Lesson 4 – Is the “Resurrection of the Dead from the Torah”

Sanhedrin 90a-92b (selections)
Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein
The Conservative Yeshiva

To view the Hebrew text, click here.

MISHNAH

1. ALL ISRAEL HAVE A PORTION IN THE WORLD TO COME, FOR IT IS WRITTEN: YOUR PEOPLE ARE ALL RIGHTEOUS, THEY SHALL INHERIT THE LAND FOREVER, THE BRANCH OF MY PLANTING, THE WORK OF MY HANDS, THAT I MAY BE GLORIFIED.’

2. BUT THE FOLLOWING HAVE NO PORTION THEREIN: HE WHO MAINTAINS THAT RESURRECTION IS NOT A BIBLICAL DOCTRINE,

GEMARA.

Section A

1. [Shealah]

And why such [severity]?

2. [Teshuva– baraita]

A Tanna taught: Since he denied the resurrection of the dead, therefore he shall not share in that resurrection, for in all the measures [of punishment or reward] taken by the Holy One, blessed be He, the Divine act befits the [human] deed.

3. [Support from a meimra]

As said Rabbi Samuel bar Nachman said Rabbi Jonathon: From where do we know that the measure [of punishment or reward that the Holy One blessed be He exacts is measure for measure? As it is written, Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, To-morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gates of Samaria. (2 Kings 7:1) And it is written, Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord made windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. (Ibid. 2) And it is [further] written, And so it fell unto him: for the people trod upon him in the gate, and he died. (Ibid. 20)

4. [Kushiyah based on a meimra]

But perhaps this was the result of Elisha’s curse, for Rab Judah said in Rab’s name: The curse of a Sage, even if unmerited, is fulfilled?

5. [Teirutz]

If so, Scripture should have written, they trod upon him and he died. Why, trod upon him in the gate?

[To show that it was] on account of matters pertaining to the gate.

Section B

1. [Shealah]

How is resurrection derived from the Torah?

2. [Teshuva]

As it is written, And ye shall give thereof the Lord’s heave offering to Aaron the priest. (Numbers 18:28)

But would Aaron live for ever; he did not even enter Eretz Yisrael, that terumah should be given him?

But it teaches that he would be resurrected, and Israel give him terumah. Thus resurrection is derived from the Torah.

3. [Rebuttal to this teshuvah from a baraita]

The school of R. Ishmael taught: To Aaron [means to one] like Aaron: just as Aaron was a haber, so his sons must be haberim.

4. [Meimra that teaches halacha as expressed in the preceding baraita]

R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in R. Jonathan’s name: Whence do we know that terumah must not be given to a priest and ‘am ha-arez?

From the verse, Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the Levites, that they might hold fast to the law of the Lord (2 Chronicles 31:4)

[thus,] whoever holds fast to the law of the Lord, has a portion; whoever does not, has no portion.

5. [Another meimra on this topic]

R. Aha b. Adda said in Rab Judah’s name: One who gives terumah to an ignorant priest is as though he had placed it before a lion: just as a lion may possibly tear his prey and eat it and possibly not, so is an ignorant priest — he may possibly eat it undefiled and possibly defiled.

6. [Another maimra on this topic]

R. Johanan said: He even causes his [sc. the ignorant priest’s] death, for it is written, and die therefore, if they profane it. (Leviticus 22:9)

7. [Baraita on this subject]

The School of R. Eliezer b. Jacob taught: He also embroils him in a sin of general trespass, for it is written, Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass when they eat their holy things. (Leviticus 22:16)

8. [Baraita on subject of resurrection]

It has been taught: R. Simai said: Whence do we learn resurrection from the Torah? From the verse, And I also have established my covenant with them, [sc. the Patriarchs] to give them the land of Canaan: – ‘[to give] you’ is not said, but ‘to give them’ [personally]; thus resurrection is proved from the Torah.

(Mnemonic: ZeDeK, GaM, GeSHeM, KaM.)

9. [An anecdotal conversation]

Sectarians [ minim ] asked Rabban Gamaliel: Whence do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, will resurrect the dead? He answered them from the Torah, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, yet they did not accept it [as conclusive proof].

9a. [Rabban Gamliel’s teshuva]

‘From the Torah’: for it is written, And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers and rise up [again]. (Deut. 31:16)

9b. [The heretic’s rebuttal]

‘But perhaps,’ said they to him, ‘[the verse reads], and the people will rise up?’

