maybe not the expert you are looking for) it was certainly more than a passing interest for me. In my own bizarre way I thought that discovering ancient Judaism would unlock the Bible for me and reveal to me more about the Bible and how even the first century church worked.

 

Unfortunately, because of my current situation, my wife has all of my books from my library and, even though I have asked for them, I have not been able to get them back. There was a lot of research there.

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Different Religions’ Afterlife Theories:

 

I compiled this a couple months ago because I got thinking about it...

 

Most of this information is from wikipedia.com, feel free to correct me if any of this seems wrong. Remember, at some point in the history of the world, people have taken these theories very seriously and consider(ed) them worth dying for.

 

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN RELIGION: Upon dying, people go to the Land of the Dead. There they must recite parts of the Book of the Dead and have a sin-free heart. If they pass the tests, they will pass on. If not, they will be devoured by a demon.

 

ZOROASTRIANISM: Based on the teachings of the “prophet” Zoroaster and a document from about 900 CE, three days after dying one’s soul will be judged. Then it will be sent to heaven, hell, or a neutral place.

 

ANCTIENT GREEK AND ROMAN RELIGION: Souls will be judged immediately upon dying, then sent to heaven for a reward or the underworld for punishment.

 

NORSE RELIGION: There are 3 levels that souls can go to after death. There is Valhalla, which is reserved for the brave warriors who died bravely in battle. Hel (meaning “the covered hall”) is for those who neither excelled in good or evil. Niflhel is for the truly vile, so they can be among their own kind and suffer horrible punishments.

 

JEWISH RELIGION: Upon dying only the truly pristine will enter immediately into “The World to Come.” Most cannot do this though and will go through a process of reviewing the wrongs committed in their lifetime and a “re-schooling”. Eternal punishment is reserved solely for those of extraordinary evil and power, who led many other people to evil. *cough*Hitler*cough*

 

CHRISTIANITY: While the two major branches of Catholicism and Protestantism lack consensus even within of when exactly judgment takes place, both believe that only through worshipping God, acceptance of the “prophet” Jesus Christ, and living a basically good life (or whole-heartedly seeking forgiveness for evil acts) can one enter the gates of heaven. Everyone else goes to hell. It is a sadistic place of fire, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. In the 1990s the Catholic Church redefined hell as not punishment, but “self-exclusion from God”.

 

CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS (MORMONS): Upon dying they will temporarily enter the Spirit World. There are two parts: Spirit Prison and Paradise. After the resurrection spirits are judged by Jesus Christ and assigned permanently to three degrees of heavenly glory (Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial) or are cast with Satan into Outer Darkness. Blaspheming against the Holy Ghost is the only unpardonable sin.

 

JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES: Following Armageddon, there will be a resurrection of the flesh to an Edenic Earth (like the Garden of Eden). This will be the reward for the righteous and the unrighteous that were not wicked. The punishment for the wicked is simply remaining dead and not getting the reward.

 

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE: Death is an illusion. They don’t go anywhere; they just adjust to a different level of consciousness. In this state they will experience God’s Love. For a person who died in a state of sin, God’s Love will cause them great suffering. For a person that died in a state of spiritualized consciousness God’s Love will bring them happiness and harmony. There is no concept of eternal punishment.

 

ISLAM: Life on Earth is simply for the test of each man’s worth and determining his reward or punishment in the after-life. Upon dying, they will stay in the grave until resurrection on the judgment day. Their comfort while in the grave will depend upon their standing with God. There are 8 levels for Jannah (Heaven) and 5 levels for Jahannam (Hell). In order to enter Jannah they must believe Allah is the only god deserving of worship and Muhammad is his “prophet”, as well as following the laws and traditions. There they will have eternal bliss with fine things, good food, beautiful surroundings, and quality time with loved ones. Only Allah knows who will go to Jahannam, but polytheists and Muslims that were not sincere in their faith are sure to go. The punishment in Jahannam is the torment of eating a thorny fruit, shaped like a devils’ head forever.

 

HINDUISM: Not all, but some, believe in reincarnation. In this belief, the body is but a shell, and the soul inside is indestructible. They will be reborn in different lives based on the quality of the previous life led. This cycle does have an end called Moksha or salvation. All Hindus believe in karma, which is the accumulation of good and bad deeds, which will be repaid.

