It’s real . . . with sneak peeks throughout the Bible to prove it.
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Emily Dickinson, 1861 poem.
Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by Noon—
Lie the meek members of the Resurrection—
Rafter of Satin—and Roof of Stone!
Death. Is it a body decomposing into nothingness, trapped in a waiting-for-Godot moment as Dickinson depicts in her “Alabaster Chambers” poem . . . or is it a future transition of the body’s soul matrix into something far greater?
Need a SoulBreaths refresher? Click this popup: Soul Matrix recap
Neshama (neh-shah-mah)—breath/breath of life, nishmat chayim [נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים], that G-d breathed into Adam per Genesis 2:7—higher/holy part of the soul, attached to G-d, drawn to His holiness and higher dimension, bringing His light and voice through. It's linked to your soul identity—and attached to your ruach.
Ruach (roo-akh)—wind per Genesis 8:1 [רוּחַ]—human spirit, rises/descends. Seat of emotions (the heart). Works like a transmitter, stirs your love for G-d and exhales the breath of G-d's love to the world. Acts in tandem with the neshama to pull the nefesh and entire soul matrix upward. It's positioned/attached between your neshama (higher soul part) and nefesh (lower soul part).
Nefesh (neh-fesh)—living being, seat of appetite/craving, lowest part of the soul. From the Hebrew shoresh/root nafash [נפש] meaning “to rest” per Exodus 31:17. The life force (Leviticus 17:11), includes the physical body. Entrenched in an earthbound reality, focused on and tethered to the natural realm/physical world and attached to your ruach.
Only humans have a neshama. But every living being—human and animal—has the ruach and nefesh soul-matrix parts. See Job 12:10; Genesis 1:20-21, 24; Ecclesiastes 3:21; Proverbs 12:10; Isaiah 56:11.
Read the blog post Combat Zone to see how the soul matrix can play out in your soul journey.
Judaic (orthodox), Messianic Judaic, and Christian teachings stand in agreement: Death isn’t the end. It’s another beginning. The soul is eternal. There’s a resurrection coming at the end of days—אחרית הימים—orchestrated by the hand of G-d.
Resurrection to everlasting life for the righteous . . . resurrection to judgment for the others, per Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29.
God said to Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. —Exodus 3:6
What was G-d saying?
I am the G-d of your father—not I was.
I am the G-d of the living . . . not the dead.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long past from this world, and yet, they are alive.
I am their G-d.
The resurrection of the dead is so entrenched in biblical doctrine that it became the thirteenth principle of the Jewish faith, as defined by The Rambam—Moses ben Maimonides, a renowned, 12th-century rabbinic scholar and philosopher.
I believe with complete faith that there will be a resurrection of the dead at the time when it will be the will of the Creator, blessed be His name and exalted be His remembrance forever and ever.—Maimonides, his Mishnah commentary, tractate Sanhedrin 10:1
The resurrection of the dead is understood in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers)—a book containing the rabbinical, ethical/moral teachings from the Mishnaic 2nd century CE period when the oral teachings of Torah were transcribed into a six-part document with 63 tractates, covering various areas of Jewish law.
Rabbi Yaakov said:
This world is like a lobby before the World to Come;
prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall.
—Pirkei Avot 4:21
Sound far-fetched? Then consider this.
There are many sneak peeks—real accounts of real people who were resurrected—throughout the Bible. Ten stories are given to nudge our faith toward the main event up ahead.
Those ten accounts—the sons of Jewish and gentile widows, a daughter of a synagogue leader, a dead Jewish man entombed for four days, and all the rest—are shared further down in this article.
THE DISPARITY AMONG US
Of course, not everyone takes resurrection at face value.
Exhibit A. Orthodox Judaism strongly adheres to the resurrection teaching. But other Jewish sects—Reform, Conservative, Reconstruction, Renewal, Humanistic—typically stray from that biblical core truth to one degree or another. Like the biblical understanding of a Messiah, each person is left to believe or not . . . mostly, not. Or greatly questioning it, at best.
Truth be told, even back in the Second Temple period—1st century CE—the two major sects of the day didn’t agree either. The Pharisees believed “every soul is imperishable” and only the righteous souls would have a bodily resurrection, while all others would enter eternal punishment. Their Judaic counterpart—the Sadducees—pooh-poohed the soul’s eternal existence, the resurrection, angels, and spirits, per Acts 23:8.
