AN EXPLICIT STATEMENT OF THE
NEXT WORLD IN THE BIBLE
© Russell Jay Hendel 2001 
INTRODUCTION & OVERVIEW
One of the distinguishing characteristics, not only of
Judaism, but of all major religions, is the concept of
a hereafter--a paradise and hell. According to many,
belief in resurrection and hereafter are fundamental
doctrinal beliefs required of religious people .
* Our Talmud does require belief in the hereafter
* Our Major Halachic authorities codify this belief
* There is an explicit description of this hereafter
* The Talmud describes entrance requirements for the hereafter
* The Talmud sees various verses alluding to the hereafter
But while the medieval Jewish texts and even the Talmud
openly speak about the hereafter, the Bible seems
to be silent on this important topic. Some antagonists
to religion even use this silence to cast doubt on the
doctrinality of this important concept: For, they argue,
if the hereafter is so important then it should be
explicitly mentioned in the Bible. In fact, the
hereafter appears to these antagonists as an
afterthought that Talmudic Rabbis invented to comfort
the persecuted masses.
The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that
the hereafter is explicitly mentioned in the Bible 
We develop this thesis in 4 stages: We show explicit
mention in the Bible that the hereafter...
STAGE 1: ..is mentioned in the Bible
STAGE 2: ..is identified with a higher quality of existence
STAGE 3: ..is a place where people sits in Gods presence & learn
Finally we will conclude this paper with ..
STAGE 4: Relevant educational implications for us ---How
Olam Haba should affect our curriculum and the instruction
of ourselves and our children
STAGE 1: Explicit Biblical Mention of Reward for Mitzvoth
We develop our thesis in stages. In the first stage
we simply interpret OlamHaba as a statement that God
rewards those who do commandments. Such a statement does
occur in the Bible.
As the Table below shows there are 9 verses in
which promise ARICHUS YAMIM to those who perform the
commandments. Subsequent sections will show that the
Biblical Hebrew term ARICHUS YAMIM corresponds to the
concept of the hereafter.
In the table below the first column lists the VERSE,
the 3rd column gives a BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE TEXT OF THE
VERSE, and the 2nd column gives a brief synopsis of the
SURROUNDING TEXT of the chapter. Those who wish further
study should review the whole chapter.
|VERSE||SURROUNDING TEXT||BRIEF SUMMARY OF TEXT OF VERSE|
|Dt04-40||Gods greatness||Watch Mitzvoth for aricuth yamim|
|Dt05-16||10 Commandments||Honor parents for aricuth yamim|
|Dt05-30||Decaloge Receipt||Watch Mitzvoth For aricuth yamim|
|Dt06-02||Intro to Shma||Learn and Do Mtzvt for aricuth yamim|
|Dt11-09||Gods Greatness||Do Mitzvoth .. For aricuth yamim|
|Dt17-20||Kings Obligations||Learn Do Mtzvt. For aricuth yamim|
|Dt22-07||Mother Bird mtzvh||Let mother go..for aricuth yamim|
|Dt25-15||Honest weights||Proper weights ..for aricuth yamim|
|Dt32-47||The Rebuke Poem||Pay Attention(to the Torah) for aricuth yamim|
Table 1: As an
example we review the first row of the table. The first row of the table shows
(Deuteronomy Chapter 4 Verse 40) says that we should watch Gods commandments and statutes which I command you today
which are good for you and your children after you and in order that you have aricuth yamim on the land that the Lord your God gives you all the days. We have summarized this as Watch mitzvoth for aricuth yamim. The surrounding text, Dt04-01:24 speaks about our obligation to see and remember Gods greatness particularly in the Exodus
STAGE 2: PHYSICAL BIGNESS CAN ALSO MEAN ABSTRACT BIGNESS
To proceed to the next step we must first illustrate the general rule that any word denoting a great physical quantity of an attribute can also denote a great abstract/spiritual/emotional quantity of an attribute. This principle is not unique to Hebrew but applies in many languages. For example the English word Heavy can denote something physically heavy or can indicate a serious matter
The Table below illustrates this principle with a list
of words which can
* a physical interpretation or
* an abstract spiritual/emotional interpretation
|ROOT||Physical Meaning||VERSE||Abstract Meaning||VERSE|
|K-Tz-R||Short||Ps89-46||Lack of Interest||Ex06-09|
Table 2: To
illustrate let us review the 3rd row of the table. The Hebrew ROOT
studied is Resh-Vav-Cheth. The VERSE
Jeremiah 22-14 speaks about people who build houses with Spacious attacks. Thus this verse illustrates the PHYSICAL meaning of R-V-Ch. By contrast the VERSE I Samuel 16-23 speaks about how King Sauls paranoia was calmed when they played music for him. Thus thisverse illustrates the spiritual/emotional meaning of the R-V-Ch. The reader should note that calmness corresponds to adequate emotional space and therefore echoes and mirrors the concept of physical space.
