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Gehenna and gentiles and gardens (oh my!)

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King of Quok
403583.  Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:42 am Reply with quote

Some mildly interesting, slightly whacky 'G's from ancient Jewish lore:

The Garden of Eden, or Gan Eden is, according to rabinnical traditions, situated at the centre of the world and divided into a lower part (in which Adam and Eve dwelt) and an upper part, where righteous souls migrate after death (via the Cave of Machpelah) to be greeted by the Patriarchs before hearing God expound the Torah. The sefer torah itself within the Garden of Eden is written upon coloured fire and at the coming of the Messiah, he alone will be able to read it. Alexander the Great was reputed to have discovered the entrance to Eden somewhere in equatorial Africa, but could not enter, the are being goverened by a tribe of women.

Those unlucky enough not to make it to the Garden of Eden may end up stuck in Gehinnom, or Gehenna. The name originally referred to a valley near Jerusalem, reputed to be a site for child sacrifice. The supposedly continually smoking valley floor gave rise to the belief that one of the gates of hell was situated there. Most people were supposed to spend twelve months there after death being purged of their sins by the river of fire. Very wicked people get stuck there indefinitely, though the fires do not burn on festival days and on Shabbat. Balaam, for example, who incited the Isarelites to sexual immorality, resides there immeresed in a vat of boiling semen, which is not, I should imagine, very pleasant.

Non-Jews, or gentiles, or goyim, were supposed, providing they were righteous (and there were reputed to be only thirty righteous gentiles in each generation) to be able to enter the World to Come. The law of chukkat ha-goi proscribed certain 'gentile' practices, such as kneeling when worshipping, to Jews, whilst that of bishul nochri proscribed the consumption of both otherwise kosher food and wine that had been handled, prepared or produced by a gentile.


Last edited by King of Quok on Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:22 am; edited 1 time in total

 
suze
403588.  Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:58 am Reply with quote

King of Quok wrote:
Balaam, for example, who incited the Israelites to sexual immorality, resides there immersed in a vat of boiling semen, which is not, I should imagine, very pleasant.


Isn't there also some piece of ancient Jewish literature which claims that Jesus resides in a vat of boiling feces?

 
King of Quok
403599.  Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:21 am Reply with quote

I'm not exactly sure, as it seems a VERY contentious issue that is not entirely politley debated on some rather questionable websites, but I think (and I may be wrong) that it comes from the same piece of Talmudic literature that describes Balaam's punishment, and has to do with those who are false prophets being condemned to suffer in boiling excrement (or semen, it seems unclear). I think it is quite possibly one of those questions of interpretation: if you were incredibly orthodox, insensitive and confrontational you might attach that label to Jesus as causing Jews to convert away from their faith. As I say, I don't have all the details, so I am guessing here, and I have to say I find it a very uncomfortable subject! If anyone knows any better, please feel free to correct me, though I realise it could be a deeply awkward topic with the potential to cause some degree of offence!

 
CB27
403691.  Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:39 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Isn't there also some piece of ancient Jewish literature which claims that Jesus resides in a vat of boiling feces?


Ooh, you need to be careful about "accepted truth" here.

The texts in question are the Talmud, and it's probably from Peter Schafer's book that this claim would have come from in recent times.

The problems with Schafer's book and similar claims are plenty, but the main ones are that they allocate names of people and events discussed in the Talmud to Jesus and Christians and maintain that though they aren't mentioned "that's what Jews meant", they select passages of discussions and take them out of context and in some cases the translation itself can be regarded as questionable. Further on the point of what the original discussions "meant" is that much of it is taken from the Talmud Bavli which would have been compiled and written in an area with very limited contact with earlier Christians and more with the various religions and traditions that existed prior to Islam being founded.

I don't say that some individual Jews didn't feel strongly against Christianity or other religions (just look up Menachem Begin as an example), but there's a difference between the opinions of individuals and a group of people.

 
suze
403711.  Sun Sep 07, 2008 3:45 pm Reply with quote

Thanks CB27, I certainly wasn't suggesting that either boiling semen or boiling feces form a part of Jewish religious belief - I'm sure that there is Christian literature to be found which makes equally preposterous claims.

These rather nasty sounding notions have indeed been brought out of obscurity by Professor Schaefer. What's more, it turns out that it wasn't Jesus who was immersed in boiling feces. Just as some have sought to identify Balaam with Jesus, so some have sought to do with Yeshu, and it is he who was - according to Gittin - condemned to the boiling feces. But in fact, the Yeshu referred to here lived around a century before Jesus - he seems to have been a minor heretical rabbi who created a quasi-religion which was more a personality cult. (Source - Rabbi Gil Student.)

 
dr.bob
403901.  Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:43 am Reply with quote

King of Quok wrote:
The Garden of Eden, or Gan Eden is, according to rabinnical traditions, situated at the centre of the world and divided into a lower part (in which Adam and Eve dwelt) and an upper part, where righteous souls migrate after death (via the Cave of Machpelah) to be greeted by the Patriarchs before hearing God expound the Torah.


Blimey. So, when you die, you get to go to uptown Eden where you listen to a beardy bloke on a cloud giving a theological lecture.

What a tedious way to spend the afterlife. As with many other religions, I find myself drawn towards the afterlife reserved for sinners instead, which is probably just as well :)

 
CB27
403928.  Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:49 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
Blimey. So, when you die, you get to go to uptown Eden where you listen to a beardy bloke on a cloud giving a theological lecture.


Hey, I'm a beardy bloke who like to discuss theology (though admittedly I'm more interested in the historical roots) :)

suze, I meant my "you" in plural, I realise you were just quoting what you heard/saw/read. I just leapt on it because I had a similar conversation with someone not long ago and it's amazing how convinced someone can be of "the truth" simply because they see it written.

 
dr.bob
404025.  Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:58 am Reply with quote

CB27 wrote:
Hey, I'm a beardy bloke who like to discuss theology (though admittedly I'm more interested in the historical roots) :)


Which is fine, as far as it goes, but I hope you won't be offended if I say I wouldn't want to listen to you for the rest of eternity :)

 
CB27
404061.  Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:28 am Reply with quote

Even with my sexy beer fumed voice?

 

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