Exhibit B. It goes without saying that belief in a resurrection—G-d’s ability to resurrect, His word saying as much, and the examples of it in scripture, particularly of the Messiah, Jesus [Yeshua, his Hebrew name]—is the bedrock of Messianic Judaism and mainstream Christianity. Fringe spin-offs of Christianity, those who like to use the Christian label but not its biblically based belief system, think otherwise.
And then there’s Exhibit C. The rest of the masses who fall within the cracks of Exhibits A and B. Everyday people, artists, writers, thinkers, believers, agnostics, seekers, sojourners, and what-nots.
People like Shakespeare—with his presumably resurrected Hermione in A Winter’s Tale, explored in the Resurrection Jewish Style: Part 2’s What’s the Point of a Resurrected Body, Anyway.
Or the previously mentioned Emily Dickinson, the not-so-believing religious poet whose inner turmoil—paradoxical soul matters, resurrection doubts, and burgeoning transcendental views indicative of the 1800s—unleashed a divergence from her staunch, Calvinistic-Protestant upbringing.
Grand go the Years—in the Crescent—above them—
Worlds scoop their Arcs—
—Emily Dickinson, “Alabaster Chambers”
I appreciate Dickinson. Her editorial uniqueness. Her questioning. Her honesty for writing about those spiritual wanderings. And to a point, I agree. The arc of each life is a rise and an inevitable fall. The years, vanquished. Past glories, abdicated.
Yep, we’re all on a dust-to-dust journey.
Soundless as dots—on a Disc of Snow—
—Emily Dickinson, “Alabaster Chambers”
Her poetic musings are intellectually heady—and on a literary and editorial level, they are unconventionally daring for her time. But soul wise, they’re flat. They lack the rest of the story.
Maybe it’s because that’s what happens when we break faith. Turn our heads for a second and start chasing the waistcoated White Rabbit down, down, down the long, dark hole.
You know, when we make something else the main event. When we allow a single thing, anything, everything to eclipse, compromise, or reinvent what G-d faithfully has revealed to humanity throughout time about Himself and the raison d’être of our soul journey down here for what lies ahead.
When the altar of G-d is abandoned . . . replaced by the amalgamated altar of self-reliance, nature, self-mysticism, academia, intellect, philosophy, science, and just about anything else.
That’s not to say there’s something wrong with using our intellect, forging new science, appreciating nature, philosophizing about life, etc.
Far from it.
And it doesn’t mean we can’t question or doubt.
Questioning is part of the faith-in-action process.
But when pride rises up and we fall in love with the sound of our voices and the reasonings/imaginations of our minds . . . that’s a horse of a totally different color. That’s when we brazenly deconstruct His truths, diminish His ways, reconstruct our golden calf, and collectively build our Tower of Babel.
Breaking faith—breaking that relationship with Him—robs the soul of its Source.
A broken faith flits about, like a butterfly hovering over the bloom of biblical truth but refusing to drink its robust nectar—G-d’s resurrection-empowering nectar that spiritually (and one day, physically) transforms dry bones.
Thank you, Ezekiel 37.
That’s where the L-rd says He’ll breathe new life into old bones.
And we’ve already seen Him perform that promise gloriously with Israel—in 1948 and 1967.
RESURRECTION: SNEAK PEEKS
G-d made resurrection pretty clear. These ten examples aren’t just hints. They are real stories about real people who breathed their last, mourned, entombed or on their way to that tomb—then were resurrected to demonstrate G-d’s power, compassion, and future promise. Their historic accounts are listed below. Of course, these resurrected people went on to live again . . . but eventually, had to die again and await the resurrection.
That is, all except one.
And now, ten real-life resurrection accounts.
1 Kings 17:10-24. Meager, drought-riddled times. The place was Tzarfat [Zarephath]—a Phoenician city between Sidon and Tyre in Lebanon. Read how G-d intervened for this widow.
JEWISH SHUNAMMITE’S SON
2 Kings 4:20-37. Opening scene: The village of Shunem, north of Jezreel in the Tribe of Issachar’s land. Elisha, anointed by G-d, honors this woman, saves her son.
