The Jews and the Resurrection

The following was written by Dr. Alexander Neibaur, originally published in Times and Seasons Volume 4 on June 1, 1843, pages 220-221 on June 15, 1843, pages 233-234 as “The Jews.” Corrections to the text are in italics. For more on Brother Neibaur, see his bio below the article. 

The gospel says “Blindness in part has happened in Israel,” &c. The reader of this will perceive how far the apostle was correct in his assertion, The resurrection is one of the important subjects of faith amongst them. The most of them believe it. Every Jew is commanded to rehearse the thirteen articles of faith daily. The last of the thirteen is: “I believe, with a perfect faith, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, at the time when it shall please the Creator, blessed and exalted be his name forever.” The following is the opinion of the Rabbis on the subject:

Rabbi Manasse Ben Israel says in Nishmath Cajim: “we find many proofs of the resurrection in the five Books of Moses and the Prophets. Faith in it is essential and godly. Those who say the resurrection cannot be proven from the law, bar themselves out from the communion of the Saints, and deny a particular point of the Law. All such are heretics and infidels, and will have no part in the world to come, and be deprived of eternal life.”

R. Isaac Aberhaph in his Menorat Hamoor, says: “Who denies the resurrection, or one miracle contained in the law, denies the whole law, and will have no part in the world to come, in Talmud Tract Sanhedrin. Those that deny the resurrection, can have no part in it, because it is one of the great properties of God to pay with the same measure wherewith we have measured, and according to every sin we shall be punished.” Why is the resurrection not named in the law of Moses? R. Baccay answers: “It is one of the mightiest matters of the law to be very short and brief.” Mysterious things, the shorter and more mysterious, the more difficult is the explanation; and you find, generally, short accounts of mysterious things-for instance: in the creation of the world you find but a short account upon the light, while the third day has a full description. Even so with the waters above to the waters beneath.

Furthermore, all promises wherewith Moses encourages the seed of Adam diligently to keep the commandments, are bodily, that man might more easily believe his words, and press forward on their own account to reach a higher state of felicity. This makes him to be so short on the subject. Would he have attempted at that time to impress this truth on their dark minds, they would not have believed him; because it was a future and distant subject, and what proofs could he have given them? A wise and diligent searcher of the Bible will find out the sacred hints of it by degrees, and then he will search more diligently, which he would not have done if he had seen it all at once.

At the time when the dead shall rise, the Rabbis give the following: R. Isaac Abarbanel says, on Isaiah 18:3: “The prophet would gather the dispersed Jews at the last day, and at the same time performing the wonderful work of the resurrection from the dead, then all those dwelling upon the earth will acknowledge the high and lofty one.” R. D. Kimchi is of the same opinion. He says, on Isaiah 66:5: “You that are in trouble about the word of the Lord, when it will come at last, your God in whom you trust, will fulfil [fulfill] unto you his promises.” Rabbi Naphtali in Emakhamelek puts the resurrection forty years after the gathering together of the Jews. The proofs he takes from Psalms 147:2, 3. The Jalkut Kodosh and Medrash Neelam agrees with him, from which the Abarbanel concludes that the redemption of the Jews must undoubtedly be in the year of the world 5294-A. D., 1534, and the resurrection 5335-A. D., 1575. R. Bacay takes a different view.

From Deuteronomy 30:15, he says: “If one compares this place, which begins with the first verse and ends with the tenth, and which, undoubtedly, speaks on the redemption, it will appear from this that the resurrection will be 206 years after the redemption-because the Hebrew has 206 in number. In the Song of Solomon it is said: “Unto thee, Solomon, are due one thousand” but unto the keepers of his fruit two hundred. Understand 206-he would shew [show] thee with it that the resurrection from the dead would be 206 years after Spiritual Solomon, viz: Messiah which would spring from him: you must understand this verse, then, in the following manner:

When Solomon and the Messiah, which is the Prince of Peace, will make their appearance (after their allowed time, 1,000 years), then shall the keepers of his fruits, (those that kept his commandments), 206 years afterwards, be raised from the dead. Who shall perform the resurrection? In Aphkat Rackel it is said: “All Israel, young and old, must believe that in future the most holy God will quicken the dead, call them forth out of the dust, and unite their souls to their bodies. R. Joseph Albo says: “Because this is so supernatural, the men of the large congregation, Ezra and his college, attribute it only to the power of God, and for this reason, in compiling the prayer, have said this blessing: ‘Thou art powerful to raise the dead.’

R. Jacanan counts three keys the Lord kept wherewith he would trust no messenger, viz:

  • 1st. The key of the Womb-Genesis 30:22
  • 2d. The keys of the Rain-Deut. 28:12
  • 3d. The key of Raising the Dead-Ezekiel 37:13.

