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Death and the God of life

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posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 05:01 PM
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We find in the laws of the Old Testament a strong taboo against touching dead bodies or having any kind of contact with the dead.

The fundamental law about physical contact is in Numbers ch19 vv11-22.
A man who touches a dead body will be “unclean” for seven days.
Even then , he won’t count as “clean” unless he has cleansed himself on both the third and the seventh days.
Anything the unclean man touches will also be unclean, which means that anyone who touches it will be unclean until the evening.
The unclean man is cleansed by the use of the “water of impurity” (mixed with the ashes of a previous “burnt sin offering”), but the man who sprinkles the water will then need to wash his own clothes, and anyone touching the water will be unclean until the evening.
The same rules apply if a man touches some old bones or a grave.
In fact the contagion can be carried even if there’s no direct contact.
For if a man dies in a tent, it affects anyone who’s in the tent at the time, and anyone who comes in later, and any open vessel in the vicinity.

At first glance, these might look like rules of hygiene.
Any doctor would advise washing the hands after touching a dead body.
But this goes beyond questions of hygiene.
These laws are not just about death by disease, because they also apply if a man is slain by the sword.
The preparation of the “water of impurity” would not give it any particular antiseptic qualities, and its express purpose in the laws is “the removal of sin”.
In effect, they are treating death in itself as a dangerous infection.

This is not so much about hygiene as it is about a taint in the relationship with God.
Thus the laws go beyond hygiene when they demand that anyone who aspires to approach God more closely should make a particular point of avoiding contact with death.
Such is the Nazirite, who takes a vow for a period of time, to “separate himself to the Lord” (Numbers ch6 vv1-12)
For the whole period of that separation, he is to avoid going near a dead body, even the body of one of his closest kin.
“If any man dies very suddenly beside him” (as may happen, I suppose), then everything he has put into his vow of separation has been undone, and he has to start again.

Such is the priest, and in the case of a priest there’s even a taboo against mourning for the dead (Leviticus ch21 vv1-12).
The priest is not to “defile himself” with mourning, he is not to cut his hair or his flesh as a sign of mourning, he is not to tear his clothes, for anyone except his very nearest kin.
In fact the chief priest, who has received the anointing oil, is not to defile himself in this way for anyone whatsoever, not even for his father or his mother.
His contact with God is so close and so regular that he is obliged to avoid all association even with the idea of death, as represented by the act of mourning.

There’s a dramatic illustration of this in the story of the consecration of Aaron, when things went badly wrong (Leviticus ch10).
Two of the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, died at the Tabernacle, in the presence of the Lord.
In the tense moments of the aftermath, as their bodies were being carried out, Moses had the presence of mind to give an urgent warning to the rest of the family;
“Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not rend your clothes”.
In other words, here at the Tabernacle is the very last place that you should be showing any signs of mourning, whatever the circumstances.

Similarly, the most effective way of defiling a holy place and making it unusable for access to God is to burn bones upon it (2 Kings ch23 v16). That sets up another association with death.

The taboo also extends to contacting the spirits of the dead. The instruction is “Do not turn to mediums and wizards; do not seek them out, to be defiled by them; I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus ch19 v31).
This was the law which Saul was breaking when he asked the witch of Endor to call up the spirit of Samuel.
Isaiah gives the same warning about “the mediums and the wizards who chirp and mutter”.
Why should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? Should not the people consult their God instead? (Isaiah ch8 v19).
I think “the living” is the key to the whole question.
His point is that it’s more appropriate for a living people to be consulting a living God.
Consulting the dead should be left for people who are dead themselves.

The God of the Bible is frequently called “the living God”.
Even his name seems to say the same thing.
We don’t know the exact meaning of the name YHWH, but the most likely explanation is that it comes from the verb meaning “to be, to live”.
It could mean “He who lives” or “He who brings life”- or perhaps both, since the two things go together, from the viewpoint of the worshipper.
If God is Life, then God and Death are polar opposites.

