I May Have Been Wrong About Death | The Truth About ‘Soul Sleep’ in 2 Esdras

by | Apr 23, 2020

THE EGYPTIANS, Babylonians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Assyrians, and Greeks, essentially all the ancient nations surrounding the children of Israel, had plenty to say on life after death. The Hebrews had very little.

Their silence is telling.

For the ancient Hebrew, the soul dies.

Dies. As in, death is death.

The breath first breathed by Yahuah into Adam returns to Elohim. And then the righteous sleep with their fathers while awaiting resurrection. There are certainly added details to this—and some slight variations—but I have also concluded that the most complex of studies in Scripture will ultimately show that it’s really that simple. And it all boils down to one future event.

Our hope is in the resurrection.

I believe the Apostle Yohanan (John) summed it up best when he wrote:

“Beloved ones, now we are children of Elohim. And it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

1 Yohanan 3:2

Nobody will see Messiah in life or death until He returns.

I am often told, “What does any of this really matter?”

For me, the Hebrew death experience is very much a part of the Hebrew Gospel. The bad news is death. Don’t listen to the serpent. The serpent lied. We really do die.

Death is death.

Even our memory perishes. Or as Iyob (Job) would say of his own desire for death, it would be as if he never was. The good news however is resurrection. Yohanan again. Iyob also held fast to this. In fact, every single writer of Scripture did. When the kingdom of heaven finally arrives, the righteous are promised immortality.

Just not yet.

It’s kind of the theological elephant in the room. I’ve actually had seminary graduates admit to me that the Hebrew writers did indeed advocate soul sleep, but we needn’t believe it anymore—why? Paul, of course.


Paul once again disproves 99% of the Bible. He always does. The church paints Paul in broad strokes of lawlessness. The Torah community inverts that process and claims him lawful. If Paul truly did disagree with every other writer of Scripture to insist we go to heaven the moment after we die, then we might as well paint him in the image of a Platonist too. Because, as I’ve come to find, that is what he is. A Platonist. As a habit, Paul quoted Plato regularly. Plato is evil.

So, let’s be clear about this. Absent from the body. Present with the Lord. If Paul advocated Plato and the Mystery religions doctrine that the soul ascends to heaven after we die, then he disagrees with every other writer of Scripture.

One of the reasons I became so fascinated by extra-Biblical literature is because I wanted to understand Hebrew thinking outside of accepted 66-book canon. I’ll let you try and make sense of that. Despite the fact that many will argue until the cows come home that Enoch and Jubilees advocate the common Pauline view of the afterlife (it’s Platonic), my rebuttal is that they’re simply digesting those books in the same contextual manner as they read all of Scripture, through Platonic approved reading glasses. My conclusion is that Enoch predates Hellenization and is furthermore untouched by Hellenization.

Enoch holds fast.

And now for the monkey wrench. After recently undressing another ancient Hebrew text I must confess, I’m a bit perplexed.

Let’s talk about 2 Esdras.

And if I’m not mistaken, it was at one time included in the KJV.

Firstly, 2 Esdras confirms my own conclusions in ancient Hebrew thinking. The righteous dead do indeed sleep until the moment of our resurrection. Consider the following verse. The context here is the second coming.

“And the earth shall restore those that are asleep in her, and so shall the dust those that dwell in silence, and the secret places shall deliver those souls that were committed unto them.”

2 Esdras 7:32

Okay, so Esdras wasn’t a Platonist. What a relief. Now let’s address the monkey wrench.

In the very same chapter of 2 Esdras, specifically 7:75-101, we soon learn that the spirits of the dead, both the wicked and the righteous have SEVEN days after their death to wander about freely and, most importantly, perceive the glory of Elohim before being “gathered in their habitations.” Notice it does not necessarily speak of Yahshua. The wicked of course will wander in torment during these seven days, knowing what they have missed out upon, and what is to come. The righteous, learning that they “will be guarded by angels in profound quiet,” and furthermore knowing “the glory that awaits them in the last days,” will be at peace.

Sleep follows.

I had always presumed that a man closes his eyes and lets his spirit slip from his lips—whereas he succumbs to unconsciousness. The first death. Perhaps I was wrong, but only because the timeline is off. What I’m specifically looking for here is a second witness. Though one would unlikely think to find it in “canon,” I can’t help but turn my gaze towards the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.

