What will happen to you when you die? It's an ancient question which all religions offer answers to. Even among those who believe just the Bible there is so much controversy, which is unnecessary, because it says that you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are, and to dust you return (Genesis 3:19). It's a humbling fact to accept: but we are really just dirt, the same dirt that Adam was made from and which we will eventually return to.
Spirit and Body
We also have a spirit, but our spirit is not who we are, since it says Elohim formed man out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). This is why, when man dies, though his spirit goes out, he returns to his earth (Psalm 146:4, 104:29; Ecclesiastes 3:19-21) (cf. Luke 23:46; John 20:17). Man is not his spirit.
When man (dirt) was given the breath of life, he became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). So, man doesn't possess a soul. He is one. A more accurate translation of the Hebrew word would be being, because it is also used to refer to a dead body (KJV) laying on the ground (Numbers 6:6; Haggai 2:13) (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:45-50). The English word "soul" implies abstract things which the Hebrew word does not.
More Than Dirt
We do not want to believe that we are really just dirt taken from the ground. We want to believe that we are more than that. We want, particularly, to believe that we are immortal despite sin. Do you know where we got this from? The Book says, And the Serpent said to the woman, "you shall certainly not die" (Genesis 3:4). Another humbling fact.
The prophets and writers of the Scriptures did not go for that, though, since "only in the post-biblical period did a clear and firm belief in the immortality of the soul take hold ... and become one of the cornerstones of the Jewish and Christian faiths" (Encyclopedia Judaica).
Several centuries ago, a movement sprang up which protested against many of the post-biblical additions to the Faith. Martin Luther taught that the need for resurrection, a concept central to the Scriptures, made any belief in this inherent immortality idea unreasonable. If we all live on, no matter what, then it would be unnecessary to put us back together, right?
Ignorance Is Bliss
The dead, even the saints, are to this day, asleep in their graves awaiting their resurrection (John 5:28-29; Daniel 12:2; Acts 2:29-34; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This is because not a single one of us has yet been made immortal (1 Corinthians 15:42-55; Romans 2:7). There is currently only One who possesses immortality (1 Timothy 6:16). But, people will ignore anything to hold onto something they want to believe, especially if it's an immediate bliss to follow this often troublesome life.
You may hear the Apostle misquoted as saying, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord," when he actually said, "...and to be present with Yahweh" (2 Corinthian 3:8). You may see someone's faith being placed in a single comma when there are none in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, and which if moved only one word, would change everything (Luke 23:43). You may even hear it said that Enoch never died, though The Book says he did (Hebrews 11:5,13).
There are many such things which have either been twisted or overlooked in this. Among those things which are usually held up as proof for inherent immortality there is none more common than the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31). So, let's look at it.
What Is A Parable?
The most common arguments over the story usually deal with whether it is a parable or not. Some say it cannot be a literal account because of facts like those explained above. Others contend that it cannot be a parable because it begins by saying, "There was a certain rich man...and there was a certain poor one..."(Luke 16:19-20).
However, calling a story which begins that way a parable does not make Yahshua a liar since He does this Himself elsewhere (cf. Luke 18:1-2, 9-10). So, the question which really needs to be asked is: What actually is a parable? According to the American Century Dictionary, a parable is "1. a story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. 2. an allegory." And an allegory is "a story whose characters are represented symbolically."
By definition, the only way we could say that the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man is not a parable would be to say that it holds no moral or spiritual lessons. The unreasonableness of saying this shows us that the story is also an allegory, because the characters do represent other things, in this case, us. If they do not, if the story is not an allegory, then it cannot tell us anything about what may happen to us. Because of these facts, the question should not be whether the story is a parable or an allegory but instead, whether it is also a literal account.
Building Upon Rock
There is only one pure way to interpret the Scriptures. They have to be allowed to explain themselves. Problems abound with incomplete pictures, for "man shall live not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of Yahweh" (Matthew 4:4).
The Assembly is built up on this rock, direct revelation from Yahweh (Matthew 16:17-18). Instead of relying on anything else, if we want to understand the Book, then we need to go to the Author. And if we will hear and practice His words then we will be building upon the Rock (Matthew 7:24-25). That's what we're going to do here. We're going to let the Book itself interpret the story, line upon line, precept upon precept, and watch what happens. Now, with that said, let's begin.
The Rich Man
The story begins, "There was a certain Rich Man" (Luke 16:19). The Book tells us a lot about him. He was trusting in his possessions (Proverbs 11:28, 18:11, 28:1). Yahshua said, "It is easier for a rope that it enter through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter into the kingdom of Elohim"(Luke 18:25Aramaic English NT). A rope must be unwound to pass through, just as the Rich Man must let go of his fortune to put Yahweh first (Luke 18:22). ("The word here, 'Gamala' refers to a heavy rope rather than a camel... Theological attempts to 'prove' the eye of the needle to be a geographical location have utterly failed" AENT, p.56.)
Here the Rich Man reference is a direct shot at those religious leaders who were standing by and mocking Yahshua, "the Pharisees, who loved silver" (Luke 16:14). The tension had been building for a while (cf. Luke 14:1-16;15). Never one to beat around the bush, the Master is addressing them point blank. The Rich Man is a slap in their face, a rebuke for their extravagance.
