Friday, June 23, 2017

Soul Sleep: An Unbiblical Doctrine [Pt. 2]


by Hiram R. Diaz III

§ 1. Sleep: A Pan-Testamental Euphemism for Death

A. The Old Testament

Canonically speaking, if Job is the oldest book in the OT canon then his text is the first to employ the sleep euphemism. Job declares that if he had been born a stillborn infant then “[he] would have slept; [he] would have been at rest.”[1] And later, Job states that he will “sleep in the dust”[2]:
a man lies down and rises not again;
till the heavens are no more he will not awake
or be roused out of his sleep.[3]
Historically, however, the first use of sleep as euphemism for death is found in Genesis 47:30 where Jacob told Joseph:
…let me lie [i.e. sleep][4] with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.
Jacob identifies his dying as sleeping with his fathers, a reality which is distinct from his being buried in their burying place. The euphemism appears again in Deuteronomy 31:16, where the Scripture reveals:
…the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down [i.e. sleep][5] with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them.
In 1st & 2nd Samuel, 1st & 2nd Chronicles, and 1st & 2nd Kings the euphemism appears more frequently. In its first appearance, God promises David
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down [i.e. sleep][6] with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you…and I will establish his kingdom.[7]
David prayed, employing the euphemism, during this time as follows: