Sunday, November 16, 2008

Resurrection in the Talmud: The Banquet of the Righteous

When considering whether Judaism views resurrection as a physical event, the first passage I would like to review is the Talmud's discussion of the feast or banquet of the righteous:
The Holy One, blessed be He, will make a great banquet for the righteous on the day He manifests His love to the seed of Isaac. After they have eaten and drunk, the cup of Grace will be offered to our father Abraham, that he should recite Grace, but he will answer them, 'I cannot say Grace, because Ishmael issued from me.' Then Isaac will be asked, 'Take it and say Grace.' 'I cannot say Grace,' he will reply, 'because Esau issued from me.' Then Jacob will be asked: 'Take it and say Grace.' 'I cannot say Grace,' he will reply. 'because I married two sisters during [both] their lifetimes, whereas the Torah was destined to forbid them to me.' Then Moses will be asked, 'Take it and say Grace.' 'I cannot say Grace, because I was not privileged to enter Eretz Yisrael either in life or in death.' Then Joshua will be asked: 'Take it and say Grace.' 'I cannot say Grace,' he will reply, 'because I was not privileged to have a son,' for it is written, Joshua the son of Nun; Nun his son, Joshua his son. Then David will be asked: 'Take it and say Grace.' 'I will say Grace, and it is fitting for me to say Grace,' he will reply, as it is said, I will lift up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. (Pesachim 119b)
Here we see a Jewish view of resurrection in vividly physical terms: a banquet in which the resurrected both eat and drink, and a cup is offered to a series of the great patriarchs in turn, each in turn declining the honor until finally David accepts the cup. The Banquet of Salvation is envisioned as including Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and David, who lived at different times separated from each other in some cases by centuries. The banquet is anticipated as occurring in the future, and this was anticipated at a time when all of these great heroic figures of early Judaism had already died. These particular patriarchs could only sit together at a table for a future banquet -- eating, drinking, and passing a cup -- in the case of a physical resurrection from the dead.

3 comments:

Tony-Allen said...

Interesting entry, that. There seems to be a lot of the "stem of Jesse" prophecy in there as well.

I'm always interested in studying Jewish tradition, especially when I find stories that sneaked into the Koran (for example, Abraham smashing the idols from the Midrash).

Weekend Fisher said...

And isn't there a story or two from some of the Christian apocryphals that sneaked into the Koran?

But for me, the interest for the current thread is the inheritance of ideas from Pharisaic Judaism to Christianity. It clears up a few issues.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Tony-Allen said...

Oh there are MANY examples of apocryphal and gnostic gospels sneaking into the Koran.

I actually went into detail about it in this post on my blog, even citing the time periods the original sources were written from. Mohammad had to be well aware at least of the Infancy Gospels being spread around the Middle east at that time.