Marriage After Resurrection and Beyond
It is understood that Yeshua had stated that after the resurrection from the dead, men are not given in marriage any longer, because they are like angels who do not marry either. It is easy thus to assume that since the angels do not marry, nor will men. Can we rethink this?
Let us read in the textual context. Some of the Sadducees, who deny the resurrection, came to Yeshua and asked him this question,
Teacher, Mosheh said that if anyone should die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise offspring for his brother. (Mat 22:24) Also Luk 20:27-28, Mar 12:18-19.
Then in Luk 20:28-33, Mar 12:20-23, and Mat 22:24-28 was their question.
Historical precedent of levirate marriage
In the [apocryphal] Book of Toviyah there is the account of a righteous man of the Tribe of Naphtali, Toviyah, who lived in the Assyrian exile that followed the deportation by Sargon II in 721 B.C.E. (2Ki 17:1-6).
In the exile, there was a certain woman named Sarah who had married seven husbands, all seven of whom died, having been killed by the demon Ashmodai before the marriage could be consummated (Tob 3:7-9).
By coming to Yeshua with their question about a woman who had lost her seven husbands, the Sadducees perhaps wanted to challenge Yeshua on the issues of resurrection and demons, since they did not believe in either of them.
“There were seven brothers, and the first took a wife, and died childless. And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. And the third took her, and in the same way the seven also. And they left no children and died. And last of all the woman died too. At the resurrection, then, whose wife does she become? For the seven had her as wife.”
That was a good and legitimate question to ask. The issue of marriage is very well set in the Torah especially when asked in connection with the resurrection. By asking their question, the Sadducees set a legal case before Yeshua concerning the levirate marriage in the Torah. The Torah says,
If brothers dwell together, and one of them has died, and has no child, the widow of the dead man shall not become a stranger’s outside. Her husband’s brother does go into her, and shall take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. (Deu 25:5)
The law of the levirate marriage, which we meet with as early as Genesis 38, states that if a man had died without children, it was the duty of his brother to marry the widow, his sister-in-law, that he might continue his brother’s name in Israel by begetting a son through his sister-in-law. This child should take the name of the deceased brother and be considered offspring and therefore the legal heir of the deceased.
What was the necessity of instituting the levirate marriage by law? The straight answer is to protect the widow. In the ancient world there was no such a thing as social security or public welfare. The more children a family had the more workforce and therefore the better chances to survive through the hardship of life. If a widow was left without children and family support, she was doomed to poverty and alms.
However, levirate marriage was not legally but morally binding upon the redeemer (Deu 25:7-10). And that was the whole purpose of the law of the levirate marriage to establish security for the widow by invoking the moral values in the society.
Perhaps the best illustration of the necessity of establishing the levirate marriage was Yeshua himself and the marriage of Boaz and Ruth. From this levirate marriage Oved was born, who became the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:1-17), and subsequently of Yeshua (Matthew 1).
Who were the Sadducees?
The Sadducees, צְדוּקִים Tsedukim, were a sect who were active in Judea during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BCE through the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The Sadducees are often compared to the sect of the Pharisees in opposition to the sects of the Essenes and the Nazarenes. As a sect the Sadducees became extinct after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. The other two sects of the Essenes and the Nazarenes also became extinct though for different reasons. Read more about what we have written in the article The Nazarenes and Their Sect The Way of Time of Reckoning Ministry.
The Sadducees, צְדוּקִים Tsedukim, derive their name from Zadok, the descendant of Eleazar, son of Aaron, the first High Priest of Israel who served in the First Temple. The name Zadok is derived from the root צָדַק Tsadak, which means to be right, just, or the word Tsedukim means the righteous ones.
The Sadducees and the Pharisees are historically seen as antitheses of one another. The main difference between the two sects is that the Sadducees recognized the Written Torah (the five books of Mosheh) as the sole source of authority (Josephus. AJ. 13.10.6) and rejected the Oral Torah of the Pharisees. The Pharisees on the other hand believed that the Oral Torah was given to Mosheh orally and was inseparable part of the Torah without which the Written Torah could not be fully understood and practiced.
According to Flavius Josephus, the Sadducees believed that: There is no fate, Elohim does not commit evil, man has free will, the soul is mortal and there is no afterlife, there are no rewards or penalties after death. As Josephus writes: But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this: That souls die with the bodies… (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18:2:4).