Then the real purpose of the taboo on contact with death would be to present that message, namely that God and Death do not belong together.

There is a paradox here. The God who is the source of Life is also, necessarily, the final cause of Death, because it takes place whenever he withdraws the life which he has given (as he is entitled to do).
Nevertheless, we are given an early promise that Death will be abolished altogether;
“And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast upon all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces” (Isaiah ch25 vv7-8).
Death is the “last enemy” that will be defeated (1 Corinthians ch15 v26).
It is to be thrown into “the lake of fire” (Revelation ch20 v14), indicating its removal from human experience.
In that way, the paradox would be resolved.




posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 07:02 PM
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The removal of death from the human experience is to realize death is not an experience at all. No one ever experiences death, only life.

The "God of the living"? He is working within you right now, your experience of life is his expression.

"I am the truth, the way, and the life", if only people would realize that they have that within themselves already and the act of living is that life.

God is not separate from anyone, God is integral to existence, every facet of it. God is all in all.



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 07:06 PM
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originally posted by: 3NL1GHT3N3D1
The removal of death from the human experience is to realize death is not an experience at all. No one ever experiences death, only life.

The death of other people is a human experience.
The fact that people die is experienced by humanity as a whole. That is what I meant.



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 07:18 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Well I'd argue (not literally) that experience is subjective before it is objective. No one experiences anything outside of their own, so death is not a subjective experience. Experience is nothing without the observer.



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 07:22 PM
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a reply to: 3NL1GHT3N3D1
Agreed, the person who dies does not have a subjective experience of it.
But those who survive have the subjective experience of knowing that somebody else has died.
Grief is a subjective experience (it was the observation of human grief that caused Jesus to weep at the tomb of Lazarus).
Humanity as a whole has subjective experience of being aware that people in general die.


edit on 8-7-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 08:11 PM
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It's very interesting read, the one issue I would have is the discounting of the needs of hygiene in the A&NE, Israel was a very clean society and healthy considering.

The law on cleanliness had two benefits, spiritual and practical?
Cleanliness is next to Godliness is actually a very practical statement

Ever seen the YouTube clip that explains what YHWH could mean, "behold the hand behold the nail" it's very interesting



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 08:14 PM
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a reply to: Raggedyman
Fair enough, I acknowledge the fact that hygiene was important in their thinking.
I was interested in the point that this wasn't just about hygiene, but went beyond that issue.



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 08:31 PM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: Raggedyman
Fair enough, I acknowledge the fact that hygiene was important in their thinking.
I was interested in the point that this wasn't just about hygiene, but went beyond that issue.



No stress
I had only ever read it from a hygiene based perspective so yours was very interesting

God created perfection
Sin brought death into the world against His will, Calvinists aside
God had to die to end sin

It's a logical assessment of understanding death in the OT
Cool



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 08:32 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Well there has to be a balance, you cannot have life without death, you also cannot have death without life. The material world is fleeting but the spiritual one is eternal. There could be nothing without this universal balance so I don't think the bible is talking about an objective death, only a subjective one.

When Eve ate the fruit God said "you shall surely die" meaning their newfound self-awareness gave them the knowledge of their own mortality in the flesh. It is no coincidence that Eve is the one who ate the fruit, she is the feminine expression and the feminine (material) is where death resides.

You have to transcend the material plane and enter the spiritual one ("walk on water") to escape death, you have to come to the knowledge that life is eternal because there is only experience and there is no such thing as non-experience.

"He is not the God of the dead but of the living", meaning anyone who has life has God, though most do not recognize his true nature, they live in darkness by not recognizing the light of life that is right in front of them at all times. "If your light is darkness then how great is that darkness!"



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 08:36 PM
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a reply to: Raggedyman
My mental list of "things to do" includes a possible thread on "Jesus wept".
He must have been grieving over the fact that humans are troubled by the existence of death.



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 09:07 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI



Originally posted by DISRAELI
Then the real purpose of the taboo on contact with death would be to present that message, namely that God and Death do not belong together.




