The Woman with Seven Husbands
( Originally Published 1915 )
WE HAVE heard much in the story, of the Pharisees, who were looked upon as leaders of the people in religion, because they regularly went to church, paid the church dues and obeyed all the rules, foolish as some of those rules seemed. These Pharisees, as you know, were bitter enemies of Jesus, and every-where stirred up the people against him.
But there was another party among the Jews, the Sadducees, whom we have not mentioned up to this time. These people were equally opposed to the Pharisees and to Jesus. They were easy-living men, not paying much attention to the church rules; and in fact not going often to the church, which you know was called "the synagogue." But although they cared little for the churches in the different towns, they cared greatly for the Temple in Jerusalem, for most of the priests in the Temple were Sadducees, as also were many of the rulers in the great council of the Jews.
The Sadducees did not believe that there was any soul in man, nor any life after this life, nor any angels, nor any rising from the dead hereafter, nor any heaven or hell. They believed that when a man died and was buried, that was his end forever.
Some of these Sadducees tried to puzzle Jesus with a question. They came to him in the Temple that. Tuesday while he was speaking to the people.
"Teacher," they said to him, "you remember that in the law of Moses it is ordered that if a man should die without any children, but leaving a wife, then the man's brother shall take the widow for his wife, and raise a family for his brother. Well, there were living seven brothers. The oldest of these married a wife, and after a time died, leaving no children. Then the second married her, and he too died without a child. The third took her and died, the fourth also, and all the rest of the seven died, leaving no children. Finally the woman herself died. Now, you have been teaching that there will come a day when the dead shall rise to life. When that day comes, and these seven men rise, all of whom were married to this woman, whose wife out of them all will she be, for every one of them in turn was married to her?"
"You make a mistake," answered Jesus, "because you do not understand the teachings of the Bible; nor do you know how great is the power of God, who can at a word call the dead up to life. In this world men and women marry because they live on earth only for a time, and must have families to live after them. But when the dead are raised up, they do not rise as husbands and wives, nor do they marry in that world to come, for they will have no need to raise up families to take their places. In that land all live forever, like the angels of God. And as to the resurrection, the rising from the dead, have you not read the words that God spoke to Moses at the burning bush?
" `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'
"Now God is not the God cf dead men, but of living men. For in the sight of God all men are alive, even after they have died on earth."
While Jesus was answering these questions—that of the rulers of the Temple about his right to drive out those that were buying and selling; that of the Pharisees about the paying of taxes; and that of the Sadducees about the resurrection, the rising from the dead—the people were standing around, listening. Although the rulers were enemies of Jesus, the common people were friendly, and heard him gladly. They saw how ready and how apt his answers were, and they were greatly pleased to find the enemies of Jesus put to confusion before him.