The Sadducees were “the agnostics” of the first century, who had no belief in the unseen and eternal. The concept of Yeshua’s resurrection was, therefore, especially objectionable to them.
While the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection of the dead, the Pharisees did. The Sadducees also rejected the notion of spirits or angels, while the Pharisees acknowledged them (Acts 23:8).
In Acts, Shaul chose this division to gain the Pharisees on his side (Act 23:6-9). He thus might have wanted to split the Sadducees and the Pharisees and indeed he succeeded (Act 23:9-10) by claiming Babylonian Talmud: Sanhedrin 90a: All Israelites have a share in the world to come… And these are the ones who have no part in the world to come: He who says, the resurrection of the dead is a teaching which is not derived from the Torah.
Perhaps, if Shaul had not been immediately removed from the room, he would have taken the opportunity to begin proclaiming the death and resurrection of Messiah as found in Amo 9:11,
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old; (Amo 9:11 JPS)
Sadducees’ legal case of marriage
According to the Torah, the property of a deceased man is inherited by his sons, but if the man had only daughters, they became his heirs (Numbers 27:8). The Sadducees, however, in such a legal case maintained that the inheritance should be divided among the relatives regardless of gender.
This is what Yeshua challenged; he challenged their interpretation of the Torah. The Sadducees addressed the issue of resurrection of the dead through marriage: mainly through the protection of property rights through marriage especially through the male lineage.
Yeshua indeed challenged the Pharisees, who burdened the people with many man-made observances not written in the Torah. But he also challenged the Sadducees, who rejected the resurrection of the dead. We should recall that Yeshua did not have disputes with the Sadducees on the issue of Torah, who saw only the Written Torah, as the sole Word of his Father, but with the Pharisees, who invented the Oral Law. The Rabbis are the theological descendants of these Pharisees.
The Sadducees were deeply involved in the political power (the political Sanhedrin made up of Sadducees and Pharisees and headed by the High Priest), the Pharisees—in their halachic details of the Oral Law, and the Essenes were secluded and isolated from the society. The ordinary people were thirsty for the truth. In this political and social division in Judea, Yeshua gave his answer to the Sadducees.
The Sadducees asked a good question, and Yeshua’s answer followed promptly:
“The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are counted worthy of attaining that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are they given in marriage, for neither is it possible for them to die any more, because they are like messengers and are sons of Elohim, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Mosheh showed at the bush, when he called Yehovah ‘the Elohim of Avraham, and the Elohim of Yitschak, and the Elohim of Ya’akov’. Now He is not the Elohim of the dead, but of the living, for all live to Him“.
What was the subject of Yeshua’s answer? The plain reading of the text tells that the main subject of the answer is the resurrection explicitly stated in words such as “the resurrection from the dead”, “the dead are raised”, and “the Elohim of the living”, not marriage in heaven.
What Yeshua answered in Luk 20:34-38, Mar 12:24-27, and Mat 22:30-32 expressed in different words was: “You do not understand the resurrection, because you do not know the Scriptures (see Mar 12:24). You cannot die after the resurrection”.
Therefore, since Yeshua used the present tense of his relationship with the patriarchs, whom he referred to, they (the patriarchs) must have been living. YHVH told Mosheh: “I am the Elohim of Avraham, and the Elohim of Yitschak, and the Elohim of Ya’akov” (Exo 3:6).
With this answer Yeshua thus went beyond the question of the Sadducees, who were concerned only about preserving the property rights through marriage.
The Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, were thus silent for Yeshua gave them the Torah to refer to, since they believed in the Written Word only. They were therefore greatly disturbed, when Yeshua proved resurrection from the Book of Exodus (a source the Sadducees had acknowledged as the Word of YHVH), by showing them that at the burning bush the voice of YHVH attested eternal life after the rise of the dead.
The great I AM, the Eternal Yehovah, would never have spoken of Himself as the Elohim of the patriarchs, unless they had been living; otherwise, the Eternal would have said, “I was the Elohim of Avraham, etc.”
Therefore, the question of the Sadducees and Yeshua’s answer were all about the resurrection, not marriage. The Sadducees believed in marriage and had no issue with it. But they had issue with resurrection. For this reason alone, they came to entrap Yeshua on the issue of resurrection and how the property would be protected in case of husband’s death and multiple marriage (see also Mar 12:18-19).