Originally posted by DISRAELI
This is not so much about hygiene as it is about a taint in the relationship with God.



If death is considered an unclean thing, and the taboo of the body being unclean because of the tainted relationship between man and God as you described above…

Then why is a woman who's just brought LIFE into the world, also considered an unclean thing, as described in these verses below…?





Leviticus 12:1-2
1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period."



And…




Leviticus 12:5
5 If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period.







Originally posted by DISRAELI
There is a paradox here. The God who is the source of Life is also, necessarily, the final cause of Death, because it takes place whenever he withdraws the life which he has given (as he is entitled to do).
Nevertheless, we are given an early promise that Death will be abolished altogether;


If God is the source of life, then why should the woman be seen as unclean for bringing life into the world…?

In fact, the woman is not just seen as unclean, she also has to ask forgiveness from God for it, in order to be made clean, as described Leviticus 12:6 and 12:8 below…





Leviticus 12:6
6 “‘When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering.







Leviticus 12:8
But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”




How does all that fit into your Paradox…?


- JC



edit on 8-7-2016 by Joecroft because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 09:31 PM
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a reply to: Joecroft
Good questions! It will be interesting to read the OP's answer.



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 09:54 PM
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The Persians used to build towers and put dead bodies at the top and let the birds eat them. Certain people must have only been allowed to touch dead bodies and wash after because they were big on hygeine too.

That was about not desecrating the earth which they revered highly. That was an unforgivable sin.
edit on 8-7-2016 by Theodosius because: a



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 10:03 PM
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a reply to: 3NL1GHT3N3D1



Originally posted by 3NL1GHT3N3D1
The removal of death from the human experience is to realize death is not an experience at all. No one ever experiences death, only life.

The "God of the living"? He is working within you right now, your experience of life is his expression.

"I am the truth, the way, and the life", if only people would realize that they have that within themselves already and the act of living is that life.

God is not separate from anyone, God is integral to existence, every facet of it. God is all in all.



Well said…best post I’ve read all day…


Yeah, that whole Isaiah 25:7-8 verse about “swallowing up death for ever”, is really just about recognizing the spiritual truth within yourself…the Bible is filled with poetic licence designed to internalize hidden truths, together with parables and metaphors…

And of course the reason “death is the last enemy” is because once you recognize the Father within yourself, you realize there is no enemy left to conquer, because you are now set free etc…


- JC



edit on 8-7-2016 by Joecroft because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 11:25 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI


Thus the laws go beyond hygiene when they demand that anyone who aspires to approach God more closely should make a particular point of avoiding contact with death.

It is part of establishing a sacred space, from the central tabernacle as most sacred to the surrounding camp. Here's quotes from Wikipedia article on Book of Leviticus.


Book_of_Leviticus#Uncleanliness_and_purity
Ritual purity is essential for an Israelite to be able to approach God and remain part of the community. Uncleanliness threatens holiness; Chapters 11–15 review the various causes of uncleanliness and describe the rituals which will restore cleanliness;
...
Yahweh dwells with Israel in the holy of holies. All of the priestly ritual is focused on Yahweh and the construction and maintenance of a holy space, but sin generates impurity, as do everyday events such as childbirth and menstruation; impurity pollutes the holy dwelling place. Failure to ritually purify the sacred space could result in God leaving, which would be disastrous.
...
Holiness in ancient Israel had a different meaning than in contemporary usage: it might have been regarded as the "god-ness" of God, an invisible but physical and potentially dangerous force...As a result, Israel had to maintain its own holiness in order to live safely alongside God.

I'm not aware of any passage to indicate that the Israel national deity is seen as an underworld god. But rather the one living and walking in the camp, day and night, season after season, year after year. No changing of the guard, so to speak.



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 01:23 AM
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The Jewish concept of death is Sheol and it is essentially darkness and limbo.

I don't think the Old Testament has a hell.

