Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
XI. (1) R. Abahu told the parable of three different men. One tills the ground, another works in silver and gold, and the third studies the law. When the time approaches for him who tills the ground to die, he says to his household, 'Give me some of my work, so that I do not go to the next world empty-handed.' To which they reply, 'Thou art foolish. Hast thou not worked the field? and Scripture has already said, "The earth and its fulness belong to God," therefore thou hast nothing of thine own to bring.'
(2) When the end of him who works in silver and gold arrives, he says to his household, 'Give me some of my labour (work), that I may not go to the next world empty-handed.' But they reply, 'Thou art foolish. Thou hast worked in this world in silver and gold. Scripture has already said, "Mine is the silver, and Mine is the gold, saith the Lord;" therefore thou hast nothing of thine own to bring.'
(3) When the time arrives for him who studies the law (Torah) to quit this world, he says to his household, 'Give me of my labour, that I may not go to the next world empty-handed.' To him they say, 'O thou pious and righteous man, how can we give thee (the fruits) of thy labour? Hast thou not constantly occupied thyself with the law? But God will grant thee the reward of thy work, and shall receive thee with good grace. The ministering angels shall go forth to meet thee and exclaim, "Come thou in peace;" and concerning thee Scripture says, "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning."'
(4) Rabbi Jose says, 'If thou desirest to know the reward of the righteous in the world to come, come hither and learn it from what has befallen Adam. He was commanded to perform an easy precept, and because he transgressed it,
[paragraph continues] God punished him and all subsequent generations with many kinds of death. Therefore the sages have said that, on the contrary, whoever studies and observes the law and performs good deeds shall be delivered from the punishment of Gehinnom and the sorrows of the grave.' R. Abahu mentions one of the proverbial sayings of Rabbi Isaac that the end of man is death, the end of animals is slaughter, and all are destined to die. (5) R. Jose says, 'Come hither and see the difference existing between man and animals; the latter are slain and flayed, and are not subjected to any judgment: whilst with reference to man, how many chastisements and troubles does he bear in this world; and after his death, if he is a righteous man, his judgment is delayed; but if he is wicked, he is brought before the tribunal every year between Passover and Pentecost, as it is said, "And they shall go forth and look upon the carcases of the men, and it shall be at every new moon." (6) After man's death he is seen by all the other dead, and he appears to each just as they last saw him alive: some see him as a youth, others as an old man, just as each saw him before his own death, so that they should not think that any man lives for ever, and say when we were among the living we saw this or that man, and now how many hundreds of years have passed since we have seen them alive? (7) Therefore, when one dies the angel who guards the dead makes his soul assume various forms, so that all shall recognise him by seeing him just as they saw him in life. Then, in the event of one being condemned afterwards to Gehinnom, he is enveloped with smoke and brimstone, so that one should not see the punishment of the other; and none should be put to shame before the other, except those who have publicly put others to shame.'
(8) Every man after death is brought to judgment, even if he should belong to the section of the righteous, still, after a time his sins are visited. Thus Samuel said to Saul, 'To-morrow thou shalt be in my division.' Was not Samuel in Ramah, and Saul in another place? The
explanation is that he (Samuel) referred to the soul when he said, 'Thou wilt be with me in my division.' And we see that after a long lapse of time the house of Saul was judged on account of Saul and on account of the house of blood. Thus, the house of Saul was visited. Although he was called 'the chosen of the Lord,' yet His seed was judged.