Myths and Meaning: The Rich Man and Lazarus

"I'm a picture of ugly stories."  Vincent D. Furnier

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The Lost Tribes of Israel Found in the Parables of Yahshua



The Parables of the Good Shepherd and The Pearl of Great Price & The Allegory of the Prodigal Son

On the Jericho Road: The Allegory of the Good Samaritan

Out of the Napkin, Into the World: The Allegory of the Ten Pounds and the Lost Tribes of Israel

Resurrection - Riddle and Reward: The Sadducees' Riddle , The Allegory of the Wise Steward

Everlasting Skins: The Allegory of the Unrighteous Steward, The Widow’s Two Mites

Myths and Meaning: The Rich Man and Lazarus: Dives in Hell

Naming Ten Virgins or The Five Dumb Virgins (A Message from the NT Apocrypha)

Other Lost Tribes Messages:

The Woman at the Well and the Lost Tribes of Israel: "I'll Never Be Thirsty Again!"


Messianic friends, please note: This message is written for Christians just learning Hebraic Roots, including Divine Name language.  However, this does not mean that it is an elementary message, but full of deeper truth.


Luke 16:19.  “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.  20.  And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores,  21.  who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  22.  The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.

   The rich man also died and was buried; 23.  and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom.  24.  And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’  25.  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.  26.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 

   27.  And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, 28.  for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’  29.  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’  30.  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  31.  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’“ 


I am blessed!  I am blessed!  Every day that I am living I am blessed!
When I wake up in the morning till I put my head to rest,
I am blessed!  I am blessed!


Pay Later

   This story is about conviction and judgment.  It’s loaded with meaning.  In the time we have, we can only but touch a finger on that meaning.  The simple moral is revealed in the words of Abraham to the rich man:

“If your brothers aren’t convinced by all Moses and the prophets said and did, the dead rising won’t convince them either.” 

Believers of our day are convinced that they may live extravagantly as a law unto themselves because they’ve been taught and desperately want to believe that the grace of the judge is sufficient to cover up their commandment-ignoring lifestyles. 

   If the judge in Pensacola rules on your case, gives you conditions, then tells you to be back in six months, you’d better follow his directives before returning.  If you comply, he’ll have mercy.  But if you ignore his injunction, you’ll serve time.  In the US court system, a person is presumed innocent.  But in the Heavenly Court, “There is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Eloah.”  This is why we need an advocate – a Savior.  We need Yahshua!  “For Yahweh justifies him who has faith in Yahshua” (Romans 3:23,26).

   People in our day all know of Yahshua, but they don’t know him or his directives or his Word.  They don’t even know his real name.  ¿How will the convicted be able to stand when they must make an account of their discipleship?  Some say his grace will be sufficient.  But sufficient enough to smooth over willful disobedience?  Ignorance of the law is no excuse! 

   People are afraid of religious conversion because when it happens, they’re automatically kicked out of the Boy George Culture Club.  The converted are instead involved in a counter-cultural revolution.  They know the world system will pass away and the worldly with it, but the Law of Yahweh will stand among the living forever.  In the now, the converted are endeavoring to usher that great Kingdom in.  The worldly want no part in that labor.  What they want is fine living, sumptuous foods and daring entertainments.  And in this golden age of luxury, they’ll have anything they want.  However, the bill must eventually be paid in full. For in the end, Yahweh will send the collection agent with this little message:

Luke 12:20.  Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?


Greek to Me

   When I was a boy, my grandmother subscribed to the First Book series.  Each month I’d receive one.  Titles included The First Book of Indians, The First Book of Astronauts, The First Book of Dinosaurs.  One of my favorites was The First Book of Mythology.  There were stories about Greek gods: some may be familiar to you, like “Echo and Narcissus,” “Pandora’s Box,” “The Trojan Horse,” “The Golden Fleece,” and can you name any?  Even today Greek mythology is read by school children.  Myths are used in schools as teaching tools.  I still remember the stories from my First Book of Mythology.

   In Yahshua’s day, Greek myths were very popular, as was Greek culture.  Alexander the Great conquered Palestine in 332 BC.  His philosophy was to declare that the conquered peoples become Greeks or die.  A simple choice!  A very successful plan!  Now, three hundred years later, in Yahshua’s day, the primary language spoken in the world is Greek; Greek gods rule, and the stories children tell are Greek myths.

   Greek Jews are called Hellenists in the Bible – so named after Helen of Sparta (or Troy) from Greek mythology.  Helen was the most beautiful woman ever conceived.  She had the “face that launched a thousand ships.”  Greeks named their culture after her.  (You can learn all about Helen in the new Hollywood blockbuster film, Troy.)

