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247. Seven Things Eternal
  It has been taught:
Seven things were created before the world was created. They are these:
-- Torah and repentance;
-- The garden of Eden and Gehinnom;
-- The throne of Glory and the house of the Sanctuary;
-- and the name of the Messiah.
Torah, for it is written:
-- "The Lord made me the beginning of his way" (Prov 8:22).
Repentance, for it is written:
-- "Before the mountains were brought forth...you turn man to purity and say: 'Repent, you sons of man! (Ps. 90:2-3).
The garden of Eden, for it is written:
--"And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden from the first" (Gen 2:8).
Gehinnom, for it is written:
--"For Tophet was prepared of old" (Isa 30:33).
The throne of Glory and the house of the Sanctuary, for it is written:
--"A glorious throne set on high from the beginning (is) the place of our sanctuary" (Jer 17:12).
The name of the Messiah, for it is written:
--"His name if forever, before there was a sun his name is Yinnon" (Ps 72:17).
  --- Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 54a

Eden & Gehinnom

248. Israel is God's Heir
55 I have recited all these things before you, Lord, because you said you created this first world for us.
56 And the rest of the nations coming from Adam you said are like nothing, mere spit; their masses no more than a drop in the bucket.
57 And yet these nations that count as nothing rule over us and devour us; and we your people have been delivered into their hands,
58 (we) whom you called (your) firstborn (and) only-begotten, your companion, your dearly beloved.
59 Was the world created for us? May we not have the inheritance of our world? How long will it be so?
  --- Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 6:55-59

249. Signs of the End-Time
1 But as to the signs:
Look, the days will come when those who inhabit the earth shall be seized in panic. The Way of Truth will be hidden and the country barren of faith.
2 Injustice will increase from what we now see, more than you ever heard about.
3 The nation you now see ruling will be a desert, and all will see it a wasteland.
4 If the Most High allows you to live,
you will see complete confusion after the third period:
Suddenly the sun will shine at midnight and the moon during the day.
5 The trees will drip blood and the stones cry out.
And the course (of the stars) will be changed.
6 One whom those who dwell in the land do not expect, he shall reign:
Birds will fly away
7 and the Sea of Sodom will cast up fish.
And at night a voice will cry, unknown to many but all will hear the sound.
8 Chasms will open in many places, and fire frequently burst forth.
Wild beasts will leave their dens and women give birth to monsters.
9 Salt water will be found in the sweet.
And friends will suddenly attack each other.
Understanding will then be hidden and Wisdom withdraw to her chamber.
10 She shall be sought by many but not found.
The unrighteous and unrestrained will increase in the earth...
12 Then men will hope but not obtain;
they shall labor but their ways not prosper.
  --- Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 5:1-12

250. The Eternal Priest
1 And after their correction by the Lord occurs the priesthood shall cease.
2 And then the Lord shall raise up a new priest
and all the words of the Lord shall be revealed [apokaluptó] to him.
And he shall make judgment on the earth for a multitude of days.
3 And his star shall rise in the heavens as a king,
enlightening with the light of knowledge [gnósis] as the sun the day.
4 And he shall be made great in the whole world:
he shall shine forth as the sun on the earth;
and he shall take away all darkness from what (lies) under heaven.
And there shall be peace in all the earth.
5 The heavens shall rejoice in his days and the earth shall be glad
and the clouds shall celebrate.
And the knowledge of the Lord shall be poured out upon the earth
as the waters of the seas.
6 And the angels of the glory of the Presence (prosópon) of the Lord
shall celebrate him. The heavens shall open up
and holiness shall come upon him from the temple of Glory
with the voice of a father, as from Abraham to Isaac.
7 And the glory of the Most High shall be spoken on him;
and the Spirit of understanding and holiness shall rest on him
in the water.*
8 For he shall give the greatness of the Lord to his sons
in truth forevermore.
And there shall be none to succeed him
from generation to generation even forever.
9 And in his priesthood the nations shall abound in knowledge on the earth
and they shall be enlightened through the grace of the Lord...**
In his priesthood sin shall cease and the lawless will leave off evil things...**
10 And he shall open the gates of the Garden (paradeisos)
and shall put away the sword threatening Adam.
11 And he shall give the holy ones to eat from the tree of Life
and the spirit of holiness shall be on them.
12 And Beliar shall be bound by him;
and he shall give authority to his children to trample on evil spirits.
13 And the Lord shall rejoice in his children
and he shall be well-pleased with his beloved ones forever.
14 Then shall Abraham and Isaac and Jacob rejoice;
and I (Levi) shall be glad.
And the holy ones shall put on righteousness.
  --- Pseudepigrapha, Testament of Levi 18.1-14