Torment. Rest. Sleep.

And man, if 2 Esdras doesn’t perfectly explain so many near-death experiences, then I don’t know what does. I’ll post the text below.


Matterhorn,a milky way and a reflection near the lake at night, Switzerland

75 I answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, show this also to your servant: whether after death, as soon as everyone of us yields up the soul, we shall be kept in rest until those times come when you will renew the creation, or whether we shall be tormented at once?”

76 He answered me and said, “I will show you that also, but do not include yourself with those who have shown scorn, or number yourself among those who are tormented. 77 For you have a treasure of works stored up with the Most High, but it will not be shown to you until the last times. 78 Now concerning death, the teaching is: When the decisive decree has gone out from the Most High that a person shall die, as the spirit leaves the body to return again to him who gave it, first of all it adores the glory of the Most High. 79 If it is one of those who have shown scorn and have not kept the way of the Most High, who have despised his law and hated those who fear God— 80 such spirits shall not enter into habitations, but shall immediately wander about in torments, always grieving and sad, in seven ways. 81 The first way, because they have scorned the law of the Most High. 82 The second way, because they cannot now make a good repentance so that they may live. 83 The third way, they shall see the reward laid up for those who have trusted the covenants of the Most High. 84 The fourth way, they shall consider the torment laid up for themselves in the last days. 85 The fifth way, they shall see how the habitations of the others are guarded by angels in profound quiet. 86 The sixth way, they shall see how some of them will cross overs into torments. 87 The seventh way, which is worset than all the ways that have been mentioned, because they shall utterly waste away in confusion and be consumed with shame,u and shall wither with fear at seeing the glory of the Most High in whose presence they sinned while they were alive, and in whose presence they are to be judged in the last times.

88 “Now this is the order of those who have kept the ways of the Most High, when they shall be separated from their mortal body.v 89 During the time that they lived in it,w they laboriously served the Most High, and withstood danger every hour so that they might keep the law of the Lawgiver perfectly. 90 Therefore this is the teaching concerning them: 91 First of all, they shall see with great joy the glory of him who receives them, for they shall have rest in seven orders. 92 The first order, because they have striven with great effort to overcome the evil thought that was formed with them, so that it might not lead them astray from life into death. 93 The second order, because they see the perplexity in which the souls of the ungodly wander and the punishment that awaits them. 94 The third order, they see the witness that he who formed them bears concerning them, that throughout their life they kept the law with which they were entrusted. 95 The fourth order, they understand the rest that they now enjoy, being gathered into their chambers and guarded by angels in profound quiet, and the glory waiting for them in the last days. 96 The fifth order, they rejoice that they have now escaped what is corruptible and shall inherit what is to come; and besides they see the straits and toilx from which they have been delivered, and the spacious liberty that they are to receive and enjoy in immortality. 97 The sixth order, when it is shown them how their face is to shine like the sun, and how they are to be made like the light of the stars, being incorruptible from then on. 98 The seventh order, which is greater than all that have been mentioned, because they shall rejoice with boldness, and shall be confident without confusion, and shall be glad without fear, for they press forward to see the face of him whom they served in life and from whom they are to receive their reward when glorified. 99 This is the order of the souls of the righteous, as henceforth is announced;y and the previously mentioned are the ways of torment that those who would not give heed shall suffer hereafter.”

100 Then I answered and said, “Will time therefore be given to the souls, after they have been separated from the bodies, to see what you have described to me?”

101 He said to me, “They shall have freedom for seven days, so that during these seven days they may see the things of which you have been told, and afterwards they shall be gathered in their habitations.”

2 Esdras 7:75-101




  1. Julie

    I’ve really loved reading the article. Gives me more reason to look forward to heavenly glory. Thank you Sir.

  2. Lorie

    I don’t understand, “soul sleep or no soul sleep?”

    • Noel Joshua Hadley

      I don’t really like the term “soul sleep.” A more proper title would be “spirit sleep,” because according to Scripture, the soul dies. For the last few years, my articles have been pointing out the Hebrew understanding of death (through inspiration of the Holy Spirit), and it’s sleep.

      • Lorie

        I have been believing in this for a while, but I have a Christian friend who quotes Scripture, “absent from the body, present with the Lord.”