9c. [Rabban Gamliel’s next teshuva]

‘From the prophets’: as it is written, Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out
its dead. (Isaiah 26:19)

9d. [The heretic’s rebuttal]

But perhaps this refers to the dead whom Ezekiel resurrected?

9e. [Rabban Gamliel’s next teshuva]

‘From the Hagiographa’: as it is written, And the roof of thy mouth, like the best wine of my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak. (Song of Songs 7:10)

9f. [The heretic’s rebuttal]

But perhaps it means merely that their lips will move,

9g. [The Talmud brings support for the heretic’s position]

even as R. Johanan said: If a halachah is said in any person’s name in this world, his lips speak in the grave, as it is written, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak?

9h. [Return to the baraita – another attempt by Rabban Gamliel]

[Thus he did not satisfy them] until he quoted this verse, which the Lord swore unto your fathers to give to them; (Deut. 11:21) not to you, but to them is said; hence resurrection is derived from the Torah.

9i. [Another teshuva in the baraita]

Others say that he proved it from this verse, But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day; (Deut. 4:4) just as you are all alive to-day, so shall you all live again in the world to come.

10. [A Conversastion between some Romans and an important rabbi]

The Romans asked R. Joshua b. Hananiah: Whence do we know that the the Holy One, blessed he He, will resurrect the dead and knows the future? — He replied: Both are deduced from this verse, And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and rise up again; and this people shall go a whoring etc. (Deut. 31:16) But perhaps ‘will rise up, and go a whoring’? — He replied: Then at least you have the answer to half, viz., that He knows the future.

11. [Rabbi Johanan brings another baraita which uses this proof verse]

It has been stated likewise: R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: Whence do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, will resurrect the dead and knows the future? From, Behold, Thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and … rise again etc.

12. [Another baraita on this subject]

It has been taught: R. Eliezer, son of R. Jose, said: In this matter I refuted the books of the sectarians, who maintained that resurrection is not deducible from the Torah. I said to them: You have falsified your Torah, yet it has availed you nothing. For you maintain that resurrection is not a Biblical doctrine, but it is written, [Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment], that soul shall utterly be cut off [Heb. hikkareth tikkareth]; his iniquity shall be upon him. (Numbers 15:31) Now, [seeing that] he shall utterly be cut off in this world, when shall his iniquity be upon him? surely in the next world.

13. [Amoraim discuss this baraita]

R. Papa said to Abaye: Could he not have deduced both [this world, and the next] from he shall be utterly cut off [Heb. hikkareth tikkareth]?

14. [Teshuva]

They would have replied: The Torah employed human phraseology.

15. [This matter was disputed among the Tannaim]

This is disputed by Tannaim: – That soul shall utterly be cut off [hikkareth] he shall be cut off in this world and [tikkareth] in the next: this is R. Akiba’s view. – R. Ishmael said: But the verse has previously stated, he reproacheth the Lord, and that soul shall be cut off are there then three worlds? But [interpret thus]: and [that soul] shall be cut off — in this world: hikkareth, he is to be cut off — in the next; whilst as for [the repetition] tikkareth, that is because the Torah employs human phraseology.

16. [Shealah]

How do both R. Ishmael and R. Akiba utilize his iniquity shall be upon him?

17. [Teshuva]

For that which has been taught: I might think that [this is so] even if he repented: therefore Scripture saith, his iniquity is upon him: I decreed [that he shall be cut off] only if his iniquity is still in him.

1. [Another dialogue between a non Jew and an important rabbi]

Queen Cleopatra asked R. Meir, ‘I know that the dead will revive, for it is written, And they [sc. the righteous] shall [in the distant future] blossom forth out of the city [Jerusalem] like the grass of the earth. (Psalm 72:16) But when they arise, shall they arise nude or in their garments?’

2. [Teshuva]

He replied, ‘Thou mayest deduce by an a fortiori argument [the answer] from a wheat grain: if a grain of wheat, which is buried naked, sprouteth forth in many robes, how much more so the righteous, who are buried in their raiment!’

1. [Another dialogue between a non Jew and an important rabbi]

An emperor said to Rabban Gamaliel: ‘Ye maintain that the dead will revive; but they turn to dust, and can dust come to life?’