Talmud Tract Sanhedrin and Bereshith Rabba agree with Rabbi Jocanan. Others attribute the resurrection to the Messiah. The Medrash Mihle R. Levi ber Gerohonon, Deuteronomy 34:10, literally then, should not be a prophet like Moses; but Messiah would be a greater prophet: he would be the prophet of all nations-and this his general power he would prove by the resurrection from the dead.

Some Rabbis attribute the power of raising the dead to the righteous and godly, and they also bring their proofs from the Bible. R. Jonathan finds a proof in Zechariah 8:4, and Second Kings 4:29-even as Elijah and Elisha raised the dead, even so in future all righteous, old men and women with their sticks, will raise the dead. See Talmud Tract Resokim.

In the book Emek Hameleck it is said that those only which have embraced the Jewish religion will have power to raise the dead. The proofs are taken from Isaiah 65:20, saying those who did not embrace the Jewish religion before the coming of Messiah, he will not acknowledge them: then they will be ashamed at their obstinacy-repent and die-afterward the righteous will raise them. The same is said in Jalkut Kadash.

The Zohar speaks differently on the subject. Those who died in the promised land will rise 40 years before those who died without its boundary. Now every one that dies without and has but one relative there to mourn for him, can rest most assuredly to profit by the resurrection, because his relative in the promised land has power to raise all his kinsmen who died out of it. But this quickening is connected with a painful sensation, called by them Gilgool Meholus, the rolling in the caves beneath. R. Elias means the corps rolls itself, under the earth, to the Romish land.

That this is possible, says Rabbi Akiba, at the time when the dead shall rise, God Almighty will come down from the highest Heaven, set himself upon his Throne at Jerusalem. Jeremiah 3:17. Then he will call his ministering spirits and angels and say: My sons, I have had no other motive in your creation than that you should do me a favor at this hour. Lord of the Universe, will they say, we are ready to fulfill all thy commands. Well, says the praiseworthy, walk through the whole earth; go in the four parts, lift up the surface of the earth, so that there might be a cave, but in such a manner that every righteous person will have his own cave, and bring unto me, every one separately, the righteous N., son of N. the good N * * * Bring me all those who have labored for my namesake, that they may not torment themselves long. I will quicken them in the land of Israel.

At this all the angels go forth in the four parts to take hold of the four corners to lift her up, according to Job 38:13. Draw out the ungodly, and in that manner make the caves so that they might roll themselves into the promised land. Then God himself will quicken them, to the comfort of those who are afraid of this troublesome journey. The book Avodath Hakodash promises that the righteous out of the promised land will stand upright in their caves, and go there. The Rabbis all agree that this journey will be painful. Talmud Tract Ketuboth and Sohar show the occasion, viz: The passengers will be plagued by the powers of Darkness.

The Jews believe the world is parted among the seventy nations, and they call the rulers of them Chipa Devils when they pass through their dominion, and this is the reason that they are so much afraid of it, and many in their old age go to Jerusalem to die. They believe a fear of it is discovered by the patriarchs Jacob and Joseph, who were, most assuredly, good; and yet they commanded to be taken to the promised land, so that they might not robe themselves there. See Talkut Kadash, R. Solman Jarkian and Genesis 39:20.

The place where those who roll themselves, will come-out is Mount Olivet, according to the Chaldaic translation 8:5, Song of Solomon. Solomon prophesies there that at the resurrection, Mount Olivet will open itself so that the righteous may come out of it, but the wicked will be drawn out of their graves like a stone out of a sling.-Zechariah 14:4.

In Abodah Hakadash Rabbi Simeon, son of Jacay and Pesikta Raba, are of the same opinion. The reason of this painful and troublesome journey, is that the Almighty might swear unto them that they never should be carried from their land. He will do it in the following manner: The Holy One, blessed be his name, will let down the Heavenly Jerusalem with the already finished Temple, which never will be destroyed, and because in future the souls of the Jews will always remain with God, they (body and soul), could not be united together in any other place but such as will remain forever, according to Isaiah 4:3.

Now in like manner as the body of Zebaoth is holy and lives forever, even so shall the righteous be called holy and live forever. There are some Rabbies [Rabbis]who deny the rolling altogether. R. Abarbane denies the rolling. He says, on Isaiah 18: Because the resurrection will take place in all the world, then the nations of the earth will be afraid and tremble: yea, even those of the Euphrates, and will send messengers upon the Sea unto the land of the children of Israel, acknowledging that the law comes out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Most assuredly when they shall see their dead come out of the graves and hear them call upon the name of Jehovah, and openly acknowledge their faith in Messiah, then will they (the heathen,) also call upon the name of Jehovah, and worship him with one mind and one spirit.