The issue of marriage Yeshua inserted in the answer in order to make the point that after the resurrection there would be no marriage. But in the current world, Yeshua made the point, there was the need for marriage. We do not know whether the Sadducees had changed their belief in the resurrection after this answer, but they did not answer back at all.
Then, some of the scribes, who were listening nearby, said, “Teacher, you have spoken well” (Luk 20:39), because they believed in resurrection. And all were in agreement.
Marriage after the resurrection
With that said, we are coming to the point to ask the question: Is there marriage after the resurrection?
It is the present author’s opinion that what Yeshua was teaching the Sadducees was about the new world that is to come after the Millennial Kingdom aka “the World-to-Come”.
There is some proof in the Scripture that people will be born during the Millennial Kingdom, hence there will be marriages. YHVH Himself foretells the future through the prophet that neither will a suckling of a few days, nor will an old man, who has not filled the full measure of human life, die before the hundredth year of his life,
There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man, that has not filled his days. For the youngest shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed. (Isa 65:20)
According to the plain meaning of the text, we view this verse as telling us that an age of hundred years will be considered an age of an infant expressed in the words that he who dies hundred years old will be regarded as young, and so regarding a sinner who will not be judged before his hundredth year.
In other words, youthful immaturity in those days will be rare and last for one hundred years. We may therefore understand these words to mean that the hundred years of man will be considered as if he had only just been born.
The Millennial Kingdom is not of the new world to come but of this world, namely, the last thousand years of it. This we explained exhaustively in the book The Reckoning of Time.
But in the World-to-Come—the new world after the Millennial Kingdom—the hidden good in store for the righteous is a life connected with no death and with no evil.
So, what do the sages call “the World-to-Come”?
For six thousand years the world will exist: [there will be] two thousand years of Tohu [“void”], two thousand years of Torah, and two thousand years of the Messiah. But because of our sins, which are many, several of these [Messianic years] have already passed…. the Holy One, blessed be He, will renew His world only after seven thousand years. (Babylonian Talmud: Sanhedrin 97 a-b)
The sages are in agreement that all the prophets only prophesied with regard to the days of the Messianic era. However, with regard to the World-to-Come, which exists on a higher level, it is stated that no eye has seen it, aside from the Everlasting (Isa 64:4).
Then in the World-to-Come, people will achieve knowledge of the Creator to as high a degree as humanly possible, as it says, “For the Earth shall be filled of knowledge of Yehovah, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
In the time of the World-to-Come, there will be no famines and no wars, no envy, and no sin, because these are all evil and evil cannot exist forever; evil must come to an end. Only YHVH Elohim exists forever.
Therefore, time will come when all this evil will be put to an end, and this will come at the end of the Messianic era with the coming of the New Jerusalem that will usher the World-to-Come. For further insight on the subject of New Jerusalem, refer to the articles The New Jerusalem—the Throne of YHVH and The New Jerusalem – the Glory of YHVH from the series The Revelation from YHVH of Time of Reckoning Ministry.
With regard to the New Jerusalem Rabbi Yochanan said:
Jerusalem of the World-to-Come is not like Jerusalem of this world. With regard to Jerusalem of this world, anyone who wants to ascend there can ascend. With regard to Jerusalem of the World-to-Come, only those who are invited to it can ascend.
Those who are invited are those who will be resurrected. For it appears from this statement that the World-to-Come is a state of reward which comes after resurrection.
We can explain to the best of our understanding that in the World-to-Come there will be no marriage. And in this light is the understanding of the sages that unsurprisingly echoes the words of Yeshua Mashiach. They wrote in Mishneh Torah, Repentance 8:2:
The World to come harbors neither body nor aught of a concrete form, save only the souls of the righteous divested of body as are the ministering angels. Inasmuch as it harbors no concrete forms there is no need there for eating, drinking, or other of the bodily necessities of the sons of man in this world; neither will any of the many things which happen to bodies in this world come to pass there, as, for instance, sitting down, standing up, sleep, death, sadness, mirth or the like. Thus did the ancient sages say: “In the World to come there is no eating, no drinking, and no family life…”
If that explanation is accepted, then it is clear to us that no corporeal body will exist the World-to-Come, seeing that there is neither eating, nor drinking, nor cohabitation. And this is what Yeshua said to the Sadducees, namely, that those who are counted worthy of the resurrection from the dead and the World-to-Come, neither marry any more, because they will be like the messengers of Elohim.
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May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days!