Bosom of Abraham ~ from the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
Text: Luke 16:20-25    "And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the
angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died and was buried. And in hell, he lifted
up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."

There has been much debate as to whether Christ's parables were literal, symbolic, truth
based in fiction, pure invention or something else entirely. The parable of the "Rich Man
and Lazarus" is one such parable that has created questions and  controversy as to its
meaning. While it seems a bit unreal, it is actually drawn from daily Jewish life. And to the
first century Jewish listener, it made perfect sense.

Around the second century BC, idioms* crept into Jewish language and became accepted
as a manner of speech. The Rich Man and Lazarus contains several great examples of Jewish
idioms, the most vivid and descriptive being "Abraham's Bosom".

By the first century AD, the Jews had adopted the Roman custom of dinning while reclining
on couches. Guests at a feast leaned themselves on one elbow while resting the back of their
head against the chest of the guest behind them. And a guest who rested their head against
the host's bosom dined in the place of honor. The Jews called this dinning position "resting in
the "Bosom of Abraham". The phrase reminded them of their Jewish belief that someday, at the
final reward, they would all feast in honor with their father Abraham. At some point, the idiom
"Abraham's Bosom" became synonymous with "heaven", the place of final reward, the place of the eternal feast.

Jewish Pharisees differed with Christ on several major points concerning life and death. It was their belief that father Abraham had gone directly to heaven
at the moment of his death, where upon arrival, 'he" had sat down on the right hand of God. From then on, in order for any soul to go into heaven, that
soul must seek the approval of Abraham. Only on Abraham's recommendation could the soul enter paradise. When the dead saint arrived at the Pearl Gates, Abraham came to meet them and clasped them soundly to his chest. Each new arrival was welcomed into Abraham's Bosom, welcomed into
Paradise, welcomed to the place of final reward, welcomed to the great eternal feast.

The Jewish Talmud says that the most common interpretation of the Abraham's Bosom Idiom is "Paradise".

The introductory text are words spoken by Jesus to a Jewish audience in terms his listeners would understand. In this instance, Jesus is giving both a description and a contrast of Heaven and Hell. See also Matt. 8:11 and Luke 14:15.

*[An idiom is an expression with a non-literal meaning. It is often colorful and  has a unique meaning that cannot be understood from the usual meanings of any of the other words in the expression. (such as "raining cats and dogs".) ]
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Rich Man and Lazarus