          • Susan

            Is it possible that Paul is misunderstood and his words have been twisted? Like everything else, could it be a tangled web of Roman pagan Hellenistic “editing?” Asking for a friend 😉

        • Cheryl

          2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

          Paul/Saul is saying he would rather be absent from the body, because he believes the flesh in and of itself is sinful, which is what the ancient Greeks teach. Its a lie. The flesh is a vessel for the filling, and it is
          the spirit which is working either , with our Beloved Savior, or against Him.

          Mat_12:30 “Anyone who isn’t with Me opposes Me, and anyone who isn’t working with Me is actually working against Me.
          Luk_11:23 “Anyone who isn’t with Me opposes Me, and anyone who isn’t working with Me is actually working against Me.

          Joh_8:44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

          Joh_8:44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

          1Jn_3:12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.

          Cain belonged to the evil one, and that is why his offering was not accepted.

          Our Beloved Savior is The WORD and Truth and Law and Authority of Our Heavenly Father,
          and He did NOT come in the likeness of sinful flesh!

  3. Cheryl

    Wow! Excellent work here Noel! Everyone who loves Our Dear Savior, loves His Law, which is the Word and Truth and Authority of Our Heavenly Father. They are thrilled, and do know that they will see their
    Job 19:25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last.
    Job 19:26 And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!
    Job 19:27 I will see Him for myself. Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

    Noel, you are doing many wonderful works that are so Pleasing in His Sight….as you tare down pagan shrines and destroy their temples. Baal worship is everywhere. Those who follow the truth must depart from the evil one. The worship of the sun moon and stars, is Baal worship. Our Beloved Job
    does speak about this.

    Deu_4:19 And when you look up into the sky and see the sun, moon, and stars—all the forces of heaven—don’t be seduced into worshiping them. The LORD your God gave them to all the peoples of the earth.
    Deu_17:3 For instance, they might serve other gods or worship the sun, the moon, or any of the stars—the forces of heaven—which I have strictly forbidden.

    Ki 23:5 He did away with the idolatrous priests, who had been appointed by the previous kings of Judah, for they had offered sacrifices at the pagan shrines throughout Judah and even in the vicinity of Jerusalem. They had also offered sacrifices to Baal, and to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and to all the powers of the heavens.
    2Ki 23:6 The king removed the Asherah pole from the LORD’s Temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it. Then he ground the ashes of the pole to dust and threw the dust over the graves of the people.

    1Ki 15:11 Asa did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight, as his ancestor David had done.
    1Ki 15:12 He banished the male and female shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made.
    1Ki 15:13 He even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole and burned it in the Kidron Valley.

    Job 31:25 Have I gloated about my wealth and all that I own?
    Job 31:26 “Have I looked at the sun shining in the skies, or the moon walking down its silver pathway,
    Job 31:27 and been secretly enticed in my heart to throw kisses at them in worship?
    Job 31:28 If so, I should be punished by the judges, for it would mean I had denied the God of heaven.

    Lev_23:3 “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest, an official day for holy assembly. It is the LORD’s Sabbath day, and it must be observed wherever you live.

    Rev_20:6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.

    Yes, we have six days to do our work. On the seventh day we rest. On the 8th day, we are resurrected.

    Rev_22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to His throne. I am the bright morning star.”

    Hos_3:5 But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the LORD their God and to David’s descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the LORD and of His goodness.

    Joh_3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

  4. cwmitchellblog

    You didn’t explain Luke 16:19. Who was speaking and don’t you think he would know?

  5. Cheryl

    This is a wonderful parable.

    Luk 16:19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury.
    Luk 16:20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores.
    Luk 16:21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.
    Luk 16:22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried,
    Luk 16:23 and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.
    Luk 16:24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’
    Luk 16:25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish.
    Luk 16:26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’
    Luk 16:27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home.
    Luk 16:28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
    Luk 16:29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
    Luk 16:30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
    Luk 16:31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.'”

    Mat_13:34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

    Mar_4:13 Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?

    There are two kingdoms at work.

    Luk_8:11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word.

  6. Jef Chandley

    Noel, Noel… You still have time to write something wise and say “I don’t know”. But time is running against you, the longer you take to do that the bigger the damage you cause

    • Cheryl

      The San hedrin is nearby, gathering for a little face slapping and stone throwing. They kill
      christians all day long and think they are doing God a favor.

      We seek no reward in the synagogue of satan.


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