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Flashcards in Chapter 3 Midterm Deck (13)
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Sheol in the bible

o those who go down to Sheol do not come up
o place where one is cut off from God
• God is the god of the living, not the God of the dead


Jewish idea of death

o when the body dies it returns to dust and the breath returns to God, the person who gave it and the soul goes to the place of the dead – gloomy etc called the Sheol (the underworld)
o Very similar to Mesapotaniam afterlife
- earliest biblicical idea of death



- 7 days
• Mourners remain at home, stay in clothes, no sexual relations, no showers or shaving, no public parties, no leather etc.
• People bring food etc. so those in mourning can allow themselves to mourn without worrying about daily necessities of life
o Read mourning rituals from textbook*


one should not long for death - why?

o Corpse is buried asap, they are not beautified, and no open casket viewing
o Corpse is buried so body can return to God – if casket is used, a plain wooden coffin is used but traditionally they would be placed on a wooden board and covered with a cloth and lowered into the ground to not interrupt the returning of the body to God


Ideas of resurrection - 2 views

2 Features:
• The apocalyptic view – belief that a great apocalypse will take place in human history when the wicked are destroyed and the good inherit the earth
• The eschatological view – belief that divine reward or punishment will come at the end of time, at the end of human history
• Eschatology is the study of the end times


Apocalyptic Eschatology

o Belief that there will be a great apocalypse at the end of time when God’s justice will be revealed – when all the dead will be raised to face God’s judgement and all souls assigned to an eternity in heaven or hell
o First clear Biblical reference to resurrection comes from the book of Daniel c.165 BCE
• At this time in Jewish history, Antiochus IV (215-164 BCE) was a Syrian-Greek ruler who desecrated the temple in Jerusalem and outlawed Jewish religious practice on pain of death.
• Hannukah – commemoration of the Maccabean revolt and the re-taking of the Jerusalem temple
• Suffering was punishment for sin but in this case, where is the sin? They are being persecuted for believing in God


What happens to the Soul

• Alexander conquers Palestine in 332 PEC
o Belief in the immortal soul and its destiny in an eternal world
• Development of ideas of soul
o Early biblical view – the human person is a holistic combination of body and God’s life-givng breath. Upon death, the breath returns to God and the dead soul goes to Sheol
o Greek philosophical view – body and soul are entirely different. The material body is the prison of the soul. Upon death, the souls of the good depart for a pleasant heavenly world called the Elysian fields – the wicked go to the dark underworld
• Maimonides and the doctrine of “double dying”
o First death – body returns to earth and the soul departs
o When the Messiah comes, then the resurrected body is joined with the soul to face judgement and the good live for a long time in a perfect earth. At the end of that time
o Second death when the soul goes on to a spiritual immortality in the Age to Come


Jewish Views on Death & Afterlife

• Religion doesn’t stand or fall on specific beliefs of the afterlife
• Belief in the immortal soul, resurrection, God’s Judgement and the Age to Come are all part of Jewish religious thought
• But, there are various beliefs regarding the details and no systematized dogmatic scheme that applies to everyone
• Life and how to live it well in preparation for death is our business


Maurice Lamm on Jewish Views of Death and Afterlife

• To care for the body is a religious command – it came from God and will be revived by God
• Ordinary life is valuable in God’s eyes, not dismissed as illusion but brought to fulfilment
• God is just – those who do evil will be punished and those who do good will be rewarded
• God is merciful – we rely on His mercy for resurrection
• The concept of resurrection is a crucial aspect of Jewish faith – the details are up to God – and anything we can say is speculation


Kabbalistic version of creation

• Before creation, there is nothing but God
• To make space for creation, God contracts himself, limits himself
• God emanates 10 “vessels” that transmit the light of His divine qualities – they are the creative forces of wisdom, mercy, beauty, justice etc.
• God’s light is so intense that some of the vessels accidentally shatter and the pieces are scattered through the cosmos


Exile from God

• Therefore, an element of brokenness and disorder enters creation
• God and creation are alienated from each other due to this accident
• The symbol of this brokenness and disharmony in the universe is exile
• The task of the mystic is to restore harmony, gather all the broke parts, and redeem the world by following God’s commandments and cleaving to God


The Journey of the Soul

• Kabbalistic Judaism accepts the idea of the reincarnation of souls, called Gilgul (revolving)
• As the soul incarnates, life after life, it becomes connected to all the bodies that it has inhabited
• Mystic union with God is called “D’vekut” – clinging or cleaving to God
• In that mystic union, al those who have shared in your bodily reincarnations also share in that perfection


Ideas in Tension

• Resurrection of the body
• Disembodies soul
o If body and soul are two separate entities, how will they be judged when they come before God? Is it the soul that sins or the body?
• Answer to this is in a Rabbinic example from your textbook