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"And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet apart from my flesh shall I see God"
" tho’ my body be consumed, and I have no flesh, I shall see him."
"I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
Thus, Job expresses confidence of seeing God after death (19:26). Interpretation of the difficult phrase (Heb. mibbesari) "from [or apart from] my flesh" determines whether Job conceives of bodily resurrection or merely conscious awareness of God after death." (Evangelical Dictionary)
"The literal meaning is, “from, or out of, my flesh shall I see God.” It does not mean in his flesh, which would have been expressed by the preposition (b) - but there is the notion that from or out of his flesh he would see him; that is, clearly, as Rosenmuller has expressed it, tho’ my body be consumed, and I have no flesh, I shall see him. Disease might carry its fearful ravages through all his frame, until it utterly wasted away, yet; he had confidence that he would see his vindicator and Redeemer on the earth. It cannot be proved that this refers to the resurrection of that body, and indeed the natural interpretation is against it. It is, rather, that though without a body, or though his body should all waste away, he would see God as his vindicator."
JOB 19:26 IN THE VERSIONS
1) "25 And I myself well know that my redeemer is alive, And that, coming after [me], he will rise up over [the] dust. 26 And after my skin, [which] they have skinned off,--this! *Yet reduced in my flesh* I shall behold God, 27 Whom even I shall behold for myself, And [whom] my very eyes will certainly see, but not some stranger. My kidneys have failed deep within me. " (* Lit., "Yet out of my flesh," or, "Yet apart from my flesh.") (NWT)
"25 For I know [that] my redeemer liveth, and [that] he shall stand at the latter [day] upon the earth: 26 And [though] after my skin [worms] destroy this [body], yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; [though] my reins be consumed within me. " (KJV)
1 And Job proceeded to answer Jehovah and say: 2 "I have come to know that you are able to do all things, And there is no idea that is unattainable for you. 3 'Who is this that is obscuring counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I talked, but I was not understanding Things too wonderful for me, which I do not know. 4 'Hear, please, and I myself shall speak. I shall question you, and you inform me.' 5 In hearsay I have heard about you, But now my own eye does see you. 6 That is why I make a retraction, And I do repent in dust and ashes." (NWT)
Further, the Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv, 27): "Resurrection is the second rising of that which has fallen." But the body which we have now fell by death. Therefore it will rise again the same identically."
"From my flesh I see G-d" Job 19 26).
The Zohar explains that the Shechinah hovers on top of our heads like a flame burns on top of a candle, and just as a flame needs oil to continue burning, so, too does the Shechinah "need oil" to remain connected to our bodies (which serve as the wick). The oil consists of the performance of the commandments, the 613 mitzvahs of the Torah. However, we have some questions. What is the Shechinah in general? What does it mean that the Shechinah is present and burns over our heads? Why is it specifically mitzvahs that enable the Shechinah to remain connected to us? G-d's presence is everywhere, so what does it mean that G-d is present "over our heads"? And since G-d's presence is everywhere, why do we need the mitzvahs to maintain this presence?
In ancient times the Divine Presence, the Shechinah, "rested" primarily in the First Temple, and particularly in the inner chamber of the Temple, the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies contained only one thing: the ark of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, the Torah. In order to explain where the Shechinah is present today, the Tanya uses an analogy based on the soul of a human body, since "From my flesh I see G-d" Job 19 26)—that is, we can understand much about how creation works by understanding how the human body works.
The Tanya goes on to describe how the soul and body get along. The soul exists everywhere in the body equally; every part of the body is alive with the life force of the soul. There are also specific individual functions of life, such as the ability to see, the ability to hear, to speak, to move—these individual functions also come from the soul. But these functions are quite distinct from one part of the body to another. The eye and the ear are equally alive, yet the eye sees and the ear hears. The heel of the foot is equally alive with the brain, but the heel doesn't think, it walks and moves, whereas the brain thinks. Where do these distinctions come from?
