This is an effort to study the question; "What happens when we die?", a question that haunts mankind continually and a question which man has answered with multiple contradictory explanations. And still, no one is satisfied with the conclusions. I certainly am not. Obviously, many intelligent and scholarly men have done this already, but I wanted to see for myself! After all, Torah and all of Scripture should be understandable to an uneducated shepherd boy.
I will use the Bible for this study and history to a lesser extent. My format is simple. The Bible translations used are; the English Standard Version (ESV), the Apostolic Bible Polyglot (ABP), the Brenton Septuagent (BSEP), and the North American Standard Bible (NASB). Also used is Strong's dictionary and the Brown-Driver-Briggs dictionary. My Bible software is E-Sword and various online references, the Biblehub Interlinear, for example.
Why all the differing versions? Because the collection represents a mix of Word-to-Word translation and Concept translation and this produces a more reasonable understanding of the underlying text, both GREEK and HEBREW.
By examining select verses, in context; those that seem to apply to the subject at hand, the hope is to come to better definitions of applicable words and concepts. This should enable me to ultimately make more reasonable conclusions.
At the end of each section I will state a temporary conclusion, which simple means; "this is what I think, so far". I reserve the right to alter my final conclusions at the end of the study.
Let's begin ... for this is going to take some time!
Genesis (B'resheet) Chapter 1
Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God (elohim) created the heavens and the earth.
Gen 1:2 The earth was without form (tohu) and void (wabohu), and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit (ruach) of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God (theos) made the heaven and the earth.
Gen 1:2 But the earth was unseen (invisible) and unready (unprepared), and darkness was upon the abyss (the apparently bottomless sea, deep), and spirit (pneuma or pneh'-o, poos-khey) of God bore upon the water.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth.
Gen 1:2 But the earth was unsightly and unfurnished, and darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the water.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Gen 1:2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
[Notes/Conclusion: the various versions declare God as "Elohim" or "Theos". They declare that the earth was "invisible", "unprepared" (for life - in context), "unsightly", "unfurnished", "formless" and "void"; upon the "abyss", "void", "bottomless abyss or sea", "space", "darkness"; and the "breath and/or exhalation" of God or "Spirit" of God "moved" over the "waters". Obviously, the unformed earth consisted of lots of water.
The seminal question here is what is God's "pnemua", "ruach", "breath", and/or "spirit". It could be as simple as God's breath hovering over the waters, ready to take action as in speech, or it can be His intelligent spirit forming and constructing the chaos. The vast majority of definitions point towards His "breath" or "wind" of His breath interacting with the waters. In context, this seems to be the case, because the next thing that happens is that Elohim speaks; "Let there be light"! All this may become important later as we delve into what humans have been given by God!]
Genesis (B'resheet) Chapter 2
Just so ya know, back in Ch. 1, verse 26 God made man in His "image". This word, "image" is exactly that, His "likeness". It implies nothing more.
Gen 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
Gen 2:5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground,
Gen 2:6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—
Gen 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed (naphach - to puff or blow hard) into his nostrils (the nose) the breath (neshamah) of life, and the man (adam) became a living creature (nephesh - soul).
Gen 2:7 And God shaped the man, dust taking from the earth. And he breathed (emphusaoo - to blow, blew) into his face (prosopon - the front of his face) breath (pno-ay - breath, wind) of life, and became man (anthropos - a certain man) a soul (psookhay - from breath, becoming a sentient "animal") living (literally, alive).
Gen 2:7 And God formed the man of dust of the earth, and breathed upon his face the breath of life, and the man became a living soul. (no appreciable differences here)
Gen 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man (adam) of dust from the ground, and breathed (naphach) into his nostrils the breath of life (neshama); and man became a living being (nephesh - soul).
[Notes/Conclusion: God made man from the dust/dirt of the earth and breathed into him. This divine breath animated man, made him alive and he became a living soul. The logic in me wants to conclude that when the divine breath of God leaves the man of dust, he ceases to be a living soul. This makes sense to me.
Additional reading says that all animals and plants have the "neshamah" or breath of life from God in them. And, that all plants and animals become a "nephesh", or living soul. No, rocks don't have this. This is where Judeo-Christianity parts ways from Buddhism. Traditional Jewish teaching says that the Ruach or breath of God is Spirit and that this Spirit "connects" the neshamah and nephesh. My study so far, however does not indicate this. IMO, this is man's conjecture, at this point.
Nothing so far says that we are born with an immortal anything! So far, the Word simply says we become a living soul when the breath of God enters us.]
But, we have a long way to go!