Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
XIII. (1) R. Eliezer's pupils asked him, 'What judgment is there in the grave?' He replied, 'When a man quits this world, the angel of death comes to him and sits by his grave, and beating it with his hands, says, "Tell me thy name." "Flesh and blood is my name. It is revealed and known to Him who said, and the world was. But I do not know what my name is." Then immediately the soul re-enters his body. He stands up and is brought to judgment.' (2) R. Joshua ben Levi says, 'They bring a chain of iron, half of it burning like fire, half as cold as ice, and they beat him with it. At the first stroke his limbs get separated; at the second, his bones are scattered. Then the ministering angels gather them together, and restoring him, beat him a third time, and demand of him an account and reckoning, and judge him measure for measure. (3) On the second day they judge him in the same manner. (4) On the third day they judge him further, and they
punish his two eyes, his two hands, his two feet and his two ears, his mouth and his tongue. Why are his eyes punished? Because he looked with them upon transgression. Why his ears? Because he heard sinful utterances with them. Why his lips? Because he uttered with them words of foolishness. And why his tongue? Because he has testified falsely with it. Why his two hands? He committed violence and robbery with them. Why his two legs? Because he hastened with them to transgression.' R. Jehudah says, 'Whoever has gone to a married woman shall hang ignominiously in Gehinnom; and whoever slanders his neighbour shall be suspended by his tongue. (5) R. Meir, in the name of R. Joshua, says, 'The judgment in the grave is more severe than that in Gehinnom, for in Gehinnom only they are judged who are thirteen years old and upwards; but in the grave, stillborn children and perfectly righteous men, and even sucklings, are brought to judgment.' Hence the sages have said, 'He who dwells in the land of Israel and dies on Sabbath eve at the time of the blowing of the Shofar, as long as the sun shines he shall not see the judgment in the grave; whilst he who loves righteousness and chastisement, charitable deeds and hospitality to strangers, although not living in the land of Israel, shall see neither the judgment of the grave nor that in Gehinnom, as it is said, "From the midst of trouble I called to God, and He answered me." "From my trouble" refers to the beating in the grave. "From the depth of Sheol I cried." This refers to the punishment in Gehinnom.' (6) Ben Azay says, 'There are three kinds of punishments, one more severe than the other; moreover, they are all inflicted in the presence of God.' 'But,' asks R. Aqiba, 'are they all in God's presence?' 'Verily the angels inflict the punishment in the grave and also that in Gehinnom, but only the punishment of heaven alone is inflicted in the presence of God!' Three days are given over to the punishment in the grave, three days to that in Gehinnom, and three days to the punishment in heaven. If there is no charge against a man, he is not brought up
for judgment; but if there are charges against him, the judgment may last long. (7) The punishment of transgressing Israelites is twelve months in Gehinnom, as it is said, 'And it shall come to pass at the renewal of the new moon and at the renewal of the Sabbath.' Just as the weeks form a cycle, so the months form an annual cycle, and then shall all flesh prostrate themselves before God. R. Joḥanan ben Nuri says, 'The time extends from Passover until Pentecost, as it is said, "And from one festival to the other," during which the sabbaths are counted.' Some sinners are judged in Gehinnom from Passover until Pentecost, after which time they are acquitted; others, again, such as the consummately wicked' of Israel, obtain no rest for the whole twelve months; (8) while others who have violated the whole of the law and the precepts and have sinned against the law of God, going the idolatrous way of the nations, shall have their bodies and souls burnt. Gehinnom vomits them out, and the north wind scatters them, so that they become ashes under the soles of the feet of the righteous, as it is said, 'And on account of the doings of the wicked, behold they shall become ashes beneath your feet on the day when I execute judgment.' (9) Further, those who leave the community, the apostates, traitors, renegades, scoffers, those who despise the festivals, deny the resurrection of the dead and the divinity of the law, are swallowed up by Gehinnom; the doors are locked upon them, and there they are left a prey to eternal punishment, as it is said, 'And they go forth and look upon the carcasses of those that have transgressed against Me, for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched.'