There are two "expressions" of the soul, the expression that gives life to all parts of the body equally, and the expression that gives vitality to discrete functions of the body. The essence of the soul is not present in the individual components of the body, because essence is indivisible. Therefore, the body functions as an expression of the soul, but these functions are not of the essence of the soul. In other words, there are two layers of expression—the "general expression" and the "specific expression." The general expression of life in the body is an energy that the soul gives off, and that brings the body to life, all parts of the body equally and without distinction. In addition, there are specific life forces, which are the various functions of the various parts of the body. These functions also come from the soul, but before this expression of the soul is diffused, so to speak, to animate the different functions of the body, it "rests" in the brain.
So it's not the case that the soul provides energy, and then the eye turns it into vision and the ear turns it into hearing and the mouth turns it into speaking, etc. The ear does not hear and the eye does not see. The soul sees and hears, but when it breaks down into individual functions, then the ability to see is expressed in the eye, and the ability to hear, which again is a function of the soul, is expressed in the ear. The brain, which contains all life activity, senses what we're saying or hearing or seeing, and appreciates and experiences the individual characteristics of sight, sound, speech, and so on.
The brain, which is the main resting place of the energy and activity of the soul, contains what would be called the Shechinah. The brain, being the most refined function, is most receptive to the soul, because more than any other part of the body, it is receptive to what is above it, to the intangible. So although the essence of the soul is everywhere, the expression of the soul that will be broken down into specific life forces which rests in the brain.
Oil is metaphorically associated with wisdom. Therefore when the Zohar says that we need oil in order for the Shechinah to maintain its position above the head, to rest there, it means that we need wisdom, which is chochmah, binah and da'as (ChaBaD), the three functions of the brain. But since the Zohar said that the oil consists of good deeds, there must be a connection between wisdom (ChaBaD) and good deeds (mitzvahs).
In every world that G-d created, there is a Holy of Holies, which is the ChaBaD, the wisdom, the intellect, and the intelligence of that world. This is the Divine attribute of intelligence as it expresses itself in that world.
In order for the Divine Presence to be contained and softened so that the created being can absorb and sense its presence, there must be a curtain, a concealment, that will allow the Shechinah to be present and yet not overwhelm the creation. What serves as that kind of a buffer? What can contain the Shechinah and allow it to be available and present in the world? The wisdom of G-d, which is the Torah. The Torah is the expression of G-d's wisdom and G-d's will. In G-d's wisdom, one thing is acceptable and another is not; one thing is permissible and another is not; in case of a question or dispute, one ruling should be arrived at, and another should not—all this is G-d's wisdom.
Through G-d's wisdom, He can be present in the world without overwhelming us. In each world, the Divine Presence that is felt comes through the Torah that exists in that world. This is what allows the Presence of G-d to be indwelling—"Shechinah" means "G-d that dwells with you." This Presence of G-d that dwells in each world is what animates and creates the souls and the angels of each world. Each aspect of the Torah (the Written Torah, the Oral Torah, the discussions about the Torah, the Halachic rulings) expresses G-d's wisdom on a different level, plane or world. In the highest world, G-d's wisdom is expressed in the words of the Written Torah. In the next world down, the Divine Wisdom is expressed in the Oral Torah, in the discussion and reasoning of the commandments. In the next step down, our world, G-d's wisdom is expressed in the Mishnah, which is the halachic conclusion or ruling of whether something is or is not permissible, without the discussion (the reasoning is concealed in the ruling). So the mitzvah and Divine wisdom are not two separate things and there is no contradiction in the Zohar; the ChaBaD, G-d's wisdom, is located in the mitzvahs.
The analogy with the soul is now understandable. G-d is present everywhere, and yet G-d is not experienced everywhere. So, too, the soul is present in all parts of the body and in each of the organs, and yet the totality of the soul's energy is not felt or experienced other than in the brain. The brain is the site of the Shechinah, the place where the soul rests in totality before its energy is diffused into the various bodily functions.