The rich man is vain. He would "dress in purple and fine linen and lived luxuriously every day" (Luke 16:19). When we get dressed we make a conscious decision of how we want the world to see us. The Rich Man wanted to be seen as a priest (cf. Exodus 28:4-5). According to Vine's Expository Dictionary, "fine linen" (Luke 16:19) here refers to clothing which the Levites wore (p.373). The Rich Man, like the Pharisee wannabe priests, liked to appear righteous before men (Luke 16:15).
The Poor One
The next character is usually called Lazarus. "And there was a certain poor one named Lazarus" (Luke 16:20). The Greek name Lazarus means "without help" (Young's Analytical Concordance). It is a corruption of the Hebrew El'azar (or Eliezer) which means "[El] has helped" (Young's). Notice that he is "poor" (cf. Lk. 16:20;14:13-21). The significance of this will come out as we continue.
In the story he ends up all right. He does eventually receive help, even though it does not come until after he dies (cf. Lk. 16:20; 16:25). And Yahshua, Who told this story, spoke Hebrew, not Greek, even to people who knew Greek (cf. Acts 26:14, 21:37). For these reasons let's call the man by his original name, El'azar, as is done by The Scriptures (ISRV).
El'azar is afflicted with sores (Luke 16:20). What does this tell us about him? To answer that question we need to go back and look at the reasons why Yahweh would afflict His people in this way.
If you do not guard to do all the words of this Torah that are written in this book, to fear this esteemed and awesome Name, Yahweh your Elohim, then Yahweh shall bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues, great and lasting plagues, and grievous and lasting sicknesses... (Deuteronomy 28:58-59).
El'azar ends up all right later on in the end. But what else would account for the sorry state he was in during his life? That it was the effect of his wayward past will become more clear as we progress. There are just too many witnesses to ignore.
El'azar brought dogs with him (Luke 16:21). What does this tell us? Dogs are Gentiles (cf. Matthew 15:26-27; Isaiah 56:8-11). This has to do with the other part of Yahweh's punishment of His people. ...and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess. And Yahweh shall scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other mighty ones, which neither you nor your fathers have known (Deuteronomy 28:63-64).
This is why El'azar's name was changed to a Greek one (John 7:38), and one which means "without help." El'azar, like the prodigal son, lost sheep, and lost coin (Luke 15:1-31), represents Yahweh's wayward children. Yahweh punished His people by casting them out among the Gentiles (Deuteronomy 28:58-64; James 1:1). Check the context of Luke chapters 14-17 for this story.
At The Rich Man's Gate
El'azar was longing to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the Rich Man's table (Luke 16:20-21). This shows us that, just like the prodigal son, El'azar's experiences had humbled him enough that he did not feel worthy to sit at the table (Luke 15:19).
Those with the blessing however, had instead let their table before them become a snare, and a trap to those at ease (Psalm 69:22; Romans 11:9-10). When the bad turns good, the good usually turn bad. El'azar himself had slipped, resulting in his afflictions, but adversity set him straight again, showing that Yahweh saw him once again as a son (Deuteronomy 8:5), for before I was afflicted I myself was going astray, but now I have guarded your word (Psalm 119:67). That's why he is at the Rich Man's gate!
When there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, within any of your gates in your land which Yahweh your Elohim is giving you ... whatever he needs, you shall certainly give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give, because for this reason Yahweh your Elohim does bless you... (Deuteronomy 15:7-10).
El'azar, although he had messed up, is now on point. He is at the gate like he is supposed to be, but the Rich Man does not realize that he has been blessed for just such a time as this. Like the Prodigal son's brother, the Rich Man has been blinded from properly recognizing his estranged brother (Luke 15:30).
And it came to be that the poor one died (Luke 16:22). That is to say, El'azar, still poor, died. The Rich Man did not help him. He was too caught up living luxuriously every day (Luke 16:19). Like the Pharisees, he had neglected the weightier matters of the Torah: the right-ruling and the compassion and the faithfulness (Matthew 23:23). As Yahshua says, the life is more than the food, and the body is more than the clothing (Luke 12:23).
What Is Death?
Now, what does it mean by saying El'azar died? What is death? There is a lot of confusion over this, but we do not have to be confused. Back in the beginning, the first time death is mentioned, The Scriptures (ISRV) says, but do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that you eat of it you shall certainly die (Genesis 2:17). Because they ate and yet didn't physically die that day many have said that this was just a symbolic or spiritual death.
The Vine's Expository Dictionary for example, says, "They experienced spiritual death immediately, resulting in their shame and their attempt to cover their nakedness" (p.59-60). Notice the added word, spiritual. But is that what Yahweh had promised? No, he had promised death. Simple and plain. Who are we to add to His words? (Deuteronomy 4:2)
Their new found shame was the result of knowing (determining) good and evil for themselves. They ate of the tree, the seed was planted, and the tree bore fruit after its own kind. This spiritual death thing is a stretch and is unnecessary.
The Hebrew translated you shall certainly die is mooth temooth, which is the same word in two forms (Strong's #4191). The English scribes put "certainly" (or "surely') in there for emphasis. But a more literal translation would read dying you shall die. That is, death is a process, and one which began on that day.
