Abraham’s lap

“Bosom” is a King James Bible term which meant something akin to ‘lap’ in Shakespeare-era English. Being “in someone’s bosom” is a picture of being embraced by them. An example is found in John 13:23, where the disciple whom Jesus loved is “leaning on Jesus’ bosom” in the KJV.

The term “Abraham’s bosom” (KJV), or ‘Abraham’s side’ (ESV), is found a parable that Jesus told in Luke 16:19-31.  The picture Jesus is painting is one where the beggar in the parable is being comforted, even by Abraham, reclining in his embrace, while the rich made faces torments.

The Rich man and Lazarus

The parable Jesus is telling isn’t literal: the weight of the rest of the Bible tells us that when people die they cease to exist and turn to dust (see, ‘Where do we go after we die?‘). The dead do not get taken to Heaven or to a place of horrible torment.

Jesus is simply using a dramatised illustration to make a point. Jesus is saying that people should listen to what the scriptures say  — and do what they say — while they are alive. Because it’s too late to do undo this when you are dead.

Further reading

For more on the the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, see The Rich Man, Lazarus and Abraham, by Steve Cox.

One of the key points from that booklet is this section:

Five Brothers

In case anyone listening did not understand who He meant, Christ was even more specific: The “five brothers” Christ mentions are the five other high priests, who were in fact his five brothers-in-law, the five sons of Annas. The historian Josephus records:

“Now the report goes, that this elder Annas proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons, who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and he had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. . .” (Antiquities, Book XX, chapter 9, section i, p.423)

The years they served are as follows:

Eleazar 16-17AD
Jonathan 36-37AD
Theophilus 37-41AD
Matthias 41-43AD
Annas the Younger 62AD

That section is one of several indicators that the rich man is a parody of Caiaphas.

Outside Luke, the Gospel of John in passing confirms that Annas and his five sons (and his son-in-law) did not listen to the real Lazarus when raised:

10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well,  (John 12:10 ESV)

This is exactly what Abraham in the parable said would happen if Lazarus was sent back.

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