2. [The emperor’s daughter answers for Rabban Gamliel]

Thereupon his [the emperor’s] daughter said to him [the Rabbi]: ‘Let me answer him: In our town there are two potters; one fashions [his products] from water, and the other from clay: who is the more praiseworthy?’

3. [The emperor responds]

‘He who fashions them from water, he replied.

4. [The daughter answers her father]

‘If he can fashion [man] from water, surely he can do so from clay!’

1. [Another baraita on this subject]

The School of R. Ishmael taught: It can be deduced from glassware: if glassware, which, though made by the breath of human beings, can yet be repaired when broken; then how much more so man, created by the breath of the Holy One, blessed be He.

1. [A heretic asks a shealah of Rabbi Ami]

A sectarian [min] said to R. Ammi: ‘Ye maintain that the dead will revive; but they turn to dust, and can dust come to life?’

2. [Teshuva]

He replied: I will tell thee a parable. This may be compared to a human king who commanded his servants to build him a great palace in a place where there was no water or earth [for making bricks]. So they went and built it. But after some time it collapsed, so he commanded them to rebuild it in a place where water and earth was to be found; but they replied, ‘We cannot’. Thereupon he became angry with them and said, ‘If ye could build in a place containing no water or earth, surely ye can where there is!’ ‘Yet,’ [continued R. Ammi], ‘If thou dost not believe, go forth in to the field and see a mouse, which to-day is but part flesh and part dust, and yet by to-morrow has developed and become all flesh. And shouldst thou say, ‘That takes a long time,’ go up to the mountains, where thou wilt see but one snail, whilst by to-morrow the rain has descended and it is covered with snails.’

3. [Another conversation between a non Jew and an important rabbi]

A sectarian [min] said to Gebiha b. Pesisa, ‘Woe to you, ye wicked, who maintain that the dead will revive; if even the living die, shall the dead live!’ He replied, ‘Woe to you, ye wicked, who maintain that the dead will not revive: if what was not,[now] lives, — surely what has lived, will live again!’ ‘Thou hast called me wicked,’ said he, ‘If I stood up I could kick thee and strip thee of thy hump! ‘If thou couldst do that,’ he retorted, ‘thou wouldst be called a great doctor, and command large fees.’

Section 2

Sanhedrin 91b

1. [An Amora cites discrepancy between two parts of a verse (stira)

Raba opposed [two verses]: It is written, I kill, and I make alive. (Deut. 32:39) ; whilst it is also written, I wound, and I heal! (Ibid.)

2. [Resolution of discrepancy]

The Holy One, blessed be He, said: That which I slay, I resurrect [i.e. in the same state], and then, what I wound, I heal [after their revival].

3. [Baraita]

Our Rabbis taught: I kill, and I make alive. I might interpret, I kill one person and give life to another, as the world goes on: – therefore the Writ states, I wound, and I heal. Just as the wounding and healing [obviously] refer to the same person, so putting to death and bringing to life refer to the same person. – This refutes those who maintain that resurrection is not intimated in the Torah.

4. [Baraita citing more proofs of resurrection alluded to in the Bible]

It has been taught: – R. Meir said, From where do we know resurrection from the Torah? From the verse, Then shall Moses and the children of Israel sing this song unto the Lord: (Exodus 15:1) not sang but shall sing is written: thus resurrection is taught in the Torah. – Likewise you read, Then shall Joshua build an altar unto the Lord God of Israel: (Joshua 8:30) not ‘built’, but shall build is written: thus resurrection is intimated in the Torah.

5. [Kushiya]

If so, Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab L 1 Kings 11:7) does that too mean that he shall build?

6. [Teirutz]

But [there] the Writ regards him as though he had built.

7. [Meimra with more allusions to resurrection from the Bible]

R. Joshua b. Levi said: Whence is resurrection derived from the Torah? From the verse, Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they shall ever praise thee. Selah. (Psalms 84:5) Not ‘praised thee,’ but they shall praise thee is stated: thus resurrection is taught in the Torah.

8. [Another point derived from this verse]

R. Joshua b. Levi also said: Whoever utters song [of praise to God] in this world shall be privileged to do so in the next world too, as it is written, Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they shall ever praise thee. Selah.

9. [Another meimra citing allusions to resurrection from the Bible]

R. Hiyya b. Abba said in R. Johanan’s name: From where do we learn resurrection from the Torah? From the verse, Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing. (Isaiah 52:8) Not ‘sang,’ but shall sing is written: thus resurrection is derived from the Torah.