   Hellenists can be picked out of the Bible by their Greek names: Philip (for example) means ‘horse lover’ in Greek.  Peter means ‘a rock.’  Nicodemus means “people-beater.”  All of the seven deacons of Acts 6 have Greek names, including Stephen, which means ‘crown.’  Hellenists followed the way of the Greeks, spoke Greek and sometimes worshiped Greek gods in the many shrines throughout Israel.  One can’t underestimate Greek influence in Yahshua’s day; many Jews and Romans imitated Greek culture and shared Greek religion.



   Why all this about Greeks?  Because Yahshua mentions a Greek god in this text.  He says the rich man died and was buried, but from Hades he lifted up his eyes.  Everywhere else (except Luke 10:15 regarding Capernaum), when Yahshua speaks of the lost dead, he uses the word Gehenna, the burning trash heap of Jerusalem.  (You can find Gehenna on your Bible map as “Valley of Hinnom” just south of Jerusalem.)  But this story takes place in Greek mythology, Hades – a hole in the ground. 

   I remember Hades from my little book.  Hades was supposedly the king of the underworld – prominent in many myths, including one that bears more than a passing similarity to “The Rich Man and Lazarus”; i.e. the tale of  “Hades and Persephone.”  The woman, Persephone, is abducted by Hades and is taken into the underworld as queen.  She finally escapes from the dead to warn her family about the underworld.  Those to whom Yahshua was speaking knew this story well.

   Many who don’t study the Bible in context understand our parable as a literal picture of heaven and hell.  If this is what you see, let’s change the view.  Yahshua’s simply telling a familiar story – a Greek story – about a mythical Greek place named Hades after its king – to teach a deeper truth about judgment and the resurrection of the dead.  This story isn’t about heaven and hell.  If it is, then it contradicts just about everything else Yahshua teaches on the subject.

This link will show you how popular this pagan myth was in the world of Hellenistic literature.

Pagan Stories Today

   We use stories from mythology all the time in our culture.  Consider the East-r egg and bunny stories we like to tell our children.  These come straight from Babylonian religious myths, watered down for the young audiences.  Yahweh says, “Escape from Babylon, leave the country of the Chaldaeans” (Jeremiah 50:8).  I believe we should leave their religious stories behind, including the name of their goddess, Easter.  You don’t believe in the East-r bunny but you make your children believe year after year, just like Babylonians, thinking it’s just for fun and will do no harm. 

   And the story of Santa Claus and his sleigh with eight tiny reindeer.  That comes right out of Greek mythology – Apollo’s Chariot encircling the world – his birthday is December 25th.  You don’t believe in Santa but you encourage your children to believe year after year.  When your children are forty-eight years old, they’re still expecting Santa’s help, and you are him.  But Santa can’t save.  It’s better to teach children the stories of the Bible from the very start rather than pagan myths. 

   As for the “The Rich Man and Lazarus”:  the Scriptures tell us that Abraham is dead (Hebrews 11:13) – no one can go into his bosom in a literal sense; and if the rich man was aflame, he’d want buckets of water, not a little drop.  Unlike the useless East-r bunny and Santa Claus myths we tell, Yahshua uses this myth to convey startling truth to those with wisdom enough to seek out the deeper meaning



   When he was asked why he spoke in parables, Yahshua replied,

Mark 4:9b exc. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear. 11. To you [who hear] has been given the secret of the kingdom, but for those outside everything is in parables;  12.  so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn and be forgiven.  13.  If you do not understand this parable how then will you understand any?”

A professor of preaching recently advised me that “country people” were too dull-witted to understand my preaching, and that I should dumb down for you simpletons.  How foolish that professor is!  You’re far more astute than any city folks I’ve tried to teach.  You’re Bible believers and serious students; and you want to understand your place in eternity!  You study and pray and listen because you know your spiritual welfare and future kingdom are at stake!  You want a better resurrection, and you believe I was sent here to teach; praise Eloah.  We’ll see who’s the simpleton in the end.

   Yet the inner meaning of this parable is difficult for anyone to find – probably far beyond the intellectual capacity of that professor – but the reward of working it out is well worth the exercise. 


Abraham and Lazarus

   Let’s start with Abraham and Lazarus – who do they represent in the story?   

exc. Genesis 15:1.  The word of Yahweh came to Abraham in a vision, “Fear not, Abraham; your reward shall be very great.”  2.  But Abraham said, “O Yahweh, what wilt thou give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”  3.  And Abraham said, “Behold, thou hast given me no offspring; and a slave will be my heir.”  4.  And behold, the word of Yahweh came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; your own son shall be your heir.”

Abraham wasn’t a Jew – there was no such thing in his day.  He came out from the religion of Babylonian.  His father, Terah, worshipped the East-r bunny until the day he died.  Really.  Terah and his idols held Abraham back from the promised land for years.  But when Terah died and his myths with him, Abraham was free to go.  Yahweh told him to take his band south and leave the world and its gods behind.