At this very moment, you and I, we are both dying. We are falling to pieces. Science calls the measurement of this entropy. No matter what we choose to call it, it is a fact. Ever since sin entered in (Romans 5:12), death has been mankind's inheritance. And dying we have died for every minute of every day. This is why a transformation and resurrection is necessary.
See, I speak a secret to you: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be transformed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last alarm. For the alarm shall sound, and the dead shall be raised indestructible, we shall be transformed. For this destructible has to put on indestructibility, and this mortal put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51-54).
The English-Latin word mortal is likely related to mooth. In the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon, it says under mooth "(Eng. Mute; moot-as a dead point; mortal– with an additional r and l; mate—of 'check-mate' meaning 'king is dead')" (AHL #1298). Relating mute and mooth , the Scripture says, the dead do not praise Yah, nor any going down to silence (Psalm 115:17).
English dictionaries do not explain what death is in concrete terms. It is one of those things taken for granted. Things like that are then left up to private interpretation. But that is not how the Scriptures are (2 Peter 1:20). This is why Yahweh promises to restore us to a pure language, to call on His Name and be in "one accord" (Zephaniah 3:9). Notice, in "one accord," together, in unity.
Looking at the Ancient Hebrew characters, the ones written in Yahweh's own finger on the Ten Commandments, we find clear and plain pictures. In those characters the root word for death is .
The first letter, mem , represents water (Strong's Hebrew #4225), and from this comes the meanings movement (decisions) and chaos (what is unknown or disorganized). The second letter, taw , represents a mark (Strong's Hebrew # 8420), and from this comes the meanings execute and end. Those are the pictures the letters represent.
So, according to its letters mooth means the end of movement (cf. Job 14:1, 16; 31:4, 37). Death is not, as some say, a transition to a different dimension or becoming a ghost or something. Death, mooth, , is when our (mem ) actions, steps, decisions, searches, reach their (taw ) execution, mark, end, finality, last, etc.
When man dies, ...his plans perish (Psalm 146:4). This is why a living dog is better than a dead lion (Ecclesiastes 9:4). There is no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going (Ecclesiastes 9:10). The dead are not conscious of anything. They are, as is commonly said, resting in peace.
Carried By Angels
Now, back to the story, El'azar, after he dies, is carried by angels (Luke 16:22). This is usually taken to mean that after he died his spirit or soul was taken by angels. But, it does not say that his spirit was carried away (which would mean that he himself did not actually go anywhere, (Psalm 146:4; Ecclesiastes 3:19-21). And it does not say that some other aspect or part of El'azar was taken. No, it says that he, El'azar, the poor one died and was carried... (Luke 16:22)
There is only one way that El'azar, after death, could once again be conscious. Think about it. The dead are not mindful of what is going on (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Psalm 146:4). But El'azar, after his death is. So, clearly he is not dead anymore at this point in the story. Just like it says of the prodigal son, El'azar was dead and is alive again (Luke 15:24). He has been resurrected to receive his reward (cf. Luke 16:25, 14:14), which is after the resurrection of the just (cf. Luke 14:14; Revelation 20:5-6), at the return of Messiah Yahshua (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-55). This is when, just as we see in El'azar's case, the righteous will be gathered by angels.
And they shall see the Son of Adam coming on the clouds of the heavens with power and much esteem. And He shall send His angels with a great alarm sounding, and they shall gather together His chosen ones from the four winds (Matthew 24:30-31).
The Bosom of Abraham
El'azar is carried to the bosom of Abraham (Luke 16:22). This is another part of the story that is usually taken out of context. There are some really strange interpretations of where the bosom of Abraham is located. But to know the truth all we need to do is look at where the righteous (those represented by the repentant El'azar) are taken after their resurrection and gathering. It is really just that simple. Let the Book explain itself.
Thus said the Master Yahweh, "See, O My people, I am opening your graves, and shall bring you up from your graves, and shall bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am Yahweh, when I open your graves, O My people, and bring you up from your graves. And I shall put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall settle you in your own land..." (Ezekiel 37:12-14).
That land, the land of biblical Israel, is what Yahweh promised to Abraham and his seed (Genesis 12). He was never promised a secret subterranean layer where the righteous who have died would be left to watch the unrighteous perpetually burn. And yet, by failing to let the Book explain itself, that is exactly what is commonly taught about the bosom of Abraham (as if Yahweh could not come up with anything better for His saints than that!)
According to the Book, being in or on someone's "bosom" means to be fostered or loved by them (John 13:23; Isaiah 40:10-11; Numbers 11:12). Where today we would say "Abraham took him under his wing," the Scriptures say "in his bosom." There is also a bosom of King David (2 Samuel 12:7-8), a bosom of Naomi (Ruth 4:16), and even one of your own (Luke 6:38). In each case the meaning is the same, to be fostered or loved. He has been accepted.
El'azar, representing the wayward people of Yahweh, was estranged from his Abrahamic heritage, just like us who were "excluded from the citizenship of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, without hope and without Elohim in the world" (Ephesians 2:11-12). Remember, Lazarus means "without help" (Young's Analytical Concordance). That's the Greek meaning.
