Bosom of Abraham

biblical place of comfort for the righteous dead

The Bosom of Abraham (Greek: κόλπον Ἀβραάμ) is a place of comfort in Sheol, the Hebrew realm of the dead. The term is used by Jesus in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31). It is also used in the Talmud.

The Bosom of Abraham, Romanesque capital from the former Priory of Alspach, Alsace. (Unterlinden Museum, Colmar)




Relief of Abraham holding little figures of souls in a cloth, representing the "bosom". From Reims Cathedral.

New Testament

Diagram of the ancient Hebrew worldview, from the book Astronomy in the Old Testament by Giovanni Schiaparelli. The Bosom of Abraham is indicated by the letter P, and Gehenna by the letter Q.
  • ἐγένετο δὲ ἀποθανεῖν τὸν πτωχὸν καὶ ἀπενεχθῆναι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀγγέλων εἰς τὸν κόλπον Ἀβραάμ· ἀπέθανεν δὲ καὶ ὁ πλούσιος καὶ ἐτάφη. καὶ ἐν τῷ ᾅδῃ ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ, ὑπάρχων ἐν βασάνοις, ὁρᾷ Ἀβραὰμ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν καὶ Λάζαρον ἐν τοῖς κόλποις αὐτοῦ. καὶ αὐτὸς φωνήσας εἶπεν· Πάτερ Ἀβραάμ, ἐλέησόν με καὶ πέμψον Λάζαρον ἵνα βάψῃ τὸ ἄκρον τοῦ δακτύλου αὐτοῦ ὕδατος καὶ καταψύξῃ τὴν γλῶσσάν μου, ὅτι ὀδυνῶμαι ἐν τῇ φλογὶ ταύτῃ. εἶπεν δὲ Ἀβραάμ· Τέκνον, μνήσθητι ὅτι ἀπέλαβες τὰ ἀγαθά σου ἐν τῇ ζωῇ σου, καὶ Λάζαρος ὁμοίως τὰ κακά· νῦν δὲ ὧδε παρακαλεῖται σὺ δὲ ὀδυνᾶσαι. καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τούτοις μεταξὺ ἡμῶν καὶ ὑμῶν χάσμα μέγα ἐστήρικται, ὅπως οἱ θέλοντες διαβῆναι ἔνθεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς μὴ δύνωνται, μηδὲ ἐκεῖθεν πρὸς ἡμᾶς διαπερῶσιν.
    • Luke 16:22–26 (SBLGNT)
    • Translations:
      • And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
      • The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire." But Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."




  • In the part lowest of the abysses is Sheol, the place where those dwell who have passed to the state of rephaim or "shades". … We already find in Ezekiel a part of Sheol distinguished as deeper, called the "pit" or "the lowest parts of the earth", where the uncircumcised descend and those who have fallen by the sword, causing terror in the land of the living. In course of time this distinction came to be more definite: the upper part of Sheol, destined for the just, was called "Abraham's bosom", and the lower part became Gehenna, where sinners were tormented in flames.
  • Lazarus is carried off by the angels to "Abraham's bosom", a phrase that never occurs in early Jewish literature but probably simply means that Lazarus has been brought to paradise to recline at table beside the great patriarch of Israel. The rich man, on the other hand, is buried and ends up in Hades. … It is hard to know what to make of the physicality of both descriptions. Abraham has a "bosom", Lazarus has fingers, the rich man has a tongue and obviously a nervous system susceptible to torment by fire. … Moreover, the respective fates of the two appear to be permanent. There is a vast chasm separating them.

See also

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