The same is also true of each world that exists. G-dliness is present in every part of every world. G-d is everywhere, even in an inanimate object in which the life-energy is so concealed that it looks lifeless (although in fact life is going on there, too). However, although G-d is present everywhere, even in the lowest of creations, to say that the Shechinah is felt or revealed in all parts of creation would not be correct. In each world and in each level of existence, there is a "mind," which is the Torah and wisdom, and in that place in each world, the Shechinah is present—that's where G-d makes Himself known. So when we study Torah, we come in contact with the Shechinah. The Mishnah therefore says that if even one person is sitting and studying Torah, the Shechinah rests on him, because the Torah is the site where the Shechinah is present.
We mentioned that the Shechinah was primarily present in the Holy of Holies chamber of the First Temple. This presence specifically rested in the ark which contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments. So, too, in the world today, G-d is present in the chamber that contains the Ten Commandments, which is the Torah. The Torah is G-d's wisdom, and G-d's presence is felt in His wisdom. Since the Temple was destroyed, the only place where G-d’s Shechinah rests is in the Torah—it is where G-d is accessible in a revealed way, in totality. Just as there is an aspect of the soul that is available in seeing and hearing, but that aspect is only a specific, finite, function of the soul, in the same way, G-d creates the world so that every creature has its specific function. This is not how we see G-dliness in a revealed way, it's the way we see G-d through detail. Where G-d is visible in totality as opposed to in detail, is in the Torah. So it's logical that at the time of Temple, the Shechinah was centered in the room containing the Ten Commandments, and ever since the Temple was destroyed, the presence of the Shechinah is instead felt and experienced wherever Torah is studied. In our world, which is the world of action, the Shechinah is revealed primarily where the halachic conclusions are studied. These are the rulings as to what is permissible and what is not, what is kosher and what is not, what is holy and what is not, and so on. The ChaBaD, the wisdom, of this world is found in the four cubits of halachah, in the doing of the mitzvahs, so we can now understand why the mitzvahs are the oil that allows the Shechinah to burn above our heads.
This brings us back to the central theme of Tanya, which is that as great as the study of Torah is, and as important as the love and fear of G-d with which we fulfill the mitzvahs may be, and as important as our intentions are, the essence of our relationship with G-d, the essence of G-dliness, the essence of morality in the world, is the actual performance and act of the mitzvah.
It’s not the doing, not the studying or the intentions behind the doing that is essential. This is why the Shechinah rests in that part of Torah which is even beyond the discussion and the reasoning and the explanations, where it arrives at the conclusion of what should or shouldn't be done, what may or may not be done and so on. Where the halachah is studied, where we are in touch with the actual mitzvah the way G-d wants it done, the way we need to practice it in the physical sense--that's where the Shechinah is primarily present.
One of the benefits of the approach that "well done" is more important than "well said," is that this creates a great unifying effect for us as a people. If the important thing was the study, we would be divided into hundreds of different categories depending on our degrees of knowledge, degrees of study, and degrees of scholarship. If the essence of a Jew is the love of G-d and the fear of G-d and the intention with which we serve Him, we would again be a very divided people, because no two people are emotionally alike. We would have on one side the more noble, sensitive, lofty souls who have all the right intentions, all the right feelings, who love G-d intensely and fear G-d intensely. On the other side we would have those who never experience any of this, at least not to an extensive degree.
So we would be a very divided people, and this is how it was in the days of the Baal Shem Tov. The learned segment of society had become completely distanced from the unlearned. There was a great rift between them, a major gap. The two groups lived in two separate worlds as if they were two separate peoples, two separate nations. The Baal Shem Tov changed that by revealing and emphasizing the fact that the act of the mitzvah is far more essential than the intention behind it or the study of it.
In the nature of a relationship, what we do for each other
is more essential than what we think about each other or what we know about
each other. Of course, when we live to serve someone and we're thinking
negative thoughts about him, those thoughts can interfere with the
service--they certainly don't enhance the service. So the intentions are
important because if I'm going to serve someone, having the right thoughts
will enhance the service and will guarantee that I will continue to serve
because I've got enthusiasm and joy in the serving. If I have the wrong
thoughts, and no feeling or enthusiasm, then the serving is going to suffer.