   Among his band was his heir, Eliezer of Damascus. Eliezer means “helper from Elohim.”  “Eliezer” is the same name as “Lazarus.”  So Abraham and Lazarus have a history.  Abraham was childless at this time, so he must’ve loved Lazarus a bunch to name him heir to his fortune.

   One story says that Lazarus was a slave who ran into Abraham’s camp for sanctuary.  When his owners caught up with him to kill him, Abraham instead purchased Lazarus and set him free.  Lazarus gratefully pledged his service to Abraham for life, saying, “Master, to whom shall I to go otherwise?”  Lazarus served Abraham faithfully until his death.


Abraham and Isaac

   Later, Isaac was born through the promise of Yahweh, and now Abraham had his blood heir.  Lazarus didn’t care about his inheritance being lost to Isaac – he loved Abraham too much to fantasize about living sumptuously and wearing purple robes when his master passed.  He’d remain a slave of his own choosing. 

   Then in Genesis 22, Yahweh commands Abraham to take this son and heir Isaac and “go to the land of Moriah and offer him as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2).  The next day Abraham saddled up, took Isaac and Lazarus, and set out for Moriah to sacrifice his son.  Leaving Lazarus at the bottom of the mountain, Isaac said to his father as they climbed, “Abbi, where is the lamb for the offering?”  In perfect faith, Abraham replied, “Son, Elohim will provide it.” 

   Yahweh bade Abraham do something unlike ever before – sacrifice his only son in the fire.  Yahweh seems extremely cruel.  But his intention is to reveal a new thing for the world of the future – for our world – for all time: “an unprecedented example of steadfast loyalty to Eloah throughout a night of humanly impenetrable darkness” (Fleming Rutledge, The Bible and The New York Times, 102).  In plain terms, Abraham’s entire future, Yahweh’s promise and his only lovely son was on the line as he raised the dagger in the air over his Isaac.  Yet even as he swung that blade, Abraham still trusted that Yahweh would provide. 

 “Abraham!  Stretch not out thy hand against the lad; for now I know that thou fearest Elohim, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me”  (Genesis 22:12 Darby).

You know the rest of the story.

   When Isaac was to marry, Abraham sent Lazarus to fetch Rebekah from Syria.  Lazarus could’ve murdered Isaac for the fortune, but Lazarus was faithful to the end out of love.  And Abraham trusted Lazarus with his most valuable possession – the son of the promise.  It’d be through Isaac and Rebekah that the tribes of Israel would arise, for Jacob came forth, and from him twelve sons, the Patriarchs.  One of the twelve was to be the ancestor of our own Master, Yahshua, the only-begotten son of Yahweh.  This particular son of Jacob is another key to “The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.”  Do you remember which of the twelve was Yahshua’s ancestor?  {Can you name them all?}


Judah is the Rich Man

   You’re right – this son of Jacob was Judah, the father of the Jews.  The Jews were to be kings over Israel.  They wore the royal purple robes and fared sumptuously.  Judah’s mother was Leah, Jacob’s first wife.  Leah bore five more sons for Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar and Zebulun (and a daughter, Dinah).  Thus Judah had five brothers.  The descendents of these other brothers weren’t Jews, but Israelites.  Only the descendants of Judah were properly Jews.  Remember that in Yahshua’s time, the Israelites had been scattered, but the Jews ruled the roost.  In the original parable, the rich man cries out to Abraham, whom he calls ‘father,’

Luke 16:27. “Send Lazarus to my five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”

The rich man in the parable is Judah son of Jacob, and represents the Jewish leaders of Yahshua’s time, clothed in fine linen and eating like royalty every day while beggars starved outside. 

   Now we’ve done all the research we need to interpret the parable correctly.  Aren’t we proud of ourselves?



   What Yahshua is telling the Jews in this story should make them furious – if it doesn’t go right over their heads.  They may be simpletons.  The rich man, Judah, i.e. Jewish leaders, lived in a fine palace and had it made.  The fatness of their food represents the Word of Yahweh and the gated home represents their exclusion of all other.  Keep out, you unclean dogs!  The table is that of the temple showbread, from which crumbs fall.  It was upon these crumbs of the Word that hopeful outsiders wished to dine, and thus to know Yahweh.

   Outside Judah’s gates is Lazarus, a slave, full of sores with lickinEloahogs all about.  His protector, Abraham, is dead; yet Lazarus must wait, dependent upon the crumbs of the Word as his only sustenance, crumbs that were disposed of by the Jews in favor of their pagan god named Mammon.  Lazarus was a Gentile, a Syrian, and the dogs represent other Gentiles (i.e. non- Jews) here there and everywhere – slaves suffering in silence, desperately hungry for the milk and meat of truth. 