But no, just like the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:20-24), El'azar has returned as a legitimate son, a rightful heir to the heritage of his father Abraham, the Hebrew. And, in Hebrew El'azar means "[El] has helped" (Young's). His being restored and accepted as such is shown in that the Rich Man sees both "Abraham far away and El'azar in his bosom" (Luke 16:23). Can you picture him there, with Abraham's arm around him? It is just as Yahshua told the Pharisees that it will be.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you [the rich man, the self-righteous] see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all of the prophets in the Kingdom of Elohim, and yourselves thrown outside. And they [El'azar, the repentant] shall come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, and shall sit down in the Kingdom of Elohim (Luke 13:28-29)
The problems that pop up when the Book is not allowed to explain itself on this are many. For instance, the common view that Abraham's bosom is some hidden underground cavern overlooks that it is not El'azar's spirit or some other part of him that will be taken there. It is him, the man, El'azar. So, if this happens to the righteous immediately at death then how do we still hold funerals and burials to this day? Also, where is this vast place large enough to hold all who have ever died? And finally, who determines which side we will go to since judgment has not occurred yet? (2 Timothy 4:1; Matthew 25:31-46).
By allowing the Book to explain itself we can avoid all of this and see that El'azar's gathering to and status at the bosom (side) of Abraham represents the return and restoration of Yahweh's people which, although it has not fully occurred, is a fact as certain as any other because Yahweh Himself promises for it to happen (Deuteronomy 30:1-5).
The Rich Man Dies
The story continues, saying, The Rich Man also died and was buried (Luke 16:22). He was blessed with all of his things as an opportunity to take care of people needing help (Deuteronomy15:7-10). But he was so tight that he would not give anything up. And to no avail, for now it has been given away anyway, as the Master explained.
He said to them, "Mind, and beware of greed, because one's life does not consist in the excess of his possessions." He then spoke a parable to them, saying "The land of a certain rich man yielded well. And he was reasoning within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, because I have no room to store my crops?' and he said, 'I am going to do this: pull down my storehouses and build greater, and store all my crops and my goods there, then say to myself, "Life, you have many goods laid up for many years, take your ease, eat, drink, rejoice."' But Elohim said to him, 'You mindless one! This night your life shall be demanded from you. And who shall own what you have prepared?" (Luke 12:15-21).
In this life we have opportunities to do good which Yahweh places before each of us. Consider them investments entrusted to us which He expects a return on (Matthew 25:13-46). But that window of opportunity closes once we die, for him who is joined to the living there is trust, ....but the dead know nothing, nor do they have any more reward (Ecclesiastes 9:4-5).
When the Rich man died his opportunity ended. He missed his shot. The boat left him.
Having Lifted Up His Eyes
After he has died, the Rich Man evidently becomes conscious again. Different versions say it a little differently, but The Scriptures (ISRV) harmonizes best, saying having lifted up his eyes (Luke 16:23). This makes it a little clearer how the Rich Man, after having died, can again be conscious once more.
As we have seen, the dead are not mindful of anything (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Psalm 146:4). And we have also seen that this is why they must be resurrected to be dealt with (John 5:28-29). That includes a resurrection of the Righteous and also one of the unrighteous a thousand years later (Revelation 20:6-15).
The only way the Rich man can be conscious again after having died is because he has been resurrected. El'azar will be in the first resurrection which is when Yahshua comes and gathers the righteous (Matthew 24:31), but the Rich Man will not be brought back to life for another thousand years until just before the Great White Throne Judgment occurs (Revelation 20:6-15).
This is why it says, having lifted up his eyes, he saw Abraham far away, and El'azar in his bosom (Luke 16:23). When the unrighteous are resurrected to be judged, the righteous will have already been raised a thousand years earlier. (Revelation 20:5-15) That's why the Rich man sees them already alive. They are already in the Kingdom as Yahshua said they will be (Luke 13:28-29).
And in Hell?
And where will the unrighteous be? Well, let's look at what happened to the Rich man. It says that he, the Rich Man died and was buried (Luke 16:22). Notice that it does not say just his body was buried or his "ghost" was taken somewhere else. No, it says that he was put in the grave. So where does that leave him?
According to the KJV, and most English versions, that puts him in "hell" (Luke 16:23). What happened to resting in peace! They say that once you are dead and buried you are in hell! Have you ever noticed it? But, wasn't he just buried? How did he go from being dead and buried to being alive in hell? It is a good question which is usually overlooked, and here is another one. How is it that the KJV and most English versions say there are vast amounts of people waiting to be judged already in hell!? (Revelation 20:12-13). How did they get there? They have not had their day in court!
And if that isn't bad enough, those versions also say that once these people are taken out of hell to be judged, all those not in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20: 14-15). So much for Double Jeopardy!
No matter how you put it there is no rational Christian explanation. (Notice I said "rational"). The only way to make perfect sense of it all is to distinguish and appreciate the different words mistranslated "hell" for what they actually are. Once this is done then there are no problems discerning Hades/Sheol.
