Now as I've said before, a funny thing happened on the way to the Septuagint. Jews had more contact with Greek language and culture. As part of that
contact, after the exile, some of their ideas about Sheol began to change. In their minds, Sheol came to be compartmentalized like the Greek Hades.
Part of it was now thought to be for the righteous, called the Bosom of Abraham. Another part was for the wicked, and called "hell" in the KJV, but
footnoted as "hades." These parts were thought to be separated by a fiery gulf - all that would have been easily understood by Jesus' hearers.
OK, we've got the rich man and Lazarus both dead, meaning that Judah and the gentiles (nations) are both now in a new condition. The rich man (Judah)
sees that Lazarus (the Nations) are now accepted into the Kingdom of God. Jesus spoke of this when He told His Jewish hearers, "The kingdom of God
shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." (Matthew 21:43) Do you see how He rejected the fig tree of Judah,
just as He cursed the literal fig tree, as we read in Matthew and Mark? I would go so far as to say that the Jewish nation had become the basket of
very good and very bad figs we read about in Jeremiah. These represent the Jews who responded to Jesus, and those who did not.
Back to our parable – Lazarus is in a good place, and no doubt the "good fig" Jews are there with him. The early church was made up of these good
fig Jews, and more and more non-Jews came in until this whole group came to be called Christians, and made a final split with Judaism about 150 AD.
This split, at the time, was not as clear-cut as it might appear from our vantage point in time, but that's another subject. The rich man is not in
such a good place. These "bad figs" have suffered Roman oppression, the siege of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, exile and dispersion.
Persecutions went on and on for many centuries, in many countries. Truly, Judah, the rich man, is now tormented in a flame. He calls out to Abraham
for the smallest favor – a drop of water – and could that be a reference to the water Jesus told the woman at the well of? Yes, I think it is.
Abraham admits that the rich man is his son, but reminds him that his time and status as God's favored nation has come and gone. Truly, his place has
been taken by "a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." I won't try to parse that nation down, but for the sake of convenience, let's just say it
is the "nation" of Christendom, a term seldom heard of in today's secular world. Since the split between Judaism and Christendom, a fiery gulf has
indeed come between them, with few people bridging that gap or being converted one way or the other.
The rich man asks Abraham to send warning to his five brothers. Here, we see another reason to see him as Judah, for the man Judah had five
full-blooded brothers, as we can easily read in Genesis 29:32-35 and 30:17-20. They are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, and Zebulun. Abraham insists
that Moses and the prophets (which Jesus said testified of Him) should keep the brothers from the rich man's fate, but then the rich man makes the odd
request that someone witness to them from the dead. Truly, this is an odd request, for the Jews disputed the resurrection of Jesus, and did not
record the resurrection of those whose graves were opened after that of Jesus. History bears out that these resurrections would have no impact on
those who rejected Jesus. Abraham in the parable confirms this.
There it is, my view on the parable – a prophecy, not a proof text for Hell. Jesus is using a well-understood mythological template as a way to say
things without some of His audience understanding the meaning. In our time, many still do not. Consider a literal Hell, based on this parable
involving a figurative rich man, figurative Lazarus, and figurative Abraham – it is just absurd.
edit on 23-2-2016 by Lazarus Short because:
a few words fewer, and that's good, but this comment adds more than I took away...
edit on 23-2-2016 by Lazarus Short because: la de
edit on 23-2-2016 by Lazarus Short because: whut's ina name?