 

BUDDHISM: Rebirth takes place without a self. This is similar to the concepts of a soul and reincarnation. The process of being reborn is based on karma accumulated. If they died in a peaceful state of mind they will likely come back as a human or a god. If they died in a negative state of mind they will likely come back as an animal, ghost, or hell-being. It is important to be virtuous, have a positive attitude, and avoid negative ideas. The cycle of rebirth can be left when the deceased find the bright light of wisdom, which shows a straightforward path to move upward.

 

SIKHISM: The soul belongs to the spiritual universe and will be reincarnated until oneness with God is achieved through doing good things.

 

 

ATHEISM: I can only give you the opinion of one Atheist, myself. Atheism is not a religion and we are not an organized group of people who share any beliefs. All we share is the disbelief in gods. Most all Atheists strongly accept Evolution and scientific understanding as the explanation for the Universe, the laws of nature, and all life.

 

I don’t personally believe in anything supernatural. I reject all concepts of an afterlife. Ancient men who fantasized about surviving death in one way or another, I believe, dreamed up the common ideas of heaven, hell, the soul, and reincarnation. It is apparent that religions have borrowed from each other.

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I may not be an expert in ancient Judaism, but that was my main field of study as a Christian. That is why I brought up Josephus' Discourse Concerning Hades. I had to read that for some research I was doing.

The only problem with this discourse is that it is now attributed to Hippolytus. So it's "Jewishness" is questionable to say the least. It's still an interesting read though since obviously it's telling what this xian church father seemed to think.

 

mwc

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The only problem with this discourse is that it is now attributed to Hippolytus. So it's "Jewishness" is questionable to say the least. It's still an interesting read though since obviously it's telling what this xian church father seemed to think.

 

Like I said, I may not be an expert in ancient Judaism ;) .

 

Thanks for pointing this out. Here is a Wikipedia link that speaks about that as well:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus%27s_...oncerning_Hades

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Like I said, I may not be an expert in ancient Judaism ;) .

For not being an expert you tend to hold up quite well. :)

 

Thanks for pointing this out. Here is a Wikipedia link that speaks about that as well:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus%27s_...oncerning_Hades

Well there you go then. ;)

 

mwc

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  • 2 weeks later...
Abraham's Bosom, Paradise, Sheol, and whatever else.

 

Also, Jesus mentions "hell" when he talked about the guy who begged Abraham to directly warn his brothers, and Abraham said "if Moses and the prophets aren't enough..."

 

So WTF? What did the Israelites believe then and what do Jews believe now?

 

It seems the Quranic and biblical record disagree re what the ancient Jews believed about the afterlife. In the Quran Chapter 26:82-105, Abraham talks about the afterlife. With reference to Allah, he says in verse 82: And Who will cause me to die, and then bring me to life again.

 

He also speaks of the Judgment (v. 83) and of the Garden of Bliss (v. 86). In verse 92 he says: And Hell shall be opened to those who have gone astray.

 

They will not have intercessors (v. 101) or any loving friend (v. 102). They will wish that they could return to the earth and be among the believers (v. 103).

 

I guess Abraham wasn't exactly a Jew, but the father of them. Also, the Quran was written long after the writing of the NT. Verse 104 tells us that this desire of the unbelievers to return to earth and be among the believers, their distress at finding themselves at the mouth of hell, is a Sign. Verse 105 pronounces Allah as the "Mighty, the Merciful."

 

What I get from these last two verses is that Allah is giving this Sign out of mercy so that readers can avoid finding themselves in the same desperate situation as the people of whom Abraham speaks.

 

DISCLAIMER: I have done no studies or reading whatsoever in Islamic theology. So this is my own thinking.

 

If we take Abraham as a historical figure who lived about five thousand years ago (I'm not quite sure where on the timeline he is normally placed; some take him as a mythical figure), and if we take the conventional theory that the concept of hell in Judaism (and Christianity by extension) evolved after the Babylonian captivity, then this account in the Quran is achronistic. In other words, it is taken out of historical context. Abraham would not have believed in an afterlife, nor would he have held such sophisticated theories regarding what happened in the afterlife.

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