The word translated "hell" in these verses is hades (Strong's Greek #86) in the Greek copies and she'ol (Strong's Hebrew #7585) in the Aramaic text (Aramaic English New Testament). Greek translators chose to use hades to render the Hebrew/Aramaic word she'ol (cf. Acts 2:27; Psalm 16:10). I have set Yahweh always before me; because He is at my right hand I am not shaken. Therefore my heart was glad, and my esteem rejoices; my body also dwells in safety. Because you do not leave my being in she'ol, neither let your Holy One see destruction (Psalm 16:8-10).
This Scripture was spoken by King David, but prophetically it speaks of the Messiah who was in his loins (Acts 2:22-35). And when we look at what it is actually saying, then we can arrive at a clear picture of what she'ol really is, and what it is not.
It says that His body ("flesh" KJV) was safe since His being ("soul" KJV) was not left in she'ol. Letting the Book explain this is simple, for the Word of Elohim is living, and working, and sharper than any two-edged sword, cutting through even to the division of being and spirit (Hebrews 4:12).
A man that is breathing is a living being ("soul" KJV) (Genesis 2:7). When he dies, when his spirit (breath) is taken (Psalm 104:29), he is now a dead being ("body" KJV) (Numbers 6: 6; Haggai 2:13). The being ("soul") does not leave the body at death and this is why the dead are still in their graves (Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29; etc.).
Yahshua's body was safe. Yahweh would not allow His Holy One to see destruction. This body of ours will see destruction if it is not made indestructible like His (1 Corinthians 15:42-55). His body was safe because His being was not left where He was placed. And where was He placed but in the tomb? (Acts 13:29-30). Had He been left there, in she'ol, the tomb, He would have decayed (saw destruction) and suffered to the elements, which is what happens there (Isaiah 14:11).
The Ancient Hebrew two-letter root of she'ol would be written like this, . The shin, represents teeth (Strong's Hebrew #8127), and from this comes the meanings press, destroy, consume. The lam , represents a staff (Strong's Hebrew #3925); from this comes the meaning to lead toward. The lam is also a prefix meaning "to" or "for" in both Ancient and Modern Hebrew (Aramaic).
The letters tell us that she'ol is the place where beings are left "for destruction" or "to be destroyed." It is just as the Book says, where King David was left and saw destruction (Acts 13:36). Was King David left in "hell"? That is what the KJV would have us believe (cf. Acts 13:36, 2:29-31). But we know better. A proper reading says that he was left where he was placed, which is in the grave, just like the Rich Man.
The etymology of the word she'ol, according to the Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary, is "[<Hebrew she'ol cave <sha'al to dig]. Etymology gives the etumos (true) logos (word)l. it is the final witness I will give that she'ol means the grave and not hell.The dead are in their graves awaiting judgment (John 5:28-29; Daniel 12;2),showing that the English word should be "grave," not "hell" (in Revelation 20:12-15). But look at hades, the word they put for she'ol.
"Hades (ha'dez) 1. In Greek mythology: a. brother of Zeus, god of the underworld, identified with the Greek and Roman Pluto and the Roman Dis b. The underground kingdom of the dead, ruled by Hades..." (Funk & Wagnall's Standard College Dictionary).
Now, why would we need to go to Greek mythology to figure this out? Those things which have been revealed belong to the Hebrews (Deuteronomy 29:29) (I once read a book where the author argued that Solomon [in Ecclesiastes 3:19-20, 9:5] was "speaking from his own view point with incomplete knowledge")! We do not need to supplement the Book with Greek mythology (Jeremiah 10). We just need to let it explain itself. That is like eating solely from the Tree of life.
Although it is commonly said that the Newer Testament was "inspired in Greek", this is unlikely. The Messiah spoke Hebrew, even to Paul, who, being highly educated, also knew Greek (Acts 26:14, 21:37). The other Apostles were not so educated (Acts 4:13). This is why their conversations had to be translated into Greek later (John 1:41). The claim that their writings were originally penned in Greek is a stretch. The Good News went first to the Jew, then the Greek (Romans 1:16). Would Yahweh use some foreign language to record the fulfillment of the Hebrew writings of Moses and the Prophets?
Discerning Gehenna/The Lake of Fire
The third word usually translated as "hell" is geenna (Strong's Greek #1067). It is a Greek corruption of the Hebrew Gey Hinnom, or Valley of Hinnom. This is where the vile King Ahaz ...burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the Gentiles (2 Chronicles 28:1-3). It is also called Topheth (Jeremiah 7:31-33) which was described as a stream of burning sulphur (Isaiah 30:33).
Wherever Gey Hinnom ("geenna") is used in the Newer Testament it is a reference to the Lake of Fire after the Great White Throne Judgment (cf. Matthew 23:33; Luke 12:1-9; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:12-15). Some versions properly transliterate it as Gey Hinnom rather than saying "hell." For instance, The Scriptures (ISRV) does this.
Discerning Tartarus/The Abyss or Pit
The fourth and final word usually translated as "hell" is tartarus (Strong's Greek #5020). This is another word taken from Greek mythology. This was "the abyss below Hades where Zeus confined the Titans..." (Funk & Wagnall's Standard College Dictionary). Translators throw in the word only once, saying, [Elohim] did not spare the angels who sinned, but sent them to Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4).