Son of David & Teacher of Torah

251. The World to Come
26 Look, the time is coming when the signs I told you of before will come about:
the city which is not now seen shall appear;
and the land which now is hidden shall be revealed.
27 And everyone who has been delivered from the evils I foretold shall see my wonders:
28 For my son the Messiah* shall be revealed with those who are with him;
and for 400 years he shall bring joy to those who are left.
29 And after these years my son the Messiah* shall die
along with all who have the breath of man.
30 And the world will return to its original silence for seven days as when it began.
And no one shall remain.
31 After seven days a world which is not yet awake shall be roused
and that which is corruptible will perish.
32 The earth will give up those who sleep in it;
and the dust, those who rest there in silence;
and the chambers shall give up the souls entrusted to them.
33 The Most High shall be revealed on the throne of judgment.
Then the end will come and compassion will pass away;
mercy will cease and patience be withdrawn.
34 Only judgment shall remain.
Truth shall stand and faithfulness gain strength.
35 Recompense will follow and the reward appear;
righteous deeds shall awake and the wicked not sleep.
36 Then the place of torment shall appear and, opposite it, the place of rest;
the furnace of Gehenna shall appear and, opposite it, the Paradise of delight.
37 Then the Most High shall say to the nations that are raised:
Look now and see him whom you denied,
him whom you did not serve and whose commandments you despised.
  --- Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 7:26-37
* [NOTE: "my son the Messiah" is the reading of the earliest ms. in Syriac (i.e., the Aramaic dialect of Syrian Christians). The original Jewish version is hard to establish since translations into other languages have been variously emended. The Vulgate's Latin "my son Jesus" in 2 Esdras 5:28 is clearly the result of editing by a Christian scribe. Late mss. in Arabic and Armenian read simply "the Messiah." These may better represent the original text. But since the identification of the Messiah as God's son can be traced to Jewish tradition (Ps 2:7, 89:26-29) and the Latin version of 2 Esdras 5:29 agrees with the Syriac, the reading of the earliest ms. is presented here.]

252. Who will be First?
10 Rabbi Judah ben El'ai said:
--"One who makes the words of Torah primary [iqar; lit: "the root"] and other matters secondary will be made primary in the world (to come).
(But one who makes) the way of the world primary and the words of Torah secondary will be made secondary in the world (to come)!.
He composed a parable [mashal]:
To what may this be likened?
To a clearing that lies between two paths,
the one of flame the other of snow.
If one walks along the flame one will be burned by the flame;
and if one walks along the snow one will be stricken by the cold.
What is one to do?
Let him walk between them and watch out for himself,
lest he be burned by the flame or struck by the cold.
  --- Babylonian Talmud (supplement), Aboth de R. Nathan 28.10

253. Rewards of the Righteous
2 All the reward intended for the righteous is ready for them in the age to come; and while they are still in this world,
the Holy One, blessed be He!, lets them see the reward that he has prepared to give them in the age to come.
And their souls are satisfied; and they fall asleep.
Rabbi Eleazar (ben Shammua') said:
--"(This) may be compared [mashal] to a king who arranged a banquet.
he invited guests and let them see what they would eat and drink.
And their souls were satisfied and they fell asleep.
  --- Midrash, Bereshith Rabba 62.2

254. Living with God
  A familiar (word) in the mouth of Rab (Abba Arika):
--"In the world to come there is no eating and drinking,
no propagating or multiplying, no bearing or giving
no envy, no hatred and no strife.
But the righteous rest, wearing crowns on their heads,
and share in the glory of the Presence [Shekinah],
of which it is said:
-- "And they saw God and ate and drank" (Exod 24:2).
  --- Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 17a