When it comes to the doing, all people are equal. No one can fulfill the mitzvah of putting up a mezuzah, for example, better than anyone else. I put a mezuzah on my door, so I have fulfilled a rnitzvah and I have fulfilled a Divine will or need. I can't do it any better because G-d wants it done only one way. If we were to study the meaning of the mezuzah, if we were to study the significance of what's written in the mezuzah, no two people would be alike. Some would understand far better than others, some would appreciate it far better than others, and so on. But in the doing, G-d didn't ask us to study the mezuzah. He asked us to attach a mezuzah to the doorpost. When I attach a mezuzah to the doorpost, it makes no difference whether it's me attaching a mezuzah to the doorpost or Moses attaching a mezuzah to the doorpost. Obviously there is no comparison between our understanding and appreciation of the mezuzah and Moses'. But in spite of our lack of knowledge and lack of appreciation and inability to experience the proper intention, we are in fact doing the mitzvah as well, as correctly, as thoroughly, as perfectly as Moses. In the act, all people are equal.
By putting the emphasis on the doing of the mitzvah, on the performance rather than the intention, the Baal Shem Tov united the people and we became one nation again, one nation in the service of G-d. The key word is the "service," not the wisdom, not the understanding, not the intention--in the service of G-d we are all one because no one can do a mitzvah any more perfectly than the mitzvah itself essentially is. If we're doing it correctly, we're doing it perfectly. That brings us all together.
The other uniting influence, which is very beneficial to the unity of the people, is the kind of love that Chassidic philosophy and teaching celebrates and emphasizes, and which we have discussed in depth previously. This is the love that comes in response to G-d's love, rather than the love that comes from sensitivity and virtue and refinement and nobility of character and so on. In the love we experience in response to G-d's love for us, we are not separated and distinguished, we are united. It's not that G-d loves us because we're virtuous or learned or noble; G-d loves us because He needs our service, because we're not perfect. The fact that we are not perfect doesn't diminish our ability to love Him back, it heightens it. If we recognize our own imperfections and then realize that G-d loves us anyway, that can only make us love Him more rather than less. All the other kinds of love, where we have to appreciate something about G-d's greatness or about G-d's infinity, or about G-d's eternity, require a particularly sensitive soul or a mind that can grasp abstract concepts. Here, though, nothing great is required--in fact, the less great I am, the more intensely will I be grateful to G-d for choosing to love me. In addition, my low level intensifies my gratitude to G-d for creating me with some sacrifice on His part so that He could have a relationship with me, and invite me into His inner thoughts, His personal existence, and His life.
So this uniting influence truly makes us one people, and
it comes in two ways. First, there is the doing, and we are all equally
capable of doing a mitzvah perfectly. And secondly, since the reciprocal
love we feel for G-d is experienced in the same way by us all, we are not
separated into various categories of higher and lower, greater and lesser,
more perfect and less perfect. Rather, the reciprocal love places the
emphasis on the fact that G-d loves us, not that we love Him. When we
respond to G-d's love and the initiative that He takes by inviting us into
His most sacred and personal thoughts and desires, which is the Torah and
mitzvahs, again we are all united because in reciprocating, we are all
equal. Like a mirror reflects an image, the heart reflects love. Every Jew
can perform a mitzvah perfectly, and every Jewish heart reflects the love
that God shows us. We are truly one people.
PASSAGES USED TO SUPPORT PHYSICAL RESURRECTION
"And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God…" (Job. 19:26)
"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Dan. 12:2)
"Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." (Isaiah 26:19)
"…the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many." (Matthew 27:52)
"Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth..." (John 5:28)
"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." (Rom. 8:11)
"The body is sown in corruption, it is raise in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Cor. 15:42-44)
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thes. 5:23)
"For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection." (Rom. 6:5; compare with Luke 24:39-43 and 1 Corinthians 15:12-23)
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