ELISHA’S TOMB—JEWISH MAN RESURRECTED
2 Kings 13:20-21. The prophet Elisha fell sick and died, his body placed in a burial cave. Time passed. Then one day, some men came to bury another man. Amazing G-d power happens next.
JEWISH LAZARUS—FOUR DAYS ENTOMBED
John 11: 1-44. Lazarus of Bethany and his two sisters—Miriam and Martha—were Jewish followers of Jesus [Yeshua] and close friends of the famed rabbi. One day, Lazarus falls sick. His sisters send a message to Jesus to please come, knowing of his healing miracles. The rest of the story is jaw-dropping.
JEWISH SYNAGOGUE LEADER’S DAUGHTER
Mark 5:21-24, 35-43. Jesus [Yeshua] had been ministering to a crowd of people near the Sea of Galilee—casting out demons, healing the sick, etc. A Jewish synagogue official named Ya’ir fell at the feet of Jesus, pleading desperately. “My little daughter is at the point of death. Please! Come and lay your hands on her so she will get well and live!” Despite naysayers, Jesus moves . . .
JEWISH WIDOW OF NA’IM’S SON
Luke 7:11-16. Jesus, his twelve disciples, and a large crowd went to a lower-Galilee town called Na’im, just south of Mount Tabor within the boundaries of the Tribe of Issachar. As he approached the town gate, a dead Jewish man was being carried out for burial. Jesus took pity on the man’s widowed mother . . .
John 19, 20, 21. Egged on by Jewish authorities and decreed by Rome’s Pontius Pilate, Jesus was crucified at a place called Gulgotha, outside of Jerusalem, died (proven), then was prepped for burial and entombed. The event of all resurrection events was about to happen.
Matthew 27:50-53. Right after Jesus breathed his last on the crucifixion stake, the earth shook, rocks split, and tombs were opened. What about the bodies in them? Read this.
Acts 9:36-41. The Messianic Jewish community was being built up in Judah, the Galilee, and Samaria. Their numbers, multiplying. A beloved woman named Tabitha—Dorcas in Greek—died. She was esteemed for her tireless charitable work making clothes for the poor, widows, and others. Then G-d stepped in.
Acts 20:7-12. Pharisee Saul Paulus had a Damascene encounter with the ascended Jesus—and thereafter became a believer in Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah. Saul traveled extensively to spread the truth of the Messiah—often amid great persecution. Then one day as he was teaching . . .
GO DEEPER & READ MORE
Check out the next three segments of Resurrection Jewish Style—and the scriptures further down to encourage your faith and walk in the L-rd.
RESURRECTION JEWISH STYLE: PART 2
what’s the point of a resurrected body, anyway?
RESURRECTION JEWISH STYLE: PART 3
why does an orthodox rabbi—a non-messianic at that—believe in Jesus’ resurrection?
RESURRECTION: SCRIPTURE VERSES
The soul is immortal—Judaically and biblically speaking.
The bodily resurrection of the dead is the hope for the righteous in the coming Messianic Age. The Word of G-d says it best. Here are some examples.
Your dead will live, my corpses will rise;
awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust;
for your dew is like the morning dew,
and the earth will bring the ghosts to life.
Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth will awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and abhorrence.
Yeshua [Jesus] answered them, “And as for whether the dead are resurrected, haven’t you read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob?’ He is God not of the dead, but of the living!”
—Yeshua speaking to the Sadducees, Gospel of Matthew 22: 31-32
Do not be surprised at this because the time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to a resurrection of judgment.
—Gospel of John 5:28-29
I continue to believe everything that accords within the Torah and everything written in the Prophets. And I continue to have hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. Indeed, it is because of this that I make a point of always having a clear conscience in the sight of both God and man.
—Former Pharisee Saul Paulus (later called the Apostle Paul), presenting his defense before Caesarea’s Governor Felix, as well as the cohen hagadol (Jewish high priest) and Jewish elders, Acts 24:15
McFarland, Philip (2004), Hawthorne in Concord, New York: Grove Press, p. 149, ISBN 0-8021-1776-7.
Royot, Daniel (2002), “Poe’s humor”, in Hayes, Kevin J, The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, Cambridge University Press, pp. 61–2, ISBN 0-521-79727-6.