ABRAHAM'S BOSOM, designation in the New Testament (Luke 16:22–31) of the abode of the blessed souls of the pious and poor in the other world (compare IV Macc. 13:17; Matt. 8:11, where all three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are enumerated as those in whose company the pious souls dwell). The Hebrew expression be-ḥeiko shel Avraham ("in Abraham's   bosom") is mentioned in aggadic literature (e.g., PR 43:180b) dealing with the martyrdom of Miriam (hannah ) and her seven sons. She urges her youngest child to die for the sanctification of God's name, saying: "O my son, do you wish that all thy brethren sit in Abraham's bosom, except you?" Abraham's bosom is mentioned also in Midrash ha-Gadol to Genesis (ed. Margulies (1947), 206. and in the Talmud (Kid. 72b) where it probably refers to the covenant of Abraham (see also PdRK (1868), 25b, S. Buber's emendation). In Christian mythology, Abraham's bosom stands also for the abode in the netherworld of the unbaptized children and for purgatory, from where, after punishment, Abraham conducts the purified souls into paradise. This notion is hinted at in the talmudic passage (Er. 19a) which describes Abraham as shielding from punishment in hell all those who have not effaced the sign of circumcision (compare also, Gen. R. 48:8). Whether Abraham's bosom is the abode of bliss, or, on the contrary, a place in Gehenna, it expresses the popular Jewish belief about Abraham as the warden in paradise and protector of the meritorious souls in the other world. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H.L. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrash, 2 (1924), 225–7.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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