Jewish beliefs about life after death.
Describe the Jewish beliefs about life after death.
Jewish Beliefs About Life After Death
Death is highly regarded as a must passage for all living souls. The afterlife has remained a principal preoccupation of the mind of anybody who expects to die at some point. The understanding of life after death or the end of the world is largely based on religious beliefs. In particular, Jewish people have a very distinct and varying understanding of the afterlife.
Judaism, a cultural and religious practice associated with the Jewish people, believes in the potential postmortem existence (Lanham & Paull, 2019). One of the ways through which YHWH will vindicate the righteous is bodily resurrection. According to the Hebrew Bible teachings, the resurrection is characterized by the second coming of the Messiah, the anointed one, and a final judgment that will see the righteous rewarded by eternal life and the non-righteous punished by everlasting suffering.
In Jewish history, the resurrection doctrines are controversial. Whereas others believe in the resurrection of the body, some think that only the soul is eternal. This belief about the immortality of the soul is highlighted in two books of the Hebrew Bible: Daniel and Isaish, even though there are several hints from which it can be extrapolated from other Bible books (My Jewish Learning (MJL), 2019). Unlike the bodily resurrection, the theory of the immortal soul seems more related to the eternal worship of God that is expected after the end of the world.
Another popular afterlife belief is the concept of Sheol existence. Early Jewish scriptures believed that Sheol is a dark place that marked the end of human life. However, due to the external religious influence and further development of teachings, Sheol is currently viewed as a purification place where people wait before vindication or destruction (British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), n.d.). Sheol is also connected to the idea of final judgment meant to reward those who lived according to God’s teachings in a new world to come.
The afterlife theory remains an imaginary sphere for most religious and non-religious settings. Despite the slight variations in their teachings, the Jewish people believe in life after death. Notably, the afterlife theories are related mainly to the account of an individual’s ways of life during their time in the world. For instance, those who live a righteous life would be rewarded in heaven, while the unjust would be punished in hell.
British Broadcasting Corporation. (n.d.). What does Judaism teach about life after death? – Life after death – GCSE Religious Studies Revision – BBC Bitesize. BBC Bitesize. Retrieved 19 February 2021, from https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zm2tb9q/revision/3.
Lanham, R., & Paull, S. (2019). What do Jews believe about the afterlife? Death Studies, 1-3. https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2019.1636493
My Jewish Learning. (2019). Jewish resurrection of the dead – My Jewish Learning. My Jewish Learning. from https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jewish-resurrection-of-the-dead/.