555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

526. Were the Jews Taught to Look Forward to a Heaven or Hell?




From the first mention of the tree of life in Paradise, the eating of which would make immortal, the idea of a continued existence has had a place in Jewish theology. Many passages might be quoted to show this belief. See the Mosaic injunctions against necromancy, or the invocation of the dead, Deu. 18 -9-12; I Sam. 28; Ps. 106 -28 and other passages. Moses wrote that God "took" Enoch (Gen. 5:22, 24), because he had lived a pious life. David speaks of his child in another life when he says, "I will go to him, but he shall not return to me," (see II Sam. 12:23), Job says (Job 19:26 and 27) that he "will see God for himself and not another" in the future life. Ecclesiastes, which doubtless echoed faithfully the theology of that day, shows very clearly the belief in a spiritual life (Ecc 12:7) ; see also the allusions in the Psalms (the Jewish Psalter) to expectations of reward and punishment after death (Ps. 17:15, 49:15, 16, 73-24, 26, 28). These and other passages which might be quoted, make it certain that the ancient Jews did believe in a future life; but it is equally certain that they had only dim and uncertain views on the subject, and that the full knowledge was not attained by any race or nation on earth until Christ himself came to "bring life and immortality to light."