Section 3 (92a)

1. [Meimra]

Raba said: Whence is resurrection derived from the Torah? From the verse, Let Reuben live, and not die: (Deut. 33:6) meaning, let Reuben live, in this world, and not die, in the next.

2. [Meimra]

Rabina said, [it is derived] from this verse, And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

3. [Meimra]

R. Ashi said: From this verse, But go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. (Daniel 12:13)

Section 4 (92a-b)

1. [Maimra]

R. Tabi said in R. Josia’s name: What is meant by, The grave; and the barren womb; and the earth that is not filled by water: (Proverbs 30:16) now, what connection has the grave with the womb? But it is to teach thee: just as the womb receives and brings forth, so does the grave too receive and bring forth. Now, does this not furnish us with an a fortiori argument? If the womb, which receives in silence, yet brings forth amid great cries [of jubilation]; then the grave, which receives the dead amid cries [of grief], will much more so bring them forth amid great cries [of joy]! This refutes those who maintain that resurrection is not intimated in the Torah.

2. [Baraita]

[The] Tanna debe Eliyyahu [states]: The righteous, whom the Holy One, blessed be He, will resurrect, will not revert to dust, for it is said, And it shall come to pass. that he that is left in Zion and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: (Isaiah 4:3) just as the Holy One endures for ever, so shall they endure for ever. And should you ask, in those years during which the Almighty will renew his world, as it is written, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day, (Isaiah 2:11) what will the righteous do?

The Lord will make them wings like eagles’, and they will fly above the water, as it is written, Therefore we will not fear when the earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. (Psalms 46:3) And should you imagine that they will suffer pain therefore Scripture said, But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

3. [Kushiya]

But should we not deduce [the reverse] from the dead whom Ezekiel resurrected?

4. [Teirutz]

He accepts the view that in the truth [the story of the resurrection of the dry bones] was [but] a parable.

5. [Baraita that deals with the resurrection of the dry bones in Ezekiel]

For it was taught: – R. Eliezer said: The dead whom Ezekiel resurrected stood up, uttered song, and [immediately] died. What song did they utter? The Lord slays in righteousness and revives in mercy. – R. Joshua said: They sang thus, The Lord kills and makes alive: he brings down to the grave, and brings up. (1 Samuel 2:6) – R. Judah said: It was truth; it was a parable. – R. Nehemiah said to him: If truth, why a parable; and if a parable, why truth? But [say thus]: In the truth there was but a parable. – R. Eliezer the son of R. Jose the Galilean said: The dead whom Ezekiel revived went up to Palestine, married wives and begat sons and daughters. – R. Judah b. Bathyra rose up and said: I am one of their descendants, and these are the tefillin which my grandfather left me [as an heirloom] from them.

6. [Baraita which attempts to identify who the revived bones were]

Now, who were they whom Ezekiel revived? a. Rab said: They were the Ephraimites, who counted [the years] to the end [of the Egyptian bondage], but erred therein, as it is written, And the sons of Ephraim; Shuthelah, and Bared his son, and Tahath his son, and Eladah his son, and Tahath his son. And Zabad his son, and Shuthelah his son, and Ezzer, and Elead, whom the men of Gath that were born in that land slew (1 Chronicles 7:20-21) And it is written, And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him. (1 Chronicles 7:22)

b. Samuel said: They were those who denied resurrection, as it is written, Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. (Ezekiel 37:11)

c. R. Jeremiah b. Abba said: They were the men who lacked the [vitalizing] sap of good deeds, as it is written, O ye dry bones, head the word of the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:4)

d. R. Isaac Nappaha said: They were the men who covered the whole Temple with abominations and creeping things, as it is written, So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about: (Ezekiel 8:10) whilst there [in the case of the dry bones] it is written, And caused me to pass by them round about. (Ezekiel 37:2)

e. R. Johanan said: They were the dead of the plain of Dura. R. Johanan also said: The plain of Dura extends from the river Eshel to Rabbath. Amongst the Israelites whom Nebuchadnezzar drove into exile there were young men who shamed the sun by their beauty. The Chaldean women, looking upon them, were inflamed with passion. Their husbands, being informed thereof, reported it to the king, who ordered the execution of these exiles; yet they still burned with desire: so by royal command they were trampled [out of recognition].

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