Q. I’m a Jew, but I believe in Jesus Christ and I got saved by his grace. Number of times I discussed the New Testament claims about Hell and Heaven with other Jewish people (unbelievers). Almost without exception they said they don’t believe in hell, because it was never mentioned in the Old Testament. I have read the whole bible number of times, and must agree that hell was not discussed much in the Old Testament. As a matter of fact, I found only few really “good” passages on the subject (one is in the 12th chapter of the book of Daniel if I’m not mistaken). It seems like that the Old Testament understanding of salvation never went beyond the concept of the “Promised Land” (earthly) if you know what I mean. Why? I know that the bible teaches progressive revelation by dispensation. But why salvation wasn’t stressed much if it is the most important detail of all?
A. The Hebrew word Sheol first appears in Genesis 37:35 and means “abode of the dead” so the concept of life after death was part of Hebrew understanding almost from the beginning.
Job, in what might actually be the first Bible book ever written, wrote passionately about both redemption and resurrection. (Job 19:25-27) Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God set eternity in the hearts of men. King David wrote about dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.(Psalm 23) and about seeing his dead son in eternity (2 Sam 12:23) In Isaiah 26:19 we’re told again of a resurrection of God’s people. Daniel 12:2 is the first mention of a resurrection of both believers to everlasting life and unbelievers to everlasting contempt and introduced the concept that we know as Hell.
So I beg to differ with your Jewish brethren. They must be modern day Saducees, who first popularized the denial of a literal afterlife. That’s why they were sad, you see.