The Aramaic text does not use a pagan proper name like "Tartarus," instead just saying "the infernal regions" (Aramaic English NT). We do not have to borrow terms from Greek mythology. This place is the pit where unclean spirits/fallen angels go (Luke 8:31; Revelation 9:11, 20:1-3; etc.). It is not for people, although, through Yahweh's Spirit the Messiah did go there once (1 Peter 3:17-20; cf. Hebrews 1:7; Ephesians 4:8-9; Jude 1:6; Romans 10:7).
Restoring Our Terminology
So, of the four words usually translated "hell" there are two we can hold to, the Hebrew she'ol (the grave) and Gey Hinnom (a type of the Lake of Fire). And there are two words we can give back to Greek mythology, hades (the domain of Zeus' brother, restore she'ol, the grave, instead) and Tartarus (where Zeus sent the Titans, restore to the infernal regions or the pit instead).
Origins of the Word "Hell"
And this brings us to our final related word. The word "hell" itself. Have you ever wondered where this word comes from? Well, according to Funk & Wagnall's, it comes from "hel" which they define as "Hel (hel) In Norse mythology: a. The goddess of those who died of old age or disease, daughter of Loki. b. The kingdom of the dead not killed in battle: compare Valhalla."
That definition says, "Val hal a (val hal'e) In Norse mythology, the great hall into which the souls of heroes fallen bravely in battle were borne by the valkyries to be received and feasted with by Odin..." That was their picture of heaven, whereas hell was for the disgraced.
What we see in the mythologies is a blend of what the Book says with the imaginations of those who could not resist the Serpent's line, you shall certainly not die (Genesis 3:4). That is what led our ancient parents to eat from the tree of knowing (deciding) good and evil for themselves. This is what mythology has done ever since. By living by every word of the Book, the Tree of Life, however, we avoid all of the confusion.
And Suffering Tortures
A proper understanding of she'ol shows that the Rich Man awoke in the grave, but then it goes on, saying, and while suffering tortures in the grave (Luke 16:23). It specifically goes on to say he is suffering in flames (Luke 16:24). What gives? This is where those who want to hold onto their hell-fire dogma will jump up. But the Book explains this too.
The reason the Rich Man is suffering tortures in the grave is because the grave ("hell" KJV) has been cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:12-15). This is also why he saw Abraham far away...(Luke 16:23).The sheep have been separated from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). He sees them in the Kingdom while he himself has been thrown outside (Luke 13:28). The fact that they are divided shows that judgment has occurred as will become more clear as we finish up.
A Pure Lip
The Rich Man realizes he's messed up, And crying out he said, "Father Abraham, have compassion on me, and send El'azar to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering in this flame" (Luke 16:24).
This point always puzzled me. I mean, if you are on fire then what good would a drop of water do? And why just to cool off your tongue? What is that about? It seems so crazy. And especially so since he calls it "compassion." What sort of compassion would that be where you see someone in the midst of a fire and you flick some droplets of water on them?!
But, when I went into the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon, I found something deeper. I found that the word for "water" (mayim) relates to something unknown (AHL # 1281N). The word for "finger" (etsbah) means a finger as used for dipping into a liquid and dripping drops onto something (i.e. sharing) (AHL #2655). The word for "cool" (ruak) means refresh, travel, a prescribed path, and spirit (AHL #1445). And the word for "tongue" (lashon) means language (AHL #2325).
Compare the Scripture where Yahweh said, My judgment is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out on them My rage, all My burning wrath. For by the fire of My zeal all the earth shall be consumed. For then I shall turn unto the peoples a clean language, so that they all call on the Name of Yahweh, to serve Him with one accord (Zephaniah 3:8-9).
Could the Rich Man have been trying to change? Was he wanting that clean language? Was he actually trying to serve Yahweh? Did he want for El'azar to share with him The Way? Could there be a deeper message here than the literal words say? I'll leave it up to you to decide.
But Abraham said, "Son, remember that in your life you received your good, and likewise El'azar the evil, but now he is comforted and you are suffering" (Luke 16:25). In other words, this is not the time for that. The time for repentance is past. The Master has already rewarded each according to his works which is at His return (Matthew 16:26-27; Revelation 22:12).
The Great Deep
Abraham continues, saying, "And besides all this, between us and you a great deep has been set, so that those who wish to pass from here to you are unable, nor do those from there pass to us" (Luke 16:26).
This "great deep" is explained in the Psalms, where it says, O Yahweh, Your kindness is in the heavens, and Your trustworthiness reaches to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains; Your judgments are a great deep (Psalm 36:5-6).
Judgment has eternally separated the Rich Man from the Kingdom. Yahweh's judgment is an impasse that cannot be scaled by man. Once it happens none will pass from one side to the other. There are no appeals. This is the Court of the Almighty, the real "Supreme Court," which Washington will one day have to answer to. We all will.
His Five Brothers
The Rich Man, realizing he is a lost cause, then reaches out on behalf of his brothers, And he said, "Then I beg you, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, let him warn them lest they come to this place of torture" (Luke 16:27-28). There may be more here than first meets the eye also.