We can now show that the hereafter refers to a higher
quality of life. Recall that in STAGE 1 we showed that
the reward for commandments is aricuth yamim. The Hebrew
word orech means long. Thus the literal translation of
Aricuth yamim would seem to mean long days.
However the above table shows a duality between
and abstract meanings. Hence just as aricuth yamim
could mean a lengthy life, aricuth yamim could also mean
a higher quality of days. This then is the desired goal of
stage 2: To show that the reward for doing commandments
is a higher quality of life.
To defend this possible translation of aricuth
yamim as higher
Quality of life we bring 4 supports.
* The Radack points out that the Hebrew phrase
Lengthy days uses the preposition for (lamed). For
example Gn26-08 would be translated as and when
the days were long for him (orech l). Based on this
observation it would appear that the ordinary phrase
orech yamim (Without the preposition for) would mean
higher quality of life
* According to all commentaries the Hebrew word
can mean healing (which is analogous to a higher
quality of life). Thus Jer30-17 is translated as
a promise by God to bring a healing to you
* We have the explicit statement in Chullin 142a
Consider the case where a mans father said to
Go up to the top of the building and bring me down young birds. The son then went up to the top of the
building, let the dam go, and took the young birds,
but on his return fell and was killed.
If we translate orech yamim
(Dt22-07) as length of
Days then the Biblical promise to give this person
Length of days has not been fulfilled.
Therefore we must interpret Orech yamim as Hereafter.
* Finally extending the above Talmudic argument we
can cite other verses where quality of life
is a preferred translation to length of life.
Perhaps the simplest example is I Kings 3-14 where
God promises King Solomon orech yamim if he watches
But King Solomon violated the prohibition against
intermarriage and did not follow Gods commandments.
So King Solomon lost his right to orech yamim.
The Bible does not say he was punished with death!
Rather the Bible explicitly says he was punished with
harassment --In other words he lost quality of
life (I Kings 11:11-14).
To summarize: In stage 2, we demonstrated from a
variety of sources that orech yamim, the explicitly
stated Biblical reward for observing commandments,
does not mean long days but rather refers to a higher
Quality of life. Our support for this comes from
semantic, grammatical, Biblical and Talmudic sources.
STAGE 3: THE
NATURE OF THE NEXT WORLD
Before proceeding to the next stage we recall the distinction between pleasures whose source is physical vs pleasures whose source is intellectual.  Some examples will suffice: Examples of Physical pleasures are eating, marriage, social standing, financial security etc. By contrast examples of intellectual pleasures are the happiness in finding a good distinction while learning or the sense of satisfaction in performing a commandment such as a charitable act
Recall further the distinguishing characteristics between physical and intellectual pleasures. Physical pleasures are intrinsically limited: You cant eat an unlimited amount unless you possess the food; and even if you did possess unlimited food overeating would cause nausea not pleasure. There is no way to train oneself to enjoy overeating. By contrast you neednt possess anything to learn or accomplish. If you are properly trained then you can learn all day and enjoy it. The pleasures of the next world are more similar to intellectual pleasures  then they are to physical pleasures. (That is, the next world is an unlimited pleasure that does not require the competition of possession).