I see no reason to believe in it now, and there is a Heaven so I am not worried about death.

Or Adonai.



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 03:08 AM
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originally posted by: pthena
It is part of establishing a sacred space, from the central tabernacle as most sacred to the surrounding camp.

Quite so, and I'm finding it suggestive that the sacred space is partly defined by eliminating associations with death.

I'm not aware of any passage to indicate that the Israel national deity is seen as an underworld god. But rather the one living and walking in the camp, day and night, season after season, year after year. No changing of the guard, so to speak.

Exactly. The ever-living. The underworld gods of the ancient world were much more closely associated with death, and presumably originated as "the ancestors". So "don't try to contact the dead" is also a facet of "you shall have no other gods but me".



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 03:51 AM
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originally posted by: Joecroft
If God is the source of life, then why should the woman be seen as unclean for bringing life into the world…?

In fact, the woman is not just seen as unclean, she also has to ask forgiveness from God for it, in order to be made clean, as described Leviticus 12:6 and 12:8 below…


I must admit that I haven't come prepared with an answer to this one.

Firstly, the idea that God is the source of life is almost axiomatic for the Old Testament. That has to be the starting-point.
The simplest way of demonstrating it is by inviting you to focus on the word "blessing".
Look at the Creation story. God brings the various species into existence, which is in iself the act of giving them life. He does the same for the human species.
Then he "blesses" them, and says "be fruitful and multiply". These are not two different things. Being fruitful and multiplying is what is meant by "being blessed". A man is considered "blessed" when his estate is producing life in all directions, from his fields, from his herds, and from his wives.
Whenever men give thanks for the blessings they have received, they are assuming that God is the source of the blessings.

Therefore the sin offering cannot be about the fact that the mother has just produced life. That would be in conflict with half the other chapters of the Old Testament.

Note also that the uncleanliness is temporary, whereas the new life in her child is a semi-permanent effect. That again makes it difficult to connect the two.

The comparison with menstruation, a short-term uncleanliness resulting from a recent event, suggests that the ritual you mention is about the birth-event itself, rather than the life-producing consequences of the birth-event.
As Raggedyman was observing above, there is also a literally hygienic element in the laws of the Pentateuch.
The concept of "unclean" is partly merged with the concept of "unholy", and used as a metaphor about unholiness, but there remains a thread of law which really is about physical uncleanliness as the modern world would understand it.
So I suggest that the sin-offering actually relates to the general messiness of the birth-event itself.

The laws of Leviticus ch15 also prescribe sin-offerings for the bodily discharges which result from health issues.
That would be the analogy here.
(Note, however, that normal menstruation does NOT require a sin-offering. I have my own theory on the status of menstruation which I was intending to expound in a couple of weeks. I'm doing blood in general first.)





edit on 9-7-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 09:54 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI


TextThen the real purpose of the taboo on contact with death would be to present that message, namely that God and Death do not belong together.

Thank you DISRAELI

Luke 9:59-62
(59) And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
(60) Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
(61) And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
(62) And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

How do you interpret this?

And again
Mat 8:21,22
(21) And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
(22) But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Have read this many times and glossed over them with uncertainty many times.



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 10:33 AM
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a reply to: Seede
it's worth comparing what we find in John's gospel on the subject of "eternal" life, best thought of as supplementary to ordinary life.
"He who hears my word and believes in him who sent me HAS eternal life... He has passed from death into life" (John ch5 v24).
This implies that unbelievers are still "dead" in a spiritual sense, because they have not yet acquired eternal life.
In the next verse he says "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live". In this case "the dead" means those who have not yet believed, hearing the voice of the Son means hearing the gospel, and they will come to life by believing and thus receiving eternal life.
Truly truly; The hour is coming

The quotations from Matthew and Luke are presenting the same kind of idea.
Those who are not listening to Jesus are "dead" in the sense of being spiritually dead. They have not received eternal life.
But the disciple is listening, so he is not to be counted among "the dead".



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