Yahweh uses numbers to teach us things. Five is the number of works, relying on ourselves. In Hebrew, five is chamesh, which the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon defines as grabbing something with the five fingers in preparing for battle (AHL #2176Vd). Could this be telling us something about the brothers? If not, why is it there? (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Rich Man is worried for his brothers. He knows they have lived just like he had, trusting only in themselves. Are they so arrogant, in fact, that as they are waiting for their hearings before the Court of the Almighty, they are grabbing weapons as if preparing for battle? Are they about to defiantly approach the Throne with weapons out? Don't they know better? What do you think would happen in that case?
In Judah Elohim is known; His Name is great in Israel. And His tabernacle is in Shalem, and His Temple in Zion. There He broke the arrows of the bow, the shield and the sword and the battle-axe. Selah. You are resplendent, more excellent than mountains of prey. The stouthearted have been stripped; they slept their sleep; and none of the mighty men have found their hands. At Your rebuke, O Elohim of Jacob, both the rider and the horse lay stunned. You, You are to be reverenced: and who would stand in Your presence when You are displeased (Psalm 76:1-7)?
He says five, but including the Rich Man there are six brothers in all. Six falls short of Elohim's perfection, the complete seven. This is what happens when we are "stout hearted," arrogant and self-righteous. It is not looking good for the Rich Man and his brothers. In Hebrew six is shish, two shins, , meaning to press to destruction. I think these numbers are there for a reason, but again I'll leave the decision up to you. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
And "Books" Were Opened
The Rich Man's plea on behalf of his brothers is denied, as Abraham said to him, "They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them" (Luke 16:29). This is what is meant when it says ...and books were opened...and the dead were judged for what was written in the books, according to their works (Revelation 20:11-12).
The Books (literally "scrolls") (the Scriptures) are the standard by which all who have them will be judged (Matthew 22:29; John 5:4-5). And all who do not will be judged by the standard of their own conscience (Romans 2:11-16). What could be more just than that? To him whom much is given, from him much shall be demanded (Luke 12:41-48). This is why it is better to have never known the truth than to reject it (Hebrews 10:26-27).
Judgment is treated like a bad word these days. The world tells us we cannot call anything wrong. Really this is just passing the buck. Let someone else do it, they say. But judgment is necessary (1 Corinthians 2:15, 6:1-4, 11:31; John 7:24). The state of the world demands it. There can never be peace on earth until evil is eliminated. There are many who just do not want to live in heaven on earth. They would rather practice evil. It's in their DNA. The local and World News confirm this. There needs to be a process to sift the evil out of the world. This process is judgment.
What will happen to those, like the Rich Man, who do not make it into the world to come? Will they burn perpetually forever and ever? That is the most common view taken by those who misuse this story. The wicked will be tormented without end, they say. But is that true?
Only the righteous will be rewarded with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:48-58). Therefore, how could the wicked exist forever, even in torment? How long can one sustain in the flames? The Book says that "Every wrongdoer shall be stubble. And the Day that shall come shall burn them up," said Yahweh of hosts, "...And you shall trample the wrongdoers, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet..." (Malachi 4:1-3; Psalm 21:8-9, 37:20, 97:3; etc.).
When the Book speaks of "everlasting destruction" (2 Thessalonians 1:9) or "everlasting punishment" (Matthew 25:46), it is the same as when it speaks of "everlasting fire" (Jude 1:7), it means that the effect is irreversible (2 Peter 2:6). Yahweh derives no pleasure from the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). So, why would He prolong it? The entire purpose of the Lake of Fire is to get rid of everything evil, including death and pain (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:12-21:4.)
Translators need to be kept in check (Jeremiah 8:8; Luke 11:44). For instance, when they say that some will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10), they also confess that the Greek says "to the age literally, although we believe this to be an idiomatic expression meaning 'forever'" (J. P. Green's The Interlinear Bible, "Difficulties in the NT"). This belief is shown to be wrong as day and night themselves soon thereafter cease to exist altogether (Revelation 22:5).
The Greek rendered "forever and ever" is eis tous aionas ton aionan (e.g. aion = eon) which literally means "to the age of ages"(Young's Analytical Concordance, p.311). The Aramaic is l'ahlam ahlmin (Aramaic English NT, p. 703) which literally means exactly the same thing (Young's).
When it says they are "tormented day and night to the age of ages", (Revelation 20:10). it means until the millennium ends and the Kingdom is fully set up, when day and night themselves will cease to exist (Revelation 20:10-22:5) The Adversary himself is going to be destroyed (Ezekiel 28:14-18). And if he is not going to be tortured forever, then who else should be? (Matthew 25:41)
My interest in the words translated as "forever" came from a reading that said the Israelis would believe in Moses "forever" (Exodus 19:9). How, since Moses wasn't gone but so long when the people rebelled in worshipping the golden calf? (Acts 7:35-41). And, how many times after that, in the wilderness, did they disbelieve Moses' words and mission? (Numbers 11:3, 18-20; 14:2-3; 21:5). And what about the incident, for example, with the spies? (Jude 5)
However, Young's Analytical Concordance defines the words as "age-lasting". So, that duration is not always specified. Could it be infinite? Sure, the words are used for apparently infinite things also (cf. Romans 16:26; Psalm 92:8). But, as the examples above show, that is not always the case. Bear this in mind when you read in most English versions that you "have life everlasting" (John 3:36:6:47). A better rendering, since we are not yet immortal ( 1 Corinthians 15:53; 1 Timothy 6:16), would be "for the age" (e.g. the age/world to come, the millennial Kingdom) (John 5:29; Revelation 20:5-6).