With this background let us review how the Bible
describes the hereafter. Recall that The Bible mentions that as a reward for doing
commandments we will have a higher quality of life. This promise is made in 9 verses.
By studying the Biblical context of the promise, that
studying what preceded and followed the promise of
higher quality of life in the Biblical chapter, we can
infer how this higher quality of life is perceived
As is shown in the table below, the higher quality
of life which is promised as a reward for the
commandments is connected with
* the intellectual pleasure of learning
* the satisfaction of performing commandments
* the intellectual pleasure of hearing Gods greatness
This description of the hereafter as a place where
souls learn, do
commandments and view Gods greatness is almost identical with the
explicit statements made by both our Talmud and Rishonim
concerning the nature of the hereafter .
To illustrate how the table is used let us review the
4th row: Deuteronomy Chapter 4 discusses Gods greatness
* The chapter asks us to remember Gods Greatness.
* The chapter reviews how God literally saved the Jewish nation from Egypt
* The chapter also reviews How God caused prophecy to rest on the entire Jewish nation.
* The chapter then concludes that we should watch Gods commandments
* in order that WE HAVE A HIGHER QUALITY OF LIFE ON THE LAND THAT GOD PROMISED US.
We are suggesting that the concluding sentence promising
a higher quality of life if we observe commandments
can be seen as concluding the whole chapter.. In other
words we see the message of the whole chapter as
* advising us to remember Gods greatness
* requiring us to observe Gods commandments
* And then as a consequence (to all the above) we will
have a higher quality of life (orech yamim).
We also see this consequence as a logical
consequence vs an arbitrary gift by God.
That is the reason we will attain a higher quality of life for remembering Gods greatness
and doing Commandments is because by definition our source of pleasure will be
intellectual (doing commandments and talking about Gods greatness) rather than physical
Again this perspective on the next world is fully supported in the Talmud and Rishonim 
|VERSE||SURROUNDING TEXT||TEXT OF VERSE||THE CONTEXT|
|Dt06-02||Intro to Shma||Learn Do Mtzvt||LEARNING|
|Dt17-20||Kings Obligations||Learn Do Mtzvt||LEARNING|
|Dt32-47||The Rebuke Poem||Pay Attention||LEARNING MOOSAR|
|Dt04-40||Gods greatness||Watch Mitzvoth||GODS GREATNESS|
|Dt11-09||Gods Greatness||Watch Mitzvoth||GODS GREATNESS|
|Dt05-30||Decaloge Receipt||Watch Mitzvoth||DO COMMANDMENTS|
|Dt05-16||10 Commandments||Honor parents||DO COMMANDMENTS|
|Dt22-07||Mother Bird mtzvh||Let mother go||DO COMMANDMENTS|
|Dt25-15||Honest weights||Proper weights||DO COMMANDMENTS|
Table 3: Context
of 9 chapters contain promise of higher quality of life for doing commandments.
STAGE 4: APPLICATION TO EDUCATION
We conclude with a few comments on application to
Judaica curriculum. Is the next world a theoretical
concept to comfort people whose relatives died. Or
is there something deeper to it?
I would suggest that besides promising us
concept of the next world also Teaches us moral behavior.
Without the concept of the next world most people would
concentrate on physical pleasures such as financial security
However the concept of the next world reminds us of
mans capacity to enjoy things other than physical
pleasure. As the Bible itself says Dt08-03 in Order
That You Should Know That Man Doesnt Only Live by
Bread but Rather Man Lives by the Word of God
In short, by teaching the concept of the next world
we are also helping ourselves in this world. We are
reminding ourselves and our children that man has
capacity for pleasures that are intellectual in nature.
