WHAT IS DEATH?
In order to understand what is death, we need to
look into the definition of life in the Bible.
meaning of Death
In fact I have discussed it in my earlier book
“In the Image of God” where I have talked about five levels of
souls. There is a
higherarchy of life forms on the earth.
Hebrew concept of life as shown in the words
(Strong's #2421 – חָיָה
haya life) and חָיָה
.נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh living soul or
living being) is the primary word for life
Haya is used 70% of instances to human life, 17%
refer to animals and 11% refer to God as living.
נֶפֶשׁ is used 43% of its uses
(295 times) clearly indicate life
for both animals and people (Kennard 2008, p. 170).
in Genesis 2:7 is a common expression in the Old Testament for
“living being” as a description of people or animals (Genesis
The breath of life (Genesis 2:7; 6:15; 7:15) is
used to describe humans and animals but not plants. “Plants are
never the subject of חָיָה ” (Gerleman
1997, p. 414) neither are they “… alive in biblical Hebrew or
in second Temple Jewish literature …” (Kennard 2008, p. 169)
It is the breath of life that separates humans
and animals from plants because when it is gone they cease to
exist (2 Samuel 1:9; 1 Kings 17:21–22). Blood is the sign of
life in both humans and animals (Genesis 4:10; 9:4–6), and its
shedding causes the loss of life (Leviticus 17:11, 14). Plants do
not die in the same sense animals and humans do because they are
not living in the same sense that humans and animals are.
How death creep in
meaning of Death
In the New Testament two different Greek words
are used primarily for death
θάνατος (Romans 5:12) and
νεκρός (Ephesians 2:5.
Thanatos is a more generic word used to refer to
the death of the body and spiritual or eternal death (Thayer, J.
H. 2007. Thayer’s Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament,
8th ed. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers).
the dimensional understanding of creatures clearly makes the
difference between various creations within the various layers of
cosmos. A summary is
The Soul on the Tree of Life.
This picture has the Hebrew names of the
five levels of soul as taught by the Kabbalah.
From top to bottom it says:
Yechidah (unique essence),
HaNeshama (the higher soul),
Ruach (spirit), and
Nefesh (lower soul).
ﬁve levels of soul correspond to ﬁve dimensions of
reality, each dimension larger than and inclusive of the ones
before it. This is what our Kabbalists call the Five Worlds.
On material cosmos only man has all these five souls or man
alone has all these five dimensions.
The highest level is the Divine level.
Man exists like many other spiritual creatures in this
level because Adam was the Son of God.
is essentially defined as a separation.
man being a multidimensional being existing in all planes of
existence can have several types of death.
Death means separation between two things:
The immediate result of the
sin was the spiritual death.
It took place in two steps.
Father came down to walk with His son Adam exactly as before at
the cool of the day. But
notice what happened.
When Adam and Eve heard the voice of the Lord, they “hid themselves
from the presence of the LORD God.” Adam refused to have
fellowship with God.
Then because God did not want Man to eat of the Tree of Life and live
forever, Adam was expelled from the Garden and the tree was under
guard. We shall see
that God was trying to protect Man from the consequence of the sin
by doing that. This expulsion meant that Man will be mortal like
the rest of the animals.
By man came death.
1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all
be made alive.
Romans 5:12-17 Why, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death
by sin; …
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal
The fellowship had been broken. They were spiritually dead.
In Kabbalah's description of Adam, he originally
"extended from one end of the universe to the other."
body reached from earth to heaven [or from one end of the world to
the other] before sin caused him to sink" (Ḥag. 12a,
Sanh. 38b; compare also Philo, "Creation of the
World," ed. Mangey, i. 33, 47). (This is referring to the
dimensions of the cosmos from material to divine)
Adam filled all the worlds and
all dimensions of existence. This means that by virtue of his
knowledge of and relationship to the Edenic universe at large, he
represented the totality of all that was - a unified whole that
contained all the elements of life as we know it.
The expulsion of Adam from Eden and the subsequent direct
contact with God the Father directly implies the Spiritual Death.
Adam contained all the humans within him.
Talmud says, quoting Rav: “Adam, the first man, reached
from one end of the world to the other. . . . When he sinned,
Hashem placed His hand on him and shrank him. . . . “
R. Elazar also quotes the same almost identically :
“Adam, the first man, reached from the earth to the heavens. . .
. When he sinned, God placed his hands on him and shrank him.
. . . “
This is the expulsion from the freedom of the Divine realm.
Now on he remained within the lower realms of physical,
soulish and spiritual realms outside of the divine.
He could still make contact with the divine through the
spirit but not directly. This is usually termed generally as the
Life will be hell
eternally if you continue to live eternally
So go to the lower worlds until I can redeem you.
The very act of expulsion from
the divine realm and the Garden of Eden would make the humanity
restrained into the lower worlds of matter, soul and spirit alone
which were by that time under the law of decay and death.
We will discuss this in the next chapter.
the dust will return to the earth as it was,
the spirit will return to God who gave it."
defines the Physical death of Man
שׁוּב in Hebrew, meaning to turn
Psalms 104:29-30 "If
you take away their spirit, they expire, and back to their dust
they go. If you send forth your spirit, they are created."
Stephen was about to die he did not ask for the grave to receive
him, but said, "Lord Jesus receive my spirit!"Acts 7:59.
19:30 "So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said,
"It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His
This clearly says that the Spirit of Man will
return to God who gave it as breath of life to Man.
The body which was made from dust returns to earth. But the
Spirit can always give life back if some form of body - material
or immaterial - is given back.
Every form of life has a covering of flesh.
Only the substance can be different.
body becomes decomposed, decays into various material
parts. This is commonly understood.
The reason for it is that the Life giving Spirit just
returned to God. This
is also spiritual death really. Without the Spirit the body is
just organic matter usable for vegetation and animal to replenish
man existed in the Divine Realm, he would have been in constant
communion with the life giving Holy Spirit with an infinite amount
of energy available indefinitely so that the second law of
thermodynamics would have been simply reversed where everything
will go from order to higher order, glory to glory.
As such he would not have been susceptible to death.
This is why Adam was expelled from the Garden of Eden viz.
from the constant Divine Relationship. This was equivalent to a
sentence of death both Spiritual and Physical.
question that remains is: What
happens to the Soul?
Very little is given in the bible about this that we have to rely on
Gen 5: 4-5 Then the days of Adam after he became the
father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and
daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and
thirty years, and he died.
DEATH: BLESSING OF A MERCIFUL GOD
Thus God wanted to give a way out and this God did by
introducing the law of decay and death.
We have discussed this in the chapter on life.
What God did was to introduce the dialectics of opposing
forces of order in the life as the law of immaterial world (often
referred to as Spiritual world, though in jewish mysticism it
includes more than that). and disorder in the law of material
world. Notice what
God says to Adam.
Gen 3:17 Then
to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your
wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you,
saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for
In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your
the loving father made the entropy increase law for the matter and
energy was used to keep the entropy to maintain life, until
finally the death comes in as a blessing. Death will reign until
relief and redemption is found for man i.e. it was ordained with a
The woman was sentenced to the pangs
of childbirth, and the man was made to toil and sweat from the
hostile soil. God then barred access to the Tree of Life by
placing cherubim and a flaming sword at the eastern entrance to
"The man has now become like one of us, knowing
good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and
take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."
But instead of removing the tree of life from the
Garden of Eden, Lord
God banished Adam from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from
which he had been taken. Apparently the law of decay was already
in the material world. After he drove the man out, he placed on
the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword
flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.