The Kingdom of Elohim
And the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to their works. . . And if anyone was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire. And I saw a renewed heavens and a renewed earth, for the former heavens and the former earth had passed away ... and I heard a loud voice from the heavens saying, "See, the dwelling place of Elohim is with men, and He shall dwell with them and be their Elohim. And Elohim shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, no mourning, nor crying. And there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 20:12-21:4).
Notice, again, no more death or pain.
This is the Good News of the Kingdom, the message Yahshua brought (Matthew 4:23). It will be greater than we can ever imagine. (1 Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 3:20-21). No more injustice, no hatred, no war. No racism, crime, or illness. There will be no more ignorance or anything that keeps us from being a perfect society. It will be a world where compassion and understanding are the norm instead of what we can see now on the Nightly News. There has never been a government that has achieved any of this. And they will all be smashed by the Kingdom of Yahweh (Daniel 2:1-45). Then the world will be at peace (Isaiah 11).
It is your choice whether to be a part of the Kingdom or not. Your own conscience bears witness that judgment is a reality. But once the judgment occurs there will be no going back. That is the moral of the story of El'azar and the Rich Man. The story was not told for the purpose of teaching that immediately after death we will go to either of two places. But it does teach us that this time that we have will end. And once it does there will be no changing. There will be no going back.
Maybe you have been seeking for something. Maybe your heart has been telling you that you could be doing better than you are. You are hungry to have the truth that will make you free. If so, know that Yahweh is answering you, saying, in an acceptable time I have heard you, and in a day of deliverance I have helped you (2 Corinthians 6:2).
There are many called but few chosen (Matthew 22:14). You must be willing to break from the crowd because the path is narrow (Matthew 7:14). There are many, even among religious "Bible thumpers," which have been deceived (Matthew 7:21-23). You must receive a love for truth (2 Thessalonians 2:3-17 ). The Word is truth (John 17:17). Remember, They have Moses and the Prophets (Luke 16:29), but truth is something we must be led gradually into (John 16:13).
We are here for a reason. Whatever you are going through in your life is happening to you for a reason. What is most important is not the trials but how you handle them. Yahweh is looking for people worthy of leadership positions in the Kingdom (John 14:2-3). Whether or not you will make it depends upon what happens today. So, then we need to ask ourselves, what are we doing for the Kingdom? If we're not living for the Kingdom then we're just like the Rich Man, living only for today (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 2 Peter 3:10-11).
There are reasons that you are being presented with the trials that are before you. What The Scriptures teach is not escapism. It's not about running from the problems of today. It's about doing what you can to let a little more light shine. The Master says, don't "light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it shines to all those in the house" (Matthew 5:15). See, it's not about going somewhere else, but instead, bringing the Kingdom here, as the Master says, "Your Kingdom come" Matthew 6:10). It's about revealing His will here.
You, then, beloved ones, being forewarned, watch, lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the delusion of the lawless, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Master and Savior Yahshua Messiah (2 Peter 3:17-18).
There are many false doctrines which have become accepted within the world's religious groups. Most of these, just like the belief in inherent immortality, can be traced back to ancient Babylon. These beliefs have come down to us through religious traditions influenced by the cultures of Egypt, Persia, and Greece. Each of these were, in turn, highly affected by "the unmistakable influence of Babylonian conceptions..." (The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria)
The Book says that Nimrod "the mighty hunter before [or against] Yahweh" began his reign at Babylon (Genesis 10:8-10). You can read much about Nimrod in the available references. What they say is that he united the people for his own purposes. He was a tyrant. And if we can relate this to the Babylonian belief in inherent immortality (taken from the serpent) then we can picture the propaganda's purpose. For untold tyrants have since then used the doctrine of immediate rewards following death to keep the herds in check. Think about it. It's the Adversary's perversion of the Good News of the Kingdom. Instead of the establishment of a righteous reign of peace on earth he says, "You shall certainly not die" despite sin. (Genesis 3:4).
We who have been called out of the falsehood and fraud of the common way are seeking to walk "in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham" (Romans 4:12), which steps led him out of and away from the culture and society in which he was born (Genesis 12:1-4) He had come up in "Ur of the Chaldees" (Genesis 15:7), a place which Young's says, "had Babylon for its capital" (p. 152). That is the center of this doctrine of inherent immortality. However, Abraham knew he was no ghost, being "but dust and ashes" (Genesis 18:27). Somehow today's three reported "Abrahamic Faiths" have forgotten this, instead adopting the Babylonian teaching in its place.
The ancient religion of Babylon lives on in the customs and beliefs we are surrounded by. But everyone is not able to see it. If you can, then blessed are you, since you have been given eyes to see and ears to hear. There are many who have not been favored so much. This Babylon is called a "Secret," even though her network is spread throughout the world (Revelation 17:5; 18:2-3). Yahweh calls out to His people, Come out of her, My people... (Revelation 18:4). How will you respond? The choice is yours.
Yahweh bless you and keep you, and make His face shine upon you, and may these words be confirmed by many witnesses for all who seek!