By reminding ourselves of our capacity for these
pleasures we in turn encourage the type of training
(in performance of commandments and learning) that
facilitates the community to observe Gods law.
True there is an ideal not to observe commandments
of reward and pleasure but as a practical matter we can
help people a great deal if we point out that by training
themselves (in performance of commandments and learning)
they can obtain pleasures in this world without the wear and
tear of physical pleasure and this awareness will significantly
increase Torah and Mitzvah performance.
 An HTML version of this article may be found at
 The following sources on the hereafter will prove
in the rest of the article
--(2a) Requirement to believe in the Hereafter(Sanhedrin 90a)
--(2b) Halachic conficiation of this requirement (Rambam Repentance 3:6-14)
--(2c) What is the next world like (Beracoth 17, Rambam Repentance 8:2)
--(2d) Requirements for entry to hereafter (e.g. Shabbath 31a, Niddah 73a)
 The ideas in this article originally appeared in
Bais-Medrash, a copyrighted email group of (www).Torah.Org,
hosted by Rabbis Menkin and Lobel. I would
like to acknowledge the extensive and learned discussion
that took place in Spring 1997 which helped
me clarify my ideas and made this article possible. The
original texts of these postings may be found on my
website starting at https://www.RashiYomi.Com/bm.htm --
scroll down (or do a find for) NEXT WORLD.
 Translation of verses is frequently subject to
To avoid controversy I have selected entries in this table
from the Radack, Book of Roots which is a major authoratative
source of Biblical meaning. Rashi frequently echoes the
same theme as is shown in the footnotes to the table.
 Physical bigness denotes many
inches. A political leader
has many followers and hence is big.
See Rashi on Gn10-20. Rashi explicitly points out that
Big can either mean older or a leader.
 Note the consistency of metaphors. A physically
object has great impact, and can bear pressure. Similarly
an honored person has great impact and can bear social
Pressure on a situation
 Physical spaciousness denotes that I
have room in which
to maneuver. Emotional spaciousness denotes that I
have emotional Room in which to maneuver. That is, I
am not fixated on some phobia (Which was King Sauls problem)
 To reproduce means to produce more
members of the same
species. To train/teach means to produce more members
Adhering to the same organizational doctrine
 See Rashi on Gn09-24 where he points out that
can also mean despicable.
 See Nu21-04 for a lengthy Rashi discussing that
can denote physical shortness or emotional shortness
(a lack of emotional room). Rashi discusses the
general concept of a physical-abstract duality. Also
 The word intellectual pleasure has
connotations. Consequently let me be clear: By
the words physical or intellectual I refer to
the sources of the pleasure: The source of
physical pleasure might e.g. be food. By contrast
the source of intellectual pleasure might be
learning Talmud, or reading about Gods great
deeds or even receiving a prophetic understanding
of God. Thus in each case the words physical
and intellectual refer to the source of pleasure
 The astute reader may wonder why the reward of
Higher quality of life is only mentioned in certain
commandments like honorings ones parents or the
commandment of the mother bird.
Rashi answers this in a set of 7 verses: Rashi suggests
that the Torah expected the reader to use the Biblical
technique of generalization. In truth observing any
commandment leads to a higher quality of life. The Torah
indicated this by telling us this rule (of obtaining
a higher quality of life from performing any Commandment)
in extreme cases. In other words one obtains the hereafter
* Even for doing something requiring little effort
such as sending away the mother bird (Dt22-07)
* Even listening to your parents (Which most people
do anyway because their parents help them socially)
* Even for having honest weights (Which is a one
time act that does not require effort)
In other words, the Torah advised us that we can
obtain the next world for observing any commandment
by telling us this fact on commandments that
require little effort (like weights, and letting
the mother bird go) or commandments that are done
anyway (like respecting ones parents). See the following
URL: https://www.RashiYomi.Com/dt17-20b.htm for
complete references in Rashi and more discussion.