255. Eschatological Banquet
8 "Behold, I will make it rain for you bread from heaven" (Exod 16:4)
Another interpretation:
The LORD God said to them:
--"See, I have raised you up over all the world!
If you do my will I shall let you rest in what I created
when the world was not yet created --
the house of God [Maqom], that is, as it is said:
-- "The throne of Glory on high from the first (is)
the place of our Sanctuary"
(Jer 17:12).
It is written:
--"For the LORD your God brings you into a land good" and wide (Deut 8:7) to see a table that is spread in the garden of Eden, as it says:
-- "I shall walk before the LORD in the land of the living (Ps 116:9).
He is seated above the fathers, if you will
And the fathers and all the righteous are in his midst [thoko], as it says:
-- "And they sat down [thukku] at your feet" (Deut 33:3).
And he distributes to them (their) portions.
And if you wonder at this word [dabar],
for their sake even in this world he is seated between two cherubim,
as it is said:
--"who lies between my breasts" (Song 1:13).
How much more so [qal wachomer] in the garden of Eden.
And he will bring them fruit from the garden of Eden
and he will feed them from the Tree of Life.
And who will bless it first?
All will allot the honor to the Holy One, blessed be He!,
that he select (the one) to bless.
And the Holy One, blessed be He!, will say to Michael:
And (Michael) will ask Gabriel; and Gabriel, the fathers of the world.
And they will allot the honor to Moses and Aaron; and they, to the elders.
And these will allot the honor to David and say:
--"The one who is king on earth should bless the One who is king in heaven."
And they will give the cup to David and he will say:
--"I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD"
(Ps 116:13)
  --- Midrash, Shemoth Rabba 25.8

256. What Did You Do?
17 "Open to me the gates of righteousness" (Ps 118:19)
In the world to come a man will be asked:
--"What deed did you do?"
And if he says:
--"I fed the hungry" [cf. Isa 58:7a],
they will say to him:
-- "'This is the gate of the LORD' (Ps 118:20).
You who fed the hungry may enter it."
And if he says:
--"I gave drink to the thirsty",
they will say to him:
-- "'This is the gate of the LORD' (Ps 118:20).
You who gave the thirsty drink may enter it."
And if he says:
--"I clothed the naked" [cf. Isa 58:7b],
they will say to him:
-- "'This is the gate of the LORD' (Ps 118:20).
You who clothed the naked may enter it."
And thus too will they say to him who raised the fatherless
and to those who gave alms or did gracious deeds.
  --- Midrash, Tehillim 118.17

257. Judgment and Purgatory
  It has been taught (that) the school of Shammai says:
--"(There will be) three groups on Judgment Day [yom haDin]:
(a) one that is completely righteous,
(b) one that is completely wicked,
(c) and one that is in between."
The completely righteous will be recorded and sealed at once for eternal life. The completely wicked will be recorded and doomed at once to Gehinnom, 
as it says:
--"And many who sleep in the dust of the earth shall rise up, some to eternal life and some to shame and eternal rejection" (Dan 12:2).
Those in between will go down to Gehinnom and cry out and rise up, 
as it says:
--"And I will bring the third part through the fire
and refine them as silver is refined
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call on my name and I will answer them"
(Zech 13:9)..."
(But) the school of Hillel says:
--"He who is Master of grace tends towards grace...."
  --- Babylonian Talmud, Rosh HaShanah 16b-17a

258. Who goes to Hell?
  Israelites and peoples of the world who sin with their body
go down to Gehinnom and are punished there for twelve months.
After twelve months their body is consumed and their soul is burnt up
and the wind scatters them under the soles of the feet of the righteous, as it says:
--"And you shall trample the wicked
as if they were ashes under the soles of your feet"
(Mal 3:21).
But the sectarians [minim] and the informers and the scoffers --
those who reject the Torah and deny the resurrection of the dead,
those who forsake the ways of the community,
those "who spread terror in the land of the living" (Ezek 32:23c)
and those who sinned and made the masses sin,
like Jeroboam ben Nebat and his colleagues (cf. 1 Kings 12:20-33) --
they shall go down to Gehinnom and be punished there for all generations...
Gehinnom will be consumed, but they shall not be consumed.
  --- Babylonian Talmud, Rosh HaShanah 17a

259. Anger Condemned
  Rabbi Samuel bar Nachmani said Rabbi Jonathan (ben Eleazar said):
--"All the powers of Gehinnom have dominion over anyone who gets angry
as it is said:
-- 'And take anger from your heart,
and you will remove evil from your flesh"
(Eccles. 11:10).
And is evil anything but Gehinnom?
For it is said:
--"The LORD made all things for himself;
yes, even the wicked for the day of evil' (Prov 16:4).
  --- Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 22a

260. Three Not Raised
  Rabbi cHanina (bar Hama) said:
--"All go down to Gehinnom except for three!"
All? Can you believe it?
Rather, (say) this:
--"All who go down to Gehinnom will rise up except for three!"
Those who go down to Gehinnom and do not rise are:
--he who goes in to (another) man's wife; and
--he who exposes his comrade [chaber] in public; and
--he who hangs a bad name on his comrade.
  --- Babylonian Talmud, Baba Metzia 58b

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