   Like Yahshua, Lazarus died outside the gates and was conveyed into the company of his beloved Abraham – the master who’d been a father to him – and father to many nations.  Just as Lazarus represents the mixed multitude that calls Yahweh ‘father,’ Abraham represents Yahweh.  In the resurrection, those slaves of Yahweh will be with him, never to suffer humiliation and deprivation again.  They’ll receive sustenance from the loaves of the Word and will thereafter go forth in power.

   However, Judah expected to be in the bosom of Abraham too – but here he plays hot foot in Hades.  Wasn’t Judah in the direct bloodline of Abraham?  Hadn’t Isaac, Abraham’s heir, been Judah’s grandfather?  Why’d he go to the bad place?  Why’s Judah and his Jews in Hades, the Greek underworld?  Why?  Because at the time, they were every bit as pagan and irreligious and godless as the Greeks who thought the place up.  The Jews wanted to bed down with the Greeks and become Greeks and pagans, hanging on to only a vestige of truth.  Therefore, saith the Son of Man, let Judah share the underworld of Hades with Greeks – right where they belong. 


Why!  How Insulting!

   The insult is that, in the resurrection, it isn’t Isaac, the rightful heir, that goes into the bosom of his father, but Lazarus, the slave of Damascus, the one who had no blood rights to be there unless Abraham negated the claim of his own son in favor of a foreigner.  This is exactly what our Father Yahweh did for us outside the gates.  He didn’t spare his son as Abraham had, but gathered the wood, tied the ropes, swung the knife, lit the fire and immolated his own offspring so that the sore-infested little Lazarus’ like you and me could qualify for eternity and a better resurrection than even that of his chosen people.  Isaac, Jacob and Judah were the elect, you know.  But there’s that Lazarus – that boil-covered dog, in the bosom of Yahweh, meant for them.  (Judah should never have sent the Son of Man down that Via Dolorosa.)

   Lazarus represents us – we who seek out every little crumb that falls from the table of Yahweh.  We who seek to learn his ways and fulfill his commandments!  We who love his son, and value beyond all mammon the great ordeal he went through to purchase our redemption from the King of Hades.  And now, in the heart of Yahweh, we reside!  Hallelujah.  Aren’t we blessed?

   Though there’s plenty of suffering to bear, even in our blessing, we’re hopeful.  And though we may be called false Jews and cultists for following the law and the prophets, we are truthful.  And though we enter the kingdom violently, we are patient.  And though they grind us to a pulp with their words or burn us with their slanders, we fortunate slaves of Damascus will, in the end, find ourselves at home in the mansions of our Father’s heart, to be cleansed of our bloodiness, healed of our sores and delivered safe and sound from the evil one – ready to heed the next valiant mission assigned us – to fetch Rebekah the bridegroom from the four winds, to receive back our dead, and to populate the Kingdom of the Beloved Son prepared for Lazarus and for us from the foundation of the world.  Amein.



[  ] Luke 16:19.  “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple ...

[  ] Luke 16:31. “If your brothers aren’t convinced by all Moses and the prophets said ...

[  ] Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of Eloah.

[  ] Romans 3:26 For Yahweh justifies him who has faith in Yahshua.

[  ] Luke 12:20.  “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required!”

[  ] The was the Greek who conquered Palestine in 332 BC?

[  ] Who had the “face that launched a thousand ships”?

[  ] “Philip” means what in Greek?  What about “Stephen”?

[  ] GeHenna is the Valley of Hinnom south of Jerusalem.

[  ] King Hades is the mythical Greek god of the underworld.

[  ] Is Hades a real place or a storybook place?

[  ] 1 Kings 15:13. Easter is the fertility goddess – Asherah.

[  ]  Jeremiah 50:8 “Escape from Babylon!”

[  ] Revelation 9:11  Santa is Apollos / Apollyon.

[  ] Mark 4:9b exc. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

[  ] Genesis 15:2 Abraham said, “The heir of my house is Eliezer.”

[  ] Eliezer is the same name as Lazarus.

[  ] Genesis 22:2 “Go to the land of Moriah and offer Isaac!” 

[  ] Genesis 22:12 “Abraham!  Stretch not out thy hand against the lad!”

[  ] Judah had how many brothers?

[  ] Luke 16:27. “Send Lazarus to my five brothers!”

[  ] Bonus.  Judah had a sister worth killing for named   ?_.

[  ] The Rich Man in the story is Judah, the Jewish leaders.

[  ] Lazarus and his dogs are outsiders, Gentiles, non-Jews.

[  ] Abraham is Yahweh and his Covenant.

[  ] The crumbs are bits and pieces of the Word.

[  ]  In this story, Lazarus inherits, not Isaac, Jacob and Judah.

Jackson Snyder, April 16, 2004