R. D. Kimchi’s commend. on Ez. 37:18, says: “our Rabbis dispute about the dead, out of the promised land; some say that the dead out of the promised land shall also be raised; others believe they shall have to roll themselves there and rise, but the prophet speaks very clear: See, I will open your graves and call my people out of them, and bring them into the land of Israel. These words are proof enough that the dead out of the promised land will rise and come to the promised land.

Some of the more pious Jews, at the approach of age, go to the promised land to die there, so that they might not have to roll themselves, and to rise many years sooner than those that die out of it. Rabbi Jehuda says, 103 R: 214 years before the general resurrection, the righteous will rise. Rabbi Joshua ben Menaser teaches that the holy and praiseworthy will raise, those first that sleep in Hebron, viz: Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with their wives. (The Jews believe that the cave mentioned in Gen. 23:19, not only the three patriarchs, but Adam and Eve are interred, yet some give a place to the head of Esau in it.) Afterwards he would purify the land of the unclean ones, viz. the heathen, and then quicken the dead. See the book Ophkat Rochel. 4th part.

Some believe that God will first raise all the dead, then those in Hebron, that they might be joyfully surprised to behold so many righteous and godly that have come from their loins; then they will break forth in loud praises. God will act here in like manner as at the creation of the world; he did not create man until he had prepared every thing for his reception.

The most disputed point is about who shall be partakers at the resurrection; some extend it only to the Jews, others to the Godly of all nations. Rabbi Bachay holds the first; in his comment. on the five books of Moses, he says, “it is well known there are four things in which no nation has part but Israel: 1st, prophecy; 2d, receiving of the law; 3d, the promised land; 4th, the resurrection.” As proofs he gives the following verses, in which only the name of Jacob appears: 1st, prophecy, it is written, Deuteronomy, 18:15, A prophet like unto me, I that am from the seed of Jacob, that you might not reckon the seed of Esau or Ishmael, it is said out of thy brethren.

But we find Bileam, who was a Midianite, had the spirit of prophecy; it was only perchance, which you will find, 4 B. M. 24:4-16, God met perchance Bileam; it was for two reasons, 1st, for the honor of Israel; 2d, that the heathen might have no excuse on the day of judgment, by saying Israel has had prophets to reveal unto them the will of God, but we have had none. 2d. The law is given to none but Jacob. 5 B. M. 33:4, Moses has commanded us to the Law, for an inheritance the congregation of Jacob. 3d. the promised land belongs by inheritance to Jacob, as you may see from 5 B. M. 33:28, the eye of Jacob is upon the land. 4th. the seed of Jacob may only comfort themselves with the resurrection, because it is said at the conclusion of the aforementioned verses, “his heaven will drop dew.”

The word `his,’ refers to Jacob, namely: over Jacob’s heaven, or over the land of Israel shall drop the dew, with which dew the Almighty, at the resurrection will quicken the dead. Furthermore, Dan. 12:2, Many that sleep in the dust shall wake. But that the word many only means the Jews, our Rabbis have fully proven in the Book Siphri, from Esther, 8:17, Many of the people became Jews.

Compare with this Psalms, 50:4, he calls the heaven from above, and the earth to judge his people; and Isaiah, 26:14-19, The dead shall not live, and they will not rise; thy dead will be quickened, and my corpse will rise. Wake and be joyful you that lay in the earth. Even the same meaning is in the Book Rad Hakemah, where it is said, when the jetcer horah,-evil desire, or original sin will be no more; then all mourning shall be at an end; every tear shall be wiped away from our eyes, and all Israel shall be worthy of the resurrection because this glorious privilege belongs only to Israel.

MR. EDITOR:-Having commenced this sometime since-and having had the privilege, a few Sundays back, to hear our worthy Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. on the same subject, I was determined to go on with it, and hand it over to you. If you think it will be of any interest to your readers, I shall take another time to continue the subject, and tell you the means, as held by my brethren the Jews, whereby the Lord will bring to pass this glorious work.

Yours, Respectfully,

A. NEIBAUR.

Alexander Neibaur lived from January 8, 1808 to December 15, 1883. He was educated to be a rabbi but concluded to become a surgeon and a dentist. He was converted to the Church of Chrsit or Latter Day Saints (as it was known then) after reading the Book of Mormon in 1837. Neibaur was a close friend to Joseph Smith, Jr., taught the prophet German and Hebrew. After the death of Joseph Smith Jr., he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, going with them to Utah. 

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