..."alive" after death in the HB?
Ben and Jo Crick
ben.crick at argonet.co.uk
Sat Dec 21 17:53:26 EST 2002
On Sat 21 Dec 2002 (16:57:44 +0100), furuli at online.no wrote:
> I have never seen any passage in the Hebrew Bible which contradicts
> the words of Ecclesiastes 3.19-20 that, as respects death, man is
> like an animal, s/he goes to the same place as the animals and have
> the same spirit. Thus neither RUA:X survived death, in the view of
> the writers, so what was it that survived, according to the texts?
It appears from Ecclesiastes 3:21 that the spirit of man (the sons of Adam)
is clearly distinguished from the spirit of a beast (B:HeMaH), and that
whilst the latter returns to the earth, the former goes back "up" to God who
gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The question MiY YoWDea` is IMHO a rhetorical
question expecting the answer "We all know..." or "God knows...". Adam's
earthly frame was dust, and to dust it certainly returned (Genesis 3:19).
Compare also Psalm 104:29.
Psalm 73:17 speaks of the Psalmist understanding the "end" of the ungodly
('aBiYNaH L:'aCa:RiYTaM). There is an "after" death. For the Psalmist
himself, there is an "aftermath" too, verse 24: "Afterwards you shall
receive me (to) Glory" (W:'aCaR KaBoWD TiQQaCeNiY). His hope is in heaven
(verse 25); God is his portion for ever (W:CaL:QiY 'e:LoHiYM L:`oWLaM).
The /locus classicus/ is Job 19:25-27. Unfortunately, the phrase "and from my
flesh" (uWMiBB:&aRiY) is ambiguous. But whatever the scholarly consensus,
Job's confidence is clearly unshakeable. And Job is a much earlier book than
In the Hebrew Bible we also have the translation of Enoch (Genesis 5:4) and
of Elijah (2 Kings 2:11). Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath's son to life
(1 Kings 17:17-24). Elisha raised the Shunammite's son to life (2 Kings
4:32-37). David lamenting the death of his first son by Bathsheba, comforts
himself "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23).
There is life after death in the Hebrew Bible.
Revd Ben Crick BA CF, and Mrs Joanna (Goodwin) Crick
<ben.crick at argonet.co.uk>
232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)
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